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To become a contributor to the Wine History Project, please contact Libbie Agran at Please mail your contributions to: Wine History Project, 3592 Broad Street, Office 104, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

Grapes in a Paso Robles vineyard ready to be harvested.  Photo Courtesy of: Paso Robles Wine Country 

A Message from the Founder of the
Wine History Project, Libbie Agran:

The reality of living in the time of COVID-19 and the raging fires in California continues to impact our lives daily; six months into the pandemic has brought change to our priorities, long-term business planning, and the structure at the Wine History Project of San Luis Obispo County (WHP).
The WHP was formed five years ago to collect, organize, and archive our local wine history. As the history was gathered through oral interviews and research, it became equally important to share it with the public through our website, lectures, wine events, films at festivals and screenings, and by designing exhibits for wineries, the Paso Robles Historical Society, the Dallidet Adobe, the Pioneer Museum, SLOMA and in the vineyards and tasting rooms of local wineries.
As the project evolved since 2015, the Wine History staff has grown to five dedicated individuals, an office with our wine library and rotating exhibits in San Luis Obispo, and a large collection of historic tools, equipment, and wines produced over the last fifty years in our county. Our Advisory Board has provided the expertise to help us build the scholarship we are so proud of. Funding for the project and our employees had come from a small group of private donors.
Before the Pandemic, we applied for non-profit status as an educational organization which was granted on January 31, 2020. The Wine History Project joined over 1000 local non-profits in the county. Six months later, however, our world has changed so much; it is a time for all local non-profits to reexamine their missions, relevance, and their impact in the county.
We at the Wine History Project have reset our priorities and decided not to continue as a nonprofit; our project will continue with private support and a reduced budget and staff. Three of us, Libbie Agran, Cindy Lambert, and Aimee Armour-Avant, will continue to work from home writing the history, sending our newsletters, and posting it on the website. We will continue to edit and release our films and make them available on Vimeo. Our office and library are open by appointment. We will miss staff members Heather Muran and Karen Petersen, both of whom have contributed so much to our outreach in the county, the many events we have hosted, and to the success of the Wine History Project in 2019 and 2020.
The Wine History Project’s list of charitable priorities starts with supporting our local “front line workers,” and the children and families who are in need of food, education, child care, health care, and shelter. Our second priority is to support those who have lost their homes, vineyards, and businesses in the wildfires across California. The Wine History Project has been providing this type of financial support to those in need over the past five years. We will continue to partner with local organizations and with you to achieve our goals.

We are all in this together.
Warm regards,
Libbie Agran, Director
Wine History Project of San Luis Obispo County

Wine History Project Wine Library, located at offices in San Luis Obispo.  Photo Credit: Heather Muran

New Wine Library Holds Volumes of
California Wine History

The team at the Wine History Project has finished organizing a wine library for the local community.  Presently, the library holds over 500 books within 22 categories which include: biographies, California wine history, Prohibition, winemakers in SLO County, science, social history, science, varietals and terroir – to name just a few.  Eventually, this library catalog will be accessible online and the records of information relating to these books will be searchable from our website. 

“We believe this is one of the largest libraries dedicated to the wine industry in San Luis Obispo County,” says founder of the Wine History Project, Libbie Agran. The collection is housed at the Wine History Project offices, located at 3592 Broad Street, Suite 104 in San Luis Obispo.  Due to COVID-19, the wine library is only available to the public by appointment only.  

Photo Courtesy of Ag and Art Film Festival

91 Harvests to Screen at Ag and Art Film Festival 

Despite recent wildfires devastating event venues in Vacaville, California, the Ag and Art Film Festival will carry on with special film screenings and events, including the Wine History Project's recent documentary, 91 Harvests.  The film will continue to be screened throughout the month of September. Tickets to the 91 Harvest film screening are available at the Ag & Art Film Festival website.

The LNU Complex Fire has burned nearly 400,000 acres in northern California, with many farms and family homes destroyed.  This year, the Ag and Art Film Festival funds will be donated to local farmers impacted by the fire.
You can learn more about the festival, along with current COVID-19 restrictions and ticket information below:
CLICK HERE to learn more about the Ag Art Film Festival

It’s Harvest Time: Tools for Harvesting Grapes

The Wine History Project has recently acquired interesting harvest tools for our collection of historic equipment and tools, curated by Cindy Lambert.

With harvest in full swing all over California, the Wine History Project has recently added several harvest tools used for harvesting grapes. In France, harvest time is known as le vendange. Consider the volume of grapes that will need to be picked during this short harvest phase. Historically, this picking of the grapes was completed all by hand. Individual handmade field tools and grape hook knives were necessary for harvest crews.   

Click below to read more about Harvest Tools:

Victor Hugo Roberts

Victor Hugo Roberts represents the essence of the small high-quality producer that shaped the wine history of the county in the 1980s and 1990s, and he continues to do so. Gary Eberle describes him as one of the finest winemakers in San Luis Obispo County. Victor is a quiet and thoughtful man, but he is also a leader, a visionary, and a man that takes responsibility. He is known for getting the job done thoroughly and efficiently whether it is the Paso Robles AVA application or making wine for a United States President’s inauguration.

In 1982, his first year as winemaker at Creston Manor Vineyard and Winery, Victor’s first vintage of Sauvignon Blanc won gold medals. Wines created by Victor Hugo have received over 600 medals in wine competitions.

In the same year, 1982, Victor stepped forward as a newcomer to join the Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce and local winemakers to help research and write the application for the Paso Robles AVA. He was among the founders of the first annual Paso Robles Wine Festival which helped develop Paso Robles as an important wine region in California. This festival grew to become the largest in the United States with his support and leadership. He was instrumental in founding and leading the first organization of growers and winemakers in the Paso Robles region. As Gary Eberle states, “Victor Hugo Roberts was at the nucleus of every important stage in development in Paso Robles wine region.”

Read more about Victor Hugo Roberts by clicking the link below:

Book Review: Soft Soil, Black Grapes –
The Birth of Italian Winemaking in California by Simone Cinotto

Early Italian immigrants arrived in California during the Gold Rush from Northern Italy, primarily Liguria, Tuscany, and Piedmont. They were seeking their fortunes in gold but soon saw opportunities to establish influential businesses and financial communities. Ethnicity was important and highly sensitive in those early days. These immigrants used their identity to establish an ethnic niche in the wine industry although few came with wine growing or winemaking skills.

This book review, presented by Libbie Agran, highlights three of the largest historic wineries: Italian Swiss Colony, the Italian Vineyard Company, and the E&J Gallo Winery.

Contact Us

Libbie Agran
Historian & Director

Aimee Armour-Avant
Information Designer

Cindy Lambert
Collections Manager

The Wine History Project was established in 2015 to study the land, microclimates, grape varietals, growers and winemakers who have shaped the wine history of San Luis Obispo County. Today the Wine History Project is staffed by historians and museum professionals who collaborate with a diverse group of advisers and founders. We continue to document and preserve the unique wine and food history of San Luis Obispo County

Central to our research is the process of interviewing growers and winemakers who have shaped the wine history of SLO County. It is through these relationships that we build upon the story of wine in our county while collecting and archiving historical photographs, documents, videography and recordings to preserve their history.

Together We Can Preserve the Story of Central Coast Winemaking

Copyright © 2020 Wine History Project, All rights reserved.

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