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Groundbreaking Wines from the Ground Up

by Jim Gerakaris, CWE

The soils in Paso Robles and at JUSTIN are exceptionally unique because they were once an ancient seabed populated by marine life such as coral and mollusks. Their skeletal fragments formed sedimentary rock rich in calcium carbonate. Just as calcium is an important mineral for strong bones, it also plays a supporting role in the story behind Paso Robles’s wines.

These limestone and calcareous soils bode well for wine-grape growing, for multiple reasons. First, calcareous soils are porous, but at the same time possess a high water- retention capacity, allowing a vine to flourish both in very wet years and during droughts. Second, it is also alkaline. A pH greater than 7.0 fosters better absorption of nutrients because hydrogen ions are displaced by calcium, potassium, sodium and magnesium; calcium is especially important in keeping the pH of the grape skins relatively low. A reliably low pH (higher acidity) wine is attractive to winemakers because it is necessary for longevity of a bottled wine.

Groundbreaking Wines


When making decisions on picking or blending, we evaluate acidity as a key component, just as winemakers in Bordeaux have considered it in their blends for over a century. Paso Robles and Bordeaux have strikingly similar limestone soils and an affinity for producing remarkable wines with great propensity for aging gracefully. At JUSTIN, we have been working with Bordeaux-style varieties like cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, and merlot for 35 years. We are fortunate that the fruits of our labor continue to garner praise, including most recently our 2014 JUSTIFICATION, which was named to Wine Spectator’s Top 100 wine list as the 24th most exciting wine in the world. By staying true to our roots and these revered soils here in Paso Robles, there are no limits to what our beloved Bordeaux varieties can produce.