Halter Ranch owner gives $1 billion for conservation. He just won a National Geographic award

The owner of Halter Ranch Vineyard was recently honored as National Geographic’s Philanthropist of the Year for his global conservation efforts.

Hansjörg Wyss, a Swiss entrepreneur, has owned the west Paso Robles vineyard since 2000. Wyss is now worth $6 billion and is ranked 290th on the list of the world’s wealthiest people, according to Forbes.

He made his fortune in 2012 by selling his medical device company, Synthes Inc. to Johnson & Johnson for more than $20 billion, according to a Tribune story.

In November 2018, Wyss announced in a New York Times editorial that he plans to donate $1 billion to preserve land and ocean habitats around the world through the Wyss Campaign for Nature.

His goal is to protect 30% of Earth’s surface by 2030, according to the editorial.

Wyss received National Geographic’s Philanthropist of the Year Award on June 12 as part of the National Geographic Explorers Festival in Washington, D.C.

The award goes to “an individual or foundation that has demonstrated a deep commitment toward realizing a planet in balance,” according to National Geographic.

The Wyss Foundation has been part of efforts to conserve 40 million acres of land in the United States, Africa, South America and Europe, according to National Geographic.

“Hansjörg’s innovative and practical philanthropy fosters new ideas and collaborations in areas from medicine, education, and the arts to economic opportunity and land conservation,” National Geographic said its announcement of the award.

Halter Ranch in 2016 was awarded the Environment Award at the California Green Medal: Sustainable Winegrowing Leadership Awards for preserving 1,700 acres of its property, conserving water and protecting wildlife habitats.

Wyss remains involved in Halter Ranch’s day-to-day operations, Tessa Eberle, the vineyard’s marketing director, told The Tribune in November 2018.

“Mr. Wyss has been coming to Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo County for over 20 years,” Eberle wrote in an email then. “He brings the same visionary leadership to Halter Ranch as he does with his philanthropy globally.”

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Lindsey Holden writes about housing, North County communities and everything in between for The Tribune in San Luis Obispo. She became a staff writer in 2016 after working for the Rockford Register Star in Illinois. Lindsey is a native Californian raised in the Midwest and earned degrees from DePaul and Northwestern universities.