Paso Robles AVA is midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, and it is considered one of the West Coast’s most exciting winemaking regions. With its hot, sometimes searingly dry and sunny weather, it is especially good country for growing warm climate grapes such as Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre. Because many Paso Robles wineries have been successful with blending these grapes into Rhone Valley-style wines, it is known as the Rhone zone of California. The AVA was created in 1983 and there are 32,000 vineyard acres. In late 2014 the AVA was divided into 11 smaller sub-appellations, so starting with 2015 vintages labeling will become more specific on Paso Robles wines, which will now also list sub-appellations. Located in San Luis Obispo County, Paso Robles, the town and its surrounding area, was traditionally a farming and ranching region. But from a few dozen wineries in the early 1990s to more than 200 today, the area is quickly becoming known for wine and risk-taking winemakers.
Despite its popularity, this grape is quite rare. Less than 10,000 acres are planted worldwide, with the bulk in California. In France, the grape is referred to as Durif. Not to be confused with Syrah, Petite Sirah is a cross of Syrah and Peloursin. The result is darker and fuller.