Paso Robles wine country has been named Wine Region of the Year by Wine Enthusiast magazine, beating out long-established players such as Napa and Sonoma and international wine destinations like France and Italy.
“Since 1983, when the Paso Robles [American Viticultural Area] was first created, the region has grown exponentially with talent, quality and artistry,” Gary Eberle, owner of Eberle Winery, said in a news release sent out by the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance.
The Paso Robles wine region now has more than 200 wineries and 32,000 acres planted in vineyards, according to the industry group. “This award is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our wineries and growers whose individual accomplishments help raise the bar of the region as a whole,” Paso Robles Wine Country Alliacen Executive Director Jennifer Porter said in a statement.
The Paso Robles wine region and the winners of the 2013 Wine Star Awards will be honored at an industry awards ceremony in New York City on Jan. 27, 2014.
“Wine regions far more famous than Paso Robles produce great wines, but few places exhibit the spirit and can-do positivity of this Central Coast appellation. It’s not easy for a wine region to reinvent itself, but Paso is doing it with flair,” Wine Enthuisiast magazine said in announcing the award winners. “Put another way, it’s the region to watch.”
Last year the magazine named Ribera del Duero, Spain as its winning wine region.
A proposal is currently in the works to create 11 distinct AVAs within the Paso Robles appellation. Supporters of the new AVAs have said it would allow Paso Robles vintners to more specifically define their offerings. “Over time — five, 10, 20 years and more — it will allow all of us to really further define the stories, what makes wine unique or so individual within a certain part of the Paso Robles AVA,” Steve Lohr, chairman and CEO of J. Lohr Winery, told the Business Times last month. Lohr is among the signers of a 2007 petition to the The U.S. Treasury Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to establish the new AVAs. Lohr said approval of the AVAs would show that Paso has arrived as a diverse appellation.
Paso Robles wine country continues to gain steam even as the water supplies for growers have become strained. The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors enacted an emergency ordinance that bans net new pumping. Two groups — one dominated by wineries and other agriculture operations, and one dominated by rural homeowners — are vying to determine how the water supply will be regulated in the coming decades.