Tag Archives: Paso Robles

L.A. Day Trip: Paso Robles

Forgot about this last month, but Automobile Club of Southern California (AAA) had a nice story on Paso Robles as an ideal day trip for those in the Greater Los Angeles area (source: Westways). Actually this is true for those in the Bay Area as well. In fact, since Paso is on the Central Coast, almost anywhere in the Golden State could view the idyllic rolling hills of the ‘Pass of the Oaks’ as a great day trip.Paso Robles roads - fall

As we’ve mentioned here on the blog in the past, along with the Auto Club article, the allure of Paso is the combination of a small town feel, but with much to do including food, wineries and boutiques stores. Now, with its designation as the number one wine region of the world, the popularity of the once small sleepy town, has brought Paso to the fore as a great travel destination.

The biggest draw of course are the wineries with upwards of 300 in the North County area. There’s always something going at the Paso Robles Event Center including the biggest little fair: the Mid-State Fair. Also, the Downtown City Park is busy almost every weekend – such as this Saturday’s Trading Day.

This year marks the 125th anniversary of the cities founding and there are constant celebrations and events commemorating the towns history. You can check with the Chamber of Commerce for more information.

The attraction and beauty of Paso Robles is unusual and unique. Whether you come to visit for the day or longer, when sitting at one of the many wineries, there’s a mesmerizing feeling that is both charming and elegant. As they say, “Come for the view, stay for the wine.

Cheers,

Daryle W. Hier

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Trading Day In Paso Robles

UPDATED

This is a quick note that Saturday, June 20th will mark the first weekend of summer as well as Trading Day at the Park in Downtown Paso Robles. What’s even more important is that Paso Wine Barrels will be there with all their barrels.Trading Day - Paso Robles

To find us, well, it’s easy.  Go to the Downtown City Park and the corner of 12th and Spring. There we’ll be with Decorative Wine Barrels, Staves, Planter Barrels, Hose Holders and more.  Now’s your chance to see these beauties in person.

Trading Day is a gathering that to describe it, is the biggest yard sale in San Luis Obispo County.  Furniture, memorabilia, arts and crafts will be exhibited, plus it’s free to the public. Also, there will be a Kids’ Flea Market, plus a Bike Rodeo, which is put on by the Recreation Enhances Community Foundation (REC Foundation). The REC Foundation is a non-profit fundraising corporation committed to creating enhanced programs, places, and open spaces for quality recreational experiences in Paso Robles.

If you live on the Central Coast or are visiting, this is no brainer – come on out.  It runs from 9:00 am until 3:00 pm and note that they have a special section in the middle of the park for kids to sell their wares.  You can call the Main Street Association at 805-238-4103 or email info@pasoroblesdowntown.org for more information.

Last year’s Trading Day.

And what’s best of all? Paso Wine Barrels will have a one-day special with reduced prices on some products.  Yes, we’re crazy and you will be crazy too if you don’t get out to the Park in Downtown Paso Robles on the first day of Summer!

As the Main Street Association asks:

‘Are you searching for that unique antique furniture piece or vintage memorabilia?’

Well, are you?

Cheers,

Daryle W. Hier

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What Is Paso Robles’ Best Season Of The Year?

A friend from down under emailed me with a question revolving around the seasons here in Paso Robles. He wanted to know when it was the best time to come to the number one wine region in the world and well, it got me thinking.oaktree_pasorobles-adj.jpg What is ‘best’?

Are you talking about weather? Or maybe trying to miss the crowds. Or maybe you want to be here when everyone else, so as to party. I emailed him some ideas but it gets me to the polls query.  What is the best season of the year here in Paso?

Each is great in its own way

Summer brings heat and lots of outdoor concerts, along with a ton of vineyard events. Fall offers the beauty of the colors and milder yet comfortable temps for activities such as harvest with dinners in the vineyards. Winter is all about the holiday festivities such as the Vine Street Victorian Showcase to enjoy with the crisp clear air. And finally Spring is bringing back the Irish green hills and vineyards along with flowers adding color combined with pickup parties galore.

I live here and have my own opinions, but whether you’re from here or Autumn in Paso Roblesnot, what season of the year do you like best either living here or visiting? Even if you haven’t been here, go ahead give an opinion – it’s free. By the way, this town swells to twice its size on big weekends such as festivals, holidays and of course the Mid-State Fair. That’s why hotels are going in faster than a Gold Rush.

Anyway, now it’s your turn – let’s hear from you.

Cheers,

Daryle W. Hier

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Paso Robles’ Hot Springs

The main street that runs through Paso Robles is none other than Spring Street.  Aptly named for the hot springs that once were all over the Paso area, hot springs with their sulfur and mud made the region a popular destination many years ago.

One of the many reasons Paso Robles is now famous includes their mineral hot baths.

One of the many reasons Paso Robles is now famous includes their mineral hot baths.

Known first by Native Americans

The springs have been a godsend and at times a hell all wrapped up in one.  The earliest times in Paso Robles two centuries ago found the padres at Mission San Miguel using the soothing springs.  The mission fathers were made aware of the thermal mineral springs by the local Native Americans (Salinan) who knew of the hot thermal waters.  From the City of Paso Robles website, the area was known as ‘California’s oldest watering place’.

Actually Paso Robles was originally called Agua Caliente – not to be confused with the desert resort casino near Palm Springs, California.  The name simply referred to the area as ‘hot water’ or ‘hot springs’.

In the earliest years of the area back in the mid-1800s, there really wasn’t anything in town but a log cabin built around a mineral hot springs near where present day City Hall sits.  When the town received a post office, shortly afterwards the city fathers changed the name to El Paso de Robles – ‘The Pass of the Oaks’ – a tree which the Central Coast has a bounty of.

Rich and famous

Bath houses such as at the Paso Robles Inn were famous a century or more ago.

Bath houses such as the Paso Robles Inn were famous a century or more ago.

The restorative and healing affects the hot springs had made Paso Robles notable as a health resort for many decades and the bath houses were world renown including at the Paso Robles Inn.  The steaming caldron of water from deep in the Earth’s crust drew the wealthy and famous who made Paso Robles a trendy stop and even the Pittsburgh Pirates made the town their spring training grounds in the 20s and 30s.  Jan Paderewski, who was a famed pianist/composer, ended up making Paso Robles one of his homes – drawn by the healing affect of the mineral springs on his hands.  The notorious James brothers, Jesse and Frank, lived in Paso for a spell.

Situated about halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, the mineral springs were popular for travelers but as better transportation and other corridors emerged, the recognition waned along with the fact that some springs dried up during the 20th Century.  By the way, the city’s Municipal Pool on Oak and 28th Street was once home to a sulfur hot springs.

PasoHotSpringsHole

The 2003 San Simeon Earthquake reopened up a hot springs hole in Downtown Paso.

Ranches and orchards sprang up everywhere in the ‘North County’ region of San Luis Obispo County where Paso Robles sits and of course in the latter stages of the 1900s, vineyards brought a new fame and fortune to the area.  An earthquake in 2003 reconnected the hot springs to the surface in some areas while bringing unwanted fissures that brought a terrible smell in town that wasn’t remedied until a couple years ago.  Still, with the new reputation of the region as a destination for vacationers, these thermal and soothing waters may have brought the mineral hot baths back into prominence of sorts.

Paso has a few local businesses that offer mineral hot springs including the famous Paso Robles Inn in Downtown, the River Oaks Hot Springs Spa on the north part of town and the eclectic and natural Franklin Hot Springs southeast of the city.

River Oaks Hot Springs Spa

River Oaks Hot Springs Spa offers wondrously relaxing hot tubs with great views.

As the world’s number one wine region and a popular traveling destination, the history and background of Paso Robles can be lost sometimes.  However, the cities rich past is still present and something tells me that more hot springs will pop up before long, bringing their popularity in the region full circle from centuries ago.

Sources and photos in part are thanks to River Oaks Hot Springs Spa, Paso Robles Inn and the City of Paso Robles.

Cheers,

Daryle W. Hier

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1889 California – The Year Paso Robles Incorporated

During the 19th Century, the city of Paso Robles was born on March 11, 1889.  This year represents the 125th birthday of this still somewhat out-of-the-way town on the California Central Coast.  However, what was the Golden State like during its, at least to some extent, formative years as a state?

Originally part of Spain and then Mexico (and even Russia), the state became a territory of the United States after the Mexican-American War, which originated because Texas was admitted to the union.  Closely following the Lone Star State’s lead, California was established as a state and admitted into the union in 1850, making it the second largest state after Texas.  California once was much larger and included Nevada, most of Arizona and parts of Utah.  This all happened about the same time as the California Gold Rush, ballooning the state’s population.

Boom

Railroads would take the place of stagecoaches and create much easier access to and from California

Railroads would take the place of stagecoaches and create much easier access to and from California

Once railroads were established in the 1860s, travel to and from other states and the East Coast became more regular and helped business grow in California creating a land boom of sorts.  Soon farming became popular once farmers realized how many valleys and fertile lands there were throughout the state.  Included was the Paso Robles region due in part to the Salinas River and its huge underground water basin.

Leading up to Paso Robles’ incorporation (which is the second oldest city in the county), the 1880s had been a time of economic boom and industrial development helped by electrical power and rail expansion.  Machine shops were created along with direct and alternate current motors (AC and DC) expanding, plus paper became more easily made.  Also, the steam turbine was invented, the inflatable tire was developed and of course Karl Benz patented the first automobile.

Jesse_and_Frank_James

Outlaws Jesse and Frank James frequented Paso Robles

With this rapid growth, the Wild West was being tamed (Jesse James once lived here) and to say the least, the 1880s were quite a period of change.  However, due note California did have a dip in its economy towards the late 1880s after the bubble that was created during the land rush.  By the way, the following year in 1890, 140 miles to the east of Paso Robles, the Sequoia National Forest was established – the first national forest in California.

What was happening

On New Year’s Day 1889, there was a full solar eclipse.  When Paso Robles became an official city that year, during the summer and less than a 100 miles to the east, most of the town of Bakersfield burned down.  To the south, in what some call the Great Fire, in early fall nearly a million acres in Orange and San Diego counties were torched in Southern California.  Just to the south of California in Baja, Mexico, they had their own short lived Gold Rush, which had less to do with gold and more to do with bold rumors and talk than was real – some things never change.

The President of the United States in 1889 was the newly elected Benjamin Harrison who was the grandson of the ninth President of the U.S., William Henry Harrison (‘Old Tippecanoe’) who was in office for all of one month before dying from pneumonia.  A Republican who believed in protectionism using high tariffs, along with broad new powers to stop monopolies, Harrison pursued civil rights and an increase in national forests.

The Governor of California was Robert Waterman – also a Republican.  Originally a New Yorker before moving as a young teenager to Illinois, he came to California like many, looking for riches in prospecting.  No luck at finding precious metals, he returned to Illinois where he became a successful farmer along with being a newspaper publisher.  A second visit to California would be much more triumphant for Waterman and finally propelled him into the governorship.  Known for his straight-forwardness, he believed the state should be run like a business.  Waterman served one four-year term from 1887 to 1891 dying a few months after he departed office.

Marie Bauer School - 1892PasoRobles

Marie Bauer High School circa 1892 in Paso Robles

Paso Robles sits nearly halfway between the two giant metropolitan cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles.  Back in 1889 they weren’t nearly as big as they are now with L.A. being less than 50,000 in population.  San Francisco was the major city in the Western U.S. and by 1889 was already approaching 300,000.  At that same time, the population of Paso Robles was maybe 500 folks.  It should be noted that the first thing Paso Robles did as a city was build a jail – it was still the Wild West after all.  Paso Robles would build the first high school in San Luis Obispo County just a few short years after incorporating with the Marie Bauer School.

Although meteorological records weren’t accurately kept in Paso Robles until a couple years later, 1889 ended with heavy rains, especially in the northern part of the state as a hard winter had set in with the Sierras seeing terrific amounts of snow that season.

Changes

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

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

Paso Robles was known for little more than a stop on the trail with hot springs.  Cattle ranches and almond orchards dominated the area.  The county was the milk producing capitol of the state during this era and also the area was known as Almond City.  Sheep used to be common place in this region but by 1889, agriculture was starting to become more popular just as it was around the state.  Areas east of Templeton and Paso Robles were being cultivated with grain fields and fruit orchards due to the great composite of fertile soil.  Times were changing.

The towns of Santa Margarita and Templeton both surfaced during this time as well resulting in a time in history when the entire North County of San Luis Obispo County had sprung up during 1889.

Paso Robles would go through many more changes over the course of the next 125 years as did the state as a whole with California emerging as the most populous state in the U.S. with an economy that would rank as the eighth largest in the world.  And of course, Paso Robles is now known as the world’s number one wine region.

A lot has changed over the last century and a quarter in Paso Robles and California.

Sources – University of San Diego, Baja Fever, Los Angeles Times, Sacramento Bee, State of California

Cheers,

Daryle W. Hier

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Salinas River – The Upside Down River

As someone who lived most of his life in the megalopolis of Los Angeles, you aren’t knowledgeable about real rivers.  I lived for a time next to the Los Angeles River and it was just a giant concrete slab of an artificial canal that most of the time was/is used for movie and television shoots.  I traveled to the Colorado River many a time for skiing and partying but it was more like a lake than a river.

Salinas River

The Salinas River may appear small most of the time but there lies a big river underneath.

When I moved to Paso Robles, there for the first time was a river – and it ran essentially right through the town along the El Camino Real and 101 freeway.  The California Central Coast river was not a very effusive-looking river, but a river nonetheless.

The mighty Salinas goes up and down?

Nicknamed the ‘Upside Down River’, the Salinas River headwaters are in the Los Padres National Forest just south of the town of Pozo.  Most rivers travel north to south but the Salinas River starts in southeastern San Luis Obispo County. The nearly 200-mile river heads northwest first dumping into Santa Margarita Lake before dispatching itself up to the North County area of San Luis Obispo County.  Bearing north out of Paso Robles, it sets sail through the supple farming areas of the Salinas Valley in Monterey County before ending up in the Monterey Bay and Pacific Ocean.  Note: technically the river has sand dunes that stop it just shy of the bay due to the great 1906 San Francisco earthquake – canals connect the river to the Pacific Ocean.

The oddity of flowing from south to north isn’t exclusive to the shallow running Salinas River but the nickname of Upside Down River isn’t just due to its directional course.  Rivers sometime have what they call subsurface flow and though the Salinas can almost hide itself from view and appear little more than a creek during the drier half of the year, below the surface runs a giant river.  In fact, the Salinas helps create the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin, which is the largest natural aquifer west of the Rockies.  So at times you may not be able to see the river above the surface, yet it is huge underground.

Eden

Salinas Valley farms

The great novelist John Steinbeck wrote often about the wonderful farming region that the Salinas Valley was … and is.

The Salinas River and region were first made known to the rest of the world with the famous writer John Steinbeck books including Of Mice and Men and many years later East of Eden.  The river has produced a very fertile land that helped create the worlds number one wine region in Paso Robles and shaped what Steinbeck wrote often about: the Salinas Valley.  You might have heard it before but the valley is sometimes referred to as the ‘Salad Bowl of the World’.

The weather is heavily influenced by a strong marine layer from the Monterey Bay.  With this relatively cool to mild temperature range, the roughly 150 mile long and 10 mile wide Salinas Valley is one of the most prolific farming regions on earth and is often called the ‘Salad Capitol of the World.  The valley runs though much of Monterey County from its southern border with San Luis Obispo County in the neighborhood of San Miguel all the way past the city of Salinas into the Monterey Bay near the town of Marina.

Wine

As mentioned before, not only does the river help produce abundant food crops in the Salinas Valley, the fertile land in the south is home to the Paso Robles American Viticultural Area, which was recently named the number one wine region in the world.  Well known for its heritage varietal Zinfandel, the balance of temperatures differs drastically in this area with a huge diurnal, but this combination produces incredible wines now known around the world.

The Salinas River is also fed by such tributary Salinas_River_Maprivers like the Estrella and Arroyo Seco along with two lakes, Nacimiento and San Antonio, not to mention many creeks, which makes this river region one of the largest watersheds in California.

Life along the Salinas the last couple years has been quiet but if hit by a set of storms during winter, it can quickly become a raging menace.  Otherwise, it appears as a small looking river, not unlike the artificial one I remember in Los Angeles … but there’s a huge difference as the upside down Salinas River remains a big river underneath.

Sources: San Luis Obispo County, Monterey County

Check our these resources for more information on the river, valley and surrounding area:

The Salinas : Upside Down River

The Salinas Valley: An Illustrated History

Salinas Valley (CA) (Images of America)

Mahalo,

Daryle Hier

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Luis Nunez and Venture Vineyard Zinfandel – Updated

I wrote about a tiny vineyard with a huge passion a few years ago that oddly helped me get a pretty good part-time gig with Yahoo! as a sports writer.  The story was about Luis Nunez’s very small vineyard and his enthusiastic passion of trying to make the best Zinfandel he could.  This is a follow-up and although there were some rocky roads along the way, let’s just say he’s done a remarkable job.

Starts with medals

Without retracing his early steps, Luis, a retired peace officer, had finally produced in a bottle, his first wine called the Anomaly.  It was apropos name for this was just second-year vines that produced a Zinfandel that was astonishingly good.  How good was it?  It received a Bronze medal in the Orange County Fair, one of only a couple contests he entered the wine in.  Remember, this was the second year the vines produced grapes!  Not only that, but his label earned him a Gold medal.

Christian Lazo Wines helped Venture Vineyards quite a bit in the early going.

Christian Lazo Wines helped Venture Vineyards quite a bit in the early going.

Christian Lazo Wines deserves part of the credit because they offered their insights and facility to help Luis create this surprising and rambunctious upstart of a Zin.  With such a small quantity of wine though coupled with friends, neighbors and family members clamoring for this amazing vintage, it wasn’t a year before the wine was gone.  Which as it turned out was just as well.

Doing it the old fashion way, Luis didn’t want any filtering of his product as he sought just the raw pure wine.  A little more than six months after bottling, the wine started to turn in color and although the flavor seemed to standup, the Anomaly wouldn’t have made it past a year.  Maybe a lesson was learned.

The Shark

A bittersweet situation as you can imagine, Luis was determined to make the next batch of wine better.  This vintage would be named the Shark and like its namesake, it had to fight and dig deep taking on all nemesis’.  Like a Great White, the Shark vines would have to show they were great grapes, working through spring freezes and mildew battles (because of late rains) – but in the end, Luis and his young but formidable vines were able to produce roughly 50 cases.

Not to be outdone, the label is also a Gold winner.

Not to be outdone, the label is also a Gold medal winner.

Although reluctant, Luis filtered this batch and then had several in the wine industry taste the still young wine.  Even other vintners, who aren’t prone to brag on someone else’s wine, told him he had a winner.  He decided to put the Shark in a handful of fairs and wine contests such as the prestigious International Amateur Wine Competition and won multiple medals including a Gold.  And to put a period on this standout vintage it not only earned a Gold; but, this time the Shark bit off a bigger prize … Double Gold!

Consider this: Paso Robles is currently the world’s top wine region with California’s heritage grape being the Zinfandel, a popular varietal in Paso.  Luis Nunez’s Shark was the only gold medal awarded this past year to someone from Paso Robles in the Zinfandel category at the International Amateur Wine Competition.  Heady stuff indeed.

This stunning success was great and acknowledged all his hard work and effort to create an ultimate Zinfandel.  However, even though Luis was on top of the world, with high and lows as any success story would go through, having put so much work and effort into the Shark, the following year was tough to manage.  Due in part to the unending Great Recession, Luis’ personal finances wouldn’t allow him to hold on to that year’s vintage, so he sold it to Christian Lazo.

Along with making sure he could keep the next year’s vintage and more resolute than ever before, Luis wanted more.  Boy did he get more … more grapes that is.  All estimations were that he would have a ton and half, which would give him three barrels worth and eventually 75 cases.  Those estimations were low.

Waiting for a bigger and better one?

One of these bins is roughly half a ton of grapes.

The new vintage is called the Bullet and came through with a solid two tons or four barrels.  The vines were picked clean – this time by family and friends and then processed at Falcon Nest.  Barrel samplings at 16 months say the wine is excellent and ready for bottling, but Luis is leaving it in the oak barrels for at least another six months.  A vintner of this talented gift knows when the time is right.

The story is still unfolding as last year’s vintage was smaller with the main reason being the extreme drought we are undergoing in California stunting the growth somewhat.  That led to a ton-and-a-half or three barrels.  Luis sold one of the barrels but has two left of what preliminarily is being called the Rebel.  For now, everyone waits in anticipation of what the Bullet and then the Rebel might bring.

His operation may be small but Luis has invested mightily in tiny Venture Vineyards.  For instance, he controls the temperature and humidity of his oak wine barrels with an enclosed insulated cellar at his property, which has a professionally installed cooling system.

Hurdles remain, but …

The current extreme drought brings on limits to watering (see related articles below under ‘Water stories’) so Luis feels he’s planning on fewer grapes than normal – except we already know what these vines are capable of.  By the way, weather experts say we might have an El Nino coming this year and that would be much needed good news for farmers because the state and federal government have cut off their water.

Luis Nunez and his Venture Vineyards have done what few others could do.  What the future holds for Mr. Nunez is still an open book, but be assured, with the passion to endure and succeed, history has shown us more triumphs are certainly headed his way … and more great wines are headed our way.

Want to know more about or be a part of Mr. Luis Nunez’s success?  Email me.

PS: Sadly, two months later, our good friend Luis Nunez suddenly passed away along with his passion … but his tiny vineyard could be yours. Go here.

Cheers,

Daryle Hier

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Recrafting An Old Wine Barrel – Beginning To End

PasoWineBarrels.com takes used 58 to 60 gallon barrels that are too old to use anymore in the wine business and brings them back to life as looking better than new. You can go here for more information how to make a decorative barrel.

We received a lot of curiosity in our recent chronicled report and appreciate the interest.  We were brought a project barrel that indeed was a project.  The barrel was rotten on one end and on the verge of being nothing more than kindling.  We were able to clean it up and and it now is resonating on a Paso Robles hill in front of some medal award winning wines.

The story we did was five part and to make it a bit easier to read through the entire account, we have all five blog stories here for your perusal with snippets of each.  We start with the first paragraph and for more on each story, just click on the end of each snippet.  Thanks again and we hope you learn a little more about our wine barrel renovations.

OldWineBarrel-NewBarrelProjectFeb2014

What’s Old Is New Again

Recrafting An Old Wine Barrel – Bad Bottom PART 1

Not all old wine barrels are created the same.  Certainly that can be the case when barrels are left to rot.  Such was the case with this wine barrel that the owner wanted renewed as one of our recrafted and renovated Decorative Wine Barrels. … (click to continue)

Recrafting An Old Wine Barrel – Stripping Stain  PART 2

When we started this project (go here), one end (or head as it’s called) of the wine barrel was rotten in places due to sitting in mud on and off through the years.  It wasn’t repairable beyond placing another piece of wood over it while sanding and grinding most of chime off – the chime is the end of a stave beyond the head. … (click to continue)

Recrafting An Old Wine Barrel – Stain And Prep PART 3

Taking a dilapidated old wine barrel and making it look better than new is a challenge when it has an end of it that is rotten – as we stated when we started this project.  Plus the wine barrel had previously been stained and painted which made the work all that more tedious. … (click to continue)

Recrafting An Old Wine Barrel – Painting … And More Painting? PART 4

Our special project barrel has been a lot of work including the simple sounding prepping – but most everything has gone rather smoothly … until now. … (click to continue)

Recrafting An Old Wine Barrel – Finished PART 5

As you may recall, the product that we started with was almost unrepairable.  One end of the old wine barrel had been sitting in dirt for a time and that included mud at some junctures, which in-turn started rotting the wood on the end of the staves.  The owner was willing to go along with whatever was needed so we went to work. … (click to continue)

Have questions?  Feel free to ask anything.  Thanks again.

Daryle Hier

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Is There A Water Shortage In Paso Robles?

This is just food for thought and by no means am I an expert on the water situation here on the California Central Coast … just someone who makes extremely unique wine barrels but now finds himself as a concerned citizen who would like to see all the information laid out on the table.

As almost any Californian can tell you, we are in a severe drought.  In a two-year period in Paso Robles, we’ve had about five inches of rain and over the last year, it’s less than two inches.  Heck, the way the news Drought-soiltalks about it nationally, I’d be surprised if not most of the country and even the world knows we have had a lack of rain in the Golden State for the past couple of years.

This is of a major concern for the folks in the North County area of San Luis Obispo County, sometimes generalized as Paso Robles.  Recently named the world’s ‘Wine Region of the Year‘, Paso Robles – or Paso for short – vineyards have become serious business here in wine country.  However, like any other farmed product, grapevines need water.

Unilateral emergency dictates

With a sudden sense of urgency, near the end of last summer, the San Luis Obispo County Supervisors voted autonomously for what was essentially a two-year emergency moratorium on new vines being planted, which some feel was warranted.  Technically, a grape-grower can plant new vines but there’s a ’1-to-1′ ruling that states a new vine can only be planted for every one that is taken out of the ground.

Now there’s good news in that the value of property will go up because if anyone wants to expand, they will have to buy someone else out.  I’m sure those who are in the real estate business are happy as well as those land owners who want out.  Still, it affects the industry negatively due to the fact nobody can expand, in-turn stifling business in what was the ever-growing Paso viticultural business.

Extra water?

All of this created by the lack of water – or at least the supposed lack of water.  See, the Paso Robles water basin is the largest natural underground aquifer west of the Rockies.  Yes, we are in a drought and we just came out of another drought just a handful of years ago.  The underground reserves are down which might be of some concern.  However, why is the county trying to set up a water district with an idea being that they would be a water bank for outside water agencies?

PRGroundWaterBasin

The Paso Robles Ground Water basin running essentially with the Salinas River is the largest underground aquifer in the West.

As a citizen who figures that sooner or later the city and county will be restricting our water usage to conserve water so that we don’t run out, will we be selling that same water to other districts desperate for water?  There is seemingly a detachment from logic that says if indeed San Luis Obispo County is in need of restricting citizens water usage so that we don’t run out, that we can’t turn around and sell what extra water we do have to some other place in the state.  Unless of course, Paso has more water than the political lords are willing to let on.

Again, I’m ready for conservation modes and in fact we already have certain restrictions on water use in the city of Paso Robles that says we can only water three times a week and other relatively common sense approaches to water usage like not letting a hose run without a shutoff nozzle.

The title question of the story: Is there a water shortage in Paso Robles? – Isn’t being directly answered.

Trampled rights?

Already the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors is undermining land rights by infringing on a property owners’ rights to his or her own water.  Further, the city of Paso Robles has stopped any new drilling for water within city limits, even though the land owners have a right to the water below them.  Some have fought back and you can go here for more on that (or an additional source: Cal Coast News).

Water gushing How this turns out, I don’t particularly know but at the very least, more information should be made public – yet that doesn’t appear to be the case.  Something else to consider is who’s to profit from selling our underground water if indeed it is sold to outsiders?  Are some of the power brokers in the county vying for a huge payoff at the expense of local citizens?  There are extremely desperate communities in need of water during this drought (see San Jose Mercury News) and they might go to any length to get it.

This doesn’t feel right.  In a day and age when there’s little or no transparency within federal, state and now local governments, just exactly what is our water situation?  I would hope more citizens start clamoring for additional information on just what is happening behind closed doors along with what subversive politicking might be going on.  Even then, we may not be getting the truth … but the truth is what we need to pursue.  Is there a water shortage in Paso Robles?

What do you think?

Cheers,

Daryle Hier

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