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.
The green skinned grapes of the Sauvignon Blanc varietal had their origins in Southern France, where they are still widely grown and used for many of the excellent young and aged white wines the region is famous for. Today, however, they are grown in almost every wine producing country in the world, and are widely revered for their fresh and grassy flavors, full of tropical notes and refreshing, zesty character. Sauvignon Blanc grapes thrive best in moderate climates, and ripen relatively early in the year. This has made them a favorite for many wineries in the New World, where they can still produce healthy and high yields in the earlier part of the summer before the temperatures become too hot. Too much heat has a massively adverse effect on Sauvignon Blanc, as the grapes become dull in their flavor, and the wine produced from them loses all its unique character and high points. As such, Sauvignon Blanc farmers have had a lot of trouble from global warming and climate change, as they are being forced to harvest their crops increasingly earlier in the year when it is cool enough to do so.
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.