The Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance in partnership with San Luis Obispo Coast Wine Collective, Independent Grape Growers of the Paso Robles Area, Vineyard Team, and past award recipients worked together to identify the 2019 winners. The honorees are evaluated on their leadership and accomplishments in California’s third-largest wine region, San Luis Obispo County.

The 2019 San Luis Obispo County Wine Industry Awards go to:

  • Winegrape Grower of the Year – Paul Hoover, Still Waters Vineyards
  • Winemaker of the Year – Justin Smith, Saxum Vineyards
  • Wine Industry Person of the Year – Scott Welcher, Opolo Vineyards (awarded posthumously)

Awards Presentation
Friday, July 19, 6:30 p.m. FREE
California Mid-State Fair within the Mission Square
The awards presentation is a free event with paid admission to the California Mid-State Fair.

Walk-Around Tasting
Friday, July 19, 5:00pm – 6:30pm, $40
Preceding the awards presentation is a ticketed event featuring a walk-around tasting of the gold medal winners of the Central Coast Wine Competition. Buy tickets.

Scott Welcher, Opolo Vineyards (posthumous)
Wine Industry Person of the Year

Scott Welcher’s understanding of the land, soil, microclimates, and vines was instinctual. He graduated from California Polytechnic State University with a focus in fruit science and stayed in the county to work as a viticulturist in Edna Valley and Los Alamos. For eighteen years, Scott was the General Manager at Wild Horse Winery & Vineyards where he was a co-author of a patent for the first vineyard netting machine. As General Manager for Opolo Vineyards for more than a decade, he lead their team in making high-quality wine and establishing progressive conservation and sustainability practices, including implementation of a state-of-the-art wastewater treatment pond system.

Scott Welcher’s contributions to the State of California, County of San Luis Obispo, and Paso Robles wine industry are far-reaching in his involvement within numerous civic, industry, and scholastic organizations, including: Cal Poly, California State Farm Bureau, Central Coast Vineyard Team, Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance, Kiwanis, Future Farmers of America, 4H, and the Vine Pruning Team of Templeton High School.

Justin Smith, Saxum Vineyards
Winemaker of the Year

Justin Smith and his wife Heather established Saxum Vineyards in 2002. As the winemaker, Justin is focused on producing Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre based blends using grapes from nearby vineyards located in the Willow Creek District of Paso Robles. The majority of his grapes come from his family’s estate vineyard, the James Berry Vineyard, which Justin also owns and manages. The vineyard was planted by his parents, James Berry and Terry Smith in the 1980s. He focuses on farming sustainably and organically, keeping yields low, picking fruit at the peak of ripeness, and using a minimalist approach in the cellar.

Paul Hoover, Still Waters Vineyards
Winegrape Grower of the Year

Paul and Patty Hoover established Still Waters Vineyards in the spring of 2003. Longtime San Luis Obispo County residents and Cal Poly graduates, the Hoovers always held a passion for growing and making award-winning wines as a hobby. This hobby turned to an obsession with the purchase of 60 planted acres in the rolling hills between Paso Robles and Creston located in the El Pomar district on gently sloping hills with the perfect exposure of a north-south orientation. The Still Waters vineyards are planted with fourteen different varieties of specializing in low-yield and high-quality fruit. Also located on the ranch is a 100-year-old olive orchard that yields a mixture of Mission, Sevillano and Ascolano olives, pressed using an Italian mill that combines the best of traditional and modern methods.