The Central Coast wine world lost one of its major figures in 2017 with the passing of Paso Robles winegrower Richard Sauret. At eighty-two, Richard was still expertly tending every vine in his twenty-three-acre vineyard. Having started picking grapes for twenty-five cents a box when he was eight, he had an unparalleled three-quarters of a century in the business. His family’s farm grew fruit and almonds. In high school, Richard was already leasing and farming his own land, and he turned down a college football scholarship in order to remain a farmer in the North County.
Predicting that the almond industry would move inland to the Central Valley, Richard planted Zinfandel grapes. He became a regional pioneer of dry farming, where techniques of planting, pruning, and soil management reduce water dependence and improve quality. His grapes were renowned among the county’s top wineries. Richard was a driving force behind the founding of the Independent Grape Growers Paso Robles Area (IGGPRA) and served for many years as its president. He was also an invaluable supporter of the Wine History Project, lending it his incomparable knowledge and expertise.