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.
The Merlot grape is such a deep blue that it is named for the blackbird. It’s an early ripening grape and one of the primary varietals used In Bordeaux. Merlot is also grown in the "International style," which is harvested later to bring out more tannins and body.