Paso Robles AVA

A huge shift in how the Paso Robles wine region will be viewed is about to take place. When the original Paso Robles American Viticultural Area (AVA) was established in 1983 there were only 10 wineries in the area and 5,000 acres under vine.  By 2005 the number of wineries had grown to exceed 280 and the area under vine had surpassed 32,000 acres.  Astonishingly, these 32,000 acres of vines were spread out amongst an AVA whose area comprised 600,000 acres measuring 42 miles east to west and 32 miles north to south.  With an area covering over 600,000 acres, the original AVA really only defined a vast location, but nothing inherently descriptive.  In 2005 there was a dialogue amongst Paso’s wineries centered on a proposal to create 11 AVAs within Paso Robles.  Topography, rainfall, soil types, and temperatures — distinctions we generally refer to as “terroir” — vary significantly within the original Paso Robles AVA. Wineries in favor of creating these new AVAs felt that there would be value to them in codifying these differences and creating smaller, more meaningful AVAs. Well, reason prevailed and those 11 AVAs are about to be unveiled.


Knowing that this move would be in some ways divisive, when the documents for the AVAs were drawn up, there were two very important provisions included.  One, no winery would be required to use its AVA on its labels, and two, for those who choose to include their  new AVA on the label, the words ‘Paso Robles’ must be included at least as prominently as the AVA, ensuring that we will all remain Paso Roblans foremost.


Halter Ranch is located in the center of the new Adelaida District AVA. Other wineries in the Adelaida District include Thacher, Tablas Creek, Adelaida Cellars, DAOU Vineyards and JUSTIN Winery—-pretty swell company.   My guess is that, initially, the new AVAs will ruffle a few feathers, but that ultimately they will serve a worthy purpose, helping consumers navigate their way through the Paso Robles wine growing region.

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