The original founders of our estate vineyard have created a lot of local history, as well as advances in viticulture itself. The vineyard is referenced in the Wayne Rogers book Make your Own Rules and Herman Schwartz helped establish the first ever Paso Robles Wine Festival. Paso Robles history also parallels the history of our vineyard.
Make Your Own Rules: A Renegade Guide to Unconventional Success
by Wayne Rogers (Author) and Josh Young (Author, Contributor)
Excerpt from pages 33-38
This is an obvious example of how creativity and business work. You must start with all the available research, some good, some bad, but gather it all, try to understand it, make your choices, and test them. I say " test your choices" because if you have the opportunity and the luxury of time, you may be able to try a number of "wrong" ways on the road to finding the "right" way, and that again engenders the questions that lead to creative answers. For every question, there may be more than one answer, sometimes many more, and, once again, these can foster creative thinking.
A radical solution for the vineyard
I put this kind of creativity into practice at a vineyard I developed. The adventure began when a bargain price caught my attention when I was reading an ad in The Wall Street Journal for a large parcel in central California. The ad was an offering to sell 2,500 acres of arable land for $325 an acre. The land had wheat and alfalfa on it. There was debt against the property, and the owner was in some financial trouble and needed money. My thinking was to "land bank" the property for some period of time. I could do this by farming the wheat and alfalfa, which would give my associates and me enough to pay the taxes and insurance and reduce the debt.
I put together a small group of investors and purchased the land. My partner and I became the general partners, so it was our responsibility to make sure the venture was successful. At the time, we did not know if the land had the potential to grow grapes.
I had a friend at that time who was a grower in Southern California and who knew something about vineyards. He directed me to his son, who was planting a new vineyard in the Santa Barbara district. Through him, I met a group that was planting a vineyard in Shandon, a tiny community near Paso Robles in California. As one thing led to another, I contacted this group, and its members were very helpful in pointing us to the University of California at Davis, whose viticultural expertise they had followed. (Viticulture is the science of growing the grape, and enology is the science of turning it into wine.)
I drank wine, but I was not a collector. The cellar in my house was more conducive to the storage of coal than wine. I could distinguish cabernet sauvignon from pinot noir, but that was about it. By the way, the business of wine has nothing to do with the aesthetics of drinking it. The decision to plant grapes was purely financial: it was the best and most profitable use of the land.
Turning a piece of property into a vineyard also gave this adventure a comfortable discomfort because I knew nothing about starting or running a vineyard. First, I needed an education in viticulture, so I went to the professors at UC Davis, which has one of the leading viticulture and enology departments in the country. I gathered and used as much of that information as possible.
Like most ancient agricultural practices, viticulture is bound by tradition. People did things a certain way simply because that was how they had always been done. In contrast, much of what we decided to do came out of necessity. And it broke with the traditional practices.
Excerpted by permission from Make Your Own Rules by Wayne Rogers with Josh Young © 2011 Wayne Rogers and Josh Young, AMACOM, New York, New York.
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Paso Robles Wine Festival: A Storied History
Since its launch in 1983, Paso’s marquee wine attraction continues to evolve
By: Josh Petray, VINO Magazine
March 8th, 2012
Founded in 1983 by a tight-knit group of Paso Robles wine grape growers and winemakers, the original festival featured about 17 wineries in a portion of the park. Herman Schwartz grew cabernet, merlot and zinfandel on 500 acres of his 2,500- acre vineyard near Whitley Gardens purchased in 1969 and sold in 2006. He was among the original founders.
According to Schwartz, at the time the area “had some excellent small wineries” and “dedicated people.”
“The wineries were terrific,” Schwartz said, “You can make the best black box in the world, but if you can’t sell the black boxes, you will go out of business.”
That’s exactly what Paso Robles growers such as Schwartz didn’t want to happen, so they took action under the premise of launching an event to publicize and draw wine enthusiasts into Paso Robles, an opportunity to taste wines and visit with winemakers, he said.
“I laid this on Tom Martin, and he agreed that it should be done,” Schwartz said.
Schwartz and others’ interest was in part spurred by a trip to Healdsburg, near the Napa Valley, where a similar event was being put on.
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Paso Robles Gold: A Sense of Place
By: Delta Packing
1960S AND 1970S: CABERNET SAUVIGNON, LARGE PLANTINGS
New wine grape growers also began to cultivate the first large plantings on the east side of the Salinas River. Bob Young planted the area’s first large scale commercial vineyard, now known as Rancho Dos Amigos on Shandon Heights. Herman Schwartz, managing partner for a group of investors, planted the 500-acre Rancho Tierra Rejada in 1973 (purchased in 2006 it is now known as Shimmin Canyon Vineyard). From 1973 to 1977 Gary Eberle and Cliff Giacobine planted 700 acres, including the first modern commercial acreage of Syrah in the state.
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