Gary Eberle, a pioneer of the Paso Robles wine region, is back in charge of the winery he founded more than 30 years ago.
He and his wife, Marcy, and part-owner Dick Woodland bought out five other partners for an undisclosed sum, Eberle said Thursday, adding that he and Marcy now own 83 percent.
The change took effect this week.
“I am just as ecstatic as I can be,” he said.
At the time, Eberle said he owned 35.5 percent of the winery; his older half-brother Jim Giacobine held 39 percent; and Rob and Charles “Abe’’ Flory owned 13 percent.
With Jim Giacobine, then in an Alzheimer’s care facility (he has since died), Eberle’s sister-in-law Jeanne had voting rights on her husband’s shares — giving them and the Florys 52 percent ownership and majority control, Eberle said then.
At the time, he believed the changes were initiated because the group wanted to expand the business and noted that the winery wasn’t designed to be much different and quality could suffer if some production was moved off-site.
Eberle was reached in Sacramento on Thursday as he was judging a California State Fair wine competition, and he could speak only briefly.
The winery produces 27,000 cases a year and is not designed to increase production beyond 30,000 cases a year, he said, adding that’s the maximum it can produce and retain “the quality we want.”
The Eberles have been working the last 16 months to gain control, Marcy Eberle said.
“It has been a really long, hard year, but this is Gary’s heart,’’ she added. “It’s his home, it’s everything to him, and there was no way he was going to let this slip away from him.”
The individuals who sold their shares to the Eberles included Jeanne Giacobine, Rob and Charles Flory, and Bill Glantz.
Besides Dick and Claudia Woodland, current partners are Bev Steinbeck, Marvin and Judith Zeidler, and Craig and Kathy Bonelli, according to an Eberle news release.
Eberle will be honored later this month with the 2015 Wine Lifetime Achievement Award by the California State Fair. The award recognizes individuals and families who are pioneers in the wine industry.
Eberle, often referred to as the "godfather" of the Paso Robles wine region, established Estrella River Winery & Vineyards with the help of his two brothers-in-law before branching out on his own in the late 1970s.
In 1979, he released the first Eberle wine with the well-known boar logo. The winery, production facility and tasting room opened in the early 1980s.