Paso Robles, of course

Paso Robles has become a premier grape growing area. Hot days and cool nights and a long warm growing period. Grapes will grow anywhere but the climate they grow in is the biggest factor in wine quality. Soils are important too. Paso Robles has limestone and shale which tends to make the soils lighter. If you lived in Paso Robles, San Miguel or Templeton many years ago you would look forward to the “four o’ clock” breeze that swept up the valley toward Salinas. It still happens even with “climate change.”

In my early days, I was a wine bottler for my folk’s cafe in Morro Bay--the Rock Cafe. There was another place that bottled wine It was around the corner named Jorge’s Beer and Wine. I’m not sure where Jorge’s got their wine but I know that we had two 50 gallon barrels in our outside shed and we had York Mountain wines. One was a “Burgundy” and the other a “Claret.” The Claret designation may still be used today in Great Britain but not so much here. It designated a lighter more flavorful red wine from the Bordeaux region of France. Burgundy is well, from Burgundy. What was unique about our falsely named wines was that both were Zinfandel. They perhaps took the Claret off the skins early. There is no way of knowing now. The original wine making equpment from York Mountain Winery has been at the Smithsonian for many years. Contrary to popular belief, the profits from wine are slim. I grew wine grapes once upon a time and though fun as a hobby, to make a good solid living is hard to do unless you have many acres.

There are so many good wines in this area now that it is hard to get to know them. The following are some I know about.

Jlohr is one I particularly like for reasonably priced reds, as they are bottle aged for two years


JDusi is a favorite also, not because we know the family but because Janell, a New York Times acclaimed winemaker, produces very nice wines.


Michael Gill Winery. Michael and Shelley Gill have some great wines and are gold medalists for their Syrah et al. They received a double gold for this wine. Wines are pricey but for a special occasion why not?


The Clevenger Vineyards

  • A word about Zinfandel. In my opinion, the best Zinfandel in the world comes from Paso Robles. Ignace Paderewski had a Zinfandel vineyard in the Adelade area. I bet the vines are still producing. They would be getting along in years now. The best Zinfandel I have ever had was from the heart of all the Paso Robles vineyards. It was from the Clevenger Vineyard. If you can find a Zinfandel that is from this vineyard, buy it.

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