Tag Archives: Paso Robles

Paso Robles History: Farmers Alliance Building

A large reinforced concrete grain mill has stood on little more than an acre of land in Paso Robles for almost a century. It was built by local almond orchard farmers to help process a booming industry that had created a self-proclaimed Almond Capital of the World. Called the Farmers Alliance building, it holds a lot of history and thanks to a city that wants to preserve its heritage and a company willing to work with state historical standards, the past and present live on.

Farmers Alliance Building rundown

Farmers Alliance Building was rundown and an eyesoar for decades.

After the Civil War, a large group of small and hard-pressed farmers (caused by drought in the MidWest), along with ranchers, formed a national populist organization named the Farmers Alliance, which was started as a way of uniting non-land owning cultivators against the railroads. They had strong family bonds and believed in mutual cooperation.

In Paso Robles, the Paso Robles Almond Growers Association (PRAGA) was formed (it was a co-op) after the turn-of-the-century. By the beginning of the Roaring 20s, a building was needed by a burgeoning industry that had escalated to the point of having more acres of almonds planted than anywhere else in the world.

Almonds to grain

Almond Ad 1919 - Paso Robles

Almonds were king in Paso Robles during the first part of 20th Century

However, with the advent of the Great Depression, production was down and the building was eventually sold to the Farmers Alliance Business Association (FABA) to process grain. They continued ownership of the popular pink building for several decades but with smaller ranches moving in along with the advent of grape-growing, the need for a grain building waned and the organization finally dissolved in the mid-’70s.

Having been unused for almost 30 years, it was believed that food and supply chain Smart & Final purchased the property, but the deal never came to fruition, in-part due to our current Great Recession. One of the oldest commercial buildings in town, the place was run-down and an eye-soar with weeds, a faded rusty exterior along with broken concrete and dirt.

However, just about four years ago, Ray and Pam Derby of Derby Wine Estates bought the property from Smart & Final knowing the historical ramifications. With that, a renovated building with enormous local history was preserved with a new chapter. Derby Wine Estates is composed of three properties throughout the North County area of San Luis Obispo County. They were leasing a facility but now produce their wine at their new property.

Heck of a project

Derby_Wine_Estates - Farmers_Alliance

After three years of reconstruction, the Derby’s have done an excellent job of keeping the originality of the building intact including the tower that stands in the middle of the building. The remodel is both a production facility and a tasting room and yet at a glance, it doesn’t look much different than it did many years ago. The tower now has been converted into a VIP lounge called the Almond Room.

At first just grape growers, the Derby’s have been producing their own wine for nearly a decade and now are generating their wines from the former Farmers Alliance Building. It officially opened in April of this year.

The building stands for anyone to see from Hwy 101, as a legacy of a bygone era. From almonds to grain and now finally grapes, this institution of a building’s legacy appears set to continue being a part of the heritage of Paso Robles for years to come.


Daryle W. Hier





Central Coast 2014 Fall Forecast

Summer gave us a little of everything including a rare thunderstorm or two. It was mild overall and in fact, as I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, it seemed we were in a perpetual June all summer long with warm but windy conditions.

With summer sadly coming to an end soon, it’s time we looked at harvest time and fall. I’m not a weather forecaster and don’t play one on television. However, I’ve had an interest in weather for quite some time even though I lived most of my life in the Greater Los Angeles area, which really doesn’t have a lot of weather … or seasons.

Now that I’ve lived in Paso Robles for several years, with tie-ins to the wine business, weather has mattered more. The forecast here is a compilation of several other sources that know much more than I … although a tidbit of my own observations may sneak in.

Actually, fall doesn’t start until late Monday night at 10:30 p.m. on September 22nd. So essentially fall starts with the first full day on the 23rd, which is still three weeks away.

Ease into Fall

While the rest of the country will be seeing the onset of winter-like conditions in the fall, weather experts have vacillated on how much of an affect if any, El Nino will have this winter in relation to the West Coast. Whether the strength of it will be worth noting or not is debatable but since El Ninos don’t tend to have a lot of effect on fall, we’ll figure the norm for Autumn rains.

13th Street - Paso Robles

Parts of the Salinas River can’t be seen – but floods have reached the 13th Street bridge in Paso Robles.

September will likely see a slow but steady drop in temperatures with some saying we may have seen the last of real hot weather. September, and even the first half of October, can bring heat to the Central Coast, but unless something unusual occurs, we’ve seen the last of big heat. That means no more 100’s in the North County or 90’s in the inland areas. The beaches could still see some 80’s and much of our beach areas receive their clearest and warmest weather in late summer and early fall, however, don’t expect a lot of good days remaining in that regard.

Nothing spooky

October won’t look much different than September – just cooler. Again, this period of the year can sprout a little heat wave and there’s nothing to say we won’t have some more days that lean towards the hot side, but as we get closer to Halloween, the weather will cool down. High temperatures will be at or slightly above normal with beaches and inland areas in the 60’s and 70’s while the North County will hang on to the 80’s. Lows will be the usual 50’s for almost everyone with North County dipping into the 40’s and maybe some 30’s too.

I might note that because of the drought situation, some of the colors we get, especially in the North County, will be earlier than normal. In fact, I’ve already seen the first signs of color change on some trees – something we don’t normally get until late September or early October.

Mild Thanksgiving … but December?

As November hits us, the usual temperature drop continues, but nothing extreme this year. Also, don’t expect much more moisture than usual, even if the threat of an El Nino is real. Mild is the word heading into Thanksgiving.

The last few weeks of fall might see average to little more than normal rainfall heading into winter. December is generally considered the coldest month and that will likely be the case this season. In other words, unlike the rest of 2014, December should be normal with cool days and cold nights and at least a couple rain storms.

Again, all I did here along with my own experiences is compile information from multiple sources. Overall, fall should start out average with moderate temps and little rain, It will continue to be normal temps through the middle of Autumn, followed by cold wintry-like weather in the final stages before winter.

A third year of drought would not be pretty. We need rain on the Central Coast and throughout much of the Golden State. It’s still questionable if that will happen, but we can hope for the best. That’s my forecast – nothing exciting, however December could bring us some changes … hopefully for the better. And let’s hope everyone has a great harvest.

It is only the farmer who faithfully plants seeds in the Spring, who reaps a harvest in the Autumn. – B. C. Forbes


Daryle W. Hier






Classic Cars Invade Central Coast – Labor Day Weekend

This is a fun event and adds a lot of class to Paso Robles. A car show at the park is always a treat. Check it out.

The Nest

Once again, classic cars will grace the city of Paso Robles this Labor Day weekend, with the Paso Robles Classic Car Weekend event scheduled for two days, August 29th and 30th (Friday and Saturday). Net proceeds will go to local charities.

Golden States Classics Car Show - Downtown Paso

The Golden State Classics Car Club puts on the event with help from the city of Paso Robles. The club was founded in 1986 by nine individuals interested in preserving and enjoying all types of antique classic, and custom cars, and trucks. There are now 120 members in this family-oriented car club organized for the purpose of promoting interest in the preservation, and/or modification of all classic automobiles and trucks. The Chamber of Commerce had helped organize the show in the past, but Golden State Classics Car Club and the city will co-host the event this year.

Friday night, starting at the Paso Robles Event Center from 21st Street…

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Yea, Labor Day – Boo, Labor Day

Celebrated on the first Monday of September, this upcoming weekend is Labor Day, which is generally regarded as the final hoorah for summer – a bittersweet even melancholy period of the year, if you ask me.

Yes, I’m a big fan of summer and technically we have almost an entire month of summer to go before fall officially starts.  Still, once Labor Day passes, the clock begins to tick around here on the California Central Coast. You start noticing the shadows getting longer and although Septembers in Paso Robles are very capable of being downright hot, there’s also the knowledge that cooler mornings will be with us anytime.

There’s good to be had 

Don’t get me wrong, I love Paso Robles and fall brings some of the grandest and most picturesque times of the year. Having come from Los Angeles, where there really aren’t seasons and autumn’s color changes are faint at best, the rich and vibrant transformations in the Paso landscape including the beauty of a turning vineyard are quite spectacular.

However, that also means the end of hot temperatures and these past few years has been a bit of a conundrum. Winter and spring were warmer than normal and that was great and in fact there wasn’t that blustery spring we can get; but, when summer arrived, that perpetual late spring weather of mostly 80s and wind took the, well, summer out of summer.

This year, I’ve been hoping for a last stand by summer to give a shot of 100s, which can happen on Labor Day – that’s a good thing, as far as my opinion is concerned. And that leads us back to Labor Day where we will have plenty of tourists in town, getting one last little vacation in before returning to the rat race that is either the Bay Area or Greater L.A. I so, don’t miss that.

Come on in, comrades

Labor Day (also commemorated in Canada) is an almost Un-American celebration, since it’s dedicated to socialists movements dating back roughly 125 years ago. However, it’s an excuse for folks to stream into the Central Coast looking for wine tasting, a bit of entertainment and maybe even a trip to our beautiful coastline and beaches. Our accommodating and ever-growing hotels will be readied. Overall, it’s a relaxing place to be whether you’re visiting or living here.

College football season is starting which is another good and bad thing all rolled up in one. Like my father mentions during summer, when I remind him that the football season is getting closer, that’s not a good thing because it means the end of summer is coming – he’s a fanatical fan of summer like I am … or probably more so.

With harvest-time here, the final long weekend of the year is nearly upon us and with one last stab, summer will hopefully give everyone in the U.S. a warm and friendly sendoff. Enjoy yourself – I will try to do the same – but the mix of pleasure and surrendering of summer is on my mind.

“Sorrow and scarlet leaf, Sad thoughts and sunny weather. Ah me, this glory and this grief Agree not well together!” – Thomas Parsons

Salootie Patootie,

Daryle Hier


Renovated Used Wine Barrel








Small Multi-Gold Winning Vineyard Available

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” – Thomas A. Edison

The genius of Mr. Edison was right, however what is not made clear sometimes is how often opportunity knocks with grand offers … but is not always taken advantage of. That advantage is front and center.

In the number one wine region in the world sits a tiny but hugely successful vineyard that has produced multiple medals over the last few years including Double Gold at the prestigious International Wine Competition. The man that made this small but powerful vineyard was Luis Nunez who sadly passed away this past Easter Sunday.

The unique if heartbreaking situation has turned into an opportunity of a lifetime for some fortunate person or persons who don’t miss on this grand offer. The widow of Mr. Nunez, Blanca Trujillo Nunez is making available those award-winning grapes to whoever comes along and simply pays her water bill and a nominal fee for the grapes. That’s it, a simple lease and you have in your hands some of the most remarkable Zinfandel grapes … maybe in the world.

The only reason I use such grandiose verbiage is because these vines are still young in the big scope of things and Mr. Nunez wasn’t always able to have ideal circumstances to produce the wine. This was in part due to his lack of funds and being a newcomer to the garagiste winemaking world. In fact, not every vintage made it, with Luis having to occasionally sell his beauties to other winemakers, who happily used the wine to blend with theirs.

The quarter acre sits on a hill with stunning views overlooking Paso Robles and has an ideal terroir. The land is terraced giving each vine excellent light and wind plus the clay-based soil grows incredible plants. I know because of having a successful garden near his beautiful vineyard and can tell you the composition is as good as it gets.

The situation is unusual and a heck of a story, but regardless, if you’re interested, you can contact me and I can give you Blanca’s contact information.

“Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God’s handwriting.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson


Daryle Hier




Alzheimer’s Benefit Street Faire

The simple task of getting up on a Saturday morning and readying yourself to enjoy another California Central Coast summer day and stroll through an art and crafts fair seems trouble-free for most of us. And that’s what some of us will do this Saturday on August 23rd. However, for others, that simple pleasure will be ambiguous and confusing.

Arts & Craft Fair

There are many hideous diseases in the world and saying one is worse than the others is arbitrary at best. With that said, when you are sick with a certain type of ailment, you have the will and mind to figure out how to fight it. That’s not necessarily the case with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia.

In the simplest context, especially with the late stages of Alzheimer’s your ability to think is essentially gone, as the disease has basically eaten away the brain and made the sufferer incapable of even knowing what’s going on.

Diagnosing dementias are key to knowing how and what to do to make life livable. And everyone should do all they can to find out whether they have any stages of Alzheimer’s. There are treatments and ways to combat the illness although there doesn’t appear to be a cure as yet. Vitamins, supplements, eating a certain way, exercising and keeping your mind alert and working, will all delay or nearly stop this insidious disease. Also, the caregivers along with close family and friends will eventually feel the brunt of this terrible condition.

I’ve been an Advocate for Alzheimer’s for the better part of two decades. I witnessed firsthand the debilitating effects of what dementias can do when my grandparents had differing types of brain diseases. The toll it took on them and the loved ones around them is heartbreaking, yet something folks need to learn about so they can better prepare.

Alzheimer's brain

That’s in part why we at Paso Wine Barrels will be taking part in the First Annual Alzheimer’s Benefit Street Faire. Part of our sales proceeds will go to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, which helps raise money for research at finding a cure for Alzheimer’s.

Now would be as good a time as any to help a great cause while getting that wine barrel you’ve always wanted. Come on out to Creston Village at 1919 Creston Road in Paso Robles – the event runs from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm Saturday August 23rd.

Additional sources: Alzheimer’s Association


Daryle W. Hier




Olive Festival

It wasn’t that long ago that a small celebration called the Olive Festival began as an annual event at the Downtown City Park in Paso Robles.  Yet this year will be marked as the 12th annual for the festivities, which venerate the olive in all its splendor.

Olive Festival

The huge event is hosted every August by the Main Street Association and presents everything associated with olives along with a host of typical arts and crafts exhibits. From essential oils to soaps, foods, ice cream and of course olive tastings, there are countless olive related samples available for your enjoyment.

The downtown area in Paso Robles is flooded with gourmet restaurants and tasting rooms, and yet the Olive Festival will also offer up wine tastings in the park as well as beer – get your tickets at the information booth next to the fountain with no water.

Everything olive

The still growing promotional event is to unite support for the fruit, while raising awareness. There are contests and demonstrations of all sorts related to the olive, with many of the region’s producers offering up their inspired tastings.

Olive bottles

Olives belong to a long history on the Central Coast and at one time was as popular as or more so than vineyards. There is a resurgence going on now and if you look around the rolling countryside here in Paso Robles, you’re bound to see orchards of olive trees dotting the landscape.

The health benefits of olive oil have become more known thanks in part to events like the Olive Festival. One big reason for this olive renaissance of sorts is the Paso Robles weather – which attracts so many great wines now – the same climate offers excellent conditions for olives.

By the way, I bet you didn’t know that the olive is a relative of jasmine and lilac.

Olive orchard

Ranches and orchards once dotted the landscape as much as vineyards do now.

Paso Wine Barrels missed 2014’s event, but has acquired space this year at this extremely popular gathering. And when you look us up on 12th and Spring Street, you’ll notice we also will have essential oils available as well (and wine barrel stave holders for your essential oils).  However, don’t be alarmed if you’re in town hoping to come by and purchase one of our barrels – we should have plenty available – but give us a call if you’re concerned. In any case, the festival runs from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Saturday (August 15th in 2015) and is free to the public.


Daryle W. Hier




Paso Robles Restaurant Issue

Living in Paso Robles in the midst of wine country and the California Central Coast has privileges beyond what most folks enjoy. We are lucky and I appreciate this immensely.

If I was to complain

As with almost anything, if you think hard, there are situations you can complain about such as the wide ranging weather we can experience – some of which includes winds that can be a bummer, especially in the spring and early summer months. With barely 30,000 people living here, you wouldn’t expect traffic and essentially we don’t have any like big cities, but it can be aggravated by influxes of visitors and vacationers that can double our towns population during certain event, festivities or holidays. Also, being far enough way from major population centers like L.A. and the Bay Area has its disadvantages as well because the cost of bringing materials here makes the cost of living high.

I’m really okay with all that, but there is something great about another problem we have in Paso Robles: Food.

The town has great eateries with fantastic foods … but … and you knew I was heading somewhere – there are so many restaurants with fantastic, but high priced food, that it’s hard to find good meals at reasonable rates. Kinda bitchy, aren’t I.

Still, in the several years I’ve lived here, anytime I want to out for a decent meal, I have to get a Letter-of-Credit from the bank. It ain’t cheap.

A few good places

Sancho's on Spring

Sancho’s on Spring offers good food at reasonable prices.

Sure, we have some diners and locals small restaurants that offer good food at reasonable prices like Sancho’s on Spring, Joe’s Place and Touch of Paso. The issue here is that the latter two are not open for dinner and the former went out of business this past year. Yes, we do have an Applebee’s and Chile’s, which sort of fit the mold, but …

However, if you’re a foodie, Paso just may be your place. And as was mentioned recently in a San Francisco Chronicle article, the quality of food here in our cozy little town can match-up with the best. The hospitality of the town and its inhabitants is remarkable. So when you enjoy the restaurants in Paso Robles, you likely will leave happy about the entire experience.

Still, I would like to see some lower to mid range eateries, especially for dinner, that don’t make you feel like you were just mugged. Unlike a lot of foodie’s I don’t believe in paying an arm-and-a-leg for a meal.

Alright, I got that off my chest. Now it’s on to what makes me love this paradise called Paso Robles.


Daryle W. Hier




The Biggest Little Fair

The cows are coming home?

Cows coming home - Paso Robles

One of the more unique fairs starts this time of year in what is currently called the number one wine region in the world: Paso Robles. The California Mid State Fair is a 12 day annual affair every summer and is known as the ‘The Biggest Little Fair Anywhere!’

The plucky little celebration of fun is held at the Paso Robles Event Center, which is used year-round for all kinds of shows, concerts, business events and many other gatherings. However, the Mid State Fair is by far the largest gathering the Event Center will entertain. Not exactly the largest fair size-wise, this extravaganza in Paso Robles packs quite a wallop and is probably pound-for-pound the best festival you will ever enjoy. In fact, attendance at this fair ranks it in the Top 50 for North America.

The fair starts on a Wednesday with the morning Cattle Drive (when not mysteriously cancelled) where several dozen heads of cattle are taken down Union and 13th to Riverside and then inside the fairgrounds. That’s when this small but smoking hot fair gets going.

Heats up


There’s the typical carnival rides and animal exhibits including equestrian shows, but the biggest deal this event has is entertainment. Huge marques and performances happen all over the fair during the 12 days including the largest names that the entertainment world can muster performing at the Chumash Arena each evening.

There’s also every type of food imaginable and along with talent shows, the place is buzzing with action. Of course, there’s wine tasting and wine contests plus enough drink concessions to wet anyone’s particular whistle.

Parking is somewhat at a premium unless you come early but the city has a free shuttle service available during the fair. Click here for more.


If you haven’t ever seen mutton-busting, you have to check it out. Nothing like seeing a small child terrified as they hold on for dear life on top of a romping sheep. It goes on all afternoon each day as parent after parent signs their child’s life away to entertain the folks. My nephew did it a few years ago and although he didn’t win, it was hilarious to watch.

The town of Paso Robles is about 30,000 but balloons to more than twice that every summer as they entertain people from all over the world. The otherwise quaint city sits roughly halfway between Greater L.A. and the Bay Area, just 20 miles from the Pacific Ocean.

Carnival rides - Mid State Fair

Be prepared for delays in traffic and also the blazing heat that can rise over 100 degrees – though usually the mornings and evenings are much cooler.

With all kinds of displays, exhibits, entertainment and rides, there’s something for everyone. The fair opens at 9:00 am and closes at Midnight all 12 days.

Now, when are those darn cows coming home …

Additional source: California Mid State Fair


Daryle W. Hier





Lavender Festival


Paso Robles has been and/or is known for many things, not the least of which is wine, olives, cattle, hot springs or a host of other draws that make this part of the California Central Coast a great place to visit … and live. However, one of the lesser known but burgeoning phenomenons on the Central Coast is the popularity of lavender. And one of the fastest-growing events in Paso Robles is the Lavender Festival.

This annual celebration of the multidimensional purple flower is put on by the Central Coast Lavender Growers Association and the Paso Robles Main Street Association. The festival runs on the second Saturday of every July from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm at the Downtown City Park. The event is free to the public.

lavender_festival-tableJust about every imaginable item that has a lavender influence – and we’ve talked about some of them – will be at this summer get-together. Industry experts will be sharing their techniques for making the wonder herb into many different foods, perfumes, drinks, oils and other assorted advantages. There will be seminars and demonstrations throughout the park.

It’s not uncommon to have vendors offering examples of cultivating and drying lavender, allowing folks to experience a huge collection of opportunities and benefits that should educate, captivate and inspire the growth of this amazing essential oil herb.

Parking is free throughout the downtown area and as with any Central Coast celebratory event, there will be music, food, arts and crafts from the area including such things as yard sale type vendors, along with wine barrels and more. And don’t forget there are wine tasting rooms all over the downtown area.

Lavender at sunset

We’ll be looking forward to seeing you there. You can catch us at the Park on the corner of Spring and 12th Streets. Come by and say hi – we’ll have some specials that you can’t pass up.



Daryle W. Hier


EO stave with bottles closeup