Every year Mother Nature brings Paso Robles Wine Country different growing conditions based on temparature and rainfall which greatly influences the wine. Take a look back into past harvest years.


The 2022 vintage will be remembered by low yields because of another extremely light rainfall winter as well as an extreme heat event in September and the earliest start to harvest across the entire AVA.

Budbreak was in the first week of March for many and a mild frost season helped keep this early budbreak follow through into flowering without too much pressure. Late Spring brought abnormally windy and cool weather producing challenging conditions for fruit set. The introduction to summer was welcomed with great wine grape growing weather and only a few days hitting the 100-degree mark. With the great start, canopies were full, healthy, and ready for the rest of the vintage’s tough temps. July brought our typical warm weather with cool nights.

The Labor Day heat was the biggest challenge. There were two heat waves which affected this earlier than normal harvest season. The first heatwave, August 12 to 19 ranged from 100 – 108 degrees. There was a small reprieve for 11 days until the big heatwave, which was from August 31 to September 9, which had a low of 105 and max of 115 degrees. To make growing conditions even more challenging, a rain event occurred just a week after the last heat wave.

Another challenge brought on by the heat wave was how nimble some wineries could be with picking decisions. Estate programs with in-house crews could make picking decisions that didn’t rely on crew availability nor competition from other clients. This would ultimately lend itself to the quality of fruit brought in when ready.

Many growers report that the cool spring lent to smaller clusters, thereby also influencing the reduced yield. However, the smaller clusters create deeper color and extraction, which lends itself to better quality. Luckily the 2022 vintage began with normal summer temps which allowed a full canopy to develop before more consistent heat arrived in August. Said heat caused cluster weight loss, further intensifying color and tannin. Overall quality and character will come down to how picking timing fared if during the later heat pressure or if picked after the heat waves.

Cabernet Sauvignon represents more than 50% of what is grown in Paso Robles and had the highest amount of yield loss due to drought conditions and the heat waves. Most growers and winemakers report an overall 30% +/- loss in yield. Later season reds fared better than other varietals due to the timing of bloom. However, rather than just being based on variety, it comes down to farming style. Larger canopies and those that incorporated shade cloth fared better. Which is something to consider as extended heat events continue to occur near harvest. This will ultimately help retain color and reduce dehydration.


The winter of 2020/2021 was mostly dry with some early rainfall and then later spring rainfall, but it was well below normal rainfall totals for the year. In all, drought conditions persisted for a second year in a row. Bud break started with earlier ripening varieties taking place in late March, followed by later ripening varieties pushing in mid-to-late April. There were very few frost events reported through the spring. The region experienced some heavy winds between bloom and set, which contributed to loose clusters and some shatter across the AVA. This was a forecast of possible decreased yields, which proved to be true.

The typical weather pattern of summer was exhibited with warm days and cool nights. Some extreme heat started harvest in the western hills of Paso Robles a bit earlier in late August, as compared to the last couple of years. With naturally low yields due to spring weather and a dry winter, it became a race to pick many vineyards. Some growers thought that harvest would be done early, but the weather ended up fluctuating with warm events immediately followed by cool spells. This set harvest into a more manageable timeline.

In October there were some isolated frost events which were a little early (before Halloween). This once again affected picking decisions for some specific areas of the AVA. The later part of October cooled down which extended harvest for some. Most of harvest in Paso Robles wrapped up by the second week of November.

Many winemakers report that 2021 is a very good vintage. Berries are small so there should be a high level of concentration and possible low juice yields. The drought has had an impact the last few years, but it was significant this year. There was an average cluster weight loss of 20-30%.


It is almost needless to say, but the 2020 vintage is iconic for more reasons that how vineyards fared this year. There was a slightly late budbreak due to March/April rainfall, but no frost issues, and a slightly warmer than normal May and June. This was followed by a slightly cooler than normal July. Flowering happened under good conditions and vine health was excellent. Then, in August, it got hot. Both August and September were 20%+ warmer than average in degree days, with two separate weeks of record heat, one in mid-August and one in early September. There were only six days between August 10 and October 9 fail to reach 85 degrees.

The second heat spike was only broken by a thick atmospheric smoke layer, which presented some issues with smoke reaching down to the surface. Harvest started the last week of August, a few days earlier than normal for many, and for many finished the second week of October, about two weeks earlier than average. However, there are always the exceptions that were still picking into the first week of November.

It is widely thought that the compression of harvest was driven by the fact that other than those smoke-overcast days in September, it stayed warm-to-hot. There were some reports of fruit suffering some raisining and dehydration in select vineyards around the AVA. Yields were lower for the Bordeaux varieties, age and location dependent. Some ranches were down 10% and others down over 30%. It appears that vines older than 15 years really struggled through the heat waves and easily lost 15-20% of their crop.

In terms of quantity, the latest-ripening grapes (like Mourvèdre, Roussanne, Counoise, and Tannat) were all down by an average of about 10%, perhaps because they struggled in the heat for longer, saw more sunburn and raisining, etc. Earlier-ripening grapes were flat or slightly up in quantity, except Grenache and Grenache Blanc which were up by around one-third.

Coming off 2019’s high yielding crop, growers put in extensive effort in vine balance and managing canopies in 2020. Its important to note that there were negligible reports of smoke taint due to the fires well to the north and east. As noted before, most smoke remained atmospheric and due to long distance from the source of the smoke, the impact was next to nothing.


The 2019 vintage started with a cool winter with normal precipitation, breaking the dry trend of the previous six years. Spring was wet and cool with bud break coming a few weeks later than usual. The favorable preseason and into spring rainfall bode well for early canopy development that would endure early summer heat. Flowering progressed normally with minimal shatter across the AVA. June was dry with the first real warming trend beginning toward the end of the month. July started warm, showing the typical Paso Robles pattern of hot days and cold nights, but cooler weather toward the end of the month delayed veraison by a few weeks. Mid-August warmed again and stayed that way through early September with the usual Paso Robles cold Fall nights, which preserves natural acidity in the fruit, giving us the ability for some longer hang time in the late ripening varieties. Some hotter days lasted into the first couple weeks of October and then the weather cooled to be more moderate. The crop yield was back in line with historical averages or slightly below average after a big year in 2018, which was big due to all the rain we had that year.  The moderate rainfall, good temperatures, smaller than normal crop and long harvest should bode well for a great vintage in the bottle.


The 2018 vintage began with a cool, dry winter. Approximately 70% of the annual rainfall for the vintage came in February and March. The later and lower than normal rainfall helped to push bud break into mid to late March, later than what was expected but earlier than what is normal.

Temperatures fluctuated in April, with some minor frost events. May and June alternated between warm and cool temperatures during flowering, including a few windy days that affected fruit set. Warm weather brought on signs of veraison in the last week of July. A six-week heat wave continued till mid-August which delayed ripening and maturity. Once the heat subsided the weather returned to a more normal pattern through harvest. This cool period extended harvest, making for a more even, less stressful harvest.


The 2017 vintage marked the end of a five-year drought in California. The wettest portions of the Paso Robles AVA saw as much as 45 inches of rain, primarily in January which was the wettest of the months. This cold, wet winter helped delay budbreak into a more normal cycle with the majority of budbreak seen across the AVA in the first week of April.

Bloom took place by mid-May under warm temperatures. The generous winter rainfall lead to healthy vineyards with full canopies. Summer began cool but quickly changed to hot in July with some record-breaking heat. Late- August saw a dramatic heat spike with temperatures topping 115 in some areas of the AVA. This sped up veraison; however, actual phenolic ripening was not widespread. The strong vine health from the wet winter helped most vineyards through this episode. More moderate, typical late summer / early fall weather followed the heat spike, which brought much of the region into more balanced maturity and ripening. These cooler temperatures extended harvest well into October.


Following the uneventful El Nino of 2015/16, which did provide better rainfall than the previous four years, proved to be a let down from what was anticipated. The winter cold also did not dip down into consistently low conditions to provide for a true hard frost, which helps vines remain in dormancy longer. Early bud break, at about mid-April, was recorded across the AVA. A relatively cool spring led to some very consistent and warm spikes in early June, then consistently warm July and August. Harvest for white varieties began mid-August. Warm temperatures through September kept harvest at a heightened pace until it concluded in early October. This was one of the earliest harvests on record, at least since 2013. The 2016 vintage is the warmest year since 2014, with every month of the growing season, except May, skewing warmer than average.


The 2015 vintage began with early bud break yet again, calling into question what a new norm may be in this fourth year of drought. Cold spring temperatures and intermittent wet weather, coupled with a wind event in May caused fruit set issues during flowering for many vineyards around the AVA. Varieties mostly affected were Cabernet Sauvignon, which is the most planted in the region, and Syrah. Ultimately this led to a reduced yield throughout the AVA. The rest of the growing season was moderate and uneven. An unusual rain event in July provided moisture and caused some runoff issues. Mid to late August heat helped jumpstart most vineyards into harvest. September cooled, slowing most harvest activities which ended in late October. The anticipated El Nino cycle for winter 2015/16 started off well with showers through November, but in the end did not produce the anticipated rainfall nor normal rainfall for the region.


The 2014 vintage can be characterized as early. Early bud break in mid to late March, followed by an early pattern of flowering, set, veraison and harvest. The dry, mild winter was evidence of a third year of drought conditions and led to the early start to the 2014 vintage. Warm weather throughout the growing season did not have large swings in temperature; however, some late summer heat was cause for a fast harvest, which began in mid-August. Vintners reported slightly lower yields than normal, with small clusters and berries.


The 2013 vintage marked the second consecutive drought year for Paso Robles. Considered a “classic” by many, 2013 began with bud break in April, a consistently warm summer without heat spikes or abnormally cool stretches. Veraison reportedly began a couple weeks ahead of schedule, which brought on some sugar spikes. Late summer cooled appropriately to allow for best maturity, then early fall warmth accelerated harvest to end early. The outcome of these ideal weather conditions was early brix accumulation with high acidities. Yields were reportedly 20% down from an average year.


An above average winter rainfall coupled with vines that were not stressed from the previous vintage lead to textbook bud break and fruit set. The canopy was strong and healthy region-wide and moderate summer temperatures led to even veraison and great maturity. The fall provided perfect weather for a smooth harvest. The color and texture of the fruit was outstanding, giving winemakers an excellent product for an excellent vintage.


The 2011 vintage is one of historical proportions in Paso Robles. After a winter of slightly less than average rainfall, a devastating frost event occurred in early April. Many growers estimated losses of between 20 – 60 percent of total crop. This frost event was unusual because it was a cold, and atmospherically deep, air mass that settled over the region for a prolonged period of time. Frost prone locations as well as vineyard locations that were not prone to frost suffered damage. The vintage was also challenged by early season rainfall which proved to be more damaging to northern California regions. Paso Robles benefitted from warm temperatures and moderate wind that followed three different rain events during harvest. Ultimately the frost event of April 7 – 10 was nature’s way of lowering yields but ensuring quality as the growing season was a balance of warm day time and cool evening temperatures. Reports from winemakers are that the fruit from the 2011 vintage was intense yet balanced, with good acids, thick skins, and dark color.


Beginning with a winter of average rainfall (a welcome return after three dry winters), spring conditions were excellent for bud break with a larger than expected cluster counts and weights. A moderate summer of warm temperatures with spikes of over 100 degree days did not carry beyond one week at a time. A couple rain events during harvest stretched the timing of crush. Late season warmth helped ripen all later ripening varieties. In all, 2010 proved to provide a slightly higher than average yield with excellent quality.


After coming out of a fairly dry winter (third in a row), this vintage began with a number of short period frost events in April that proved to lower yields at the end of the season. This vintage was also complicated by an abnormal, and strong, rain event on October 13 which dropped as much as 10 inches in some parts of the AVA and produced winds of up to 25 mph. This weather event temporarily halted harvest activities as the region dried out. In all the quality of fruit was excellent and considered a great Paso Robles vintage.


2008 was a challenging vintage for most of California, with a very cold April resulting in widespread frost damage, wind during flowering causing uneven fruit set, a heat spike in August, and an unusual freeze in early October.  Gorgeous weather in late October saved the vintage for many producers. Results will vary depending on varieties planted, with Bordeaux varieties particularly affected by shatter and very low yields, and early-ripening varieties impacted by the August heat spike.  Overall, yields were below the low levels of 2007 (as much as 50 percent less than normal), but the wines, particularly later-ripening varieties, proving to be generous in flavor and beautifully balanced.


The 2007 vintage was dominated by the cold, dry winter that preceded it. Temperatures dropped into single digits in January, which delayed the onset of flowering and reduced the vigor of the vines. Rainfall levels just 40 percent of normal further stressed the vines.  The summer was moderate in temperature, producing a long, slow harvest with yields down 15 to 30 percent from 2005 and 2006.  The wines were intensely flavored, dark in color, with surprisingly gentle tannins for such a powerful vintage.  Winemakers report that the 2007 vintage has the potential to be a classic one for the Paso Robles region.


Above average winter rains and a cool spring got 2006 vineyards off to a wet and late start.  After an unusual heat wave In late July/early August, cooler than normal summer weather (high 80s to low 90s) returned until September when a cooling trend and cloudy skies delayed the last stage of grape maturity by at least 10 days.  Mid-September warmed again and the resulting harvest was delayed but unhurried with beautiful weather persisting into November.  Winemakers reported a higher than normal crop (perhaps a shade below 2005’s levels) with notable elegance, pure flavors, medium body and comparatively lower alcohol levels.


2005’s rainfall ranks as the eighth wettest year since 1869-1870 when official records began to be published in Paso Robles. The cool, wet spring was followed by a sunny and dry but relatively cool early summer, until July, when daytime highs reached 100 degrees and stayed there for a period of two weeks. Harvest began around the beginning of September and ended the first week in November. Although this harvest resulted in the largest crush on record in the state, winemakers were thrilled with the consistent high quality of wine grapes received.


2004 was looking to be an ideal season with a warm spring and subsequent very early flowering unmarred by frost. A fairly mild summer followed until the end of August and beginning of September, when periods of temperatures in the high 90s caused rapid sugar jumps in the grapes. After September, cooler weather allowed fruit to hang and develop flavor, and the accelerated harvest provided protection against the earliest onset (mid-October) of the rainy season in years. Many varieties reached maturity in mid-August, one of the earliest harvests on record.


The winter months of the 2003 growing season were warm and dry. This mild winter transformed into a warm spring, which brought bud break in March. Normal hot summer temperatures held throughout fruit sizing, veraison and maturation. By harvest in late fall, fruit ripened into a perfect balance of Brix and pH.


The 2002 growing season began with a warm, dry winter that yielded the lowest rainfall in five years. Bud break occurred in March with naturally reduced bud count in the grapevines. Spring remained dry and cool. June, July and August were the warmest summer months in five years. The combination of low rainfall and a very warm summer resulted in unusually small berries and clusters. Veraison came early, and the months following consisted of moderate temperatures ideal for maturing grapes over a long growing season.


The 2001 growing season started with a cold winter with less than average rainfall that led to bud break in late March and a late frost that lowered yields. Bloom occurred under warm conditions followed by very warm winds that caused cluster damage in some microclimates. A protracted heat wave in the early summer kept vines under extreme stress, resulting in a smaller crop size. Summer and fall temperatures remained consistently warm, providing an optimal growing season, though yields were down 50 percent below normal for some vineyards.


2000 was a slightly below average rain season, with the majority of rain coming in December and January.  Early springtime weather warmed quickly with average highs near 80 degrees. Bud break was about two weeks earlier than most years, but the month of May cooled significantly, stalling bloom and berry set for a few weeks. Summer daytime temperatures returned to normal while cooler than average summer nights helped maintain good acidity in the grape. In the end, harvest was just about two weeks later than in most years.