The Highlands District is one of the 11 sub-districts that make up the Paso Robles AVA. Established in 2014, the Highlands District is located in the south-east corner of the AVA, and sees some of the warmest weather and highest elevations of any district in the AVA (hence the highlands name).
Historically known as an agricultural area, the Highlands District still maintains a lot of the ranches and farmland it was originally known for. However, these days vineyards have become an important crop, enough so to define the area as part of the Paso Robles AVA.
Like many of the districts within the Paso Robles AVA, the Highlands District is known for its Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrahs.
The district also becomes quite cool at night, and this weather also allows the district to produce Chardonnays, Muscat Blancs, and Zinfandels that should not be missed.
However, there are unfortunately no vineyards in the Highlands District that are open to the public for wine tasting and events, but this doesn’t mean you need to skip these wines on your next trip to the Central Coat! Varietals by wineries based in the Highlands District can be found in several restaurants, wine bars, and even grocery stores, and offer a glimpse into the differences that define the region.
Make sure to check out Paso Robles’ Food & Drink Page to find the wine bars, tasting rooms, and restaurants that include Highlands District wines!
HIGHLANDS DISTRICT TERROIR PROFILE
The Highlands District is located near the towns of Shandon and Creston in the farthest south-east corner of the Paso Robles AVA. Its northern border sits just below the San Juan Creek District, while Temblor Range to the east and La Panza Range to the south define those borders. To the west lies Indian Creek, and provides the natural border between the Highlands and Creston districts.
Because of the district’s proximity to the Temblor and La Panza Ranges, the topography of the Highlands District is rugged and the climate warm, historically making for better ranch and farmland than for growing grapes. However, the elevation of the district also allows for a wider range of temperatures than the other districts in the region, and provides ideal growing conditions for the Chardonnay and Zinfandel grapes.
The vineyards in the area are made even more impressive given the soil they have to work with; the subsoils severely limit root depth because they have become cemented over time, but the top soils still provide enough good drainage to produce the world-class wines that come out of the district (the top soil in the highest elevations tends to be made of clay loams and alluvial fans, while those closer to the valley floor (and along Indian Creek) are made of sandy loam).
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Although the Highlands District has a fairly unique topography and climate compared to the other districts in the Paso Robles AVA, they too produce the reds Paso Robles is known for, specifically the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlots the AVA is widely known for. However, the unique growing conditions of the Highlands District also allow it to produce amazing white wine varietals, and is especially known for their Chardonnay, Zinfandel, and Muscat Blancs that can not be missed!
during growing season
ABOUT THE PASO ROBLES AVA
Paso Robles’s AVA was established in 1983, and at the time encompassed approximately 614,000 acres across the cities of Paso Robles, Templeton, San Miguel Creston, Shandon, and Santa Margarita in northern SLO County.
At almost three times the size of Napa Valley’s AVA, Paso Robles remained the largest single AVA in California until 2014 when 11 sub-districts were established. Although the larger boundary did not change, these new districts provided a more nuanced understanding of the growing regions within the Paso Robles AVA, and the wines that could be successfully crafted.
Today the distinct terroir profiles (or growing conditions) of the eleven districts contribute to the production of over 40 varietals (the vast majority crafted from Cabernet Sauvignon, Roussanne, Zinfandel, Viognier, Merlot, and Syrah), and home to over 200 wineries for locals and tourists to enjoy and explore.
Learn more about the eleven districts below, and make sure to plan your next wine tasting weekend in Paso Robles’s Wine Country!