Paul Hinschberger
 
July 19, 2016 | Paul Hinschberger

How I Learned to Love Paso Robles

Until I moved to Paso Robles 3 years ago, I did not have the best opinion of this region.  I know this sounds bad, but hear me out.  The reality is that within the broader wine industry, professionals (many of whom have not actually visited Paso) have a preconceived notion that Paso wine is over-ripe, over-alcoholic, unbalanced and therefore, not worth their time. Not so for consumers, however--typical wine consumers just drink what they like and are less likely to be bogged down by current trends and/or winemaking dogma.  Paso wine is delicious and equitably priced for the most part.

I am both a wine consumer and winemaker, so my opinion was formed by my experiences in the industry.  Before I moved here, I had worked in Sonoma County, the Willamette Valley in Oregon, in Woodinville and Walla Walla, Washington, and I felt like I had a pretty good grasp on American wine culture.  In my mind, Paso Robles was that region too hot and too far south to make great wine, and most of the wines I had from the early 2000’s confirmed my theory.   

Oh, how wrong I was.

When I first moved to Paso in 2013 for an assistant winemaker job, I quickly realized that I had grossly oversimplified the region in my mind.  Not only is Paso diversified in its soil types and microclimates, but there is also an array of varietals and winemaking styles. While I still don’t particularly like many "big" Paso wines from the past (just my personal taste), I was wrong to assume that the region could not evolve into a world-class wine region. 

Now that I’ve worked here for 3 years, I feel that Paso Robles is a premier region in the U.S. to grow Grenache, Mourvedre, Cabernet Sauvignon, and several other varietals that are making an impressive mark in a highly competitive marketplace.   Of course, not all wine in Paso is unicorns and rainbows (just like any wine region) but the potential here is certainly tangible.  The interesting thing is that I doubt I would have discovered this potential without fully immersing myself here.   

Paso Robles is a wine region that needs to be visited in order to be fully understood.  You must drive through the back roads of the Paso foothills to find little morsels of tastiness.  You have to experience the energy of the wine industry and the town itself in order to fully appreciate the wines—the atmosphere is something unlike anywhere else I’ve worked.  As a winemaker, it is exciting to be part of a burgeoning and innovative wine culture that more and more people are experiencing for the first time.

Adelaida Springs Ranch is also a place that needs to be visited in order to truly understand Rangeland Wines and the land’s beauty.  The dusty green canopy of vines and oak trees contrasted against the golden hills of oats is something to behold—especially while drinking a glass of rosé.   

Cheers!

Paul 
The Wine Whisperer

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