Paso Robles: The Wine County

Paso Robles has been a well known California wine region since the wine industry started booming in the late 1970s. It is home to more than 200 wineries and eleven AVA’s. With its history and culture rooted in Spanish settlement, Paso Robles has quickly become one of the premier wine destinations in California and around the world.

Paso Robles is a city in San Luis Obispo County. It is officially known as El Paso de Robles. The city is known for its underground aquifers, an abundance of vineyards, olive oil, almond plantations, and facilitating the California Mid-State Fair. It is situated on the Salinas River north of San Luis Obispo, California.

Did You Know: Paso Robles is California’s fastest growing wine AVA.

The Region

Paso Robles is dedicated to its legacy and defiant disposition. The area has its unique character with natural aquifers, bountiful harvests, ranchers.

The area was named “the Springs” by the local Salinan tribe, who taught Spain’s Franciscan missionaries about the district’s plentiful warm springs during the 1700s. Paso Robles also acquired the moniker “Almond City” because it had the world’s most elevated centralization of almond plantations.

History

The region’s fastest growing business, wine has a long history. The Spanish conquerors and Franciscan missionaries brought grapevines to Paso Robles in 1797.

Francisco Cortez, a Spanish pilgrim, imagined a flourishing wine industry and asked settlers from Mexico and different areas of California to move to the area. The missionaries at the Mission San Miguel were the ones who took care of the grapevines and winemaking in the area. Their notable aging tanks and grapevine art are still visible at the mission, which is found north of Paso Robles.

Andrew York, an Indiana pioneer, was the first to plant vines in the area in 1882. He also created a winery called Ascension Winery, which later became York Mountain Winery, and is currently Epoch Winery. Before York acquired the land, the area consisted mostly of apple orchards. York found that the temperature and soil were better for grapes, so he began planting his vineyard.

Gerd and Ilsabe Klintworth established another vineyard in 1886, following Andrew York’s initial success in the wine business. They were permitted to sell containers of Zinfandel, Muscatel, and Port, and a white wine made from Burger grapes.

Another winery called The Casteel Vineyards was established in 1908. Their wines were made and aged in a cellar made from a cave.

In the mid-1920s Ignace Paderewski, a well-known Polish legislator and professional piano player visited Paso Robles and fell in love with the region and its wine. So much so that he decided to purchase 2,000 acres of land. He then planted Petite Sirah and Zinfandel on his Rancho San Ignacio vineyards in the Adelaide area.

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Paderewski’s wine was made at York Mountain Winery after Prohibition was appealed. Wines produced using grapes grown on Rancho San Ignacio have gone on to win wine competitions. Partly because of these awards Paso Robles’ status as a quality wine region was established. Another age of winery pioneers arose in the last part of the 1960s and mid-1970s, and also prospered in the region.

Wine And Vineyards

The area is home to more than 40,000 acres of vineyards and over 200 wineries. The Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance was established in 1993 by vineyard owners and wineries. The Paso Robles Wine Country Partnership is a coalition comprised of wineries, vineyards, and associated organizations in the region. They host celebrations and help to market the area’s wines.

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On This Day

  • 1864: The first hotel in El Paso de Robles was built.
  • January 17, 1914: The same hotel hosted one of the world’s most famous concert pianists and composers: Paderewski.

Want to read more? Try these books!

Paso Robles, Paso Robles: The Wine CountyPaso Robles, Paso Robles: The Wine County

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