Eberle Winery Celebrates 40 Years
Apr 16, 2019
Labeled “Legacy,” this year will be a conglomeration of awards, seminars, wine tastings and dinners to celebrate Gary’s 46 year vision and tireless work to support the local wine industry in Paso Robles. Playing defensive tackle for Penn State in the early 1960s on a scholarship, Gary Eberle developed lifelong skills that enabled him to attain iconic status in the wine industry, and earned him the moniker, “the Paso Robles Pioneer.”
The Paso Robles Pioneer
Gary Eberle is a big figure in the wine world, both figuratively and literally. He co-founded The Estrella River Winery (now known as Meridian Vineyards and Winery) in 1973, and after several successful vintages, officially opened up Eberle Winery in 1982, with the release of his 1979 Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet Sauvignon is Eberle’s signature wine today.
The redwood winery was completed in 1983, and included a 40 acre estate vineyard surrounding the property which is planted with Chardonnay, Muscat Canelli, and his signature wine, Cabernet Sauvignon. The surrounding hillside vineyards are composed of well-drained, granite-based gravelly loam soils that are reminiscent of soils found on the Left Bank of Bordeaux.
Gary realized early on that matching the right varietal with the best suitable soil and climate for that varietal, produces the best fruit, and ultimately, the best wine. This is a concept in viticulture that the monks in Bourgogne discovered centuries ago, and still holds true today.
In fact, Gary was a true believer in the potential for Paso Robles as a winegrowing region, and today it stands as the third largest cluster of wineries after Napa and Sonoma in California, with over 250 wineries. Gary was instrumental in this growth as a co-founder of the Paso Robles appellation in 1982, which helped to establish Paso Robles as a first rate winegrowing region.
For centuries, caves have been an integral and functional component of the winemaking process, adding a certain amount of allure and mystery to the aging of wines; think of the chalk caves underneath the Champagne houses in France, carved out centuries ago by the Romans. As Eberle Winery continued to grow and flourish, it became evident that Gary needed more room to accommodate the winery’s needs.
The decision was made to build a cave underneath the winery, and in 1996, Eberle Winery showcased an 8,000 square foot underground cave, one of the first in Paso Robles. The caves proved to be so successful, that an additional 8,000 square feet were added, bringing the total to 16,000 square feet by the end of 1999.
The caves are an excellent way to store and age red wine, due to the naturally cool environment and high humidity. They also allow the winemaker to utilize the gentle process of gravity flow transfer from the tanks above ground, to the barrels below and make for easy access for topping off and barrel sampling.
On your next visit to Eberle, make sure to visit the Wild Boar Room, which is a tunnel that has been sectioned off into an elegant dining hall. Check out the Guest Chef Dinner Series, where renowned Chefs serve incredible multi-course dinners in a romantic candlelight setting.
Chris Eberle is the current winemaker at Eberle Winery, and ironically, is not related to Gary Eberle, although I’m sure it didn’t hurt when he interviewed for the position initially. Chris was the assistant winemaker at Eberle Winery from 2006-2009, and then went on a wine journey where he worked in six different countries, including France, Germany and Australia, for a total of 15 vintages, before returning to Eberle Winery as the head winemaker today.
Chris always knew he would eventually return to Eberle Winery, and was drawn back by the strong family atmosphere. Traveling and working in several different countries helped Chris hone his winemaking skills, and gave him a worldly perspective in making wine.
Most winemakers will tell you that great wine is made in the vineyard, and that their main job when they get the fruit, is not to mess it up. If this is true, Eberle Winery is very fortunate in that they have several vineyards to work with, including the 40 acre Estate Vineyard, which surrounds the winery, mentioned earlier.
On the south side of Highway 46 East, a few short miles from the winery, lies the rocky loam soils of the Steinbeck Vineyard, which are very similar to the soils found at the Estate Vineyard. The traces of an old riverbed runs through the vineyards, neatly displaying the depth and types of soils present. In 1992 part of the vineyard was planted to Syrah, Zinfandel, and Barbera. Over the years, all three varietals have proven to make consistent and exceptional wine from this vineyard.
Adjacent to the Steinbeck Vineyard are the rocky loam soils of the Mill Road Vineyard, which is perfect for the low yielding Viognier grape. The warm days and cool nights, typical for Paso Robles, provides an excellent growing environment, due to the diurnal (daily) swings, which allow the grapes to maintain acid levels, and develop complexity.
Lonesome Oak Vineyard, formerly known as Reid Vineyard sits atop a hill, just five miles north of Eberle Winery. Since 1997, this vineyard has been producing award winning Syrah, gaining accolades and fans alike. Today, the vineyard consists of 17 acres of Syrah, and two acres of Grenache Noir, which was planted in 1992. The vineyard is noted for producing high quality fruit, with a ripe blueberry and spice component, with a lush, velvety texture.
Zinfandel has become well-known as the go to wine for California, and Paso Robles produces some of the best examples. The Remo Belli Vineyard (formerly Sauret) is located west of Highway 101, and produces incredible Zinfandel, from dry farmed, head pruned vines, from a 40 acre vineyard.
Grown on a calcareous, loamy-clay soil, the combination produces very small berries, which in turn provides intense berry flavors and a wine of complexity and depth. This vineyard continues to get better with age, and consistently produces quality fruit year after year.
Our flagship wine! The palate is full of rich dark fruit flavors of cassis, black cherry with hints of chocolate mint and a long finish.
“Baked black cherry, black plum and shaved licorice make for a thick aromatic profile on the nose of this estate bottling. Ripe blackberry, purple flowers and dark chocolate shavings show on the palate, which is elegantly wrapped in chalky tannins and buoyant acidity.” 90pts Wine Enthusiast
“Those seeking a fresh, detailed Chardonnay from Paso Robles will be pleased with this bottling. Light, easy aromas of lemon balm, white peach and clarified butter into a palate full of lemon zest, creamy cherimoya and brioche flavors.” 91pts Wine Enthusiast, Editors’ Choice
“Delicate and chalky on the nose, this blend of 50% Grenache Blanc, 46% Roussanne and 4% Viognier offers pear, honeysuckle and nectarine aromas. There is solid zip on the palate, where cantaloupe, lemon skin and dried apple flavors are touched with exotic saffron spice.” 90pts Wine Enthusiast
“Lively and zesty, yet well-structured, offering blueberry, savory herb and smoked pepper flavors that take on elegance toward refined tannins.” 92pts Wine Spectator; 91pts Wine Enthusiast
“Well-built and spirited, with lively black cherry, dried sage and cracked pepper flavors that build toward appealingly rustic tannins.” 91pts Wine Spectator