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Taking the Road Less Traveled
From planting a vineyard where no one thought grapes would grow to purchasing a building that would take 4 years and a small fortune to restore, Ray & Pam Derby have never shied away from a project they saw as worth-while, no matter how difficult it seemed to be. They bought their first vineyard with the intention of settling into an easy routine of growing and selling the fruit to local winemakers. Fast forward 20 years and Derby Wine Estates has 3 vineyards, supplies many local winemakers with high quality fruit, and produces a number of award-winning wines under their own Estate label.
Take a look at how we’ve grown over the years.
Ray and Pam Derby purchase 632 acres of land on the coast in San Simeon, and plant the beginnings of Derbyshire Vineyard. Everyone told Ray he was crazy for attempting to farm grapes in such a cold and windy location… But his risk paid off. This vineyard produces some of the most unique fruit you can find in California.
As the business grows, the Derby’s purchase their second and largest vineyard: Laura’s Vineyard on the East Side of Paso Robles. This was the location of our first tasting room, before we moved into our current downtown facility. Today, it serves as ‘head quarters‘ for our Vineyard Manager and his team.
After a bumper crop in 2005, Ray and Pam decide to turn some of the extra fruit into their first vintage under the Derby Wine Estates label. That year, they produced a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Petite Sirah, with the help of Tiffanee Vierra, Derby Wine Estate’s first winemaker.
The Derby’s acquire their third and final vineyard, Derby Vineyard, in the Templeton Gap. After purchasing the property, Ray and Pam turned a few struggling acres of grapes into a beautiful vineyard with more than 90 planted acres and 20 thriving varietals. They also built a beautiful wine country oasis to be their home on this site.
Further testament to their affinity for taking on new challenges, Ray and Pam purchase the old and completely dilapidated Farmer’s Alliance Building, originally built by the Blue Diamond Almond Grower’s Association in 1922. Over its life this building had been used as a processing plant for almonds and grain, as general warehouse space, and as a very expensive home for pigeons. Ray and Pam wanted to see it restored to its former glory so they set out to turn it into a Tasting Room and production facility for their growing estate winery operation.
After 4 years of hard work and fighting to get the right permits and approvals, the doors open on our new Tasting Room and Production Facility. The Derby’s were awarded the 2014 Beautification Award for their work in restoring this National Historical Landmark, which today rises above the Paso Robles skyline as an iconic monument to the city’s past, present and future in agriculture.
The Derby’s hire Sean Geoghegan as Winemaker for the Estate. Sean’s previous experience working from vine to bottle at Mount Eden Vineyards in the Santa Cruz mountains made him a perfect fit for the small team at Derby, where being up to your elbows in every step of the process (from harvest all the way through to the bottle) is a must. Sean’s winemaking style is modern, elegant and brings a sophistication to the wines that shows in every blend and single varietal we produce under the Derby Wine Estates label.
Our Tasting Room celebrates 100 years as part of the Paso Robles Skyline. Stop by to celebrate the Centennial Year of this special building with us!