Category Archives: Central Coast

The happenings and history of the California Central Coast

Losing Paso Robles Water?

We’ve opined on these pages before about water problems plaguing Paso Robles including drought and who has the rights to the water in the first place. Now, the region may be losing their rights to a huge ground water reservoir in the North County to eastern academics 3,000 miles away.

Harvard

Harvard’s Widener Library

Harvard University, from Cambridge, Massachusetts, endowment arm has been quietly buying up land and the rights to water pumped from that ground for investment purposes. This isn’t the first time we heard about this, but it appears the Ivy League school has not lost steam in purchasing giant parcels and grabbing hold of the water pumped from said properties.

Harvard Management Company buying up the Central Coast 

Roughly a year ago, reports surfaced Harvard Management Company was acquiring real estate on California’s Central Coast. Whether it was the stories about drought and how Paso Robles had this huge natural underground aquifer or perhaps the fact the region was crowned the world number one wine region, regardless, land was being gobbled up throughout the area. From Santa Barbara, to San Luis Obispo and Monterey Counties, mostly rural properties were being bought on a steady basis, on behalf of Harvard – though all entities involved, would not corroborate the information.

And from all indications, none of these acquisitions were great farming deals, meaning, there had to be an alternative reason for the purchases. Betting on the potentially liquid gold underneath the surface had to be the only logical reasoning behind these procurements.

Brodiaea-Shandon-vineyard

The wine industry is in a boon of sorts in Paso Robles, and certainly the city is by most accounts, a company town in that viticulture has a hold on the region. There is little influence in the region by the behemoth population centers of Greater L.A. and the Bay Area. The region is somewhat protected by the huge expanse of farming land to the north and mountains to the south. With vineyards and to a lesser degree, orchards, planted on a lot of the existing farmland, the area is filtered and isolated from big city expansion and manipulation.

However, there’s no stopping someone from coming in and paying top dollar for land, so they can be in command of the water down below. Those in favor of a water district for Paso Robles, are indirectly helping outside investments, which brings with it the concern of powers-to-be outside the cities purview may gain control of the water below.

Harvard Memorial Hall - Wikipedia

The halls of Harvard academia might be trying to influence farmland 3,000 miles away on Central Coast of California.

School’s admitted strategy

Last spring, the Harvard Crimson, the schools daily newspaper, reported that investments from the Harvard’s endowment portfolio were being made through a company called Brodiaea, for the expressed strategy of investing:

“in natural resources by purchasing millions of dollars’ worth of vineyard land in central California,”

The investments then in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties were $61 million while acquiring about 10,000 acres, though again, no comments were forth coming, yet it was generally thought that the move was a “water play”. That’s hearsay and probably not compelling enough. Then consider this: Harvard’s own business school did case study in 2009 on water and farming resources in California.

Ground recharge has been a problem here in Paso Robles with some shallow wells drying up in small subdivisions as well as farms. The three-year drought has been to blame, but the fact is, there is still a sea of water below called the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin. Created by the Salinas River, it’s one of the largest natural aquifers in the country. Purportedly to save what water remained, San Luis Obispo County took away the rights of landowners so they could stop all new water wells from being drilled. This means for now, only those who have existing well and vines, can continue to water their crops. Those lands are what the secretive Harvard endowment is buying up.

“In vino veritas”

There may not be a lot of ‘truth’ coming from Harvard regarding investments in the vineyards – and water – of Paso Robles.

This brings us back to who is becoming the regions largest landowner and grape-grower: Harvard Management Company. There’s still no word from Brodiaea, who is handling the acquisitions and management of this farming land.

The weather has been inconsistent so far this season with a much wetter than normal end of fall, but a more typical drought-like situation during the first month of winter. We should see rain coming back into the picture next week and forecast claim the rest of winter should be wet. Whether that has any bearing on Harvard’s investments or not; many will likely be watching. Nonetheless, how outside influences such as these affect Paso Robles or not, could hinge on both the climate of weather and business … and how much water is in the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin.

There’s a famous Latin phrase that many here in the world of wine are familiar with that says: ‘In vino veritas’ (in wine there is truth). Harvard’s motto is ‘veritas’ meaning truth. Will Paso Robles lose their water? It remains to be seen how much truth comes out of these circumstances.

Additional sources: Mercator Research

Veritas,

Daryle W. Hier

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Gang-Related Shooting A Cold Reminder

I don’t want to alarm anyone and the fact remains that Paso Robles – for the most part – is somewhat isolated by what goes on in the big cities a couple hundred miles away. However, the truth is, we do have crime on the Central Coast. And in case folks think we’re just a sleepy little town, we had a gang-related shooting. Yes, even in the cold of winter, the idyllic town of Paso in wine country has a little nastiness of big city life pop up here on an occasion.

Paso_Robles

I’m one of the first to expound on living in bucolic Paso Robles as just about life in paradise. Having lived a majority of my life in the Los Angeles area, I know of what I speak. On one hand, it’s not naive to think we can have a quiet life in charming Paso Robles. Heck, you can go almost anywhere in San Luis Obispo County and find the finer pleasures of a great and relatively calm lifestyle. Yet, it’s inconceivable to believe crime doesn’t live amongst the rolling countryside of North County.

Monsters to the north and south

We like to mention often how we sit in a much less populated region between two giant metropolises: Los Angeles and San Francisco. However, that’s part of the problem. Less than four hours south lies roughly 20 million people in the Greater L.A. area and just over three hours north is the Bay Area and nearly 10 million congregate there. Obviously, there will be some influence even though we have large expanses between these two behemoths.

With urban monsters like these comes crime and gangs, which is part-and-parcel to what could be happening here on the Central Coast. The Golden State has a natural rivalry between Southern and Northern California. In sports, there’s nothing as big as the antagonistic battle between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants. Nevertheless, a lesser known but more violent rivalry is between gangs from these two regions. This isn’t Westside Story.

West Side Story

In the south, Southerners or Surenos, have a stronghold in Los Angeles and actually can now be found throughout the nation. They are essentially tied to the Mexico mob and the mafioso-type organizations there. Still, when they try to move north though, they run into the Northerners or Nortenos. Yeah, I know, not very original.

The Nortenos are based in more rural towns and otherwise were formed in the Salinas area (some say Folsom, near Sacramento) but are spread out through the northern half of the state and into the Pacific Northwest. The two gangs are run from the prisons of California and have a deep-seated hatred for the other.

Who controls what?

The dividing line for these gangs has been noted as Bakersfield in the southern San Joaquin Valley, but since the coastal area of Central California (i.e. San Luis Obispo County) is sparsely populated, the lines blur and are potentially an area of concern though the North County is considered Surenos influenced. Note Monterey County is controlled by Northerners and the two counties butt-up just 10 miles away from Paso Robles.

Having said all this, the crime reports here in Paso Robles can be laughable. There are certain days that go by with basically no crimes reported. Yet, that wasn’t the case on a cool early Tuesday morning that otherwise was a quiet and very nice part of southeastern Paso Robles. Gunfire erupted on Sycamore Canyon Road (source: KSBY).

The police say it’s gang-related and while there were multiple shots fired by the assailant, luckily no one was shot – there were some cars damaged. It’s not known if this is a turf war or not, so my elongated description above may or may not be applicable. Still, gangs are a problem and this instance reminds us that we as a city need to be attentive to any perceived escalation.

Chivas

Gangs such as Chivas are common in the Greater L.A. region.

Denial? 

I remember reading an article a few years back and it noted how a solid majority of Paso Robles officials felt there wasn’t a gang problem in the town. That was shortly after a drive-by shooting that summer with county sheriffs talking about dramatic increases overall in crime. During that same period, a huge brawl in a bar in San Miguel – a small town just north of Paso – was caused by drugs and gangs. Purportedly law enforcement is in control and the city does an excellent job of fighting graffiti, while keeping distance between the gangs and the citizenry. Ah, but let’s face it, this isn’t L.A.

I owned a classic car restoration business in Norwalk and for a time, the city was known as having more gangs members per capita than anywhere else in the country. The gangs around our shop were rivals with the notorious Chivas’ who were always a worry. It was a war zone. Don’t believe me? Look it up – here’s just one of many stories written about the infamous area (L.A. Times). From personal experience, during the middle of a work week, I heard a big bang and went out to the edge of the street to see what was going on. I guess God had something else in mind because a bullet whizzed by head, just missing me. That’s life in the big city. That’s not Paso Robles.

Paso Robles AVA

Regardless, Paso is a fast-growing town and likely will become the largest in the county within the next couple decades. With growth comes growing pains and certainly gangs will be sniffing around with shootings like the one yesterday popping up every once in awhile. This will continue to remind us we must be vigilant.

Okay, that’s it. No more to see here. Don’t want to be a Debbie Downer – just living life realistically with my eyes wide open. Now back to your regularly scheduled glass of wine, as most of us wait for winter to be done with.

Additional sources: Barrio Gangs: Street Life and Identity in Southern CaliforniaThe Detective’s Guide: California Prisons, Prison Gangs, and Parolees

Cheers,

Daryle W. Hier

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Paso Robles Weather

Some people love to hear about weather and others kind of shrug. Still, the year-round weather in Paso Robles is unique with a different take on four seasons.

The weather on the Central Coast of California is varied in and of itself. There are the somewhat damp and foggy beach areas with the cool Pacific Ocean holding temperatures down while the Santa Lucia Range keeps the inland areas such as Paso Robles relatively warm and dry.

The assortment of micro-climes within this region, especially for San Luis Obispo County, vary widely and make this entire area weather distinctive. For instance, the south facing beaches such as Avila Beach have their own tiny zones, being warmer by 10 degrees or more over their neighbors just south of them such as Pismo Beach. San Luis Obispo which is only a handful of miles inland from this same beach area, has some of the mildest weather in the country.

As the crow flies 30 miles north of the city of San Luis Obispo on the other side of the Cuesta Grade sits Paso Robles. Mild isn’t in its repertoire, with cool wet and sometimes cold temperatures in the winter, Paso ends up with hot dry summers … and heavy winds thrown in at times during the first half of the year.

Winters are cool and wet

Paso Robles Flurry

Although Paso is certainly cold enough in the winter, snow is rare.

The winter year starts off in January with mostly cloudy wet weather and cold temps of 20 and 30s for lows and highs ranging from 40s all the way to 70. February offers little change from January except maybe slightly more rain, but not quite as cold temperatures. March can indeed roar in like a lion with cool rainy climes, however as spring eases into the mix, wet weather lightens and 70s become more regular with lows in the freezing range rare.

With Irish-like hills everywhere and some vineyards starting to green up as well, April offers up a unique range of weather not seen with any other month. The temperatures have warmed regularly into the 70s with occasional 80s popping up for highs. Lows have crept their way up into the 40s. Daytime temps bump up early in the day but strong fresh winds from the southwest blow cool air from the beaches inland and keep highs from being warmer than they otherwise would. By the end of April with its lively colors, showers are few and far between.

Windy season

Spring is often called the windy season for this region and May is no different. The difference from April though is the temps have notched their way up into 80s on a more regular basis – lows are still in the 40s. As the golden hillsides show up, June sees the incessant wind but potentially has the first 100s poking onto the scene. Lows are in the upper 40s to low 50s and the infamous Paso Robles diurnal can really show itself this time of year. For instance, personally I remember several years ago, a June day roared up to 106, but the low was 44 – a difference of 62 degrees. As a note, when in Paso, be prepared clothing-wise for wide ranging temps like this in a single day.

Summer in Paso Robles

July brings on the heat. 90s and 100s are the norm, with temps as high as 110 possible. The winds start letting up some by mid-summer and actually, August is almost a dead-ringer for July. Only difference between the two hot summer months is lesser winds for August. September ushers in some vague changes as the heat lessons slightly with more diverse highs ranging from 100 down to 80.

Fall starts hot but cools dramatically at year’s end

As the Autumn hues become vibrant, October starts off as a still warm part of the year, but ends with cooling temps that can see lows sporadically in the 30s. November strides in with cooler weather as highs struggle to stay in the 70s with lows regularly in the 30s. Thanksgiving has shown to be warm certain years with bright sunny temps, but then again, other years have seen cold conditions as winter makes an early entrance. With color gone from most of the Paso area, December is considered the coldest month of the year as the rainy season begins. Temperatures can see 20s for lows, and even teens can make an appearance. Highs range in the 50s and 60s.

That’s a trip around the year in Paso Robles. Winter offers mostly cold and wet weather transforming into a drier climate with a windy but relatively mild spring. Summer is hot and dry as is early fall before giving way to a cooler end of year.

Lately the weather has been dominated by a lack of rain with drought, and average-wise, temperatures have been warmer. Regardless, hope this gives a quick synopsis of weather in wine country on the Central Coast.

Cheers,

Daryle W. Hier

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Santa Lucia Range

Living in wine country gives you a different perspective on geography. Or maybe more noticeably, the topography of land often dictates what you can or can’t do with an area as far as farming goes. When it comes to the California Central Coast, there’s no more dominant presence than the Coastal Range, which essentially is the Santa Lucia Range of mountains.

Santa Lucia Range - Coast

The Santa Lucia’s create a barrier between the cool Pacific Ocean and the inland valleys, such as the Salinas Valley and in our particular area, Paso Robles. Although the mountains top out at just over a mile high, the several mile wide range that runs roughly northwest to southeast, is enough to affect weather patterns and growing climates quite drastically. In fact, no other coastal region in the U.S. has as dramatic a rise in elevation as the Coastal Range does.

Named by explorer Sebastian Vizcaino of Spain, a little more than 400 years ago, the Santa Lucia’s run from Monterey Bay in the north, down to San Luis Obispo in the south. With its famous cliffs and panoramic views, one of the more famed scenic roads, Hwy 1, runs roughly along it’s western edge and also one of the most famous tourist stops in all the world, Big Sur, envelopes much of the northern and western parts of the Santa Lucias.

The highest point in these mountains is Junipero Serra Peak at 5,857 feet and smack dab in the middle of the Coastal Range – as the crow flies, maybe 10 miles west southwest of King City. During the winter, snow can be seen around the long relatively flat summit on a regular basis.

Not a lot here, plenty to see

Junipero Serra Peak

With Junipero Serra Peak in background, the Ventana Wilderness is a prime region within the Santa Lucia Range.

The Santa Lucia Range is sparsely populated and actually is made up of mostly state and national forests along with the nations largest Army command post (Fort Hunter-Liggett). Part of the Los Padres National Forest’s Ventana Wilderness encumbers a large portion of the Santa Lucia mountains.

The terrain in certain parts of the range, especially in the northern reaches, are incredibly rocky and shear. As such, the area is difficult to traverse with very few trails. The region is subject to earthquakes and the unsteady nature of the rock formations make climbing in the Santa Lucias quite a task. Pines, redwoods and oaks – such as dominate Paso Robles (‘pass of the oaks’) – are common throughout these mountains.

Wildlife abounds

Mountain lions are regulars in the Santa Lucias and now bears have worked their way up into the southern sections of the range, mainly in San Luis Obispo County. With almost no population, there is a lot of wild life throughout this pristine and rugged part of California. There are also indigenous trees found only in these parts, such as the Santa Lucia or Bristlecone Fir along with the Monterey Pine.

Big Sur

Big Sur encapsulates just part of the wonder that is the Santa Lucia Range.

The region is distinct with climes such as the Monterey Bay and Big Sur with their cool foggy weather set off against its southern neighbors like Paso Robles with their relatively dry and often hot days. In fact, its the Santa Lucia Range that filters the cool Pacific Ocean from the interior valleys, making for such unique diurnals.

Some consider the Santa Lucia Range to contain at least half of all plant life grown in California. You likely won’t find anywhere else in the Golden State the combination of flora from the ‘two Californias’ (drier southeast versus the wetter northwest), as it’s not unusual to see Yuccas growing right along side Redwoods, especially in the Ventana Wilderness.

Enemy is fire

And speaking of Ventana, fires have damaged large portions of the Los Padres National Forest due in part to the governance from the state and more importantly federal agencies. Without proper care and management of this exceptional expanse of wilderness, brings devastation with total lack of conservation in mind. Deficiency of fire suppression in the Coastal Range has brought hellacious fires that consumed and produced huge loss of wildlife over the past decades, including a couple of raging infernos in June of 2008 that burned about 200,000 acres.

Big SurStill, tucked between the giant metropolitan population bases of the Bay Area and Greater L.A., this vast countryside has somehow stayed unspoiled. The region is rough and rugged while also being gorgeous yet delicate. With endemic fauna and inimitable beauty, the Santa Lucia Range offers one of the more exclusive regions rising up along the Pacific Ocean … or maybe all the world.

Additional sources: Cal FireCalifornia’s Wilderness Areas the Complete Guide Mountains and Coastal Ranges

Cheers,

Daryle W. Hier

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Central Coast Wine Country Is More Than Paso

It’s easy to be lulled into thinking the world rises and sets in wine country on the California Central Coast with Paso Robles. Considering Paso was the worlds number one wine region, it’s no wonder why I or anyone else would regard the North County of San Luis Obispo with such high praise and even reverence. Ah, but that would reduce the significant contributions from the rest of San Luis Obispo County.

San Luis Obispo

More pointedly, the city of San Luis Obispo and surrounding area have more than their fair share of wine producing vineyards and tasting rooms. Just a handful of miles from the Pacific Ocean, vineyards in places like Edna Valley on the southeastern part of town to more south into the Arroyo Grande Valley are unique and produce fine wines. Other than Avila Valley to the west, tasting rooms mostly are in or around the city itself.

Varietals such as Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Syrah, Pinot Noir along with Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon are what the region produces the most of. Cool ocean air makes growing grapes like Pinot Noir ideal. It appears wine has been produced in the area for 150 years or more.

All of these areas including Paso Robles and Santa Barbara County to Santa Cruz County in the north, are part of the larger Central Coast AVA. The Monterey Bay region has wonderful wine districts and of course Santa Barbara is now well known in part because of the movie ‘Sideways‘. When folks visit the Santa Ynez Valley of Santa Barbara, they often will then head up an hour and a half away to Paso Robles, often skipping places, driving right by cities like San Luis Obispo … but it’s worth the time to stop and take in the southern part of the county.

Edna Valley

Edna Valley is only a half-a-dozen miles from the Pacific Ocean, but is just far enough that it allows for a very long growing season.

The growing season is one of the longest in California and offers an array of wines that should be checked out by anyone interested in finding the newest upstarts in the viticultural business. So as you can see, the county of San Luis Obispo is more than just the North County and Paso Robles – check here to find out more.

And don’t forget, starting in Morro Bay, there’s no coastline as beautiful as the Central Coast with one of the greatest driving tours in the world. Oh, and did we mention weddings?

Cheers,

Daryle W. Hier

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Top 20 National Ranking For Paso Robles

Between the Bay Area and Los Angeles, on the California Central Coast where wine is prominent, quietly sits the town Paso Robles.

However, there’s another prominent entity in town and more directly the high school, has reached new heights with their football program. The Bearcats’ gridiron squad, which at one point was for a short time ranked in the Top 10, ended the year 19th overall nationally among small schools (MaxPrep).

Coached by Rich Schimke and led by San Luis Obispo County’s top athlete in Bailey Gaither, Paso Robles went to their first bowl game and in the fact was the first team from the Central Coast to be represented in the state championships.

The Bearcats went the entire magical year undefeated before losing to their North County rival Atascadero Greyhounds at seasons end, making them co-champions with the ‘Hounds and Arroyo Grande Eagles in the PAC-5 League. Paso then pounded Royal of Simi Valley 42-14 in the first round of the Northern Division playoffs and turned around and easily beat a good Palmdale team 49-16.

Bailey Gaither

Bailey Gaither helped lead Paso Robles to a fantastic season. He’s San Luis Obispo County’s top football and baseball player.

In the semifinals, the Bearcats slugged out a 28-21 victory over Arroyo Grande to make it to the finals against a very good Newbury Park squad. Before a packed house on a wet and muddy field at War Memorial Stadium in Paso Robles, the Bearcats were able to run Gaither right, Gaither left and Gaither up the middle, battling their way to an epic 13-10 win.

With an incredible 13-1 season, Paso went to their bowl badly beaten up – for instance they were playing fourth-string running backs – and without their star do-everything player, Bailey Gaither. The magic came to resounding thud as the team had to travel half a day to Lakeside, California in San Diego County to play against 13-0 El Capitan. While losing their star kicker/punter Brice Pasky and standout wide receiver Ty Jones in the first quarter to injuries, there was too much to overcome and the Bearcats lost 41-0.

It should be noted, Gaither is heading to San Jose State to play for the Spartans next year along with his Bearcat teammate Josh Oliver – who was also a two-way star on the Paso Robles football team.

It was a great season and unprecedented year for Bearcat football. The town is very proud of them and in fact, it was a common occurrence when in or around town, folks of all sorts would start talking about the football team in any conversation.

War Memorial Stadium - Paso Robles

War Memorial Stadium was the place to be in 2014 … and any year for that matter.

So the next time you’re in our quiet hamlet, during the late summer or fall enjoying your favorite countryside tasting our world famous wine, check out another favorite here on the Central Coast.

Congratulations to the Paso Robles football team on their national ranking.

Go Bearcats!

Cheers,

Daryle W. Hier

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Winter Differences

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.” – John Steinbeck

My father would appreciate that quote more than most, given his affinity for summer. I too am a big fan of hot weather – which brings me to my thought: Winter is different.

LosAngeles-downtown-freeway

What I mean is for all the differences between Southern and Central California – especially the Central Coast, the weather, particularly in winter, is different than Greater Los Angeles and vicinity … in other words it’s colder.

I lived most of my life in the L.A. area, having been born and raised in Venice and then living in an assorted amount of places from Ventura County to Orange County. Except for San Diego, the temperature and weather in these places is one of the more mild climes anyone can be a part of.

Differentiation

When I moved to Paso Robles almost a decade ago, I knew there were dissimilarities in climates, but for the most part, there wouldn’t be much difference. And essentially that’s true in the summer half of the year, although the diurnal takes some getting used to. Still, the cold temperatures in Paso Robles compared with L.A. are quite distinct.

“Wine gives a man nothing… it only puts in motion what had been locked up in frost.” – Samuel Johnson

Snow in PasoDaytime Winter temps in a clear and sunny Paso might not make it much above 40. That’s unheard of in Los Angeles where a clear cool day is always in the 60s. The San Fernando Valley in L.A. can dip into the 20s, but not regularly. On the Central Coast in wine country, we can have low temperatures in the teens. It wasn’t that many years ago that Paso had an 11 degree morning. It used to snow occasionally here in wine country, but the past decade hasn’t seen the white stuff.

A frosty evening isn’t unusual in Paso Robles, such as last weekends Vine Street block party. It was in the 40s in the early evening – but it didn’t deter tens of thousands from coming out on a crisp night.

Favorite time of year?

We have a poll from last year that asked what season in Paso Robles was their favorite and most said either Fall or Winter, which surprised me a bit. Fall colors are amazing here in wine country and the weather is somewhat mild compared to the extremes of Summer and Winter, so that makes some sense. However, Winter can be cold and wet – two things that aren’t attractive to me. Yet folks approve of cooler conditions than the warmth of Summer.

I know, people from most of the rest of the United States and Canada will scoff at these weather comparisons. Nevertheless, when you take a Venice guy out of his moderate elements and place him in more drastic – and in this case colder temperatures – it makes an impression and causes me to expound on it.

Paso Robles rainbow

Rainbows have been common this year in Paso as tropical moisture from an El Nino pattern has made the end of 2014 very wet.

Ironically, with all that is said here, this year, we haven’t had a sub-freezing day; and yet we are only one week before Christmas Eve. The garden is still producing tomatoes when normally, it would have been closed down several weeks prior. Also, due to what appears to be an El Nino year, rain has been steady over the last month or so, which has kept temps moderated.

We’ll see how Winter 2015 will react, but for now, I’m okay with the wet and relatively mild temperatures.

Alright, let’s have it. Give me your best shot at my little bit of whining about Winter. 🙂

“And there is quite a different sort of conversation around a fire than there is in the shadow of a beech tree … Four dry logs have in them all the circumstance necessary to a conversation of four or five hours, with chestnuts on the plate and a jug of wine between the legs. Yes, let us love winter, for it is the spring of genius.” – Pietro Aretino

Cheers,

Daryle W. Hier

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Paso Robles Football Advances To Bowl Game

One of the better football teams to come out of Paso Robles High School in some time, has advance to California’s South Division Championship bowl game against El Capitan Vaqueros of Lakeside in San Diego County.

Although wine dominates our region now, sports has always been a mainstay in the North County and the Paso Robles Bearcats have been a very good team almost forever.

I’ve not talked about sports here because I wrote so much outside of Paso Wine Barrels’ blog. I freelanced for a handful of years and was a writer for Yahoo Sports!, becoming one of their top writers worldwide. However, the barrel business soon overrode my time and combined with many changes at Yahoo!, my sports writing diminished.

So occasionally, I might throw some sports related stuff in here, but not to worry, it will be sporadic at best. Just enough to keep you informed of what’s going on here on the Central Coast sports-wise.

Top 20 ranking

As far as the the football squad, they won the Northern Division of the Southern Section in the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) – CIF governs all 1,500 high schools regarding sports in the Golden State. Sounds like a lot of schools, huh. You have to remember there are roughly 40 million people living in California. By the way, Paso Robles is currently ranked 18th in the state.

Anyway, the Bearcats rolled to a 13-1 record with their only loss to league rival Atascadero Greyhounds at the end of the regular season. Atascadero also had an excellent team this year and most years for that matter. The PAC 5 League that Paso and A-town are part of, is a powerhouse and ended with a tri-championship between the two aforementioned schools along with Arroyo Grande. All three made it to the division semifinals – the PAC 5 was that good.

Paso Robles defeated a very strong and high-scoring machine of a team in the Newbury Park Panthers from Ventura County. The Northern Division Championship game was played on a muddy field due to rains that have been steadily on and off here on our parched and drought-stricken land for the last few weeks. Yes, good news, and something I’ll talk about in a later blog. In any case, the final score was a tight 13-10 slugfest with the Bearcats often using a stacked I formation – an obvious running style that dared the Panthers to stop the run.

Superstar leading the way

Bailey Gaither #34, ran up and down the field on Newbury Park to help the team win the Northern Division crown.

The star was Bailey Gaither who ran for an impressive 180 yards even though he’s the team leading wide receiver. An extremely talented player who does everything better than anyone, he ran from the tailback position and helped win the game. As a note, Gaither was the county’s player of the year in baseball last spring. He will most likely be the player of the year in football for San Luis Obispo County as well.

It was estimated that 5,000 fans were packed into War Memorial Stadium in less than ideal weather conditions. The game with El Capitan will be in San Diego so Paso Robles will have a six hour bus ride south to play the 13-0 Vaqueros.

This is the first time a team from the Central Coast has participated in the state bowl program – and it has made the town proud. If the Bearcats win, they will play in the state championship against the North Division champion (between 14-0 Campolindo and 13-0 Sutter).

There you have it, Paso Robles may have been this past seasons wine region of the year, but we also have a great football squad. Go Bearcats!

Cheers,

Daryle W. Hier

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California Drought – Quick Winter Update

Rain, or lack of – otherwise known as drought – is never far from the minds of Californians. We’ve had two very dry years in-a-row and winter is nearly upon us.

Regardless of the fact that state and federal governments have made it worse, the drought is draining resources and clearly a problem at this point. And according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) we could likely have yet another year of drought. Yes, that sound you heard was 40 million Golden Staters wincing.

Bad and good – mostly bad

This annual winter report has a mix of news including the likelihood of an El Nino, however, NOAA doesn’t feel confident it will be a strong El Nino. This means California will probably get less rain than normal and indeed if the El Nino is weak, the state will get very little moisture.

As far as the wet stuff is concerned, the news is both a sprinkle of good with bad as a little less than half in the southern part of the state might escape the trend; but, in our Sierra Nevadas where snow pack offers up so much of our water needs, it isn’t good news overall for California. As far as a more local view, the Central Coast is slated to be about normal – which at this point, we’ll take it and be happy.

Temperature-wise, the Golden State will shine if you like wearing shorts and t-shirts in the winter, with much higher than normal temps. This is great for growing seasons and well, hanging out at the beach or lake. Still, even though we do have a certain amount of water available to use, with these dire warnings, the government is more inclined to help a salmon and a bait fish have enough water, than farmers and citizens.

As we all know, weather reports are notoriously fickle and we can only hope that they are wrong again.

Source: NOAA

Cheers,

Daryle W. Hier

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Paso Harvest Wine Celebrations

The month of October is considered harvest month although the first grapes were likely picked as early as the end of July and some grapes may be left on the vine until November. Still, as production winds down at the wineries in the fall, dinners and special celebrations finish off the season.

Autumn in Paso Robles vineyard

While any weekend of October can have celebratory events at many vineyard locations, the biggest weekend is in the middle of the month with what a local organization calls Harvest Wine Weekend. From Friday through Sunday (Oct. 17-19), over a 100 vineyards and wineries will have dinners, celebrations and festivities including music and entertainment. Fun stuff like grape-stomping, barrel tastings and food pairings will carry-on throughout the rolling hills of Paso Robles and much of the North County.

Sitting next to a vineyard while taking in its beauty matched against the countryside, is an adventure that can’t be missed. The canopies are starting to change color, which is one of the unique and almost breathtaking periods of the entire season with oranges, yellows and reds striking out through the wine country landscape, making for a memorable site.

The weather has cooled from the tremendous heat that summer and even early fall can present, offering up a comfortable setting for any type of gathering.

Paso Robles - bed and breakfast - view

High Ridge Manor

With a fun yet relaxing time enjoying music, food, wine and a view that can’t be imagined without actually being there, this is one of those special experiences that everyone must encounter some time in their life. So head on out to Paso Robles.

As we say:

“Paso Robles – Come for the view – stay for the wine.”

Salud,

Daryle W. Hier

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