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California Paso Robles Petite Sirah San Luis Obispo United States

California as a wine producing region has grown in size and importance considerably over the past couple of centuries, and today is the proud producer of more than ninety percent of the United States' wines. Indeed, if California was a country, it would be the fourth largest producer of wine in the world, with a vast range of vineyards covering almost half a million acres. The secret to California's success as a wine region has a lot to do with the high quality of its soils, and the fact that it has an extensive Pacific coastline which perfectly tempers the blazing sunshine it experiences all year round. The winds coming off the ocean cool the vines, and the natural valleys and mountainsides which make up most of the state's wine regions make for ideal areas in which to cultivate a variety of high quality grapes.

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.

Petite Sirah was first brought from France to America in the 1880s. It later went on to become one of the only grapes to make it through the devastating Phylloxera virus in the 1890s, both World Wars, and the Great Depression. During Prohibition, it was a main ingredient used to make sacramental wines. In fact, through the 1960s it was a major blending grape in a number of the finest wines produced in California.

By itself, a bottle of Petite Sirah usually has no problem making a quick impression on consumers. With a large amount of natural color and tannins, wines made with the grape commonly feature intensive sweet fruit characteristics like fresh raspberry or blackberry jam, black pepper spice, and plenty of backbone or structure.

There are a number of different styles available. Some concentrate on highlighting fresh, fruity flavors; others are bigger, more voluptuous; and it keeps going up the ladder until you reach the powerful, more machismo-style category.

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.