When thinking of Paso Robles chances are you think of red wine. And rightly so, approximately 88% of the grapes grown in Paso are red varietals. As a warm climate region one expects to find Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, and Syrah. These wines are abundant in Paso Robles. However, if all you ever know are Paso’s red wines then you are missing the full story of California’s third largest wine region. Today we are going to explore Paso Robles’ unexpected side and go into the light.
“Cross over children. All are welcome. All are welcome. Go into the light. There is peace and serenity in the light.” ~ Tangina, Poltergeist 1982.
Paso Robles is California’s fastest growing wine region. The Paso Robles AVA encompasses 40,000 vineyards within its 612,000 total acreage. It is home to over 200 wineries. Paso Robles is a unique wine region. Due to its size it contains numerous microclimates, diverse soils, long growing seasons allowing grapes optimal hang time to ripen at their natural pace, and the widest diurnal shifts of any appellation in California. The AVA’s western boundary is six miles from the Pacific Ocean. It extends from Monterey County in the north to the Cuesta Grade below Santa Margarita in the south, from the Santa Lucia Mountains in the west to the Cholame Hills in the east. This vast area contains rolling hills, river beds, flatlands, and mountains. It contains 30 different soil types, many with high pH levels not typical in other California wine regions. Taking all of this into account, it stands to reason Paso Robles is home to a variety of grapes crafted into a wide array of wines from red to rosé to white.
I recently participated in a virtual tasting hosted by Joe Roberts of 1WineDude in a journey through the lighter side of Paso Robles. Although the wines were supplied as media samples for the tasting all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Justin is a Paso Robles pioneer. They planted vines in the Santa Lucia Mountains before Paso Robles AVA existed. Known for award-winning Bordeaux blends, Cabernet Sauvignon is king at Justin. However, Justin also produces Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Viognier. With Cab being their flagship grape it is only fitting to journey to the lighter side of Cabernet Sauvignon with Justin’s intentionally crafted rosé.
2016 Justin Rosé Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles USA ($22.50): 100% Cabernet Sauvignon; pale salmon with orange hues; medium aromas of strawberry, raspberry crème, orange blossom, Korean melon, kiss of dried herbs, and grapefruit; lots of tart red berries on the palate, super refreshing and elegant, medium+ acidity, dry with a long finish; a great summer rosé; click here to buy this wine.
Tablas Creek Vineyard was founded on a decade long friendship that evolved into a collaboration. In 1989, the partnership resulting in the purchase of 120 acre property in the hilly Las Tablas District of west Paso Robles. With a focus on producing Rhone Valley style wines the area was perfectly suited due to its similarities to Châteauneuf-du-Pape in soil, climate, and terrain. Tablas Creek’s focus on Rhone varietals has included white wines as well as red. In fact, I have been enjoying their Rhone style white wines for years.
2016 Tablas Creek Vineyard Patelin de Tablas Blanc Paso Robles USA ($25): 52% Grenache Blanc, 24% Viognier, 12% Roussanne, 9% Marsanne, 3% Clairette Blanche; light lemon; medium aromas of tropical fruit, stone fruit, citrus zest, white floral notes, touch of baking spice, crushed stone; crisp and refreshing, medium+ acidity, layers of fresh fruits dance across the palate and over a firm layer of minerality, elegant and highly pleasing; long tart finish; click here to buy this wine.
Vina Robles Vineyard and Winery was born of a dream, a collaboration, and a passion for wine. From humble beginning in 1996, today Vina Robles has six estate vineyards, all certified Sustainable in Practice. Their winemaking style is to craft wines utilizing rich California fruit with a sense of balance found in great European wines, seeking to convey the Paso Robles terroir while the fruit qualities shine through. The majority of Vina Robles portfolio is comprised of red wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Petite Sirah. Yet they also offer Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and a white blend designed to showcase the four fruit varieties that thrive in Paso Robles.
2016 Vina Robles Vineyard and Winery Wine4 Paso Robles USA ($16): 45% Viognier, 27% Sauvignon Blanc, 17% Verdelho, 11% Vermentino; medium gold with straw hues; medium aromas of yellow apples, golden pears, yellow nectarines, tropical fruit, ginger, jasmine, and lemon zest; Viognier takes lead on palate with a slightly creamy texture upon entry quickly followed by zestiness of additional grapes, medium+ acidity, tart and refreshing with a long finish; great for summer sipping and cuisine. click here to buy this wine.
Adelaida Cellars crafted their first vintage of Cabernet Sauvignon in 1981, followed by their first Chardonnay in 1982. By 1995, they had their first tasting room and were buying and restoring vineyards in Adelaida Hills AVA. In 2014, they celebrated 50 years of the first plantings in the HMR Vineyard. That same year they remodeled their production facility and opened their new tasting room and hospitality center the following year.
2016 Adelaida Cellars HMR Chardonnay Paso Robles USA ($40): 100% Chardonnay; medium- gold with lemon hues; medium aromas of apples and pears, stone fruit, pineapple, honey, lightly toasted brioche, nutmeg; elegant, with a nice lift on palate, good minerality, medium+ acidity, rich and round, full-body but well-balanced, judiciously oaked for maximum enjoyment; click here to buy this wine
I found each of these wines truly delicious and great values. The first three are crisp and refreshing, perfect for summer. The Chardonnay is very high quality and ideal for those who prefer an old world style. I believe you will be pleased with any of these four wines from Paso Robles.