The Niven Family
Pioneers of the Edna Valley AVA
San Luis Obispo, CA
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. Always looking forward, we have continually updated plantings and changed up the varietal mix. Paragon Vineyard is currently planted to eleven different varietals.
The Niven Family winery stands on a knoll in the Edna Valley, surrounded by their estate Paragon Vineyard. Built under the direction of winemaker Christian Roguenant in 1999, it is both high-tech and unusually dramatic. Roguenant stocked it with innovative equipment including a state-of-the-art fruit delivery system, small and large presses, tanks to handle any size lots, open-top fermentors, and four individually climate-controlled barrel rooms. Each of the cellar bays is lined with huge windows that allow sunlight into what is traditionally a dark and damp environment. In addition to being aesthetically pleasing, the natural light actually helps keep the winery clean.
Our estate Paragon Vineyard was one of the first Central Coast vineyards to become SIP Certified—the Niven Family participated in the SIP pilot program in 2008. It’s currently one of the largest SIP Certified vineyards in the state of California. Historically, we have always farmed in a careful and responsible manner that takes into account all facets of the world around us, and would continue to do so whether or not this certification program was developed.
To be certified, we were presented with a robust and comprehensive set of standards, then audited by an independent, third-party inspector. The Certification was then granted by an independent advisory board.
Certification is a rigorous sustainable vineyard certification with strict, non-negotiable requirements. The program is dedicated to the three P’s of Sustainability—People, Planet, and Prosperity—and ensures that both natural and human resources are protected. They are committed to standards based on science and expert input, independent verification, transparency, and absence of conflict of interest.
They pride themselves on the program’s rigor and integrity, which have earned SIP the reputation as being the gold standard for sustainable certification.
The SIP Certified seal indicates the commitment on behalf of our team to preserving and protecting the natural environment, treating our employees and community with care, and sound business practices with a long-term outlook.
We provide multiple owl boxes throughout our vineyard to encourage nesting for predatory birds, which helps maintain rodent populations.
Our goats help keep our natural vegetation areas from becoming too overgrown, which provides protection for our waterways and helps maintain wildlife habitats.
There are numerous jack rabbits living in our vineyard, which is an indication of biodiversity and a healthy ecosystem.