Drive Through Paso book and Paso wines

Drive Through Paso Robles is written by Paul Hodgins, designed by Kathy Lajvardi and created by Naushad Huda. Love Paso? Be sure to read Paul’s other Paso Robles book; Winemakers of Paso Robles.

Disclosure: I received this book as media sample. I received no compensation for this review. All opinions are my own.

Drive through Paso Robles is a one stop shop for your Paso Robles needs. In terms of the basics of a book, the font is very approachable. There is plenty of white space on the page to make reading easy on the eyes. Applicable quotes are interspersed between relevant facts that tie the story together. There are a few simple light hearted drawings to break up the words and a couple of maps to help the reader visualize the region.

The book is divided into three sections. The first chapter is a historical perspective on the region. I consider myself a pretty knowledgeable person on Paso Robles, and still learned a few new things; which is always a positive when reading a educational book.

Not long ago, the area around Paso Robles was an attractive yet sleepy part of the Golden State, a bucolic place midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco that was known for its hot springs, cattle ranches, almond orchards and proximity to Hearst’s famous castle.”

This is a fantastic opening paragraph, because it truly states what Paso Robles was best known for. Mostly being a stopping point midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. But it has become so much more. Yes, the wine is fantastic, but it is the people that truly make Paso Robles, Paso.

The first chapter the author introduces the reader to wine history within the region. Beginning with the diversity that can be found within the Central Coast, including rainfall, geographical differences and soil types. Afterwards, we are taken on a 100 century exploration of the region. We learn about the original inhabitants, the role the church played in the development of the region, the importance of Zinfandel, the pitfalls of Prohibition and the legends and pioneers that made El Paso de Robles a mark on the literal map. The chapter wraps up with telling the story of what makes Paso so unique and how it found its way to “greatness.”

image of the famous ueberroth vineyard
The famous Ueberroth Vineyard photo courtesy of ZAP

Chapter two is an in depth look at each of the eleven sub AVAs that were created within the larger Paso Robles AVA in 2014.  The author thanks Chris Taranto of the Paso Robles Wine Alliance for his research and primary writing of the section. The chapter opens with a visual for the reader breaking the area up as if it were within four quadrants with the vertical axis being the 101 freeway (north – south) and the horizonal axis as route 46 (east-west.) Each sub-AVA is then discussed in detail in a counterclockwise direction. The topography, soil, the all important diurnal shift, annual precipitation and Winkler index is explained for each. (if you want to understand what the Winkler scale is check out my post Why You Should Pay Attention to the Winkler Scale) After the geeky stuff, you are led through a bit of history of the sub-AVA as well as some unique characteristics of the area. You will also find a list of wineries located in that sub-AVA

an image of the locations of the sub-AVAs of Paso Robles
image courtesy of Paso Wine

The final chapter brings the reader to the heart of Paso Robles; the people. There are winemaker interviews, where Paul Hodgins asks some of the most well known winemakers in the region as well as a place where you can take tasting notes when you visit the wineries. What I really liked about the interview section was that it was not the same questions posed to each of the winemakers.  The questions were specific to them and the sub-AVA. By asking the different questions, it allows the reader a deeper dive into not only the region, but the psyche of the winemaker. The book wraps up with some Frequently Asked Questions about wine tasting itself.

Overall, I think this can be a valuable reference book for any wine lover looking to explore Paso Robles more. It is also a great resource for learning about the wine history in California. There is a nice integration of history, geekiness, and Paso personality. It’s an easy read, as I read it in one day and as I stated at the beginning of the post, I learned some new things about the region I love and call home. A definite two thumbs up for Drive Through Paso Robles; Your Ultimate Companion to Paso Robles Wine Regions.

Drive Through Paso book and Paso wines

About the Author 

Paul Hodgins is an award-winning journalist who has been writing about wine and related topics for more than 15 years, first for The Orange County Register, then for the Los Angeles Times (Orange County edition), Coast Magazine, The SOMM Journal, and other publications. (from the book’s Amazon site)

I invite you to follow me on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram for all things wine. I’ll never tell you what to drink, but I’ll always share what’s in my glass. 


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