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Julianna Beno
October 10, 2022 | Julianna Beno

The Willow Creek District

Out of the Willow Creek District comes some of California's highest scoring Rhône-style wines. Why is this? The answer is easy; soil and climate. Much like the Rhône valley of France, Willow Creek boasts soil that is chalky, calcareous, and high in marine fossils. Although, in contrast to the Rhône valley being rich in granite, Willow Creek soil is heavy in limestone having a naturally higher pH that commonly exceeds 8.0. This acidity is essential to the flavor profile of wine and also helps preserve the integrity of the wine as it ages. The technical soil type in Willow Creek varies from loam (perfect soil) to clay-loam. In the district, there lies both Calodo and Linne soils. Despite the name being used frequently, not many truly know what Linne-Calodo soil is. Where Calodo soil is best for shallow rooting that drains well, Linne soil has deep rooting potential that retains water. The versitility of Willow Creek having both soil styles allows a better growing potential for varying grapes. 

With rolling hills positioned the closest to the Pacific Ocean out of all of the districts in the Paso Robles AVA, Willow Creek receives the first influence of the coastal breeze of the Templeton Gap, much like how the Rhône valley of France experiences the coastal breeze of the Mediterrainian Sea. Although, the Pacific fog and coastal breeze is far more tame than the cold, strong mistral winds of the Rhône valley. Being much more of a challenge than our advantageous costal fog, the 60 kph mistral winds create a varrying climate making more of a struggle for the grapes. Like the mistral winds, but not as aggressive, the gap effect of the Templeton Gap also blows a more harsh wind into the Willow Creek District. This makes an ideal situation for GSM (Grenache, Syrah, and Movedre) varietals. These are the big three varietals of the Rhône valley which is why Willow Creek produces such a high quality version of them. 

Being similar to the Rhône valley of France isn't the only draw to Willow Creek. This district may grow amazing Rhône-style varietals, but because of the quality, Willow Creek can grow many different varietals of distinction. At Midnight Cellars, we produce Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Merlot, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. Because of the way the hill is positioned on our Township property, these grapes experience the morning fog, a coastal breeze, and varrying temperatures. The hot climate and coastal climate both make a perfect variance for the grapes to experience the most ideal growing potential in the Paso Robles AVA. Much like Glodie Locks, grapes like their climate "just right" and California is the perfect host. This factor is exceptionally true for the Willow Creek District. Out of any other district in the Paso Robles AVA, the climate is not too hot, but hot and dry enough for Zinfandel and Malbec, and not too cold, but cool enough for Chardonnay. With a portfolio of grape varietals like ours to choose from, it is no surprise that we've been serving your favorite wines since 1995!




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