The Central Coast is a vast swath of California that starts roughly 100 miles north of Los Angeles and stretches all the way to San Francisco. Paso Robles falls neatly in the middle, equidistant from each city.
This region boasts a unique history, though its beginnings are familiar to California: The first grapes here were planted by friars in the late 1700s.
The industry really started in the 1850s, with the arrival of immigrant farmers from Europe planting grapes to make the drink familiar from home.
Their early success inspired other immigrants and the late 19th and early 20th centuries were boom times for the industry. Estates established by the Dusi, Martinelli and other families are still going strong under the guidance of the third or fourth generation.
York Mountain Winery (called Ascension Winery when it was founded in 1882) is the longest continually operating winery in Paso Robles, and claims an interesting historical footnote.
In the early 1920s, Polish statesman and pianist Ignace Paderewski came to Paso Robles seeking healing in the area’s famed hot springs. He fell in love with the town, bought land, planted grapes and made wine at York Mountain. This touch of “celebrity” further helped wine industry growth, today making Paso Robles home to 180 wineries with 26,000 acres under vine.
From a geographic perspective, the region’s terrain varies from flat lands to mountains. There are over 45 soil types, mostly derived from bedrock with marine sediment, granite and volcanic rock.
The county also has the largest diurnal fluctuation in California, with temperatures dropping by as much as 50 degrees at night.
Finally, the area benefits from a lack of rain from September through early November, giving vintners the luxury of waiting for optimal ripeness to pick their fruit. All in all, a nearly perfect place to grow vines.