Ranch History

The history of Halter Ranch Vineyard dates to the 1880′s, when the ranch was part of a 3,600-acre holding owned by businessman Edwin Smith. Born in New Jersey, Smith had been a wholesale butcher in San Francisco, but migrated to the Adelaida area west of Paso Robles in 1874. In 1881, Smith acquired what was to become Halter Ranch and built a grand Victorian farmhouse on the property. He became a dealer in farm produce and livestock, and also invested heavily in silver mining. A horse racing enthusiast, Smith kept a private box at Tanforan Race Track and a stable of thoroughbreds on his estate.

In 1885, Smith’s mansion burned to the ground, but he immediately rebuilt it, enjoying another dozen years of prosperity before his business empire floundered. In the early 1900s, the estate was broken up. In 1943 1200 acres were purchased by the MacGillivray family, who farmed it for the next 50-plus years, introducing the first grapevines in 1996. The beautiful Victorian farmhouse Smith built in 1885 is a still the cornerstone of the Adelaida District and remains a Paso Robles landmark.
In June, 2000, Hansjörg Wyss purchased 900 acres of the ranch, renovated Smith’s historic farmhouse, and began enlarging the vineyard to its present 280 acres. Born and raised in Switzerland, Hansjörg believes Paso Robles is the best place in California to pursue his dream of producing world-class grapes and wines, a dream we are now busy realizing.


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