Legacy: Earning the Title as Godfather of Paso Robles

Guest Blogger Marcy Eberle, wife of Winemaker Gary Eberle and co-owner of Eberle Winery, recounts the efforts Gary put in to reach the 40 year milestone at Eberle Winery. In 2019, Eberle Winery will be celebrating this milestone and reflecting on what 40 years in the wine industry means to Paso Robles.

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This is who he is. What we are.  A living legacy. A true testament to the fire and passion and belief in your belly that even if the odds are against you…or if the winds may (or not be) in your favor…you have the passion and drive and the work ethic to make whatever you want become a reality. A legacy.  Something you build. Something you live. For Gary Eberle, who turns 75 this year and celebrates 40 years of Eberle Winery, nothing could be more important, more magnified or more appreciated than the year of 2019.

He started in a steel town outside of Pittsburgh.  No dad to speak of. A tough life with a tougher mom.  Gary recalls washing down the walls from the soot that used to plague the Pittsburgh skies. Going outside to get the paper from the lawn and coming back with dirty feet. It’s all he knew.  All of his friends were going to work in the steel mill.

So imagine the luck of the draw when Eberle makes “All American” in high school as a defensive tackle and is recruited by schools all over the country. He’s looking for a college—and a football team—that fit.  Enter Joe Paterno. A young coach; not yet the head coach of Penn State but the one who ignited a fire in Gary to dream big or go home.

Years later, “Joe Pa” would affectionately remember Gary—of thousands of players he’d coached.  “He always had a chip on his shoulder,” he said. “But I’m proud of the man he’s become.”

Flash forward through degrees at Penn State and LSU, awards as a National Science Fellow, and a Doctorship in Enology at UC Davis and you find Gary Eberle in 1973 building one of the first wineries in Paso Robles post-prohibition. His Estrella River Winery was the first in San Luis Obispo County to distribute nationwide. The first in Paso Robles to carry the Paso Robles AVA on the label (because he helped create the AVA.) The first of many things; the first winemaker to produce a 100% Syrah in the United States. The Wine Spectator decreed Eberle as the “Johnny Appleseed of Syrah.”  Indeed. At one point nearly all of the Syrah grown in the United States was from his original cuttings. Although it is a Chapoutier clone, it’s known by many as the “Estrella clone.”

As we at Eberle look forward to celebrating 40 years of fine winemaking, having carried the torch as the longest continuously run family-owned winery in Paso Robles, we plan on many events, dinners, educational seminars, and even a film to release that highlights Gary’s accomplishments and the future of Eberle Winery. We are also working with Libbie Agran of the San Luis Obispo County Wine History Project to make sure Gary’s legacy is well documented for generations to come.

A “Legacy” Cabernet Sauvignon and a winery gala on July 13, 2019 will continue to highlight this spectacular year. Please join Gary Eberle, myself, and our winery team in 2019 as we celebrate the legacy of Eberle Winery.

For information on celebratory events throughout the year visit www.eberlewinery.com