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With some of the biggest temperature shifts between day and night, Paso Robles is heaven for wine. Hot days ripen the grapes, but then cool nights put the brakes on, helping to maintain acidity, slowing and lengthening the process for maximum complexity and aromatics. There’s diversity in the soil, from silts to silt loams to clay to limestone, as well as a range of micro-climates and good producing wells. The 173 acres of Robert Hall Winery are smack in the middle of all this bounty. They also source grapes from all 11 Paso Robles AVAs. All this accounts for the boldness of their wines, along with the ingenuity of the winemakers themselves.
The winery was founded in 1999 by Robert Hall, an entrepreneur out of Minnesota who fell in love with wines during a trip to the south of France and wanted to create his own winery. He chose Paso Robles in California’s Central Coast due to its rich and diverse climate and soils. One of his stipulations — unusual for the late 90’s — was that his winery had to be a place of hospitality and entertainment, of music, events, and delicious food to go with his superlative wines. Jeff O’Neill has purchased the winery since then, but Don Brady is still the founding winemaker, just as he was in Robert Hall’s time. The entire place is Certified California Sustainable and, in a bold experiment, 1⁄3 of the acres are now set aside for regenerative viticulture as well.
It’s a gamble and an innovation, the idea that taking out the herbicides will improve the soil and, by extension, the grapes. Now mid-row planting pulls carbon out of the atmosphere, and six tons of compost to the acre builds soil structure, microbes and the ability to hold moisture. Bio drones even release beneficial insects on the vines.