Winemaking is deeply rooted in SLO Wine Country, dating back to the 18th century with the founding of Mission San Luis Obispo by Father Junipero Serra in 1772.
Here, the padres grew grapes and made them into sacramental wines. A century later, commercial wine was produced from grapes grown at Rancho Saucelito in the upper Arroyo Grande Valley. The old Zinfandel vines planted in 1880 by Henry Ditmas were restored by the Greenough family in the 1970s, and remain a cornerstone of Saucelito Canyon Vineyard.
The modern wine industry in the SLO Coast emerged in the 1970s. In 1973, the Goss family had the foresight to plant Chardonnay at Chamisal Vineyard in the Edna Valley. Concurrently, the Niven family planted Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and other varietals at Paragon Vineyard. MacGregor Vineyard was planted in 1976 and is now the home of Wolff Vineyards. The success of these early plantings of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir ignited SLO Wine Country’s reputation as a world-class region for Burgundian varietals.
In 1979, Lawrence Winery was established as the region’s first modern winery, and the property is today home to Center of Effort Winery. Chamisal Vineyard began making its own wine in 1980, and Edna Valley Vineyard followed in 1981 as a partnership between Paragon Vineyard and Chalone Vineyard. Claiborne & Churchill Winery, Maison Deutz (now Laetitia Vineyard & Winery), and Talley Vineyards soon added further momentum to the local winemaking scene. These early wineries paved the way and put SLO Wine Country on the map.
In the 30 years since, the wines of the San Luis Obispo Coast have grown in both production and recognition, but the region has also retained its intimate nature. Indeed, SLO Wine Country today remains home to fewer than three dozen wineries, all joined by a common ground and spirit.