Paso Roble Wines Styles Explained
In a previous post I mentioned that Paso Robles wine country is the fastest growing AVA, with nearly 300 new wineries being established in the last 30 years. It’s also a place where adventurous spirits come to make exciting wine blends. It’s also an area of rather unique terroir that supports specific grape varietals.
For this installment I'd like to talk about the winemaking styles and types of wine you'll find in Paso Robles. I'll also include a link to my site where I'm compiling a list of my impressions of each winery.
Defining a “Paso Style”
If I had to summarize what you find here I’d say you can largely expect to find largely these categories of wine:
Rhone blends like Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache, Tannat, Roussanne, Cincault, etc
Bordeaux blends but mostly Cabernet, a small amount of Cab Franc
Zinfandels and zin blends
Innovative, Paso-specific blends
More so than I found in my travels in Sonoma and Napa, the wineries in Paso tend to make wine in a very distinguishable and definable style that is all their own. The wine making style used at each winery in Paso stood out so vividly to me, probably because of the presence of so many wineries at each end of the style spectrum:
Very austere, lean and racey, made in a lighter bodied and lower alcohol style similar to many European wines, or
Very big and full bodied, jammy and heavily “extracted” characterized by ripe fruits flavors.
Then of course there were some winemakers that find they are happy somewhere in the middle.
If you know your preference for winemaking regions and for styles, then do some homework before you go tasting in Paso so you can make sure to stick to those wineries that are true to that style. Or maybe try to expand your horizons and try some really lovely wines that might just open your eyes up to a new favorite!
Wineries I Visited
Paso Robles is probably best known for a few big wine producers J. Lohr (producing 1 million cases each year) and Justin (clear cutting forests so they could produce 300K cases annually - 3x the production since 2010 when it was acquired by Fiji water company) to name a couple.
For my first trip to the region I was most interested in seeking out smaller producers in the area, but of course I also wanted to taste some of the wines that have national distribution and recognition. And I wanted to get a good understanding of the history.
All of the wineries that I visited came highly recommended to me by contacts in the industry for the quality of their wines. I’ve further read up on them to ensure they are recognized by various publications. While not all the wines are to my personal liking (we all have preferences and unique palates after all!) I do feel comfortable recommending these wineries to you for your own journey, please read my notes on style so you can assess if you’re likely to enjoy the wines. I will keep this as a running list of wineries in my next blog post here at www.wineskipping.com for future and ongoing reference. Note each winery’s varietals and style so you can steer yourself in the right direction.