Paso Robles is a large winegrowing area at the southern end of California's Central Coast region. At 666,500 acres (270,000ha) the official Paso Robles AVA is among California's very largest; it effectively covers the northern half of San Luis Obispo County. Paso Robles wines are typified by rich, ripe reds based on warm-climate varieties such as Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and the Rhone Valley trio Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre.
Viticulture here dates back to the late 18th Century, when the first wine grapes (most likely of the Mission variety) were planted by Spanish missionaries. Today's Paso Robles wines are made from a wide range of grapes, The majority of wines are made from the warm-climate varieties mentioned above, but cooler-climate varieties such as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are also grown, mostly in the very coolest vineyard sites.
© Wikimedia/SD Dirk
The AVA's northern limit is marked by the county line with Monterey County, from where it stretches southwards along the Salinas river valley for about 35 miles (55km). It stops just short of San Luis Obispo city, just on the other side of which lies the Edna Valley and Arroyo Grande Valley AVAs. Its western edge is defined by the Santa Lucia coastal mountains, beyond which lies the Pacific coastline.
Despite its proximity to the Pacific Ocean, Paso Robles' climate is remarkably warm and continental. This is due largely to to the hills that lie between the main vineyard areas and the coast. These shield the area from climate-moderating coastal influences, meaning hot days and cool nights almost everywhere within the AVA. The region is not entirely bereft of refreshing coastal breezes, however, thanks to the "Templeton Gap". This is not a single gap per se, but a series of narrow river valleys that bisect the Santa Lucia range, collectively allowing Paso Robles to "breathe" cool, coastal air in the afternoon and early evening.
Enjoy this video all about Paso Robles and its Zinfandel.