In 1973, Dave Caparone was fed up. He had been a wine aficionado for many years, but had a hard time finding great wines since he moved to San Luis Obispo County in 1966. A fan of Barolos, Bordeaux, Brunellos and other great European wines, he was unable to find them, or wines like them, in any nearby stores. "Since I couldn't find any wine I liked," he remembered over 30 years later, "I figured I could try to make some wine to have with meals." In the fall of 1973, just before his son Marc was born, Dave made his first wine - a Zinfandel from the Benito Dusi vineyard near Paso Robles. He couldn't believe the results. "I was floored by the wine I made. Paso Robles had almost a negative reputation for wine - quite the opposite of what it is today, and I had no idea that non-jug wine could be made there." Indeed, outside interest in the area as a location for fine wine grapes had just begun, with the work of Dr. Stanley Hoffman and Andre Tchelistcheff a few years earlier.

Encouraged by that first Dusi Zinfandel, Dave began studying winemaking in earnest, and his timing couldn't have been better. Publicity from the work of Hoffman, Tchelistcheff and others resulted in the first serious attempt at varietal viticulture in the Central Coast, and numerous vineyards began producing fruit around the time that Dave was making his first wines. Word of his winemaking began to spread among growers, who needed to have wine made from their vineyards to convince skeptical out-of-town wineries to buy their fruit. Dave gladly accepted offers of grapes in exchange for a few bottles of wine, as long as he was allowed to make wine his own way. The result was a wonderful learning opportunity -- a chance to make wine from numerous vineyards, with different microclimates, soils and varietals.

True to his thorough nature (he studied to be a music professor, and later became a specialty real estate appraiser), Dave kept extensive records in numerous notebooks about his winemaking experiences, and began conducting experiments with different harvest times, fermentation methods, barrel aging and other factors. After several years of this, his hobby, as he describes it, "got out of hand," and he began thinking about starting a winery. He was particularly interested in working with Nebbiolo and Sangiovese, the great Italian varietals that he liked, and so he began his research - looking for any information on the vines that he could find. He also began searching for available cuttings, a search that would later prove to be successful. He even put his father, a child of Italian immigrants who had spoken only Italian in his younger days, to work translating obscure Italian papers on the grapes, some of the only sources of information that could be found at the time.

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