The Niven Family
Pioneers of the Edna Valley AVA
San Luis Obispo, CA
Jack Niven pioneered wine grape planting in the Edna Valley with Paragon Vineyard in 1973. Recognizing the unique and tremendous potential of the region, he championed the process of petitioning for it to become an AVA. The coolest growing region in all of California, as cited in a study by the University of Southern Oregon, the Edna Valley is a mere 5.4 miles from the Pacific Ocean.
The ocean's influence creates our unusually long growing season, and allows the fruit in our vineyards to ripen to their full flavor and structure potential each vintage. Taking a risk on bringing unique varietals to the Central Coast’s Edna Valley, our family did our research and ultimately trusted the climate, soil, and the vineyard team to grow something truly sensational.
We are proud to say that we have farmed in a sustainable fashion since the beginning. Our Paragon Vineyard was one of the first Central Coast vineyards to become SIP Certified Sustainable; we participated in the pilot program in 2008.
The Zocker winery stands on a knoll in the Edna Valley, surrounded by the estate Paragon Vineyard. Built under the direction of winemaker Christian in 1999, it is both high-tech and unusually dramatic. Christian stocked it with innovative equipment including a state-of-the-art fruit delivery system, tanks to handle any size lots, open-top fermentors, and four individually climate-controlled barrel rooms.
Each of the cellar bays is lined with huge windows that allow sunlight into what is traditionally a dark and damp environment. In addition to being aesthetically pleasing, the natural light actually helps keep the winery clean.
Our estate Paragon Vineyard was one of the first Central Coast vineyards to become SIP Certified—the Niven Family participated in the SIP pilot program in 2008. It’s currently one of the largest SIP Certified vineyards in the state of California. Historically, we have always farmed in a careful and responsible manner that takes into account all facets of the world around us, and would continue to do so whether or not this certification program was developed.
To be certified, we were presented with a robust and comprehensive set of standards, then audited by an independent, third-party inspector. The Certification was then granted by an independent advisory board.
Certification is a rigorous sustainable vineyard certification with strict, non-negotiable requirements. The program is dedicated to the three P’s of Sustainability—People, Planet, and Prosperity—and ensures that both natural and human resources are protected. They are committed to standards based on science and expert input, independent verification, transparency, and absence of conflict of interest.
They pride themselves on the program’s rigor and integrity, which have earned SIP the reputation as being the gold standard for sustainable certification.
The SIP Certified seal indicates the commitment on behalf of our team to preserving and protecting the natural environment, treating our employees and community with care, and sound business practices with a long-term outlook.
We provide multiple owl boxes throughout our vineyard to encourage nesting for predatory birds, which helps maintain rodent populations.
Our goats help keep our natural vegetation areas from becoming too overgrown, which provides protection for our waterways and helps maintain wildlife habitats.
There are numerous jack rabbits living in our vineyard, which is an indication of biodiversity and a healthy ecosystem.