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Paso’s Wackiest Ideas

July 19, 2017

“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong took the historic first step on the moon. Many considered it an outrageous, “wacky” idea that couldn’t be accomplished.

The same has been said about several ideas that were conjured up by our own Paso Robles wine and olive oil makers. From planting grapes in a convent to relocating 2000 olive trees, Victor Abascal, Vines on the Marycrest, Andrew Jones, Field Recordings., and Frank Menacho, Olivas De Oro share their “wacky” ideas and the stories that go along with them.

Victor Abascal, Vines on the Marycrest

Idea: Planting a vineyard at a convent

What was your wacky idea? To plant a vineyard on land that was conveniently not my own. It belonged to some Nuns, and they had no idea about my wacky idea. The idea wasn’t so much as to succeed, but to see what would actually happen. And a whole lot did.

Any funny stories to share about executing your idea? I guess the funniest part might have been my begging to a roomful of Nuns for the chance not to go to jail. Also, I think just the idea that nobody would ever see around 120 bright fluorescent blue grow tubes, perfectly arranged.

What made you stake your flag in Paso Robles Wine Country? This is a question with many answers. Most of all, back in 2003 Jenni and I could feel something really starting to happen around here. We could hear Paso telling us, “if you don’t pick me, you’re going to be sorry”. So glad we listened to her.

Do you have a wine or oil that best exemplifies your small step for man, giant leap for mankind? Why? I think My Generation always has been our “flag on the moon” wine. It’s the wine we came here to make, and the style of wine we got inspired by when we came poking around Paso Robles. We had this wine named, and 100% conceived before we made a drop of it. It didn’t hurt one bit that we bought a piece of land with Zinfandel planted in 1969. Considering My Generation was going to be a Zinfandel/Rhone blend, it seemed like everything was supposed to be the way it turned out. Odd as that sounds.

For visitors to Paso Robles, where else locally can you find that can-do, risk-taking spirit? I think everyone has a story, and everyone doing this has a healthy dose of that “can do” thing. I am a huge admirer of Maggie and Eric of The Hatch. Seems like that place is hard work and vision all rolled into one. Many an eatery took and swing in that location, and many failed. I take my hat off to them.

Any other wacky ideas in the pipeline? I’m afraid so. Later in the year, we will be releasing a CD of 4 years worth of live performances recorded here at VOTM. Amazing performers from all over the USA will be represented. As well as one fantastic local performer. It will be called “Back Patio Bliss”. Prepare for minds to be blown. It’s so good, I’m a little frightened by it.

Andrew Jones, Field Recordings.

idea: wine in a can

What was your wacky idea? We’ve tried a few things over the years, but most known as one of the first producers part of the new wave of canned wine.

Any funny stories to share about executing your idea?  Most of the funny stuff happened after we went through with it, and we were knocking back tallboys of Paso red wine like it was Coors Light.

Do you have a wine or oil that best exemplifies your small step for man, giant leap for mankind? Why?  Methode Aluminum Sparkling wines.  Traditionally made sparkling wine in a can.  Perfect mix of new and old techniques.

What Paso Robles wine or variety helps you come up with new ideas?  Would be whatever variety I am planting at the time for my day job at Sunridge Nurseries.  The ideas usually come while I am driving all over the place from site to site.

For visitors to Paso Robles, where else locally can you find that can-do, risk-taking spirit?  Pretty much everybody in town making and selling wine.  When you decide to sell your first bottle you’ve put yourself out there for anybody to critique your last couple years of your life that went into creating that beverage.

Any other wacky ideas in the pipeline?  Canned wine cocktails and spritzers.  Stay tuned…

Frank Menacho, Olivas De Oro

idea: relocating 2000 olive trees from Northern California to Creston

What was your wacky idea? I moved over 2000 century old olive trees from my orchard in Northern California to Creston to establish a new orchard on the Central Coast and relocate my business. It was an 8-hour drive each way and each tree weighed over 2500 pounds.

What made you think you could make this plan succeed? I had already moved some trees to wineries in the Napa region and knew olive trees were hardy, but when I moved these trees it was more like 20 at a time.

Any funny stories to share about executing your idea? Of course the year I had planned the move was the last time that this area experienced a tremendous amount of rainfall. I couldn’t get the trees in the field because they were so heavy.  Rather than planting trees, I planted several large pieces of equipment.  There was a time when you could go to Google Earth and see the tractors that I planted.  I had to put the whole move on hold for a year.

What made you stake your flag in Paso Robles Wine Country? Our very good friends moved to Paso over 25 years ago and we started to visit them. At first, we didn’t get it. But each time we visited, we liked it more and more.  Then we got to the point where we knew we were moving here too.  We just had to make it happen.

Do you have a wine or oil that best exemplifies your small step for man, giant leap for mankind? Why? Our Mission Blend Extra Virgin Olive Oil is that oil for us.  When we first started making olive oil in 1999 there was a small community of olive oil producers in California.  We turned some of them on their heads because we put it in an Italian blue glass rather than green. They didn’t know what to think of us. Then, with that first-year production, we won a gold medal in the Oils of the World competition and it put us on the map.

For visitors to Paso Robles, where else locally can you find that can-do, risk-taking spirit? Really, if you go to any of the wineries in the area you’ll find that. Just listen to their stories. You’ll find that many wineries were started by someone after they were successful in another career. The families who have been here for more than one generation also have made it with that can-do spirit.