Read at Wine Enthusiast
Paso Robles, once known for its big, bold red wines, is now home to a thriving urban wine scene focused on white, orange, and rosé wines. The shift in the region's winemaking culture reflects both the diversification of the grapes being grown and the evolving preferences of American consumers, who are increasingly seeking wines that emphasize nuance over power. Winemakers in Paso Robles, like Vailia Esh of Desperada Wines, have embraced this trend and are quietly crafting a revolution based on lighter wines.
"White wine was a token wine, if anyone was even bothering to do it," explains Vailia Esh of Desperada Wines when she arrived in the region in the mid-2000s. "And they certainly weren't doing any of consistent quality."
Esh launched her brand in 2009, producing half red and half white wines, and appreciating the challenges and rewards of lighter wines. She emphasizes the extra attention and caution required in making white wines compared to reds. Today, her ratio remains half and half, with Sauvignon Blanc accounting for about 90% of her white wine production. Esh cites Merry Edwards as a source of inspiration for Sauvignon Blanc, recognizing Edwards's contribution in bringing the varietal into the forefront of the industry.
"I had a lot of respect for what Merry Edwards did in this industry, not only as a female winemaker but for bringing Sauvignon Blanc into the forefront," says Esh.