Referred to locally as the Adelaida Hills (not to be confused with Australia’s Adelaide Hills), they’re part of the Santa Lucia Mountains, which span 140 miles from Carmel Bay through San Luis Obispo County in California's Central Coast. Exciting things are happening in these remote hills, valleys and benchlands northwest of Paso Robles, so much so that in the June 30, 2005 issue of Wine Advocate, Robert M. Parker, Jr. asserts “there is no question that a decade from now, the top viticultural areas of Santa Barbara, Santa Rita Hills and the limestone hillsides west of Paso Robles will be as well-known as the glamorous vineyards of Napa Valley.”
So just what is it that makes this area so special in terms of winemaking? As in all of the great wine regions of the world, the soil, climate and topography together create an ideal environment for quality grape growing. Given that they have some pretty special ground, with some of the highest elevations in the area, a wide variety of slopes and orientations, and those sought after limestone soils, it's not surprising that the area is producing concentrated, well-structured, age worthy wines.
More specifically here is what you'll find:
-the calcareous soils (calcium carbonate, limestone or chalk) of the area and the significance of this rocky, relatively infertile type of soil contribute to the exciting quality of the wines on the Westside. Calcareous soils, in particular, contribute intense bouquets, firm acids and strong alcohol but with finesse.
-climate during the growing season, specifically the hot days and cool nights. The Westside commonly has temperature swings of 50-55 degrees day-to-night, largely due to cooling breezes from Pacific Ocean creating prime conditions for ripe fruit with a balance of sugar and acid.
-dominated by the Santa Lucia Mountains it is an amazingly varied area with flatlands, river bottoms, benchlands, hills and mountains. There are multiple microclimates and diverse vineyard sites ranging from 800-2000 feet above sea level.
Over forty years ago, Dr. Stanley Hoffman recognized the area's potential and planted some of the region's first vines. The wines produced with legendary consultant Andre Tchelistcheff
under the Hoffman Mountain Ranch (HMR) label provided early proof that world-class wines could be grown in Paso Robles.
Today, the Von Steenwyk family owns a portion of that HMR vineyard as part of the Adelaida Cellars holdings that includes about 500 acres of walnut trees and 150 acres of vineyards. The winery, which originated in 1981, is located 14 miles east of the Pacific Ocean at an elevation of 1,800 feet in the Santa Lucia mountain chain. Adelaida's wild and rugged mountainside vineyards are loaded with limestone and calcareous shale. According to winemaker Terry Culton, "these characteristics cause the vines to strengthen. This results in added stress on the vines, which lowers the yields but produces more intensely flavored fruit". In keeping with the winery's sustainable philosophy, the vineyards are not tilled, encouraging native grasses, wild sage and rosemary to flourish between the rows.
Adelaida produces from its own Estate vineyards and a select group of contracted vineyards on the west side of Paso Robles. The fruit for the Adelaida Cellars Version comes from the Glenrose Vineyard, at 1,200 – 1,600 feet in elevation and 16 miles from the Pacific Ocean, and is adjacent to their own Viking Estate Vineyard.
Adelaida Version (Rhone Style White) Glenrose Vineyard 2007 - (58% Roussanne, 42% Grenache Blanc) Beautiful lime, pear and honey aromas with thirst quenching acidity and a fresh minerally finish this is an amazing food wine! Try it with my recipe this week, Lidia Bastianich's Whole Roasted Fish.
Try this wine at our Friday Free All this week with Gabe Daigle, $21.99.