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.
The Arciero Family opens Winery.
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.
One AVA Established in South County.
The Edna Valley AVA was established in 1987. It is located south of San Luis Obispo and extends to the ocean. Edna Valley has one of the longest growing seasons in California.
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.
Wine Tour Central Coast published a 1980 map with the following wineries:
Paso Robles Wineries
Ranchita Oaks, San Miguel: the first vines were planted in 1970 when all that stood on the property was a solitary windmill. The wines produced by the vineyard were sold under the Ranchita Oaks Winery label until 1982. It was located at 3439 Ranchita Canyon Road in San Miguel. Ron Bergstrom grew Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel. Petite Sarah and Chardonnay grapes; John Scott was the winemaker. They were co-owners of the winery.
Estrella River Vineyards, Paso Robles: the first vines were planted in 1974 east of Paso Robles by Cliff Giacobine and wine maker Gary Eberle. The Winery was completed in 1977. The first release Chardonnay won gold at the Los Angeles County Fair in 1978. The Cabernet Sauvignon won the gold at the Fair the following year in 1979.
Hoffman Mountain Ranch Vineyards, Paso Robles: the first commercial scale winery in Paso Robles with state of the art technology designed and purchased in consultation with UC Davis and Andre Tchelistchef, famous enologist known as the father of California wine. The vineyards were established in the early 1960s by Dr. Stanley Hoffman and the winery bonded in 1973. David Hoffman, his son, managed the vineyards and his brother, Michael was the winemaker.
Mastantuono, Templeton: the 65-acre ranch was purchased in 1975 near what is now the intersection of Vineyard Drive and Highway 46 West.. The winery was bonded in 1977, noted for Zinfandel wines. Winemaker Pat Mastantuono bought grapes from legendary grower Dante Dusi and produced three Zinfandels – Rosa, Nuovo and Dusi.
Las Tablas Winery, Templeton: the Merten family purchased the winery in 1976 from the Rotta family, famous for making jug wine for over 70 years from old vine Zinfandel grapes. The Mertens replaced some of the old vines with new plantings of White Riesling, Chenin Blanc and Grenache.
Pesenti, Templeton: Frank Pesenti planted Zinfandel vines in the rolling hills of Templeton in 1923. The winery was built in 1934, after Prohibition ended. The family owned winery produced Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Green Hungarian and Zinfandel Rose wines, local favorites.
York Mountain Winery, Templeton: Max Goldman purchased the 88-year old winery in 1970. Max and his son Steve restored the winery and replanted the vineyards with Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Chardonnay and added to the Zinfandel stock. They also made sparkling wines; Max Goldman was well known in the Champagne industry in up-state New York. Suzanne Semones managed a cozy tasting room with fresh baked bread and lovely hand-made gifts crafted by neighbors who also helped with the annual harvest.
San Luis Obispo Wineries
Lawrence Winery, San Luis Obispo (later became Corbett Canyon): opened in 1979 with a large production of 250,000 cases annually and a large bulk wine business. Partners Herman Dryer, Don Burns and winemaker Jim Lawrence purchase grapes grown on the Central Coast and produced over 20 wines from their first vintage. The winery was designed in the California mission style to honor the history of the Corbett Canyon property which was part of the original Pedro de Coralles land grant.
The Vineyard Almanac and Wine Gazetteer of the USA published in 1984 notes these wineries:
San Luis Obispo County
Caparone, Paso Robles
Chamisal, San Luis Obispo
Corbett Canyon, formerly Lawrence Winery, San Luis Obispo
Creston Manor, Creston
El Paseo de Robles Vineyards, Paso Robles in Willow Creek District
Edna Valley Vineyard, San Luis Obispo
Estrella River Winery, Paso Robles
HMR, Ltd, Paso Robles
Las Tablas Creek, Templeton
Martin Brothers, Paso Robles
Old Casteel Vineyards, Paso Robles
Pesenti Winery, Templeton
Ranchita Oaks Winery, San Miguel
Saucelito Canyon Vineyard, Arroyo Grande
Tobias Vineyards, Paso Robles
Watson Vineyards, Paso Robles
York Mountain Winery, Templeton