1840s: The Edna Valley Township is established in the 1840s. At this time, it is considered to be the oldest township in San Luis Obispo County.
1848: California becomes a United States territory under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo as Mexico surrenders Alta California.
1848: Gold is discovered on January 24 which changes the course of California history; the Gold Rush Era attracts over 300,000 people to seek their fortunes in Northern California over the next five years.
1849: California adopts a constitution which is approved by voters on November 13th.
1850: San Luis Obispo County is created as one of the original twenty-seven counties in California.
1850: California is admitted as a state to the Union on September 9 to the United States of America.
1850-60: In a decade of violence and crime, San Luis Obispo County attracts murderers and bandits.
1856: The City of San Luis Obispo becomes the county seat. On February 19, it becomes a town organized under the laws of the State of California with a board of trustees as its governing body. Besides lawlessness, land titles are a major challenge.
1858: A Vigilance Committee is organized on May 20, 1858, to reduce lawlessness. The Committee takes immediate action, seizing criminals, conducting trials and public hangings to control lawlessness.
1859: Pierre Hypolite Dallidet marries Marie Ascension Salazar and purchases sixteen acres adjacent to the old Mission vineyard in downtown San Luis Obispo. He builds his adobe residence over a wine cellar designed in the French style, plants orchards and vineyards before building his own winery. He becomes the first licensed commercial winemaker in the county.
1860s: Dallidet experiments with many grape varieties and determines that the mission grape stock has a natural resistance to phylloxera. Dallidet makes high-quality wine from Mission Grapes and other varieties. He mentors many wine growers and writes extensively about viticulture.
1862-64: Prolonged three-year drought causes mass starvation of the half-wild Spanish long-horned cattle. Cattle ranchers suffer bankruptcy and their land is sold to new settlers.
1864: The end of the Rancho era.
The Edna Valley – Agriculture and Dairy Farms
1865: The Dairy Era begins; dairy and small farms are established near the Edna Valley along the San Luis Obispo Coast. These small towns and shipping points – San Simeon, Cambria, Cayucos, Morro Beach, Avila Beach, and Arroyo Grande – experience population growth and commerce. They are settled by Swiss- Italians, Portuguese and Swiss among other ethnic groups.
1866: The wealthy dairyman from San Mateo County, Edgar Willis Steele, buys four ranchos in the southwest San Luis Obispo County – Corral de Piedra, El Pismo, Bolsa de Chamisal, and Arroyo Grande for $50,000 or $1.10 an acre. Two are located in the Edna Valley. He brings 600 cows onto the land and establishes the first major dairy, butter and cheese operations in the county, in the neighboring Arroyo Grande Valley.
1870: Grape growing was firmly established in San Luis Obispo County. There are four growers in the county according to the Agricultural census. None are located in the Edna Valley.
1870: Swiss dairy farmers who originally settled in and near Cayucos purchase land in rolling hills of the Edna Valley including the Righetti family. Robertino Righetti immigrates from the Ticino Canton in Switzerland to the United States and settles in Cayucos.
1880: Self-made men invest their fortunes in viticulture in and around the city of San Luis Obispo. None of them establish wineries. Neither vineyards or wineries are established in the Edna Valley.
1880: The microclimate and the soils of the Edna Valley provide a long growing season. Dairy farming, agricultural crops including garbanzo beans, oats, barley, wheat and hay are grown. Apple, apricot, lemon, orange peach, and pear orchards are planted. Livestock including cattle, chickens, and horses are raised and grazed in the Edna Valley. This continues for the next 90 years.
1890: Robertino Righetti buys grazing land from the Steele brothers and establishes his home and dairy farm on 800 acres in the Edna Valley. Other Swiss families establish dairy farms during the next two decades. There is a lack of water and all crops are dry-farmed.
The Twentieth Century in the Edna Valley
1950s: Winegrowing regions are classified by climate using a formula developed by two professors at the University of California at Davis, Albert Winkler and Maynard Amerine, to help vineyardists find the right wine grape variety to plant in a given area. Five regions are identified from coolest (Region I) to Warmest (Region 5). Edna Valley is Region II which is considered the most important California climate region for growing premium grapes.
1956: Romeo (Meo) Zuech transfers to the Rocketdyne Division of North American to work with metals used in the Space Program. He will retire in 1983. He is destined to meet two co-workers who will transform his retirement years. Andrew (Andy) MacGregor introduces Meo to grape growing in the Edna Valley and Cal Moeller to home winemaking in Woodland Hills.
1960: As cities in Northern and Southern California begin to grow in population and size, vineyard lands are purchased for urban development. Dry farmed crops, horse farms and cattle are prevalent in the Edna Valley.
1960: Wineries in Northern California contact Professors Amerine and Winkler at UC Davis to identify new areas where premium grape varieties can be grown.
1964: The Nielsen Vineyard is planted with Chardonnay, White Riesling and Cabernet Sauvignon on 100 acres south of Santa Maria in Santa Barbara County. Uriel Nielsen is the first professional vineyardist to plant grapevines in both Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo County.
1965: Richard (Dick) Graff purchases Chalone Vineyard in Monterey County. It took several years to acquire full control and the first real successful vintage was in 1969.
1965: Meo Zuech, home winemaker and developer of patents on metals used in NASA space missions at the Rocketdyne division of North American Aviation, hosted several professors from UC Davis on a tour of vineyards and varietals in his hometown of Bolzano in the Alto Adige Region of Italy. The professors collected cuttings of three Italian grape varieties, Teroldego, Lagrein and Marzimino, at Meo’s request to plant in the UC Davis experimental vineyard. Several years later, the same professors sent ten clippings of each variety to Meo to plant in his backyard vineyard in Woodland Hills.
1967: Ernie Righetti introduces avocado crop farming to the Edna Valley and produces over 200 varieties.
1968: Jack Foote, the Agricultural Advisor to the county of San Luis Obispo establishes an Experimental Vineyard to grow several varieties of grapes on the Righetti Ranch which is located in the Edna Valley. Jack’s ongoing studies of various regions in San Luis Obispo County, including the Edna Valley, determine which grape varieties are suitable for planting in vineyards; they are reviewed by viticulturalists at CalPoly State University, Professor Albert Winkler at UC Davis and Professor Vincent Petrucci at Fresno State University.
1969: Meo Zuech plants the first Italian varieties of Teroldego, Lagrein and Marzimino, in his vineyard in Southern California.
1971: As more research is published, the possibility of grape viticulture attracts Norman Goss, the owner of The Stuft Shirt Restaurants in Southern California. Wine Connoisseur Goss was the first Southern California restaurateur to feature California wines as a distinct group on his menus. Norm has noted the rising popularity of white wines in his restaurants.
1972: Meo Zuech began making Zinfandel, purchasing grapes through the Wine Making Shop in Woodland Hills, owned by John Daume.
1972: The grapes are harvested from the Experimental Vineyard on the Righetti Ranch and transported to the Department of Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis. Wine is made from the 1972 harvest; the UC Davis staff agrees that grape cultivation in the Edna Valley is worth pursuing as a result of the quality of the wine produced from grapes grown and harvested in the Experimental Vineyard on the Righetti Ranch.
1972: Wine consumption is rising rapidly; Americans spend 2 billion dollars on wine in 1972, double what they spent in 1968. The quantity of wine consumed translated to 2.4 gallons of wine per American adult. Adults are consuming 29 gallons per year in France and 30 gallons in Italy.
1972: Time Magazine’s Headline in the November Issue is “There is Gold in Them Thar Grapes.” The lead article covers the American Wine Industry in depth. Steve Dooley, founder of Stephen Ross Wines, decides to apply to the Enology Program at UC Davis, after reading the article.
1972: Norman Goss, retires from ownership of the Stuft Shirt Restaurants. He researches viticultural areas for growing Chardonnay grapes to sell to California winemakers. Norman and his wife purchase 68 acres of land in the Edna Valley on Orcutt Road. He builds two homes on the property.
1972: Jack and Catharine Niven, former owners of a large California grocery chain Purity Markets, consult with viticulturalists at UC Davis, Fresno State and with San Luis Obispo County Agricultural Advisor, Jack Foote, on the potential of grape growing in the Edna Valley. The Nivens had bought their first vineyard in Santa Barbara County. Now with the purchase their second vineyard investment, 545 acres in the Edna Valley and their first in San Luis Obispo County, they found the Paragon Vineyard Company.
1973: In February, Norman Goss becomes the first person to plant vineyards in Edna Valley. He plants the 57-acre Chamisal Vineyard, named honoring the native white-flower Chamise plant growing on the property. He hires well-known vineyardist Uriel Nielsen to plant thirty thousand vines to the vineyard: 47 acres to Chardonnay, the Wente clone, and 10 acres to Cabernet Sauvignon.
1973: In April, six weeks after Norm Goss planted his vineyard, the Nivens plant their Paragon vineyard, the second planting in Edna Valley. They hire vineyardist Jim Efird, a graduate of Fresno State.
1974: Paragon Vineyard manager, Jim Efird researches drip irrigation in South Africa and Israel, the leaders in irrigation technology at the time. He installs a new drip irrigation system by Netafim, the first in the Edna Valley.
1974: The Central Coast Winegrape Growers Association is formed to publicly promote the grapes and wines in the Central Coast Region. At the time there were substantial grape vineyards established but only eight wineries on the Central Coast.
1974: Andy MacGregor purchases 11 acres of land at the intersection of Price Canyon and Highway 227 adjacent to the Edna Township. He plants Chardonnay grapes. A few years later he grafts it to Pinot Noir.
1974: William Greenough, a Santa Barbara resident, decides to find land on the Central Coast and plant his own vineyard. He discovers a historic property, the Henry Ditmas Saucelito Vineyard in the Upper Arroyo Grande. He purchases the property from Ditmas’ granddaughters and spends the rest of the decade, reviving and restoring the old gnarled vines. He will become an important viticulturist and Old Vine Zinfandel Winemaker with a tasting room in the Edna Valley.
1975: Based on professional market research on consumer tastes, five red grape varieties and three white grape varieties are planted in the Edna Valley.
1975: Don and Gwen Othman move to San Luis Obispo. (They will later establish Kynsi Winery.)
1976: The Chamisal Vinyard’s Cabernet Sauvignon vines fail to thrive in the cool coastal climate, but the Chardonnay vines produce a bountiful harvest. The first vintage of Chardonnay grapes are sold to David Bruce Winery and Roudon-Smith in Santa Cruz County, establishing a reputation for their premium grapes.
1976: Andy MacGregor purchases 34 acres of land east of Orcutt Road and plants Chardonnay, the Wente Clone. He also plants Lagrein and Toroldego, unusual Italian varieties.
1976: Judgement of Paris is the momentous event that changed the history of California wines. Steven Spurrier, an Englishman who owned a wine shop and wine school in Paris, organizes a blind tasting of California and French wines at the Intercontinental Hotel. Nine French judges taste 10 Chardonnays, six from California and four from Burgundy and 10 Cabernet Sauvignons, six from California and four from Bordeaux. California wines produced in Napa Valley win in both categories and the 1974 Chalone Chardonnay takes third place. The spotlight on California brings international attention from wine lovers, investors and the media.
1977: The first harvest of the Chardonnay vines in the Paragon Vineyard produces premium grapes and are sold to top wineries including David Bruce. Roudon Smith, Ahern, Glen Ellen, and Felton-Empire, establishing their reputation as premium grapes. The Edna Valley is designated on the labels of some of the wineries above as the place of origin of the grapes sourced to produce the 1977 Vintage of Chardonnay wines – a historical first in San Luis Obispo County and the Edna Valley.
1977: Three vintages of Chalone Chardonnay (1977-1979) are made at Chalone Winery with grapes purchased from Paragon Vineyard Company. Chalone also makes private label Chardonnay for certain California wine retailers including David and Judy Breitstein, owners of the Duke of Bourbon in Canoga Park. The name of that label is Chaparral, named by Judy, who was inspired by the famous native plants of California. Chaparral Chardonnay wins awards and national acclaim.
1977: Stephen Dooley graduates from UC Davis and is hired by Louis M. Martini to work in his winery. Steve becomes the winemaker there in 1979.
1978: Trending – the wine consumer increasingly favors white wines over red wines, favoring Chardonnay and other white wine varietals for the next five years, through 1983.
1978: Chalone continues to purchase Chardonnay grapes from Paragon Vineyards and produce the wine in the Chalone Winery in Monterey County.
1978: There are no wineries (wine production facilities) in the Edna Valley. Grapes continue to be sold to winemakers in Central and Northern California.
1978: Meo Zuech produces Petite Sirah and Zinfandel at his home winery in Westlake Village under the Zuech label. He also produces Pinot Noir with grapes sourced from Andy MacGregor’s vineyard at Price Canyon and Highway 227.
1978: Three partners, Herman Dryer, Don Burns and winemaker Jim Lawrence, develop a plan to build a large scale production facility and bulk wine operation with the goal of producing over 250,000 cases per year. The design is Mission Style and the winery is bonded.
1979: Lawrence Winery is completed. Grapes were sourced from Central Coast vineyards because Lawrence Winery had no vineyards. The first crush produces more than 200,000 cases with 20 wine varietals in the first vintage. His wines won awards in international competitions. In 1980 he boasted “ Every wine we have produced has won an award. We set industry records of winning more awards than any other winery in dry table wines.” Two unusual wines are their Gewurztraminer Rose and the Chardonnay “Nouveau.”
1979: Chalone continues to purchase Chardonnay grapes from Paragon Vineyards and produce the wine at Chalone Winery in Monterey County.
1979: Gwen and Don Othman found Bulldog Welding and Manufacturing to become the suppliers and welders of stainless steel materials, valves, tools and fittings used in custom work and construction at wineries in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties. Don creates a portable workshop on the bed of his 1950 green Mack truck so he can work on-site.
1980: The Central Coast Wine Competition is established by the Central Coast Winegrape Association. This competition differed from other blind tasting competitions by featuring wines with grapes from either San Luis Obispo County or Santa Barbara County in contrast to similar competitions focused with grapes sourced from location rather than restricted to local areas.
1980: Norman Goss builds Chamisal Winery in a small building as a family-owned and operated facility producing Chardonnay exclusively with a capacity to produce 5,000 cases. His winemaker is son-in-law Scott Boyd, trained by Bob Roudon. Tom Goss, his son, is the vineyard manager and his daughter Allyn is the marketing director. They crush the first September harvest of Chardonnay grapes.
1980: Scott Boyd begins teaching wine appreciation classes at the Chamisal Winery. Gwen and Don Othman, founders of Kynsi Winery and Nancy and Tom Greenough, founders of Saucelito Winery, meet one another at these classes.
1980: The partnership, Edna Valley Vineyard, is established by Paragon Vineyard Co. and Chalone Vineyard. Paragon agrees to build a winery with state-of-the-art winemaking technology, a scientific laboratory, a bottling room, and an underground cave for barrel aging. Paragon Vineyard agrees to provide the grapes. Chalone agrees to manage the business, supervise the wine production and market the wines under the Edna Valley Vineyard label.
1980: Gary Mosby is hired as winemaker for Edna Valley Vineyard. He had worked for Chalone and winemaker Ric Forman. Edna Valley Vineyard wine is produced at the Lawrence Winery according to wine historian Charles Sullivan.
1980: Jack Niven forms a committee to gather the research and file the petition to establish the Edna Valley as an American Viticultural Area (AVA). The petition was submitted on September 11th.
1981: President Ronald Reagan and first lady Nancy serve Edna Valley Vineyard Chardonnay at the Presidential inauguration in Washington D.C.
1981: Lawrence Winery is sold to Glenmore Distilleries. The name is changed to Corbett Canyon.
1981: The Edna Valley Vineyard winery is completed with a 25,000 case capacity. The first crush at the Edna Valley Vineyard production facility is completed under winemaker Gary Mosby. The first vintages produced commercially are Estate Bottled Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Noir Vin Gris.
1981: Catharine Niven plants her own three-acre vineyard with Chardonnay and in 1984 creates a Burgundian style wine under the label of Tiffany Hill. She is the first woman in the Edna Valley to plant her own vineyard, produce her own sparkling wine and market to restaurants in Hawaii and California.
1982: Edna Valley AVA was designated in May as an approved American Viticultural Area. The use of the appellation, Edna Valley, is restricted to wines made from grapes grown within the approved boundaries. It is the tenth AVA established in America.
1982: Edna Valley Chardonnay is recognized for the first time, as a top wine in blind tasting events held in three American cities, hosted by Steve Spurrier who organized the blind tasting event in France known as the 1976 Judgment of Paris and wine writer Robert Finnigan. French and California wines are included in the tasting events. Out of eight Chardonnays tasted, the Edna Valley Vineyard Chardonnay, produced from grapes grown in the Paragon Vineyard, ties for first with the 1979 Trefethen Chardonnay from Napa Valley.
1983: President Reagan introduces California wines to global leaders and visitors by serving them at White House luncheons, dinners and special events. The 1981 Edna Valley Vineyard Chardonnay is served at a luncheon honoring the President of the Republic of Ecuador on April 8, and at an event presenting the Medal of Freedom in March 1984. The 1981 Pinot Noir Vin Gris is served at a luncheon honoring the 1983 Teachers of the Year in July 1983.
1983: Claiborne Thompson and Frederika Churchill found their label, Claiborne and Churchill, producing dry Alsatian Style White Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and a white table wine in the cellar of the Edna Valley Vineyard Winery.
1983: Meo and Margaret Zuech retire, move to Edna Valley and purchase the vineyard at Price Canyon and Highway 227 from Andy MacGregor. They plant Gewurztraminer vines with the intention of building a winery. Five months later they change their minds and renegotiate the deal. Andy retains ownership of the vineyard Price Canyon and Highway 227. The Zuech’s move to Andy’s vineyard east of Orcutt Road with a lifetime lease negotiated with Andy MacGregor. They maintain the vineyard and handled the accounting record until 1999.
1984: Meo and Margaret Zuech found the Piedra Creek Winery in the Edna Valley and start making their own wines, sourcing fruit from Andy MacGregor and Zinfandel from Benito Dusi. Piedra Creek Winery was the smallest bonded winery in California at the time.
1985: Windemere Winery is founded by Cathy MacGregor, Andy MacGregor’s daughter. It located in an industrial garage in San Luis Obispo at Sacramento and Industrial Way.
1985: Don Othman invents the Bulldog Pup, a gas pressure racking device that transfers Pinot Noir from the barrel to the bottling tank, protecting the wine from losing flavor and aroma due to oxidation and agitation. This tool revolutionizes the wine, craft beer and spirits industry and becomes the standard worldwide. It continues to sell around the world to the present day.
1985: 1985: Piedra Creek’s first vintage is Chardonnay with grapes sourced from the MacGregor vineyard, a total of 500 cases.
1985: Archie McLaren, wine collector and connoisseur, becomes co-founder of the KCBX Wine Classic and later establishes the Central Coast Wine Classic with three main objectives: an educational event for the public, an opportunity for winemakers to collaborate and to introduce their wines to the world, and a wine auction to raise money for local charities. This was a new concept in the world of philanthropy and a new concept in collaboration. It has become the model for wine auctions around the world.
1987: Stephen Ross Dooley is hired by Dick Graff as the winemaker of Chardonnay and white varietals at Edna Valley Vineyard. Bryce Bagnol (enologist), Frank Focha (cellar), and Tim Lloyd (maintenance) are working as the cellar crew. Total production is 35,000 cases, 25,000 of Edna Valley Chardonnay and 10,000 of private label Chardonnay for wine shops and restaurants.
1987: Catharine Niven’s vintage of Tiffany Chardonnay is made by the new winemaker, Steve Dooley, at Edna Valley Vineyard.
1988: Catharine Niven’s Tiffany label, named after the street on which the Niven home is located, is challenged by Tiffany Jewelers who claim exclusive rights to the name. Tiffany files a lawsuit. 1988 is the last vintage produced under the Tiffany wine label by Gary Mosby in Santa Barbara County. Catharine agrees to change the name to settle the lawsuit.
1988: Corbett Canyon Winery is sold to the Wine Group, the corporate designation for the wine operations of Coca Cola Bottling Company. The Wine Group also purchased 350 acres of Los Alamos vineyard in Santa Barbara County for grapes for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and White Zinfandel varietals.
1988: President Reagan serves the 1986 Edna Valley Chardonnay at a luncheon at the White House honoring the members of the regional press on June 8th.
1989: John Alban founds the first American winery and vineyard established exclusively for Rhone varieties. The first variety planted in a 32-acre block in his vineyard is Viognier. This block doubles the world’s supply of a variety on the road to extinction. He is the first to plant Syrah, Viognier and Roussanne in the Edna Valley. Sixty acres on the 300-acre property in the Edna Valley are devoted to vineyards. He creates his own nursery of these vines.
1989: The Niven family begins producing wines under the Baileyana label. The name refers to the street that Jack Niven lived on in his family home in the bay area.
1990: The Edna Valley Arroyo Grande Valley Vintners and Growers Association is founded in January to market wines produced in both the Edna Valley and the Arroyo Grande Valley. Vicki Carroll is hired as the first director.
1990: Approximately one thousand acres of grapevines are now planted in the Edna Valley, primarily in Chardonnay.
1991: Ernie Righetti is named Agriculturalist of the Year by the San Luis Obispo County Farm Bureau.
1991: John Alban attends the first meeting of the Viognier Guild in Piedmont, Georgia. This Guild was founded by Mat Garretson who soon relocates to San Luis Obispo County. This meeting included all Rhone varietals that Mat could access to attract as many producers of Rhone varietals as possible.
1991: President George H. W. Bush features 1990 Edna Valley Chardonnay at a State Dinner at the White House, honoring the President of Czechoslovakia, Václav Havel and his wife.
1991: Stephen Ross Dooley is elected President of the Edna Valley Arroyo Grande Valley Vintners and Growers Association.
1991: Stephen Ross Dooley and Jim Efird travel to the town of Beaune in Burgundy to attend the annual Saveurs de Vignes and are inspired to start their own festival in the Edna Valley.
1991: The Edna Valley Arroyo Grande Valley Vintners and Growers Association hosts the first annual Harvest Celebration on November 9th at the Edna Valley Vineyard serving local wines on a wooden plank sitting on two wine barrels. Participating wineries include Au Bon Climat, Carmenet Vineyard, Chamisal Vineyard, Claiborne and Churchill Vintners, Corbett Canyon Vineyards, Cottonwood Canyon, Edna Valley Vineyard, Mason Deutz Winery, Meridian Vineyards, Morgan Winery, Mount Eden Vineyards, Piedra Creek Winery, Saucelito Canyon Winery, Talley Vineyards, Tiffany Hill and Vita Nova.
1991: Vicki Carroll, director of the Edna Valley Arroyo Grande Valley Vintners and Growers Association, develops a viticulture trunk show – a portable presentation for local school children to learn about the viticulture industry.
1991: Mike Sinor’s first job with an Edna Valley winery is Corbett Canyon.
1992: Piedra Creek produces their first red wine. Pinot Noir, with grapes sourced from Andy MacGregor vineyard.
1992: John Alban hosts the second meeting of the Viognier Guild at his vineyard in the Edna Valley.
1992: The Edna Valley Arroyo Grande Valley Vintners and Growers Association hosts the second annual Harvest Celebration in November at the Edna Valley Vineyard.
1993: The Edna Valley Arroyo Grande Valley Vintners and Growers Association hosts the second annual Harvest Celebration in November at the Edna Valley Vineyard.
1994: President Bill Clinton served 1991 Edna Valley Vineyards at a luncheon honoring the Ladies of the Senate on May 25 at the White House. The same wine was served on June 28 at a luncheon honoring the President of the Republic of Chile.
1994: The Edna Valley Arroyo Grande Valley Vintners and Growers Association hosts the Fourth Annual Harvest Celebration at Corbett Canyon Vineyards on November 5th. The event includes wine tasting, barrel tasting of the 1994 vintage, a live and silent auction, and guided tours through Corbett Canyon Winery. Participating wineries included: Alban Vineyards, Au Bon Climat, Baileyana, Carmenet Vineyard, Claiborne & Churchill Vintners, Corbett Canyon Vineyards, Edna Valley Vineyard, Hart’s Desire, Maison Deutz Winery, Meridian Vineyards, Morgan Winery, Mount Eden Vineyards, Ojai Vineyard, Piedra Creek Winery, Saucelito Canyon Vineyard, Talley Vineyards, Wild Horse Winery and Windemere Winery.
1994: Edna Valley Vineyard is producing up to 65,000 cases.
1994: Stephen Ross Dooley resigns as winemaker at Edna Valley and starts his label, Stephen Ross Wine Cellars. As a winemaker, his focus is on making high-quality wine and limiting production. He sources grapes from the Edna Valley Vineyard and growers who produce high-quality fruit on vines with a lower yield. The first vintage produces six barrels of Pinot Noir with grapes sourced from the Edna Ranch, three barrels of Chardonnay with grapes sourced from Edna Valley Vineyard, four barrels of Sauvignon Blanc with grapes sourced from French Camp Vineyard – a total of 250 cases.
1994: Alfred (Terry) Speizer, founder of Electec, a Silicon Valley Conductor Company, purchases the Chamisal Vineyard and Winery and founds his new winery, Domaine Alfred.
1995: Clay Thompson and Fredericka Churchill break ground to build the first commercial strawbale winery in California and in the United States. The winery is located in the Edna Valley and is built with 400 bales of rice straw collected from a farm in the Sacramento Delta. The winery requires no heating or air conditioning because of the insulation value of the straw bale walls. The winery opens on January 31, 1996.
1995: Kynsi Winery is established in the Edna Valley by Don and Gwen Othman.
1995: The Edna Valley Arroyo Grande Valley Vintners and Growers Association hosts the Fifth Annual Harvest Celebration at Corbett Canyon Vineyards on November 4. The event included wine tasting, barrel tasting of the 1995 vintage, a silent auction, gourmet foods provided by local purveyors, personalized wine glass etching by Thom & Lori Chamberlain, guided tours through Corbett Canyon Winery and music by Jills’ Night Out. Participating wineries included: Alban Vineyards, Baileyana, Carmenet Vineyard, Claiborne & Churchill Vintners, Corbett Canyon Vineyards, Cottonwood Canyon, Edna Valley Vineyard, Hart’s Desire, Maison Deutz Winery, Meridian Vineyards, Saucelito Canyon Vineyard, Talley Vineyards, Wild Horse Winery and Windemere Winery. “Special Guest” wineries included: Au Bon Climat, Baileyana, Carmenet Vineyard, Babcock Vineyards, Hart’s Desire Wines, Morgan Winery, Mount Eden Vineyards, Nichol’s Winery, The Ojai Vineyard, Piedra Creek and Stephen Ross.
1996: Seven Peaks brand is established as a joint venture between Southcorp Wines of Australia and the Niven family who own Paragon Vineyard Company and co-own Edna Valley Vineyards with Chalone Wine Group.
1996: Edna Valley Arroyo Grande Valley Vintners celebrates Roll Out the Barrels Passport event on May 11, 1996. The passport ticket includes wine tasting, feasting, education, barrel samples, vertical tastings and entertainment at eight wineries. Participants include Claiborne & Churchill, Corbett Canyon, Cottonwood Canyon, Edna Valley Vineyard, Maison Deutz, Saucelito Canyon, Talley Vineyards and Windemere/Piedra Creek.
1996: Terry Speizer, in consultation with vineyardist Jim Efird, replants the Chamisal Vineyard, 30 acres to Chardonnay and 30 acres to Pinot Noir on their own rootstock.
1996: Brian Talley hosts the first live stream dual blind wine tasting event in the United States. Stephen Tanzier hosted the New York City event and Brian hosted the panel of winemakers and a live audience in Arroyo Grande. Both groups tasted Pinot Noir from grapes grown in four different terroirs in four AVAs on the Central Coast – Edna Valley, Arroyo Grande Valley, Santa Ynez and Santa Maria.
1997: Bob Schiebelhut, owner of Edna Ranch, asks Stephen Ross Dooley to design the custom crush facility approved by the county to be built by October to handle the crush during a very warm harvest. This is originally named Courtside Cellars and later Tolosa.
1997: Hospice du Rhône, formerly the Viognier Guild attracted visitors from all over the world, hired Edna Valley resident Vicki Carroll to provide the staffing and structure for the event which will be held bi-annually in Paso Robles with several hundred participants from all over the world.
1997: The Corbett Canyon Winery was producing sales close to one million cases of their Coastal Classics line.
1997: A state crop report for 1997 shows that Edna Valley grown Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes command the highest prices in California.
1997: Mike Sinor and his wife, Cheri LaVallee found their own label, Sinor-Lavallee.
1997: The Seventh Annual Harvest Celebration is hosted by the Edna Valley Arroyo Grande Valley Vintners Association.
1998: Courtside Cellars Winery is founded by Bob Schiebulhut and Robin Baggett at 4910 Edna Road in San Luis Obispo.
1998: Winemaker Terry Speizer produces his first vintage, 600 cases, in consultation with Stephen Dooley under the Domaine Alfred label.
1998: Vineyardist Jim Efird receives the award, Wine Grower of the year, at the California Mid State Fair in Paso Robles.
1998: The Eighth Annual Harvest Celebration is hosted at Talley Vineyards by the Edna Valley Arroyo Grande Valley Vintners Association on November 7th.
1999: Andy MacGregor sells the vineyard east of Orcutt Road to Jean Pierre Wolff. Margaret and Meo decided to terminate their lifetime lease and purchased a lot from Bob Scheibelhut in the Twin Creeks region of the Edna Valley, building a home and establishing the San Floriano vineyard, planted by George Donati.
1999: Archie McLaren becomes director of the Edna Valley Arroyo Grande Vintners and Growers Association, replacing Vicki Carroll.
1999: Vicki Carroll launches the San Luis Obispo County chapter of Women for WineSense. She works with chapter members to raise funds for an Endowment Fund at CalPoly to develop and collect resource materials for viticulture at the Robert E. Kennedy Library, Special Collections.
1999: Meo and Margaret Zuech establish the San Floriano Vineyard in the Twin Creeks area of the Edna Valley; they are the first to plant in two Italian varieties Lagrein, a red wine grape variety native to the valleys of the South Tyrol in Northern Italy and Teroldego, a red grape variety that has been grown in the Trentino-Alto Adige for centuries. Meo also plants the Dornfelder grape of German origin used in red wine; as well as Pinot Noir and Syrah.
1999: Chuck Ortman receives the Winemaker of the Year Award at the California Mid State Fair in Paso Robles.
1999: The Ninth Annual Harvest Celebration is hosted by the Edna Valley Arroyo Grande Valley Vintners Association.
2000: The World of Pinot Noir (WOPN) is conceived as an annual event by Brian Talley and Archie McLaren. The event was inspired by the 1996 dual tasting live streamed in New York and Arroyo Grande. This event just celebrated twenty years of an event that educates members of the wine trade, media and consumers about the high-quality wines produced on the Central Coast. In subsequent years the event hosted producers from all over the world.
2000: The events known as Harvest Celebrations and later Roll out the Barrels are hosted by the local wine and growers association to the present day.
2001: The Stone Corral Vineyard on Corbett Canyon Road is developed as a unique three-way partnership with Brian Talley, Stephen Ross Dooley and Gwen and Don Othman. The land is owned by Brian Talley and leased to both Dooley and Othman. It is divided into three sections, each family managing their own section of the Pinot Noir Vineyard.
2001: Mike Sinor is hired as the head winemaker at Domaine Alfred Chamisal Vineyards in November. He introduces the concept of biodynamic farming. Mike took control of the 80 acres of vines as well as the winemaking.
2001: Terry Speizer (Domaine Alfred Chamisal Vineyards) purchases an adjacent parcel of 63 acres.
2002: Pattea Torrance purchases the Old Edna Township, founded in the 1840s, and restores the property.
2004: The movie, Sideways, focuses on winemaking on the Central Coast and the wine, Pinot Noir, which brings national attention to winemaker and restaurateur Frank Orsini, the Hitching Post in the town of Buellton and a distaste for Merlot. Pinot Noir sales increase 16% in the western states.
2004: The Fund for Vineyard and Farm Workers, an endowment established at the Community Foundation of San Luis Obispo County, is established by Brian and Johnine Talley of Talley Vineyards to provide grants to non-profit organizations that assist local agricultural workers and their families. Fundraising events are held annually to increase the endowment with the support of wineries in the Edna Valley.
2005: Andy MacGregor dies in Cambria. His daughter inherits the Pinot Vineyard at Price Canyon and Highway 227.
2006: Fin du Fresne is hired as the winemaker at Domaine Alfred.
2006: The Righetti family plants vineyards with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
2006: Cathy MacGregor retires from winemaking. Nancy and Craig Stoller, owner of Sextant Wines and Vineyards buy her winery and continue to produce wines under the Windemere label.
2007: Nancy and Craig Stoller, owners of Sextant Wines and Vineyards, purchase the vineyard adjacent to the Old Edna township from Cathy MacGregor owner of Windemere Winery; this Andy MacGregor’s original Chardonnay vineyard founded in 1974.
2008: Domaine Alfred is purchased from owner Terry Speizer by the Napa-based Crimson Wine Group. They purchase the rights to the brand, the winery, the inventory and the 131-acre property which includes 81 acres of vineyards. Current production is 24,000 cases per year of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
2008: Bill Swanson, retired Chairman and CEO of Raytheon Company founds the Center of Effort winery and purchased the former Corbett Canyon facility. Bill and Cheryl Swanson spend the next decade experimenting and documenting the process of making wine. Bill credits his grandfather who migrated to California from Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast for inspiring his love of wine and viticulture. He stomped grapes in his grandfather’s basement winery and tasted his first wine in a saucer on bread.
2010: Piedra Creek Winery bottles wine under the Stelvin Screw Cap instead of the cork, one of the first producers to do so.
2011: Edna Valley Vineyard is sold to E and J Gallo.
2012: Mike Sinor is named Winemaker of the Year at the California Mid State Fair in Paso Robles.
2014: T.J. de Jony produces the first 100 per cent Lagrein varietal wine under the Piedra Creek label from the 2014 harvest of their Lagrein grapes. It is bottled in 2016; Margaret Zuech applys for approval for the grape name from the FDA which made Lagrein wine the first to be bottled in the United States.
2017: The final Central Coast Wine Classic in San Luis Obispo County is held in August.
2017: T. J. de Jony became the owner of Piedras Creek Winery. Meo Zuech dies on July 20.
2019: The Old Edna Township is purchased by the owners of Sextant Wines and Vineyard, Nancy and Craig Stoller.
2019: Center of Effort opens their new visitor’s center and demonstration kitchen with winery tours and seated tastings of wine, cheese and charcuterie by appointment. They own 140 acres of vineyards and facilities.
2020: The Niven Family Wine Estates which is sold to WX Brands, a top 20 company in Novato, California for an undisclosed sum.
2020: The Covid 19 Pandemic shuts down businesses all through California in March.