Tag Archives: Central Coast

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?


Daryle W. Hier





What The Heck Is A Diurnal?

With Paso Robles As Example

A diurnal sounds like a … uh, uh uh, easy guys, this isn’t toilet humor (pun intended). Actually, diurnal has more than one meaning and we’re not dealing with a daily journal.Partial Earth

No, what we will talk about is the diurnal (meteorologically speaking) that means the difference between day and night pertaining to weather temperatures. And in Paso Robles, on the California Central Coast, we have a doozy.

Summers offer big diurnal

In its most basic description, the diurnal is a spread of temperatures relating the highest in one day to the lowest of that same day or within the next 24 hours. For instance, one of the first summers I had here in Paso, we had a high of 106 and a low of 44. That differential was 62 degrees – an amazing temperature swing for 24 hours. And in actuality, it wasn’t even 24 hours as the high was around 4:00 p.m. and the low was about 5:00 a.m. In roughly half a day, the diurnal was 62 degrees.

Although this anecdotal example is a bit on the extreme, this huge change isn’t that unusual in Paso Robles, especially during the summer month cycle and is an interesting aspect to the area. In fact, August has highs averaging in the low to mid 90s with lows in the low to mid 50s. June, July, September and October also have wide-ranging diurnals. 50 degree disparity in highs and lows is common fare in summer and early fall.

Desert vs Ocean

Without going into another entire story on temperatures in Paso, the area lies at the backside of the Coastal Range and typical of many regions in California, the temperatures soar in the late morning through mid afternoons. Sea breezes begin blowing in from the Pacific Ocean, working their way through the mountain passes and dramatically cooling the air – thus, large varying temperatures from night to day.

Ranches and orchards once dotted the landscape as much as vineyards do now.

A large diurnal allowed for ranches and orchards, which once dotted the Paso Robles landscape as much as vineyards do now.

A slight offshore keeping the marine layer away with warm air aloft during the day and a sun beating down, allows temperatures to climb quickly up. When the late afternoon winds bring in the much cooler air: voila! You have a large diurnal. It should be noted that humid regions and/or areas with bodies of water tend to have a low diurnal. When thinking about moderate diurnals, think Great Lakes region along with the Eastern Seaboard, Gulf Coast and the immediate coastal areas of the Pacific Northwest. They see little change from day to night in temperature swings.

Those that live in the desert might know about the large temperature variation or diurnal. The Great Basin (Nevada) has normally huge divergences between high and lows in one day. If you look up wide swings in diurnal temperatures, you will inevitably hear about the Upper Plains like the Dakotas also having tremendous climatic variances – due in part to not having any large body of water to moderate the temperature. The continental landlocked plains of the Central Asian Steppe region also has severe temperature fluctuations due to lack of any major body of water. The record diurnal at 100 degrees is held by the small town of Browning, in northwestern Montana (source: National Park Service).


The Mongolian highlands or Steppe region is one of the areas of the world where the diurnal is wide ranging.

A day in Paso

Breaking the diurnal down inside a day, the greatest change is normally from late afternoon before the sun is low in the sky until just after sunset. Normally here in Paso, it might be 90 in summer on a typical late afternoon around 6:00 p.m. and by 9:00 p.m. it could be 65, possibly changing more than 10 degrees in one hour. By the way, several years ago, shortly after leaving a winery on a blistering hot August day, I looked up on the temperature inside the car and it read 110 degrees outside … and it was 5:30 p.m. And still the lows were in the 50s.

Paso Robles is generally a dry region and the only reason it isn’t a desert more so like the Central Valley – such as Bakersfield (100 miles east) where day time Summer temperatures don’t drop as severely in the evenings – is the effects of the Coastal Range; plus, Paso is only 20 miles from the ocean and the water temperatures blow in to keep it cooler.

Carrizo Plain

The lands just southeast of Paso Robles called the Carrizo Plain has quite a divergence between high and lows called a diurnal.

Soon I will be talking about how that diurnal directly affects Paso Robles and its grape vines. Hopefully this didn’t confuse you and I didn’t confuse myself – it has been done. Daily diurnal cycles are interesting characteristics of weather and your daily life, so the next time someone asks you about diurnals, now you know. And no, it doesn’t have anything to do with strange restrooms … keep it clean.  😉

Additional source: Idaho State University, Wunderground.com, State of California

Salootie Patootie,

Daryle W. Hier