They don’t come much greater than Ignacy Jan Paderewski, and we are honored to bring back to life the vineyard he loved so much in his American home away from home, Paso Robles, California. Paderewski was an unparalleled pianist, an American and Polish patriot, a poet, a generous philanthropist, a Polish citizen, a politician and of course, a Paso Roblan!
Born in Poland in 1860, Ignacy Jan Paderewski was renowned as the most famous and popular pianist of his day – the Elvis of his time! He traveled by private train throughout the United States in the early 1900s performing concerts in sold-out town squares and halls. Paderewski was the first pianist to perform solo at Carnegie Hall in New York City. He spoke seven languages, and in 1919 became Prime Minister of newly independent Poland.
In 1913, Paderewski visited Paso Robles seeking the healing effects of its hot sulfur-rich mineral baths for his rheumatism. He fell in love with the town of Paso Robles (who wouldn’t), as well as with the surrounding land with its rolling, rocky hills that reminded him of his Polish homeland. This love for the area drove Paderewski to purchase over 2,000 acres on the west side of town where he established Rancho San Ignacio and planted Zinfandel and Petite Sirah. Once harvest time, Paderewski would take his grapes to the York Mountain Winery where they were crafted into award-winning wines. Paderewski’s Paso Robles wines would receive numerous accolades, including praise from the Los Angeles Times noting his wines were “more coveted than his music.”
In 1882, Andrew York, a trailblazer and native Illinoisan who caught the winemaking bug, purchased a 120-acre homestead in Templeton, CA. Andrew quickly expanded the existing vineyard with cuttings from Napa. In 1895, York, along with his three sons, began construction on their wine cellar by hauling boulders from the countryside and purchasing the essentials for their new winery. At this point, the York family named their winemaking venture, Ascension Winery, and this became one of the first bonded winery on the central coast.
Over the next 80 some years, the York winemaking endeavor changed hands throughout the family several times, and the winery saw a few name changes (Ascension Winery to A. York & Sons to York Brothers to York Winery). Despite those adjustments, the operations ran continuously (even during Prohibition when they were forced to sell simple grape juice), vineyards were planted, the winery itself was expanded using bricks fired on site, and most importantly, their wine was made and enjoyed by the local community.
In 1970, York Winery and the surrounding property were sold to the Goldman family. Besides another name change to York Mountain Winery, the winery continued to run without interruption. In fact, it did so until the late 1990’s when the winery itself was forced to close due to retrofit requirements, making it one of the longest continuously run wineries in the U.S…
In 2003, the Central Coast was rocked by the San Simeon Earthquake (a 6.5 on the Richter Scale), and the historic winery was officially condemned due to earthquake damage. Though wine under the York Mountain Winery label continued to be sold out of a nearby trailer, this beloved property and operation entered foreclosure in 2009.