Central Coast Wine Region
Two and a half hours from the Central Valley is the ever expanding Central Coast wine region, located halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The region includes Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo and even as far south as Santa Barbara. Vines were planted by the Franciscan monks in the late 1790s and were tended to via the many California Missions that doted the region.
According to Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance’s, commercial winemaking was introduced to the area in the late 1870s:
“Indiana rancher Andrew York began planting vineyards on his 240-acre homestead. Within a few years, he found that the vines were yielding more than he could market, prompting him in 1882 to establish Ascension Winery, known today as York Mountain Winery. The family planted some of the area’s earliest Zinfandel vines, making Paso Robles is famous for this variety. York initially sold his wines in San Luis Obispo and eventually as far away as San Francisco. Today, York Mountain Winery (located within the York Mountain AVA, adjacent to the Paso Robles AVA ) remains the oldest winery in continuous operation in the county.”
Today, a wide variety of wines are grown on the Central Coast using grape varietals like Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Rhône varieties. The wines have received world class recognition with many wineries winning top awards. I believe that Robert M. Parker Jr.’s prediction in the June 30, 2005, issue of Wine Advocate has already come true: “There is no question that a decade from now, the top viticultural areas of Santa Barbara, Santa Rita Hills and the limestone hillsides west of Paso Robles will be as well-known as the glamorous vineyards of Napa Valley.”
This is one of three California focus wine regions for Tales of the Cork. The other two are Central Valley Wine Region and the Sierra Nevada Foothills Wine Region. All are within a day trip of my home base of Fresno, Calif. and account for many of America’s most promising wineries and winemakers.
Explore Tales of the Cork with me. Read about the growth and influence of California’s winemakers, merchants and chefs. My goal is to find and develop relationships with them; my hope is to uncover and retell their untold stories. Be sure to leave a comment after each story; share your wine, winemaker or food experience.