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To become a contributor to the Wine History Project, please contact Heather Muran at or
805-458-9016. Please mail your contributions to: Wine History Project, 3592 Broad Street, Office 104, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

Wine History Project Releases Documentaries 

Dear friends,

We are all in this together!  We understand this is a difficult time we are all experiencing TOGETHER, and we hope our newsletter brings you interesting articles and information to expand your local wine history knowledge.

In addition to bringing you new articles, the Wine History Project has released 
two new documentaries that are now available to rent or own on our Vimeo Page:


91 Harvests features the legacy of the Dusi family, five generations of grape growers and winemakers in Paso Robles. 

The story of the Dusi Vineyard began in the early 1920s, when Sylvester and Caterina Dusi, emigrants from Northern Italy, moved to Paso Robles in the early 1920s. The Dusi Vineyard introduced some of the first Zinfandels to California’s Central Coast, and eventually bought an additional property on the west side of Highway 101. Three generations after Janell Dusi’s great-grandparents first planted the land with Zinfandel, she is continuing the legacy and this charming documentary tells their story. 

The Wine History Project's second documentary, Tom Myers: Made in Paso, is now available to rent or purchase on Vimeo.  This is the Wine History Project's "official" premier of this short film.  Tom Myers is recognized as the expert on the science of making wine in San Luis Obispo County.

 Tom Myers, Winemaker, Castoro Cellars     
Photo Credit: Julia Perez     

As of 2019, he is also recognized as the man who has filled over 190 million bottles with San Luis Obispo County wine following his 42 harvests. Winemakers describe Tom as a problem solver, mild mannered and all talent without the ego.  Perhaps the best description of his talents, according to his colleagues and local winemakers: “Tom Myers is the awesome winemakers’ winemaker.”  Tom talks about his start in the wine industry and his scientific approach to crafting world class wines.

We encourage you to rent or buy and watch one of our documentaries in the comfort of your own home!
Check back often for more documentaries and short films coming soon to the Wine History Project Video Channel.

San Luis Obispo Wine History Timeline:
We Need Your Input!

The Wine History Project is currently expanding our research and is seeking the community's input.  As we continue to bring you new articles and documentaries, we want to invite YOU, the reader, into our historical community.  YES YOU! 

Some of you may ask, "what can I do to support the Wine History Project?"  We are looking to expand the history and information to our ever-growing San Luis Obispo County Wine History Timeline.  The timeline project is a catalog of SLO County's wine history that includes major milestones, achievements and highlights of growers and producers dating from the 18th century to the present.


    Margaret Zuech, Piedra Creek. 
    Photo Credit: Sunset Magazine, 1978

Take our short quiz to see if you are a SLO County wine history buff!

1.  What is the name of the historic wine first made in California by the Franciscan fathers? (hint: look in 19th Century Timeline)

2.  What three Popular Wine Grape Varieties were grown in San Luis Obispo County in the 1800s?  (hint: look in 19th Century Timeline) 

3.  In what years were the Edna Valley, Arroyo Grande Valley and Paso Robles AVAs established? (hint: look in 20th Century)

If you have facts and information that you would like to see added to the Wine History Project timeline, please email
Check out the April/May edition of SLO Life Magazine.  Featured on pages 92-94 is the Wine History Project's editorial, "Two Hens and a Rooster", written by Historian Heather Muran.
Click Here to Read SLO Life Magazine Article
COLLECTIONS/ Featured Collection

Corking Tools

Wine bottles get corked, with corks made of cork. This wasn’t always the case; but when it became important for better wine storage and delivery, the dilemma to be solved was: how could one insert and fix a cork into a wine bottle easier? Challenging, but during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries when winemakers bottled their own product more often than not, they found they needed tools or devices to assist with the process.

Read more about some of the earliest corking tools used by winemakers in this month's collection feature, written by Cindy Lambert, the Wine History Project's Collections Manager.

Patent #35,385, “Corking Bottles”    
by Redlich Manufacturing    


Ernst Family

William and Barbara Ernst were the first of seven generations to settle in the Geneseo area, east of Paso Robles, California and farm grapes and make award-winning wines. William and his twin brother, John, worked with the UC Experiment Station of the South Coast Range to choose fruit and grape crops that would grow successfully based on variety, soil, rainfall and climate.

Hazel (Ernst Steinback), Rosetta (Paulus Ernst),
Barbara Amelia (Mathis) Ernst, Arnold Steinbeck,
Howie Steinbeck. 1939.

William provided valuable research and data on each farmer in the area from 1885 to 1902, preserving valuable wine history. 

The Ernst family is one of the earliest families from Illinois to settle in the German Lutheran Community east of Paso Robles. Their farms and vineyards were located in Creston, but the area became known as the Geneseo School District, named after the town in Illinois where the Ernst brothers, William and John (identical twins), settled when they emigrated from Germany.

William and John Ernst are credited with establishing the first grain farming in the region.  William farmed barley, wheat, and oats with a single plough and mule. John petitioned to open a new school district for the children of the families in the area. 

The Ernst brothers including William, John, and Martin, helped build the Geneseo community buildings including the schoolhouse, the German Lutheran Church, and the Community Hall.    The Ernst Brothers became famous for their high quality wines and for the many varieties of grapes they studied and planted while working with the UC Agriculture Experiment between 1889 and 1902. John and William planted their  private vineyards in the Geneseo District. William planted his vines in 1885, while John moved to the area and planted his first vines in 1886. The Wine History Project has not yet determined the source of the vines. We have ruled out Southern California as the Anaheim Blight was destroying the vineyards there in this time period.
You can read the complete Ernst Family Legend on our website by clicking the link below.
Click Here to Read Ernst Family Legend
WINE HISTORY / Become a Contributor

Wine History Project Becomes
Non-Profit Organization

The Wine History Project has applied for nonprofit status and is seeking donors to support research and educational projects:

  • Prohibition Exhibits highlighting San Luis Obispo County History to be shown in multiple locations throughout the County in 2020.

  • Exhibit on HMR Winery (Stanley Hoffman) and Andre Tchelishtchef impact on San Luis Obispo County in 1960s and 1970s.

  • Exhibit on the first Edna Valley wine growers and producers in the 1970s.

  • Research on the impact of home winemaking on the wine industry in San Luis Obispo County.

  • Research on the rise of wine competitions at California Fairs in the 1880s.

  • Research and writing of the book on the Wine History of San Luis Obispo County

  • Recording and archiving the oral histories of wine growers and producers in San Luis Obispo County

  • Preparing the legends and historic timelines of San Luis Obispo County featured on our website.

  • Expanding the database of archived photos, files and historical documents related to San Luis Obispo wine history.

  • Building our historic collections of wine tools, winemaking equipment, historic San Luis Obispo County wines, photographs, wine books and scientific instruments.

  • Filming documentaries on growers and winemakers in San Luis Obispo County.

  • Designing wine history tours in San Luis Obispo County. 

Benefits to contributors include invitations to two Wine History Project events each year, including educational lectures, guest speakers and wine tastings, invitation to previews of exhibits, access to archives and records obtained by Wine History Project, exclusive discounts to events, and educational opportunities along with docent-lead wine history tours throughout San Luis Obispo County. To become a contributor to the Wine History Project, please contact Heather Muran at or 805-458-9016. Please mail your contributions to: Wine History Project, 3592 Broad Street, Office 104, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401.


Contact Us

Libbie Agran

Aimee Armour-Avant
Information Designer

Cindy Lambert
Collections Manager
Heather Muran
Historian & Outreach

Karen Petersen
Events 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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