Paso Robles, California - California Wine Country
4th of July Celebration in Wine Country
by Joseph A. Sprince - Photography by Gerald B. Allen
We enjoyed the 4th of July, 2001, with an old-fashioned celebration, wine
country style. Hosted by the beautiful Meridian Vineyards outside of Paso
Robles, California, the evening featured lots of barbequed treats, large slices
of watermelon, plenty of live music, and of course a fireworks display to
top off the celebration.
Meridian Vineyards is typical of the larger wineries in the area, featuring acres and
acres of meticulously cultivated grape plants on gently rolling hills (above
left) with an elegant central building where processing and wine tasting
take place (above right). The grounds feature beautiful lawns and gardens, all keeping
with the elegant image of fine wines.
Each year, the winery sells tickets to about a thousand guests who picnic on the
large lawn, listen to live local bands, dance if they like, and then enjoy
the fireworks display after dark. Those who partake in alcoholic drinks may of
course purchase bottles of Meridian wines!
The Paso Robles area can be hot in the summer with temperatures sometimes
exceeding 100°F (38°C). However with a partial cloud cover, temperatures today
are held in the pleasant 80s°F (27°C). As an added bonus, the clouds produce this
spectacular sunset - fireworks before the fireworks! In the photo right,
the Pacific Ocean is beyond the mountains in the distance. In the fireworks
photo, above left, note the remnants of sunset are still visible.
While the local fireworks display won't be confused with the show at Boston's
Esplanade, and the band won't be confused with the Boston Pops and the famed
1812 Overture, the thrill of live fireworks is always memorable. The small
crowd is also more intimate than at the big city shows. And the final
benefit: it's easy to get to your car and drive away when the show's over!
More About California Wine Country
The California Central Coast features some of California's finest wine regions, as well as beautiful scenery along the California coastline. Though far less famous than Napa Valley which is north of San Francisco, the Central Coast wineries and vineyards produce equally good wines. The region also offers beautiful scenery to go with the wines, often in rural country settings with smaller crowds and a less hectic pace than in Napa.
- Santa Barbara County is one of California's premier wine producing regions. Renowned for its distinguished vintages, quaint settings, friendly vintners, and welcoming locals, the region is home to more than 90 wineries. The microclimates of the Santa Ynez and Santa Maria Valleys are uniquely suited to growing a wide variety of grapes, including Chardonnay, Syrah, and especially Pinot Noir. The area has become very popular due to the 2004 film, "Sideways", which showcased many Santa Barbara wine-related locales.
- San Luis Obispo County. The southern San Luis Obispo County Wine Country features about 20 wineries south of San Luis Obispo, in the Edna Valley, Avila Valley, and Arroyo Grande. The coastal climate and soils provide an excellent environment for producing grapes that result in ultra premium quality wines with intense and complex flavors, such as Chardonnay. In recent years other outstanding varietals have been successfully produced, including Pinot Noir, Syrah, Grenache, and other white Rhone varieties. The Arroyo Grande vineyards are farther inland with less maritime influence and feature outstanding Zinfandels.
Paso Robles Wine Country surrounds the city of Paso Robles in northern San Luis Obispo County. The north county region lies inland, east of the coastal mountains which substantially limit the maritime influence: cool air works into the valleys only during the evenings. The environment is therefore quite different than the south county, resulting in varietals that are quite different. The number of vineyards/wineries has grown in recent years from 50 to about 100. Newcomers range from family and boutique wineries to international winemakers. Many have come because of the growing reputation of Westside Paso Robles. By far, the most common planted variety is Cabernet Sauvignon. Other widely planted varietals include Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Sauvignon Blanc. Like the south county, Rhone varietals have become quite popular - and successfully grown - in recent years, including Syrah, Viognier and Rousanne.
- Monterey County. With more that 38,000 planted acres, Monterey County has established itself as one of California's premier wine regions. It is home to more than 80 wineries and vineyards and is renowned for its high-quality Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, but also produces excellent Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc and other varietals. The two major growing regions are the Carmel Valley readily reached from Carmel or Monterey and the Salinas Valley which focuses along the River Road which parallels US-101 south of Salinas. The amazing Chalone Vineyards east of Soledad rewards the visitor with unforgetable beauty and excellent wines.
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Paso Robles is on US 101 about 30 miles north of San Luis Obisbo.
Paso Robles, California
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