Part 1 of 3
Paso Robles, California, is growing in popularity, especially in regards to the wine industry and in fact was just named the top wine region of the world (see related articles below). Wine has been a part of the history of El Paso de Robles, but the early beginnings of the town had as much or more to do with ranching, farming, orchards and hot springs.
Centered roughly halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, the town is only a handful of miles from San Miguel, home to Mission San Miguel, which is part of the California Spanish mission trail. It appears the mission and the area of Paso Robles were created about the same time. The name of the town comes from Spanish meaning ‘The Pass of the Oaks’ and is situated about 20 miles from the Pacific Ocean in northern San Luis Obispo County at the very southern edge of the Salinas Valley. The Salinas River runs right through the middle of ‘Paso’, which it what locals call the town.
Wine & Inn
The San Miguel Mission Franciscans planted vines from the outset for sacramental reasons but eventually used some of the production for export. Paso was little more than a watering hole on the way to or from – along the 600-mile El Camino Real – but it was a watering hole in more ways than one, as the town sat over hot springs. Bathhouses were created (first by the Franciscan priests) and became somewhat popular throughout the 19th and early 20th Century. The first El Paso de Robles Hotel (later reincarnated as the Paso Robles Inn) was built in the 1860s. It should be noted that the Salinan Indians were the first to discover the hot springs and informed the padres about its healing affects.
As part of a 26,000 acre Spanish land grant, the region was mostly ranchland in the 1800s. The first post office was established in 1867 and later the town was incorporated in 1889. James Blackburn and Drury James were the founders of the town, starting a health resort due to the hot springs (sulfur spring baths). The first trains starting coming through the area in 1886 with the town becoming a stopover for the rich and famous.
The 19th Century was a prepubescent time for Paso Robles during the Wild West and more would be in-store as these earliest of years for Paso would actually offer a glimpse into what the town would become.
Watch for more here very soon, as the story continues …
Daryle W. Hier
- 2013 Wine Region of the Year (pasowinebarrels.wordpress.com)