From Row Crops to Grapevines, Agriculture is the Life’s Blood of North Slo County

Tim Barlogio, Jack Creek Farms

“Harvest is where all your hard work pays off,” said Tim, who with his wife Joy and two daughters own Jack Creek Farms, a fifth-generation family business in West Templeton. “You fought the weather and everything against you. “When you have a good harvest, it makes you feel really good. It’s a year’s worth of work — and that’s when you get your paycheck. Makes you feel good inside. A good harvest is icing on the cake.” “It’s like this weather we’re having… trying to keep moisture on everything. We’ve got tomatoes, onions, peaches and plums coming, but the heat wiped out the berries, just dried them up,” Tim said. “From everyone I’ve talked to and everything I’ve seen, the grain crops look pretty good. The heat is raising heck with the apples, but the heat is fantastic for pumpkins. They’re just exploding! We’ll have our pumpkin patch in the last week of September. The last 10 days of the month is about perfect.

Amy Butler, Ranchero Cellars

Amy Butler not only makes Ranchero Cellars wine and pours it at Paso Underground in downtown Paso Robles, for decades she’s been entrusted to craft high-ranking vintages at other wineries.“Harvest is the one chance we get to make the wine that will be sold over (depending on the wine) the next six months to over three years. We can have impacts later in the wine’s life, but the most important ones occur in the wine’s infancy when it’s still actually just grapes.
“Harvest is the culmination of the growing season — the end of one process and the beginning of another. Harvest is a logistical puzzle, a scientific adventure, and an artistic gamble.“Because it’s so busy, I have to say that I haven’t experienced autumn in over 20 years. Or maybe this is my experience of autumn, seen under floodlights in the middle of the night from the side of a sorting table, seen from the seat of a forklift inside a barrel room, experienced as an impossibly dusty sunrise in a vineyard full of chattering harvesters. I think it might be my favorite season, anyway.”

Gary Eberle, Eberle Winery

At Eberle Winery in Paso Robles, Gary Eberle isn’t one to be stuck in an office. The man who helped establish the Paso Robles AVA would much rather be outside in view of the grapevines.
“Harvest is always the most exciting part of the year, unlike spirits or beer,” Eberle said. “When harvest is done, the first week is exciting. The second week is fun. The third week, you need sleep. The fourth week, you just want a hot shower. By weeks six through eight, you think, ‘Oh, man. I’ll never have children.’ It’s sort of like when mothers remember the pain of childbirth yet are willing to have more babies. You remember the good and the bad.
“I’m so pleased to see Justin Smith at Saxum, Eric Jensen at Booker, and Jeremy Weintraub at Adelaida Vineyards,” Gary mentioned, to name a few. “I am stunned by — and I mean this in the most complimentary sense of the word — by these ‘kids’ and the quality of wine they’re making. On a percentage basis, Paso Robles has better winemakers and wine than other regions in the state.”
“This might sound trite, but it’s true — ‘a rising tide lifts all boats.’ Robert Mondavi taught me that we aren’t in the wine production business, we’re in the hospitality business.”
Underneath Mondavi’s winery arch was the site of many sit-downs for the mentor and the kid who once tackled gridiron opposition for Penn State coach Joe Paterno. Today, Gary remains accessible to talk with people about wine and what he’s learned in business, but he’s likewise prone to share humor and a glass of wine with those who simply ask. pay for our city’s infrastructure.”
Melissa Chavez can be reached at