Jack Niven pioneered wine grape planting in the Edna Valley in 1973. Recognizing the unique potential of the region, he championed the process of petitioning for it to become an AVA in 1982. The coolest growing region in all of California, as cited in a study by the University of Southern Oregon, the Edna Valley is a mere 5.4 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Formed over 120 million years ago by colliding tectonic plates in the Pacific, Edna Valley soils are made of the Diablo soil series. With slow permeability, good drainage and neutral pH, the soil in Edna Valley is perfect for growing grapes.
"The Niven Family, pioneers of the Edna Valley, have been here since day one—living, breathing and farming their historic Paragon Vineyard since 1973.”
Paragon Vineyard is planted to ten different ‘vitis vinifera’ grape varietals. These varietals originate from diverse countries. Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Viognier and Grenache Blanc hail from France. Albarino finds its home in the northwestern region of Galicia in Spain. Pinot Gris originates from Burgundy. Grüner Veltliner’s home is Austria. Riesling is found along the river banks in south-west Germany, Austria and north eastern France.
In 2008, Paragon Vineyard was one of the first vineyards on the Central Coast to become SIP Certified Sustainable, which focuses on environmental preservation, the well-being of employees, and forward-thinking business practices.
The Nine Sisters or “Morros” (which is Spanish ‘for rounded hills’) are a chain of ancient volcanic peaks located along California’s Central Coast in San Luis Obispo County. These peaks were formed over 25 million years ago, when volcanic plugs of magma welled up from the earth’s core and solidified into softer rock. Through millions of years, the softer rock eroded and left the steep and craggy peaks that are seen today. These peaks stretch from Morro Rock in the north southeast to Black Hill, Cabrillo Peak, Hollister Peak, Cerro Romauldo, Chumash Peak, Bishop Peak, Cerro San Luis and ending with Islay Peak. Islay Hill sits at the north eastern border of the Paragon Vineyard.
Paragon Vineyard has a geologically diverse landscape in the beautiful Edna Valley. This landscape was shaped by a large geologic event along the Pacific Coast. The dense oceanic rock of the Pacific Plate was thrust underneath the softer rock of the American Plate. The coastal mountain ranges and its parent rock that surround Paragon Vineyard were originally created deep under water at the boundary between these two tectonic plates. During these times of changes in sea levels and landforms, the Monterey and Pismo formations containing white layered marine shale beds were deposited in the Edna Valley. The Paragon Vineyard soils include meta volcanic rock, blue schist, chert, greywacke and serpentine.
Our Diablo clays, Los Osos-Diablo clay complexes and Tierra Sandy Loam are suited for the wide variety of grapevine varietals. The Diablo clays work well with white varietals such as Chardonnay as the fine-texted soils create long hang-times, resulting in wines with great natural acidity and lifted aromatics. The Los Osos-Diablo series are matched with Pinot Noir, as the well-drained and volcanic based soils create wines with intense red fruit character and spicy nuances. The Tierra Sandy Loams are well suited for Sauvignon Blanc as the lean nature of the sandy soils creates wines with crisp acidity and great minerality.
Paragon Vineyard is situated 5.4 miles from the Pacific Ocean, and this close proximity has a huge influence on the grapes grown here. The vineyard is nestled in an east – west oriented valley. It is often covered by a fog or “marine layer”. This marine layer becomes a daily cooling mechanism as it enters through the gaps in the coastal mountains offshore and travels our east – west oriented valley. This almost daily occurrence sees fog roll in during the morning hours, burn off by late morning only to return during the evening. The result of this cooling creates one of the coolest and longest growing seasons in California. In fact a study carried out by researchers at the University of Southern Oregon (Am. J. Enol. Vitic. 61:313-326) found the Edna Valley AVA was the coolest AVA in all of California.