Biz Buzz: Multi-use wine facility to break ground in Paso

After struggling more than a year with funding issues, developer Chris Hoskins expects to finally break ground for Winery Row Paso on Dry Creek Road in late fall.

His vision of a so-called “Disneyland for wine enthusiasts” would include 14 winery sites, two restaurants, a 300-seat event center, a 100-room hotel and a park for at least 125 recreational vehicles across from the Paso Robles Municipal Airport.

“We’re going to need the first one or two wineries up to interest people in the restaurants and the rest of it,” Hoskins said. “We’re moving ahead.”

Approved by the Paso Robles Planning Commission in August 2009, the first phase of the project was derailed three months later when the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. closed Winery Row Paso’s lender, Pacific Coast National Bank in San Clemente.

The developer had received about 90 percent of a loan for infrastructure, such as roads and utilities, necessary before winery construction could begin. Then the loan was sold to another bank.

“In order to move on, we had to retire that loan,” said Hoskins, who paid it off Dec. 31 for just over $2 million. “It took me a year of negotiating.”

The wineries will cost about $20 million to build. Hoskins hopes they will attract producers who now use custom-winemaking facilities like The Crush, in which Hoskins is a minority partner.

Winemakers unable to build or buy their own facility could lease one for around $1.50 a square foot.

Each site would have a unique façade, 4,000 square feet of processing area, 4,000 square feet of storage, plus office space, a tasting room and, eventually, use of the event center.

Hoskins plans to sell the restaurant sites for development. If phase one succeeds, the hotel and RV park would be built later.

Annual fundraiser

The Far Out Wineries west of Paso Robles have moved up an annual fundraiser for The Wellness Community — California Central Coast.

The local affiliate of the national nonprofit supports cancer patients and their families in San Luis Obispo and Monterey counties.

In its fourth year, the event will be held Jan. 14-17. In the past, it took place the weekend leading up to Presidents Day.

“We wanted to give the passport holders more attention,” said Michelle Thacher of Thacher Winery. “Presidents Day is pretty crazy in the tasting rooms as it is.”

Passports sell for $35 before Jan. 14 or $40 after, entitling holders to free tasting and other benefits at 17 member wineries.

All that money, plus 5 percent of the wineries’ weekend sales, go to the charity. Last year, it raised more than $27,000.

For passports or details, visit www.faroutwineries.com or call 238-4411.

— Raven J. Railey

Do you have news for Wine Notes? E-mail rrailey@thetribunenews.com or call 441-4556.