A personal invitation from the ‘Godfather of Paso Robles’
— Gary Eberle just might be ready to take the term “The Godfather of Paso Robles” to heart. “It’s certainly not a title I came up with,” he said. “Telling people not to call me that didn’t work. I am not really that special – it’s the people that work for me that are truly special.”
In 2020 Eberle marked his 50th year in the wine industry. A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Eberle started at Pennsylvania State University in 1962, balancing between being a defensive tackle for the Penn State Nittany Lions and a biology major. His Bachelor of Science in Biology from Penn State and his work at Louisiana State University in cellular genetics earned him his Master’s in Zoology and a National Science Fellowship to Charity Hospital in New Orleans. One of his professors introduced him to the decadent world of food and wine. After tasting the Bordeaux from his professor’s cellar, Eberle took a keen interest in Cabernet Sauvignon, envisioning an American wine that would rival those of Bordeaux. He soon found himself enrolled in the Enology Doctorate Program at the University of California Davis.
After earning his Ph.D. in Enology and Viticulture at U.C. Davis, Eberle began his career in Paso Robles by co-founding the Estrella River Winery in 1973. After several successful years as the winemaker, Eberle turned his attention to producing premium, small-production wine. Eberle soon started his own prestigious label, releasing his flagship 1979 Cabernet Sauvignon.
Since then, he has earned recognition for many wine industry firsts including co-founding the Paso Robles Appellation in 1983, the first to list the Paso Robles Appellation on his label, and the first to produce a 100-percent commercially produced Syrah. Industry awards to Gary include the Robert Mondavi Hospitality Award, the California State Fair Lifetime Achievement Award, Wine Industry Person of the Year from the PRWCA, and the 2020 American Legend Wine Star Award from the Wine Enthusiast.
Visit Eberle Winery any day of the week and there is a good chance you will be greeted by Gary with his French Poodles Sangio and Barbera. “I try to spend three or four hours meeting people and their dogs! We are very dog-friendly here. Come out and have a glass of cabernet with me.”
Winemaker Chris Eberle
Winemaker Chris Eberle – no relation – garnered degrees in agricultural business and viticulture from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and an enology degree from Washington State University.
Chris may not be related to Gary, but definitely has roots at Eberle Winery. Starting as a “cellar rat,” Chris became the assistant winemaker before spending fifteen vintages honing his winemaking skills in South Africa, Germany, New Zealand, Australia and France. In 2015, Gary, in need of a head winemaker, brought Chris back home.
“Chris is a spectacular young winemaker and has an excellent palate,” Gary says. “I have never met a winemaker, including myself, who is so meticulous. You will never be disappointed with the wine Chris makes.”
“To make great wine, you have to start with great fruit and then put it in the hands of a very talented and competent winemaker,” says Gary. “We’ve been very successful in these two aspects. We grow about 75% of our own fruit and buy the rest – always from Paso Robles. I don’t make wine from anywhere else. We give the grower credit for the fruit that goes into our wine; we appreciate how important they are to our winemaking success.”
Eberle Winery is located at 3810 Highway 46 East in Paso Robles. Reservations are requested but walk-ins are welcome. Open daily except Thanksgiving and Christmas. For hours, reservations and more information visit eberlewinery.com or call (805) 238-9607.