San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties make up the southernmost district of California’s Central Coast viticultural area.
There are 27,600 acres of winegrapes planted in SLO County and 16,600 in Santa Barbara, totaling more than 44,000. Together, they make up 7.4 percent of the total state winegrape crush.
The No. 1 grape variety in SLO is Cabernet Sauvignon with 8,600 acres. Merlot is second with 4,200.
Proximity to the ocean, orientation of the numerous canyons and valleys, and varying elevations produce diverse macroclimates, allowing production of numerous grape varieties. There are four general soil associations, primarily formed from the weathering of granite, serpentine, shale and sandstone.
The city of Paso Robles, situated 20 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean, is in San Luis Obispo County, halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The area is characterized by warm, clear days, generally unencumbered by clouds, fog or severe winds.
Nighttime temperatures drop by approximately 40 degrees, cooled by a marine layer that moves over the region after sunset. As the warmest sub-appellation in the county, it’s known for its Cabernet Sauvignon and warmth-loving Syrah.
There are four sub-appellations in the county. In addition to Paso Robles, these include Arroyo Grande, Edna Valley and York Mountain.
In Arroyo Grande, in the areas affected by fog and cooling ocean breezes, sparkling wines, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir do well. Elsewhere, above the fog line, Zinfandel and Syrah excel.
Edna Valley is another cool-climate area well known for elegant Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
York Mountain, one of California’s smallest AVAs, is situated on the eastern slopes of the Santa Lucia Mountains, west of Paso Robles. Quite cool, itâ€™s also a haven for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.