Culture of Paso Robles

Culture of Paso Robles

The early Spanish influence is pervasive in Paso Robles, beginning with its name, which means “pass of the oaks.” Many place names in the area have the imprint of the Spanish explorers and the Catholic padres who came to the New World to found missions and convert the local Indian peoples. Mission San Miguel was founded just north of Paso Robles and thanks to the Franciscans, grapes came to be planted in the region. In fact, some of the original vines are still producing there to this day.

El Rancho de Paso Robles was part of a 26,000 acre Mexican land grant that brothers James and Daniel Blackburn and partner Lazarus Godehaux purchased in 1857 for $8000. That land deal was made with the idea of capitalizing on making the native hot springs a tourist attraction and building a town around it. First it was the water and then it was the almond trees in the 1880’s that shaped the culture and the economy of the area. In the last twenty years, it has been the wine that has made the lasting difference to Paso Robles.

Culturally, Paso Robles is tied to its early California heritage. A museum dedicated to Paso pioneers, the Pioneer Museum and the Carnegie Library in the downtown park, both preserve and pay homage to the city’s history. Paso Robles does not want to be a “modern” city. Modern conveniences abound but even as it looks to the future, Paso celebrates its past. Neighbors on Vine Street deck their Victorian houses in Christmas finery every year and invite everyone to their celebration. Two local missions are constant reminders of the heritage that grounds Paso Robles and inspires it to care for the land and its ties to the past.

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