Daily Archives: November 12, 2013

Wine Region of the Year

As someone who has visited the Paso Robles region for over four decades and lived here for seven years, I know how great this part of the world is.  And of course, the region is dominated by the wine industry so most of everything associated with the area has to do with wine and grapes (such as our barrel business).

“It’s that happy willingness to forge forward, to press relentlessly into the future and craft its own identity for the 21st century that makes Paso Robles Wine Enthusiast’s 2013 Wine Region of the Year.”

Still, it’s nice when others from around the world also acknowledge how fabulous Paso is.  That’s what Wine Enthusiast magazine did when it awarded the ‘2013 Wine Region of the Year‘ to Paso Robles.

The growth of the region as a wine producing appellation has skyrocketed this century thanks to a more open-minded flexibility to making wine grapes.  With terroirs that our significantly different than more traditional areas of California like Sonoma and Napa, innovative winemakers have proliferated in this Central Coast of California expanse.

Sitting in the northern half of San Luis Obispo County, Paso Robles has given flight to an abundance of unique yet high quality wines.  With hot summer days but cool evenings, the diurnal is unlike most other terroirs and combined with ideal soil … well, the grapes love it.

Paso Robles: One of the great wine destinations in the U.S.

Paso is already considered by TripAdviser as one of the top wine destinations in the United States to visit.  With over 26,000 acres of vineyards including its well-known Zinfandels, we’re happy to hear there’s another feather in the cap of Paso Robles as the number one wine region in the world.

Additional source: The Travel Paso Robles Alliance

Salootie Patootie,

Daryle W. Hier






If you happen to be associated in any way with the wine industry, you probably have come in contact with the word ‘terroir’.  Generally, I knew the word and its basic understanding … or so I thought.

The large rolling hills on the Croatian peninsula of Istria in the Northern Adriatic Sea, offer a unique terroir for wine making.

In normal terms, the word as I knew it stood for a type of geography and lay of the land, so to speak.  I looked the word up and although I was right in the simplest sense, the word means much more than I realized.  Merriam Webster calls it a ‘taste of the earth’.  Simply stated, that’s about right.  However, what does it really mean?

Well, you’re not going to get very many folks agreeing on the exact meaning but we’ll give it a try and maybe in the end, you’ll be a little wiser when you describe to your friends what it means.  By the way, its origin is French and it’s pronounced ‘tear wahr’ as in going on a ‘tear’ and armies going to ‘war’.

Any in case, the word has gone through a transformation of sorts.  Before the last decade or so, the word was given to mean more about wines or any beverage (or food for that matter) that had an earthy tone or taste to it.  This could be good or bad depending on exactly what was being described. Recently though, it now pertains more to a descriptive nature regarding a region, terrain, weather or soil conditions and types.


For instance, a terroir’s region or terrain might be rocky, or high in elevation as compared with another terroir which may be in a valley with much fauna.  A terroir’s weather could be hot and dry or cool and damp.  If a ground composition is a sandy terroir, that would be in comparison to a clay-like terroir.

Think of a terroir as the filter for what a vine works through.  A terroir’s soil along with the temperature and terrain can affect a wine grape and make it taste decidedly different than a same grape in an entirely different environment … or more accurately, a terroir.

Note that I’m no expert – just someone who has thoroughly researched wine barrels and with that exercise combined with being in the middle of wine country has brought many of these descriptions dealing with terroir, to the forefront.


A mile up elevation-wise in the far northern reaches of Argentina, lies the Calchaquí Valley with a particular climate that helps to produce great wines from its distinctive terroir.

So you see it’s a combination of factors that give each terroir its uniqueness or character.

The precise and distinctive locality of a region including the topography and weather of a place differentiating from other places, producing a certain quality and personality, if you will – is in a word: terroir.

Hopefully that didn’t confuse you, but in fact, now gives you a leg up on family, friends and cohorts.

We often use the term here in Paso Robles, because certainly we have a distinctive terroir what with a vibrant soil and inimitable terrain combined with a huge diurnal (the difference between high and low temps in a day – we’ll have to have a quick dissertation soon on that term too).

All these differing attributes collective with changing environs and climate make for distinguishing features in terroirs all across the world.  And now you know the rest of the story … or most of it anyway.

Check out these books on terroirs of France and America:

Terroir: The Role of Geology, Climate, and Culture in the Making of French Wines

American Terroir: Savoring the Flavors of Our Woods, Waters, and Fields

Daryle W. Hier