It’s Wine Wednesday! Time for a little wine trivia for you wine lovers – and those traveling to Paso Robles. The Paso Robles wine region is California’s third largest and fastest growing wine region and it’s becoming quite the wine destination for travelers. Here are 20 fun facts, try quizzing your friends on your next Paso Robles wine tasting trip. Cheers!
Things to Know About Paso Robles
1. Paso Robles was named for its local oak trees, El Paso de Roblas, “The Pass of the Oaks.” In November 29, 1889 the town name was officially changed from “Roblas” to “Robles”.
2. This year (2014) Paso Robles is celebrating its 125th anniversary of the city’s founding in 1889. If you’re heading to the area, expect some fun celebrations (event schedule).
3. Spanish conquistadors and Franciscan missionaries introduced wine grapes to the Paso Robles area in 1797. The Padres of the Mission San Miguel were also the first to produce wine in the area.
4. The Paso Robles wine region is now home to more than 100 tasting rooms and more than 200 wineries – over 32,000 acres of vineyards on which about 40 varietals of wine grow. (There are a few interactive maps of tasting rooms and for a more mobile map, check Paso Robles Wineries here ).
5. As far back as 1795, Paso Robles has been spoken of and written about as “California’s oldest watering place”—the place to go for springs and mud baths. There are now only three locations left in the are that offer the healing mineral baths – Paso Robles Inn, River Oaks Hot Spring, and Franklin Hot Springs.
6. The same group of Franciscan priests from Mission San Miguel – the ones who introduced wine grapes to the area – constructed the first mineral bath in the area.
7. Major League baseball teams used to visit Paso Robles as a spring training home, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago White Sox stayed and soaked in the mineral hot springs to soothe tired muscles.
8. Commercial wine making wasn’t introduced to the region until 1882 when Andrew York, a settler from Indiana established the Ascension Winery, which is now York Mountain Winery.
9. Some of the area’s first white wine was made from Burger grapes by Gerd and Ilsabe Klintworth.
10. About two-thirds of Paso Robles wineries produce less than 5,000 cases. In other words, they are smaller, more boutique wineries.
11. Paso isn’t just a wine region. In the 1920’s Paso Robles became known as the ‘Almond Capital of the World’. The local almond growers had created the largest concentration of almond orchards in the world – 25,000 acres were dedicated to producing Almond trees.
12. Paso Robles is home to the California Mid-State Fair.
13. Ronald Regan announced his candidacy for governor and made a principal speech in Paso Robles; he was a frequent visitor to the area and regular rider in the annual Pioneer Day Parade.
14. There’s an app for everything, including Paso Robles. (Get the free Paso Robles app. There is also a free interactive site that’s not an app but acts similarly, check it out.)
15. The El Paso de Robles Hotel opened for business in 1891, the luxury resort, luring the rich and famous to come and soak in its mineral springs. The hotel was built of solid masonry, set off by sandstone arches to ensure it was completely “fireproof”. In 1940, the hotel burned down.
16. Guests staying at the El Paso de Robles Hotel the night it burned were unharmed. However, the night clerk who discovered the fire – and got everyone out – died of a massive heart attack after sounding the alarm.
17. Two years later, The Paso Robles Inn opened where the El Paso de Robles Hotel had stood. The location/room where the night clerk died is rumored to be haunted.
18. The most widely planted varieties in the Paso Robles appellation are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, and Sauvignon Blanc.
19. Alcohol was prohibited on August 1, 1912 when the Members of the ‘Citizen’s Ticket’ party voted out the ‘People’s’ Party and the town went dry. Following the repeal of Prohibition on February 20, 1933, the Templeton Winery was the area’s first winery to be bonded.
20. Outlaws Frank and Jesse James were quite familiar with Paso Robles. The two had an uncle – Drury James – who was a co-founder of the town, part owner of the original hot springs hotel and co-owner of the La Panza Ranch. After a bank robbery in Kentucky, the James boys stayed at the La Panza Ranch for some time. The bank robbery had left Jesse with gunshot wounds and his regular visits to the hot springs helped expedite his healing.
Have you visited Paso Robles? Done any wine tasting in Paso Robles? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.