PASO ROBLES, A California Central Coast Treasure!

Big Sur Fog

Big Sur Fog

                        Friend and colleague, Payne Johnson and I drove down the California coast road to visit Paso Robles.

A place that has been formed into lush wine country by ancient geologic forces that scraped Pliocene sea bottom, limestone and silicates to make a rich stew of land ideal to grow grapes and make great wines. We stopped often as we drove south from Big Sur to the low sloping coastal hills and mountains to photograph what we saw as the views were so compelling.

Traveling California’s central coast on old Route One, we feel like we’ve dropped back 100 years as our car winds along the coastal slopes that reach down to the sea. Old cattle ranches, bleached, decrepit, falling down barns strewn along the fields of golden grasses and occasionally a few cattle taking shade under old oak trees. Within moments the sun disappears as temperature drops to the dew point and fog swirls around us.


We are at the junction of multiple massive tectonic plates.  The Farallon & Pacific Tectonic Plate crashed slowly into the North American Plate to push up these golden hills mountains and valleys. Sun playing on the slopes and water mix a palate of gold, dark and sapphire blues to emerald and avocado greens. It’s hard to believe the bright and dark mixing as fog quickly changes the sea and landscape.

The coastal fog drifting  over the Templeton Gap (Shown below) are an essential part of what some winemakers we visit need to create their amazing wines. Accompanying articles that will be posted on Zin Alley & Windward Vineyard describe the reasons.

Paso coastal fog best


Paso Robles Wine!  Wine country in Paso Robles is booming, and where there were only a dozen or so wineries 20 years ago, there are now estimated to be more than 200. Discovery was originally by Spanish Priests who when traveling from Baja California to California building Missions along the way, settled in what is now Paso Robles to build one of many Missions, and grew grapes there to make wine commercially for shipment to Spain. They knew then that these soils and climate were identical to the best of the wine growing regions of Europe.


balloon fire bestOne of the best ways to see wine country is the same as in other beautiful parts of the world; by hot air balloon. These flights start early in the morning when there are light airs and the balloons drift with wind currents like airborne jewels across the vineyards, occasionally roaring as hot gas is released to keep them aloft.


A balloon pilot told us that the smallest fills with 44,000 cubic feet of heated air and only carries a few people, while the largest carries 400,000 cubic feet and can carry more than a dozen people! 

A Really Large Balloon!

A Really Large Balloon!

One comment

  1. Steven Guemann /

    As an amateur artist, can I do a painting of the coastal photo with the fog? Thanks for your direction.

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