by Fred McMillin
for October 26, 1998


A Peachy Zin


1985—"We were gorilla winemakers."

...Doug Beckett, Peachy Canyon proprietor, speaking of his early Zinfandels (from the Halliday Wine Atlas).

The Rest of the Story

Those gorillas are gone. Here's what happened.

1980—Pat and Martha Wheeler, home winemakers in Los Angeles, are so charmed by San Luis Obispo Zinfandel, that they move there and found the Tobias Vineyards winery. Doug Beckett will acquire it seven years later.

1987—Those huge Zinfandels did not sell well but as James Halliday put it, "out of the ashes" rose the Peachy Canyon Winery in 1987.

Made in a full but lighter style, the 1989 and 1990 vintages were a smashing success, bringing national acclaim. Critics used words like "bright," "well-made," "full-bodied yet delicate," and "spectacular." My tasters had similar comments about one of the 1996 releases...

Peachy Canyon Winery The Wine

1996 Zinfandel, Westside, Paso Robles
Peachy Canyon Winery on Peachy Canyon Rd., 5 mi. west of the city of Paso Robles
Capacity—Only a few thousand cases.
Grape Source—"Westside" means the grapes came from the west side of the Paso Robles wine district, where grow "gnarly old vines."
Phone—(805) 237-1577
Winemakers—Doug Beckett has been involved all the way. Credit also belongs to Toby Schumrick, who played a vital role in this success story.


When it comes to Paso Robles Zinfandels, Doug Beckett is receiving international recognition. However, sixty years ago there was a much more famous Zinfandel grower. He was felled by an arthritis attack during an American concert, found relief at the Paso Robles mud baths, came to love the region, and grew award-winning Zin until his death in 1941. He was the distinguished Polish pianist Ignace Paderewski.

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.



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