Last year, several dozen wine grape producers and owners of nearly a third of the land, applied to split up the huge 33,000 acre Paso Robles American Viticultural Area (AVA) into 11 smaller viticultural regions. This was done in an effort to describe each sub-appellation as separate and different areas. Now the United States Department of the Treasury has ruled that the new districts can designate using the new sub-appellations.
Better describe uniqueness
The smaller appellations will still remain under the 31 year-old Paso Robles AVA umbrella, but now they can explain and depict their vines more precisely. With over 300 wineries, the 11 sub-districts represent diverse terroir and micro-climates that give Paso Robles such a big advantage creating unique wines.
This concept of dividing the large Paso AVA was tried seven years ago when the Westside proposed a Salinas River split, but the plan was withdrawn a couple years later. Yet at that time, the first proposal to split the area into 11 separate AVAs began.
Winemakers can now designate their wines with the smaller sub-regional description to more aptly show consumers where exactly the grapes came from. The area is complex with some temperatures ranging 20 degrees just within the Paso Robles AVA. Also, winds have variations in them, the soils change dramatically and even diurnals can be very different.
The region is huge enveloping roughly half of northern San Luis Obispo County. Stretching from San Miguel in the north to Santa Margarita in the south and from Adelaida in the west to Shandon in the east, the Paso Robles AVA is mammoth .
Consider the relatively arid districts in the east with the wineries up in the much cooler Coastal Range to the west, gives just a peak as to the varied conditions weather-wise that the region offers. Compare those with more moderate climes in the south, brings the story home as to why the vintners and grape growers felt compelled to split the region up.
The 11 districts are:
- Adelaida District
- Creston District
- El Pomar District
- Paso Robles Estrella District
- Paso Robles Geneseo District
- Paso Robles Highlands District
- Paso Robles Willow Creek District
- San Juan Creek
- San Miguel District
- Santa Margarita Ranch
- Templeton Gap District
These new identities will be official in November. It should be noted that while the wineries can use the latest sub-AVA, they must also have Paso Robles AVA on their label as well. Check out the Paso Man video below for a little, um, well, clarity.
Daryle W. Hier