California Wine Press, July 1987, describes Paso Robles in the article, “Paso Robles Wine Country – Cowboys and Casks”
Paso Robles has a long tradition of hospitality for travelers, spiced with an Old West atmosphere. The major celebrations are the annual Paso Robles Wine Festival in mid-May, the two weeks at the Mid-State Fair in August and Pioneer Day with its parade, rodeo and cook-outs in mid-October. It ranked 13th in size in California when measured against other California regions.
The fields and rolling hills were just starting to be covered in vines; the acres of vineyards more than doubled between 1977 and 1987 to 5,566 acres with more than 26 varieties growing and thriving. Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon with Merlot as a distant third cover 2,377 acres. But, it is the white grapes dominate the vineyards with 3,189 acres planted; Sauvignon Blanc is the largest variety, Chardonnay second and Chenin Blanc third.
There are 24 family owned wineries; 14 have tasting rooms and the others are open by appointment only.
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 winemaker 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 upstate 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