With Paragon Vineyard grape quality established and the Chalone winery facility reaching its capacity in wine production, a new partnership emerged between Jack Niven of Paragon Vineyard and the Chalone team: Dick Graff and Phil Woodward. The intention was to produce Pinot Noir and Chardonnay exclusively, with Paragon building the production facility, providing the fruit, and leasing the facility to Chalone, and Chalone operating the winemaking, marketing and sales side of the wines. The new facility was a copy of the Chalone winery at twice the size, with production of up to 25,000 cases a year. The ownership was a 50/50 joint venture and was named Edna Valley Vineyard.

Jack Niven gathers research and petitions to establish the Edna Valley as an American Viticultural Area. The AVA petition is submitted by Niven to the BTAF (Bureau of Tobacco Alcohol Firearms) on September 11, 1980.


HMR is sold.

First crush in Edna Valley Vineyard production facility under winemaker Gary Mosby.

Adelaida Winery is founded by winemaker John Munch. His first wine was sparkling produced under the Tonio Conti Label.

Dave Caparone releases his first wines. He makes red wines only, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, and Pinot Noir. His production does not exceed 3,000 cases and the wines are sold from his tasting room. He has a staff of one, himself, and plans to add Nebbiolo and Barbera in the future.

Justin Baldwin purchases 160 acres of land on Chimney Rock Road, west of Paso Robles, from Gary Conway, artist, and actor. Justin begins to plan the layout of the vineyards and to select the grape varieties to plant.

As the California wine revolution comes of age, David and Judy Breistein create Wine Concepts, a creative wine marketing company to assist those in the wine industry to be aware of trends and to develop new marketing strategies.


The first AVA in San Luis Obispo County, Edna Valley, is established. Located south of the city of San Luis Obispo and extending to the ocean, the Edna Valley AVA has one of the longest growing seasons in California. The Edna Valley AVA becomes 10th American Viticultural Area to be established by the US Treasury’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (now currently known as the Tax and Trade Bureau or TTB). This designation allows wine producers to use Edna Valley appellation as the region of origin on wine labels without using the county or the state.

Edna Valley Chardonnay is recognized, for the first time, as a top wine in blind tasting events in three US cities, hosted by Steven Spurrier and wine writer Robert Finigan. French and California wines were included in the tasting events. Out of eight Chardonnays tasted, the 1980 Edna Valley Vineyard Chardonnay from Paragon Vineyard ties for first with the 1979 Trefethen Chardonnay from Napa Valley.

Don and Rosemary Talley lay out vineyards and begin planting grapevines in the Arroyo Grande Valley at Talley Vineyards. Don Talley plants first vines in the Rincon Vineyard.

Saucelito Canyon Winery is bonded. 1000 cases of estate-grown Zinfandel and 500 cases of estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignon are produced by winemaker Bill Greenough. Additional grapes sold to select wineries for bottling.

Meo and Margaret Zuech plant Gewürztraminer on hillside property owned by Andy MacGregor in the Edna Valley. Meo develops a plan to buy land and build gravity-fed winery; he shows his plans to Andy MacGregor and the two discuss all options. Later that year, Meo decides not to purchase land or build a winemaking facility and focuses on winemaking.

Winemaker Gary Eberle resigns from Estrella River Winery to focus his career and skills on making high-quality premium wines.

Gary Eberle applies and receives approval of his Eberle label.

Tom Myers becomes the winemaker at Estrella Winery.

Ken Volk starts planting vineyards at Wild Horse Winery.

Wine Clubs are organizing across the United States. David and Judy Breitstein establish The Wine Association of the Duke of Bourbon, one of California’s largest wine appreciation seminar groups.


Two AVAs Established in North County. AVA Status was awarded to approximately 614,000 acres surrounding Paso Robles. Gary Stemper, Mayor of Paso Robles, worked with local winemakers to establish the Paso Robles AVA. York Mountain AVA was also established on 6,400 acres in North County based the applications of Max and Stephen Goldman; it was located 12 miles west of Templeton, California. The York Mountain AVA is one of the smallest in the nation and contained only one winery, York Mountain Winery.

Ken Volk establishes and builds the Wild Horse Winery. The Pinot Noir made that year from grapes in the Santa Maria Valley established his reputation and directed his focus.

Meo and Margaret Zuech move to Edna Valley on Orcutt Road property owned by Andy MacGregor. Andy offers the Zuechs a lifetime lease on a ¼ acre property in exchange for helping to plant and harvest the grapes. Meo and Margaret move into a mobile home (now the Wolff Vineyards Tasting Room). Andy MacGregor and Meo Zuech plant Chardonnay, Teroldego, and Legrien. Meo planted a few rows of Teroldego for nostalgia from his homeland in Italy and the cuttings were acquired from UC Davis. Meo Zuech also develops plans for the first experimental winery in the Edna Valley. Both Andy Mac Gregor and Meo Zuech work on the procedures for establishing an experimental winery. The Bureau of Alcohol and Tobacco (BATF but now called the TTB) denied them the status of an experimental winery because it had to be affiliated with a university. Meo established a winery instead: Piedra Creek Winery is bonded. He built a small garage-type building and purchased most of the big equipment from Italy.

Niels and Bimmer Udsen establish Castoro Winery. Castoro means beaver in Italian and was named by a friend of Niels’ father and who knew Niels as “Beaver” when he was a child. Their first wines are made at Estrella Winery with the help of Tom Myers. Paso Robles and York Mountain Viticultural Appellations are established, the second and third AVAs in San Luis Obispo County.

North County vintners and growers produce the first Paso Robles Wine Festival to promote the local wines and to establish a regional identity for tourists and wine lovers.

Eberle Winery is founded and bonded in 1983.

Frank Pesenti dies on March 28. He is buried in the Paso Robles Cemetery. Victor Pesenti and Aldo Nerelli take over the management of Pesenti Winery as partners.


Gary Eberle opens his own winery in June. Gary is making three wines – Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Muscat Canelli. The local partners in his winery are Howie Steinbeck, Toby Shumrick, Larry Shupnick, Craig Bonelli, Ed Sauret, Gary Stemper, and Dick Woodland.


Gary Eberle sources Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from Howie Steinbeck. Steinbeck’s vineyards were originally propagated from the Estrella River vines.

Caterina Dusi dies on May 3rd.

Carmody McKnight Winery was founded by Gary and Marian Conway with the purchase of a 19th Century homestead ranch on Chimney Rock Road in the Adelaida District in West Paso Robles. The legend goes: Gary was flying over the area with a real estate broker and had just seen the 320-acre ranch when their helicopter suddenly crashed. Gary walked out of the crash, dusted himself off, and said, “I am going to buy this place.”

Central Coast AVA is established by the TTB on October 24, 1985.

The Robert Haas and Perrin families of Château de Beaucastel put together a partnership and begin the search for land on which to plant a Rhône vineyard in California.

The Belli and Sauret Vineyards 1982 Zinfandel awarded a double-gold medal at the Central Coast Wine Competition.

The Arciero Family opens Arciero Winery and Vineyards in Paso Robles. The Arciero has a family heritage of winemaking in southern Italy. Giovanni Arciero emigrated to the United States in 1914; his brothers Frank and Phil Arciero arrived in 1948 and moved to California. Their story is one of fulfilling the American dream. They started a cement contracting business, and as it prospered, they moved into land development in the Marina del Rey area of Southern California and were contractors in the building of LAX, Los Angeles International Airport. Their hobbies first centered on Ferraris and then wine. They started racing Ferraris in the late 1950s; their racing team included drivers Mario Andretti, Dan Gurney, and Al Unser. They began pursuing the wine business in the 1980s by studying grape growing areas on the Central Coast. They purchased 160 acres in 1982 and opened a winery in 1985 at 5625 Highway 46 East. They later purchased 500 acres near Shandon and planted additional vineyards with Nebbiolo and Sangiovese among other varietals. The winery was renamed EOS, after the Greek Goddess of the Dawn in the 1990s when new partners joined the Arciero family. Currently (2020), although the family has sold the winery, they still grow and sell grapes to other wineries in the region.


Large Corporate wineries plant vineyards in San Louis Obispo County.
Grapes grown in SLO County had been sold outside the country for almost 100 years. In the 1980s large corporate wineries began to realize that the quality of the grapes and the undervalued land were a perfect combination for investment.

Meridian Winery, home of the former Estrella River Winery, was established in 1988 on Highway 46 East in Paso Robles. Chuck Ortman, one of the veteran winemakers of Paso Robles, founded the label in 1984. Chuck started in the wine business in 1968, working in Sonoma and Napa Counties as a winemaker. He was able to move his operations to San Luis Obispo County with financial backing from Wine World Estates. Meridian was later purchased by a multi-national firm, Treasury Wine Estates. In 2016 Treasury Wine Estates consolidated winemaking operations on the North and Central Coast. The Paos Cellar 360 winery facility at 7000 Highway 46 East started producing the company’s “masstige wines” which sell in the $10 to $20 range to mass markets. The labels included BV Coast, Chateau St. Jean’s California line, Sterling Vintners Collection, Beringer Founders Estate, Sledgehammer and Meridian Wines. Treasury Wine Estates purchased the major of giant Diageo’s wine business in October 2015 including Beaulieu Vineyard and Sterling Vineyards. The luxury wines, defined as those selling for more than $20 in 2016, will be produced at its Beringer Winery in Napa. Treasury owns Penfolds and is Australia’s largest wine company as of 2016.

Jerry Lohr expanded his vineyards and built his winery in Paso Robles in 1988. In the late 1960s, Jerry Lohr, who had been raised on a South Dakota farm, started to research California grape growing regions. He is acknowledged as one of a handful of early pioneers who studied the California soils and climates and determined that Monterey County and Paso Robles AVA had the potential to grow world-class grapes and produce superb wines. In the early 1970s, Jerry planted vineyards in Monterey’s Arroyo Seco District. Jerry felt the cool, windy climate and the rocky soils were ideal for growing Chardonnay. He planted 280 acres in 1972 and 1973 near Greenfield. He planted Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. In 1974, he unveiled his winery, J. Lohr, in San Jose. In North SLO County, Jerry recognized the potential for growing Bordeaux varietals, great Cabernet Sauvignon and other red varietals, in the little-known Paso Robles AVA. He looked for land with rich soils and the dramatic diurnal temperature ranges between warm day and cool nights. Jerry began to plant his vineyards there in 1986. J. Lohr’s production facility was established near the Paso Robles Airport in 1988. He has worked in the industry for 50 years and continues to work actively to promote the region and wine education. He launched the 2013 Signature Cabernet Sauvignon in 2017, a celebration of his 80th birthday. He recently received the Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s American Wine Legends’ Wine Star Award and the Wine Business Monthly Innovator of the Year Award, excelling in the use of solar power. Today in 2018 J. Lohr Vineyards and Wines include more than 1,400 acres of cool-climate estate vineyards in the Arroyo Seco and Santa Lucia Highlands of Monterey County with an emphasis on Chardonnay, Riesling, Valadiguie and Pinot Noir. J. Lohr farms over 2,700 acres of vineyards in Paso Robles with the Cabernet and red wines varietals. The winery also owns Carol’s vineyard, 30 acres, in Napa Valley. J. Lohr’s children, Steve, Cynthia, and Lawrence have joined Jerry in partnership at J. Lohr Wines.