Today, as I was driving in to work (I live in town) I started thinking about how poorly understood the Paso Robles climate (and the diversity within the climate) is. This lack of understanding, shared by writers, growers, and the general public alike, results in a generalization of Paso Robles as hot, or as dry, or as a simple continuum of east-is-hotter and west-is-cooler. None of these are really true, at least as reflected in the microclimates that I drive through on my way from town to Tablas Creek, through the Templeton Gap and Adelaida Hills regions.
For example, as I drove out today, it was foggy in town, so thick that my wife came in from getting the newspaper and reported that it was raining. This is Salinas Valley fog, cold and low, coming down the valley from the Monterey Bay.
As I drove West on Adelaida Road, the fog thinned out and it became sunny just west of town (where Wild Coyote is). Further west, at the highest point on Adelaida Road (which is also the lowest point in the range of hills that ridges up between Paso Robles and Adelaida districts) there was fog moving across the road. This is Pacific fog, moving east through gaps in the mountain passes, collectively known as the Templeton Gap but which influence (to varying degrees) the south-west quadrant of the Paso Robles appellation.
Further west, it became sunny again, and by the time I got to Tablas Creek it was warm and bright. You could see banks of fog to the east (I'd driven through those) and wisps to the west (mostly on the west side of the Santa Lucia range) but nothing overhead. A photo, looking east from the top of Tablas Creek, shows the fog retreating east into the Salinas Valley. We must be one of the only parts of California where the fog clears east!
I found this regularly throughout the summer. In the mornings, when town is foggy, we're clear at Tablas Creek. This makes our nights colder, and makes us more susceptible to frost, but also gives us longer ripening days than most of Paso Robles, and less mildew pressure.
The sun, sitting over Tablas Creek, made for a very pretty shot of the fall colors. We've only got a few more days before the leaves are gone, so we're enjoying the nice weather while we can.