Purchasing Paso: Buying Central Coast Fruit

Though it seems that Paso Robles has only recently burst onto the wine stage, the fact is that grapes were first planted in 1797 near Mission San Miguel. The first commercial winery was formed in 1882 on York Mountain. In the ensuing 210 years since the mission fathers started making wine the quality has exponentially improved. Paso Robles boasts nearly 26,000 vineyard acres and approximately 40 different grape varietals.

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So with all those grapes, you might think there would be more than the hundred or so wineries that populate the landscape. Where's all the fruit going? "About 58 percent of Paso's grapes are shipped outside the area," said Stacie Jacob, Executive Director of the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance.

Though Paso Robles is getting a lot of attention for its zinfandel, it is cabernet and merlot that hold the greatest percentages of production, with 38 percent and 15 percent, respectively. And the majority of that fruit is heading north. Caymus, Coppola, Kendall-Jackson, Sutter Home, Franciscan, Fetzer and Ridge are just a few of the northern wineries buying Paso grapes. Gallo owns 500 acres in Paso Robles and Southcorp, located in Australia, has also secured a 600 acre parcel to help expand their wine and spirits sales of over $550 million. Some fruit is destined to make stand alone wines of superior quality, others have the dubious task of being blended in innocuous concoctions posing as wine for the mass market.

For more than 25 years, The California Wine Club founders Bruce and Pam Boring have explored all corners of California’s wine country to find award-winning, handcrafted wine to share with the world. Each month, the club features a different small family winery and hand selects two of their best wines for members.