Cayucos Beach North by Ann Nagano, 34 inches by 40 inches, 1974.
Ellie’s Garden by Ann Nagano, 32 inches by 48 inches, 1980.
Eight Gulls by Ann Nagano, 30 inches by 36 inches, 1983.
George and Ann Nagano were the first to recognize the need for a tasting room where many local wines could be compared and sampled in a pleasant and spacious location, accessible to visitors and locals. Most of the small wineries and vineyards located west of Paso Robles and in Templeton did not have the resources to establish tasting rooms in their own vineyards and wineries. Tourists tended to visit the larger wineries and tasting rooms that were located east of the Paso Robles area off California Highway 46 East. Most visitors did not seek out the new small wineries, established in the 1980s.
George and Ann established a unique business around 1984 combining a gourmet delicatessen and a tasting room to promote and sell wines for fifteen small family-owned local wineries, none of which had the space or the staff to offer tastings or to market their own brands. The Naganos owned an old warehouse in the village of Templeton at 590 Main Street. They renovated the building and created an attractive air-conditioned space to house the delicatessen, cheeses, gourmet foods, desserts, tasting room and a full wine shop. They built a long bar where George and Ann offered wine tastings and described the local winemakers. They decorated the walls with large oil paintings by Ann Nagano and newspaper articles describing the rich wine history of San Luis Obispo County. The grounds were inviting and included a patio for dining. The name was Templeton Corner – Wine Tasting and Delicatessen.
George and Ann Nagano were knowledgeable about California and local San Luis Obispo County wines. They invited their nephew, Andy Hinsdale to join them as they attended local wine tasting classes at CalPoly (California Polytechnic University) in San Luis Obispo. Andy joined them and visited local winemakers with George to convince small producers to allow the Naganos to represent their wines at Templeton Corner. Andy remembers visiting Pat Wheeler at Tobias Vineyard and Niels Udsen at Castoro Cellars, both of whom were happy to have this resource for marketing their wines.
Templeton Corner was open everyday; during the 1980s the Naganos introduced thousands of visitors to the Central Coast and the fifteen local wineries they represented. This was the first public relations and marketing effort. The Templeton Corner focused on a daily basis promoting local wines in a relaxing environment with a knowledgeable staff.
George Kimiyoshi Nagano was born in Morro Bay, the youngest of five children, to Yoshio and Kanaru Nagano on July 16, 1925. The family was well known for their farming. During World War II George was relocated with his family to an internment camp in Poston, Arizona at the age of 18. George was released from the camp when he joined the United States Army and served in the Military Intelligence Service while stationed in the Philippines. After the war, George enrolled at the University of California at Berkeley, graduating with a degree in Architecture. He returned to Morro Bay and developed a successful career as an architect, although he also supported the family farming enterprise. George was a man of passions and interesting hobbies including golf, travel and his own avocado farm. He was a member of the San Luis Obispo Buddhist Temple. George died in 2012.
Ann Hinsdale Nagano was born in Los Angeles, CA, the second of three children, to Rush and Bernice Hinsdale on February 20, 1929. She graduated from Stanford University in 1951 where she majored in art. Upon graduation, she moved to the San Joaquin Valley, where she lived for 15 years until relocating to Cayucos where she resided “with great pleasure” painting beach scenes. A business entrepreneur as well as a professional artist, her marriage with George Nagano was a true meeting of the minds. Their partnership influenced each anothers creative practices and led to a variety of ventures, including establishing an avocado farm and envisioning Templeton Corner. Their personal and professional partnership came to an end due to Ann’s untimely death in 1987.
The Naganos became highly respected wine connoisseurs and soon Templeton Corner represented fifteen additional wineries in Santa Barbara and Monterey Counties. For a small fee of $2.50 visitors had the opportunity to sample over thirty wines from a three-county area. Wines could be purchased by the bottle or by the glass and paired with local cheeses, sandwiches, cookies and pastries and specials of the day. Picnic lunches could be purchased for take-a-way. The Templeton Corner closed shortly after Ann passed away.
Please contact the Wine History Project to share your memories of Templeton Corner.
Montana de Oro by Ann Nagano, 28 inches by 28 inches, 1983.