No One Saw It Coming..
No one seemed to see it coming, including the man credited by many for putting Central Coast Wine Country on the map. But Gary Eberle says when he walked into his namesake winery at 9:30 yesterday morning, his world was rocked. "My sister-in-law and two of my best friends turned on me and basically kicked me out of my own winery." said a shaken and clearly emotional Gary Eberle last night. What does it mean? Even Gary isn't exactly sure. "I'm not in charge of my own winery anymore. I know that much." he says.
What is happening is a hostile takeover of the winery Eberle and a group of partners started in the 1970's. Yesterday he was effectively removed as general partner of the group that owns the Winery.
In conversations with at least a dozen people in the industry, and close to the Eberle history, family and operations, there was a sense of shock and disbelief from each and every one. Eberle started the winery in a partnership with his brother Jim Giacobine, and a group of other investors. In 1979 he produced his first bottle of Eberle Cabernet Sauvignon, and through the recognition of his Cabs on both the national and international level, he is credited by many in the industry as putting the Paso Robles wine region on the map. He is often referred to as the "Godfather of the Central Coast Wine Region."
Sources say over the years some of the early partners sold their shares to Eberle, his brother and other investors. Eberle says he and his brother owned nearly 80-percent of the winery. Giacobine has been in poor health and multiple sources say turned power-of-attorney over to his wife, Jeanne Giacobine. Eberle says it was Jeanne along with minority partners Abe and Rob Flory who launched the hostile takeover and today, the winery is being run by the trust, and a new manager.
Eberle does still own a significant percentage of the operation, but his future at the winery is very uncertain. Eberle says the winery had its best year ever last year and that all partners were making good money. Multiple other sources confirm 2013 was a very good year for Eberle winery, but a couple questioned whether returns on investments weren't as high as some partners had thought they should be.