Photo Courtesy of The Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance
Everything is big in Paso Robles—pickup trucks, cowboy hats, bold red blends—but especially the more than 610,000-acre grapegrowing appellation itself. At three times the size of Napa Valley, Paso reigned as the largest undivided appellation in California for over 30 years. That changed in 2014, when the Central Coast region was divided into 11 subappellations, with the intention of giving both producers and consumers a better handle on the enological expanse.
Eight years in, winemakers are still evaluating how differing soils, microclimates and topographies delineate each district, from the limestone substrate of Adelaida and windblown rows of Templeton Gap to the rolling hills of Creston and sunny terraces of San Juan Creek. Debates remain on some specifics, as there’s plenty of viticultural variability within even the smallest of districts.
However, the consensus is that the breakdown effectively showcases the entire region’s maturation from a generic, bulk-growing land into a dynamic, distinguished home for premium wines. Bordeaux and Rhône grapes are now coveted as quality leaders, with Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah leading the charge.