Paso Robles has it all. Exceptional terroir. Diverse climates. And best of all, more accessible land prices. Bloomberg said it best—the most desirable California wine region today isn't Napa or Sonoma, it's Paso Robles
Within the Paso Robles AVA, only one vineyard real estate expert understands how to make the most of each district and that's California’s #1 vineyard broker, Jenny Heinzen
. Unlike the overpriced Napa region which is home to a single growing profile, Paso Robles hosts 11 distinctly unique AVA districts with a number of microclimates that allow both the world-class terroir and winemaker skills to shine. Paso Robles is a rising star region with award-winning wines and desirable vineyards ripe for savvy commercial operations. The day to night temps swing from 35F to 50F, more than any appellation across California.
This allows grapes to ripen in a balanced way. Warmer daytime temperatures encourage sugar to develop while cooler nights retain acidity and preserve aromas, ultimately producing more desirable wines. Known for fruit forward Bordeaux and Rhone style blends, Cabernet Sauvignon counts for nearly 50% of Paso Robles grapes and the number of planted acres is only growing. The other half include 60+ grapes from Syrah, Zinfandel, and Merlot to Grenache and Chardonnay among many others.
The cooler west side of the Paso Robles appellation (Adelaida, Templeton Gap and Willow Creek in particular) is drawing increased attention from premium producers, rivaling Napa quality with more affordable land costs for industry leaders and lifestyle buyers alike. Jenny shares, “Paso Robles delivers high quality in both real estate and wine at a more approachable price point. Up-and-coming winemakers add excitement and heavyweights like Daou are bringing international respect.” The best vineyards on Paso’s in-demand westside go for $50,000 to $120,000 an acre—about a third of the cost of land in Napa. And land is available.”
According to Bloomberg News
, “Giant E & J Gallo got in on the action last November, with the purchase of award-winning Denner Vineyards, an estate with 130 acres of vines known for complex Rhone and Bordeaux-style wines. In 2021, powerhouse Constellation Brands snapped up Booker Vineyard from founder and top winemaker Eric Jensen, who continues to make the wines.” The creative freedom to experiment with winemaking styles is attractive as well, inspiring French winemakers like Stephan Asseo of L’Aventure winery to escape France’s strict regulations in Paso. With over 200+ vineyards and counting, the buzz is real and tourism is on the rise.
One of California's largest American Viticulture Areas and only 6 miles from the Pacific Ocean, Paso Robles AVA is the winemaking heart of California’s Central Coast with more than 200 wineries Now here's what you need to know about the 11 versatile sub-appellations within the state’s new winemaking hot spot:
Dotted with live and coastal oaks, the Adelaida District is located along the southern side of the Santa Lucia Mountain Range with shallow, primarily siliceous and calcareous soils. Ideal for growing high-quality fruit, you'll find plenty of limestone along the mountainous terrain, plus ancient marine sediment dating back to the Mesozoic era. The influence of Pacific storms makes this northernmost region particularly wet with nearly 30 inches of average annual rainfall. Spongy soil allows vines to seek out moisture as needed. Celebrated wineries include award-winning Daou Vineyards, Tablas Creek Vineyard, Justin Vineyards, Halter Ranch Vineyard, Adelaida Vineyards & Winery.
Creston District is an ideal environment to grow Cabernet Sauvignon. Warmer than neighboring districts, Creston spans a plateau at the base of the La Panza Range with medium to high elevation. The fertile alluvial soil contains both granite and sedimentary rock. You'll find a wide number of Bordeaux and Rhône varieties thrive here. The Creston District averages about 11 inches of rainfall per year and the average diurnal temperature can swing 25-35 degrees or more. Huerhuero Creek serves as the primary watershed and this region was originally known as Huerhuero before the name of Creston was adopted in 1885.
El Pomar District
A cooler region than many of its neighboring counterparts, the El Pomar District is known for strong marine breezes and thick fog with rich, loamy soils. The region totals approximately 21,300 acres and receives moderate rainfall. Located at the base of the foothills of the La Panza Range, El Pomar District is home to calcareous rock and sandstone. A number of wine grapes thrive in El Pomar District's cooler climate from Rhônes like Grenache and Syrah to Bordeaux varieties like Merlot and Cabernet Franc.
Merlot, Petite Sirah, Merlot, and other Bordeaux varieties thrive in the Estrella District along with grapes from Chardonnay to Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier. Warm days and cool nights paired with mineral-rich alluvial soils make the Estrella District ideal for cultivating premium wine grapes. Estrella is named for the river snaking through this area, though it also is a nod towards Gary Eberle's celebrated Syrah clone, the Estrella clone. He first planted Syrah here as the founding winemaker at the Estrella River Winery.
Totalling about 66,800 acres, the Estrella District features both rolling plains and valley floor. Elevations span between 745-1,800 ft. above sea level. The Estrella River forms close to the town of Shandon and flows west-northwest of the Salinas River. Known for mineral-rich alluvial soils and dramatic temperature variation from day-to-night, the Estrella River is home to gently rolling plains with warm days and a light sea breeze. Ideal for cultivating premium wine grapes, the region produces in-demand wines year after year. Select wineries and vineyards include J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, Villa San-Juliette Vineyard & Winery, High Camp Estate, and Eberle Winery.
You'll find some of the oldest planted Syrah in Paso Robles in the Geneseo District. Syrah grapes thrive here along with many other Rhône and Bordeaux varieties. A relatively warm region with low rainfall located along the Huerhuero-La Panza fault, the Geneseo District is home to alluvial soils with older granite and gravel cementation. While the first grapes planted in the region date back to the late 1800s, more large-scale plantings and growth sparked in the 1970s and 80s. The region benefits from the cooling influences from the Pacific with day-to-night temperatures fluctuating by up to 50 degrees.
The Highlands District is typically warmer and offers the highest consistent elevation found within the Paso Robles AVA. You'll find both open grasslands and high ridges here. The Highlands District averages 12 inches of rainfall annually. Along the creeks, the soil is predominantly sandy loam with coarse sandy loams to clay loams found on the hillsides. Subsoils are often cemented by calcium carbonate. This can cause vines to struggle for up to a decade before reaching iron-based clay deeper below. The effect is increased vigor in the vines, which leads to incredibly rich, flavorful fruit.
Willow Creek District
Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Viognier do extraordinarily well in Willow Creek, which offers similar growing conditions to the Rhone Valley in France. It’s also where Jenny Heinzen and her family own their vineyard! Named for its creek and watershed, this district is known for its loamy limestone-rich calcareous and siliceous soils and marine characteristics. Greatly influenced by both the Pacific and local waterways like Willow Creek and Jack Creek, its cool climate soil is soft marine shale, with mudstones, sandstone, and alluvial sediment. Expect an average rainfall of 30 inches annually. Select vineyards and wineries include Niner Wine Estates, JADA Winery, Denner Vineyards, and L’Aventure Winery.
San Juan Creek District
High temperatures low-rain make the San Juan Creek District ideal for Bordeaux varieties from Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon to Cabernet Franc. The San Juan Creek District consists of nearly 26,000 acres with elevations ranging from 980 to 1,600 feet above sea level. Home to both river valleys and foothills, the region is home to San Juan Creek, which follows the San Juan Fault. This region is home to primarily loamy sands and gravelly to sandy clay loams, with clays on the older alluvial fans and terraces—which ultimately encourages vigor in its grapevines. Located 32 miles from the Pacific, the San Juan Creek District is generally warmer than neighboring regions to the west. This means harvest often occurs earlier than in cooler districts.
San Miguel District
The San Miguel District is the northwestern-most district in Paso Robles American Viticultural Area and split by the Salinas River with a moderate climate and alluvial soil. The landscape is characterized by a number of creeks and rivers. Most vineyards in the San Miguel District are planted 640 to 1,000 feet above sea level. Soils at lower elevations tend to encourage vigor in vines because they retain moisture, while higher elevations reduce vigor. All to say, it's common to see fruit mature a bit earlier than neighboring regions.
Santa Margarita Ranch District
Located along the Santa Lucia Mountain Range, the Santa Margarita Ranch district consists of about 18,300 acres. The southernmost district within Paso Robles American Viticulture Area, it's home to deep alluvial soils of varying textures. Santa Margarita Ranch is the only district in Paso Robles AVA not to border another. The maritime influence equates to high daytime and low nighttime temperatures. Across the valley floor you'll find a beautiful menagerie of trees including Sycamore and Oak. The average annual rainfall totals 29 inches.
Templeton Gap District
The Templeton Gap District is one of the coolest in climate with similar conditions to Bordeaux, Douro Valley, and Piedmont. Higher elevations and proximity to the Pacific make this district ideal for a wide variety of grapes to flourish. Average annual rainfall is 20 inches and altitude ranges from 700-1,800 ft. Cooling breezes and fog set this area apart while calcareous soil allows vines to grow stronger root systems and maximize moisture. This subregion generally harvests 10-14 days later than other districts in the Paso Robles AVA. Southern Rhône varieties especially thrive here along with Zinfandel and Viognier. The region is also known for its Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux-style blends.
Napa & Paso Robles Vineyard Real Estate Experience
Jenny Heinzen is a seasoned expert in both Napa and Paso Robles vineyard real estate. After a decade serving clients in the Napa Valley (and earning a coveted 30 Under 30 award from the National Association of REALTORS®️) she made the move to Paso Robles in 2013. Why? Profitable investments are extremely rare in the Napa Valley. The numbers just don’t work. The region is much more about selling the lifestyle and future appreciation. Unlike Napa, ROI is possible in Paso Robles. Jenny is proud to serve family wine businesses who can actually make a living here and empower vineyard investors to realize income. In fact, the appreciation over a 10 year period has been tremendous—in some cases double or triple!
Want to invest in California’s most buzzed-about wine region?
Paso Robles Vineyard Real Estate
California's #1 vineyard broker, Jenny Heinzen is the best agent for wine industry clients, investment funds, and high-net-worth individuals. Beyond owning a vineyard in Paso Robles' Willow Creek AVA, she is co-owner of the California Central Coast’s premier vineyard advisory and farm management company. Clients benefit from her long-standing relationships and insider wine industry knowledge across the Paso Robles American Viticultural Area.
Equipped with over two decades of insider expertise and $250+ million in closed real estate transactions, she’s sold over 7,800 acres of vineyard & winery property across 45 transactions. Rely on Jenny to achieve your most ambitious goals.