And Then There Were 12: Paso Robles Gets 11 Sub-appellations

Map via

Map via

In a week of AVA-shuffling galore, the TTB announced today via the Federal Register that 11 new AVAS, all of them sub-regions of the Paso Robles AVA, have been approved. The AVAs will be “official” one month from today, on November 10th, 2014.

The petition for the 11 sub-regions was originally filed in 2007. The petition turned out to be the longest and most detailed proposal ever filed with the TTB, due to the scale of the proposal and the depth of the information need to support each individual AVA.

A close inspection of the climate data surrounding each new AVA shows the diversity of the region – average annual rainfall ranges from 11 to 29 inches, elevations range from 600 to 2,400 feet above sea level, and climate regions II to IV are represented.

The 11 new AVAs, all sub-appellations of the Paso Robles AVA, are as follows:

  • El Pomar District – Climate Region II, 740-1,600 feet in elevation, average of 15 inches rainfall.
  • At the Justin Winery in Paso Robles

    At the Justin Winery in Paso Robles

    Paso Robles Willow Creek District – Climate Region II, 950 – 1,900 feet in elevation, average of 24-30 inches rainfall.

  • Santa Margarita Ranch – Climate Region II, 900 – 1,400 feet in elevation, average of 29 inches rainfall.
  • Templeton Gap District – Climate Region II, 700 – 1,800 feet in elevation, average of 20 inches rainfall.
  • Adelaida District – Climate Region II-III, 900 – 2,200 feet in elevation, average of 26 inches rainfall.
  • Creston District – Climate Region III, 1,100 – 2,000 feet in elevation, average of 11.5 inches of rainfall.
  • Paso Robles Estrella District – Climate Region III, 745 – 1,800 feet in elevation, average of 14 inches of rainfall.
  • San Miguel District – Climate Region III, 580 – 1,600 feet in elevation, average of 11 inches of rainfall.
  • San Juan Creek – Climate Region III-IV, 980 – 1,600 feet in elevation, average of 10 inches of rainfall.
  • Paso Robles Geneseo District – Climate Region III-IV, 740 – 1,300 feet in elevation, average of 13 inches of rainfall.
  • Paso Robles Highlands District – Climate Region IV, 1,600 – 2,086 feet in elevation, average 12 inches of rainfall.

Map of Paso Robles and sub-appellations, climate data via

Post authored by Jane A. Nickles, CSS, CWE – your SWE Blog Administrator

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Message in a (Square) Bottle

California SquaredDry Creek Valley wine producer Truett-Hurst has released a new range of California wines – a red blend, a Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon, and a Russian River Chardonnay – known as “California Square.”  Priced at $20.00 a bottle, the wines are good, but perhaps not particularly newsworthy. However, the company claims to have just launched the “the world’s first range of wines in square bottles!”

The bottles, modeled after old-time spirits bottles, are eye-catching indeed.  Designed by Kevin Shaw of the award-winning drinks packaging design firm “Stranger & Stranger,” the ornate bottles feature embossing, retro graphics, and screen-printed labels.

According to the California Square website, the bottles make for a more sustainable wine, as shipping, storage, and packing are more efficient, compared to round bottles.  They also claim that the square bottles make “lifestyle sense” as they do not require a dedicated wine rack for storage and they won’t roll away – I am sure we can all relate to that one!

The bottle itself can also be re-used in a myriad of ways.  I have to admit, just looking at the bottle I thought of quite a few….olive oil decanter, flower vase, oil torch, water carafe, and soap dispenser. The website has few more creative ideas such as “message in a bottle,” homemade flavored vodka and “ship in a bottle.”

In a world full of gimmicks, of course, the wine inside has to stand up to the glamorous exterior, and thankfully, Truett-Hurst winemaker Ginny Lambrix has crafted the wines, produced with grapes grown using biodynamic principles, with care.  Here is a quick rundown of the three offerings:

  • California Squred Red BlendCabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles, 2012 – A base of Cabernet Sauvignon blended with a touch of Merlot and Cabernet Franc, this structured wine shows typical “Cab” aromas and flavors of blackberry, black plum, cheery, licorice and savory herb. The winemaker calls this wine a “sexy beast.” We can only hope!
  • Red Blend, Paso Robles, 2012 – A blend of 8 different lots and 5 different varieties – Petite Sirah, Syrah, Merlot, Sangiovese and Zinfandel. Each lot was individually fermented to coax maximum flavor and texture from the grapes. The resulting blend is juicy, rich, and complex with flavors of red berries, chocolate, plum and spice.
  • Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, 2012 – Produced with 100% Chardonnay, the grapes for this wine were whole cluster pressed for enhanced texture and extraction of skin flavors.  A portion of the wine (70%) was fermented in French Oak barrels with active lees stirring and MLF; the remaining wine was cold-temperature stainless steel fermented. The resulting wine shows both oaky-vanilla-tropical fruit flavors and a bit of citrus-floral-minerality as well.

“California Square” wines are available throughout the U.S. at Total Wine and More locations.

Click here to visit the California Square Wines website.

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Post authored by Jane A. Nickles, CWE – your SWE Blog Administrator –



The AVA Shuffle

New AVA 1The bureaucrats down at the TTB must have been hard at work lately processing the applications for more than 18 new AVAs.

Read on to learn the details of some of the more interesting proposals!

Big Valley District and Kelsey Bench – Lake County – Two new AVAs have been proposed for Lake County, CA; to be named Big Valley District – Lake County and Kelsy Bench – Lake County.

The Big Valley region is located on the south shore of Clear Lake and has a long history of agriculture (pears and walnuts) and viticulture.  The Kendall-Jackson winery is said to have had its beginnings in the area in 1974, when Jess Jackson and his wife purchased a Lake County farm and soon after planted their first vineyards.

The Kelsey Bench is located between Mt. Konocti, Lake County’s resident dormant volcano, and the alluvial flood plain on the lower elevations.  The proposed Kelsey Bench AVA understandably has primarily volcanic soils, higher elevations than the adjacent (proposed) Big Valley District, and northeastern exposures. The proposal for both new Lake County AVAs has reached the final ruling stage. To read all the documents related to these proposed AVAs, click here:!docketDetail;D=TTB-2013-0003

Cabernet TopEagle Peak Mendocino County – A proposal to establish a new AVA to be known as Eagle Peak Mendocino County is in the final ruling stage.  Eagle Peak Mendocino County is proposed in an area of moderately sloping, hilly terrain at elevations from 800 feet to 3,320 feet up the slope of Eagle Summit.  Along with the new AVA, the proposal calls for the modification of the boundaries of the adjacent Redwood Valley AVA in order to avoid splitting two vineyard properties, Golden Vineyards and Masut Vineyards, between the Eagle Peak and Redwood Valley AVAs.  If the proposal passes, both properties would be within the Eagle Peak Mendocino County AVA. To read more about this proposal, click here:!docketDetail;D=TTB-2013-0004

New AVA 3Paso Robles – After years of debate about the possible division of the Paso Robles AVA into North Paso Robles/South Paso Robles or even East Paso Robles/West Paso Robles sub-appellations, a proposal to establish eleven new AVAs within the existing Paso Robles AVA has made it to the “proposed rulemaking stage” of the AVA approval process.  If you have an opinion, now is the time to speak up! Public comments are welcome through January 21, 2014.  If all goes as planned, the new AVAs will be as follows:  Adelaida District,  Creston District, El Pomar District, Paso Robles Estrella District, Paso Robles Geneseo District, Paso Robles Highlands District, Paso Robles Willow Creek District, San Juan Creek, San Miguel District, Santa Margarita Ranch, and Templeton Gap District. For all the details, click here:!docketDetail;D=TTB-2013-0009

If you would like to see all of the current AVA proposals on record with the TTB, just click here: