It is 1977. The Estrella River Winery is rising on a hill that dominates the countryside on the Estrella Plains, just east of the Paso Robles Airport. The magnificent structure is surrounded by the 700-acre Estrella vineyards rolling out like a lush carpet over the surrounding hills. Local architect, Nick Gilman designed the winery. Dick Hamilton of Systems Builders in Paso Robles is the project manager.
The owners are Gary Eberle, Cliff Giacobine, and a third brother, a heart specialist, who lives in Pennsylvania. Gary Eberle, the youngest brother, was happy being a professional student with a master’s degree in chemistry and a year away from completing a doctorate in Microanatomy. Gary had left Louisiana State University to study Enology and Viticulture at UC Davis. Gary states, “I’m just as happy developing a great Cabernet as I would be isolating DNA.”
The estimated cost of the winery is $2,000,000. Giant timbers are supporting a vast roof covering 26,000 square feet of the winemaking space. The second story contains offices and the third, storage.
Gary and Cliff have planted nine varietals. There are five lakes, which help to moderate weather and temperature, in the vineyards. The lakes are fed from six wells, drilled by Smith and Smith well drillers, with depths of 1,000 feet into the sandy soil. The pumping and pressure systems use 21 giant diesel engines, augmented by four electric motors, to carry the water into the vineyards through 3,000 miles of pipes.
The stainless-steel tanks for the winery have been arriving weekly on flatbed rail cars in Paso Robles and transported to the winery.
In 1976, 130 tons of grapes were harvested from the vineyards, more than had been expected in the first harvest, and fine quality wines were produced. The crush of the 1977 harvest is forecasted to exceed all expectations.
Gary Eberle and Cliff Giacobine plan to harvest 750 tons of grapes. They will use 20% of the harvest to make their own wines. The remaining grapes will be sold to other wineries.
Source: Daily Press, August 1977.
Note: The Estrella River Winery was purchased in 1988 by Wine World,Inc., a subsidiary of Nestle Enterprises Inc., and parent company of Beringer Vineyards in the Napa Valley. Read a Los Angeles Times article.