California has long been considered one of the New World’s greatest wine producing regions. The cooling oceanic breezes roll in from the coast, tempering the golden sunshine which allows grapes of many varietals to reach a stunning level of ripeness and expression. In the middle of California’s central coast, we find the sub-region of Paso Robles, sitting halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. This area is typified by rolling hillsides, oak forests and dramatic canyons, and has for over two centuries been home to a buzzing and busy wine scene.
Today, over 26,000 acres of land in Paso Robles is dedicated to viticulture. It is a land of great variety - the fertile soils and ideal climatic conditions allow an astonishing forty different grape varietals to grow, meaning that this region of California is one of the most diverse in the world in regards to vine species, making it a fascinating region to explore. The principal grape varietal of this area is Zinfandel, closely followed by Bordeaux grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon. Rhone Valley varietals such as Viognier are also well represented, and regularly praised for their expressiveness and aromatic qualities. The region benefits from a long and steady growing region throughout the hot summer, with cool nights and sea winds producing beautifully balanced wines, produced by wineries willing to combine traditional techniques with modern experimentation and equipment.
Regularly described as being the grape varietal responsible for producing the world's most romantic wines, Pinot Noir has long been associated with elegance and a broad range of flavors The name means 'black pine' in French, and this is due to the fact that the fruit of this particular varietal is especially dark in color, and hangs in a conical shape, like that of a pine cone. Despite being grown today in almost every wine producing country, Pinot Noir is a notoriously difficult grape variety to cultivate. This is because it is especially susceptible to various forms of mold and mildew, and thrives best in steady, cooler climates. However, the quality of the fruit has ensured that wineries and vintners have persevered with the varietal, and new technologies and methods have overcome many of the problems it presents. Alongside this, the wide popularity and enthusiasm for this grape has ensured it will remain a firm favorite amongst wine drinkers for many years to come.
Of all the New World wine countries, perhaps the one which has demonstrated the most flair for producing high quality wines - using a combination of traditional and forward-thinking contemporary methods - has been the United States of America. For the past couple of centuries, the United States has set about transforming much of its suitable land into vast vineyards, capable of supporting a wide variety of world-class grape varietals which thrive on both the Atlantic and the Pacific coastlines. Of course, we immediately think of sun-drenched California in regards to American wines, with its enormous vineyards responsible for the New World's finest examples of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot based wines, but many other states have taken to viticulture in a big way, with impressive results. Oregon, Washington State and New York have all developed sophisticated and technologically advanced wine cultures of their own, and the output of U.S wineries is increasing each year as more and more people are converted to their produce.