Paso Robles Grape Growing History
The History of the Paso Robles Wine Industry
In 1882, Andrew York became the region’s first commercial wine producer when he founded Ascension Winery. York’s customer base started locally, but he eventually sold wine to people all over the United States. Adolph and Pauline Siot were also early Paso Robles winemakers. They mentored many new vintners during their lifetimes.
When phylloxera invaded the region’s vineyards in the late 19th century, it spread relentlessly. Many vineyard owners turned to other crops. The majority of the remaining vines were eradicated when Prohibition became law.
In the midst of this devastation, Lorenzo and Rena Nerelli moved to the region in 1917. They planted vineyards near the base of York Mountain, and established the first Post-Prohibition winery in Paso Robles. Ignace Paderewski, a famous Polish statesmen and pianist, also raised the viticultural area’s profile in the years after Prohibition. He bought over 2,000 acres and planted a significant amount of his land with vineyards.
During the 1960s and 1970s, the momentum of the region’s wine industry greatly increased. In 1971, Art and Lei Norman established Norman Vineyards. Herman Schwartz founded Rancho Tierra Rejada in 1975, and Estrella River was started in 1977.
Varietals were planted with more awareness of climate and terrain than ever before. Bolstered by the expert advice of Andre Tchelistcheff, Dr. Stanly Hoffman was another leader of this revolution. Over the past 10 years, the amount of vineyard acreage in the region has more than doubled. The future certainly looks promising for Paso Robles.
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