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Dallidet Adobe to become hub for wine history — with exhibits, tastings and more
By Nick Wilson
Photographs and video by David Middlecamp
Published in The Tribune, January 31, 2018
A newly formalized partnership between the History Center of San Luis Obispo County and the Wine History Project of San Luis Obispo County plans to bring new life to the historic Dallidet Adobe in downtown San Luis Obispo. Core funding for the collaboration will come in part from a $1,000,000 endowment established in December 2017 at The Community Foundation San Luis Obispo County. This transformational gift was made by Wine History Project director Libbie Agran and honors the life and legacy of legendary north county Zinfandel grower Richard Sauret.
“I grew up exploring missions and old adobes up and down the California Coast,” says Agran. “In the 1960s I started enjoying California Wines in Napa and Sonoma. However, I soon discovered San Luis Obispo County had some of the best grapes and wines in the world and some of my favorite adobes. The Dallidet Adobe is where Pierre Dallidet grew over 150 varieties of grapes, made and bottled the first wine sold commercially in the county. This Adobe is the place to preserve our history and share our stories and our wines!”
The Wine History Project is a non-profit endeavor, now fiscally sponsored by the History Center, that seeks to collect and document the rich history of grape growing and wine production on the Central Coast. Centered at the Dallidet Adobe with an outdoor gallery and educational programs, its focus and activities—including exhibitions, publications, lectures, films, demonstrations, and food and wine tastings—will be countywide. The Wine History Project’s first exhibition, Doing Good and Living Well: Archie McLaren and the Central Coast Wine Classic, is on display at the History Center Museum through February 2018. An accompanying book about Archie McLaren and his involvement with local winemaking will be released later this year.
Thanks to support from the Wine History Project, the Dallidet Adobe—home to pioneering Central Coast vintner Pierre Hypolite Dallidet and his family for more than a hundred years—will undergo important changes in the coming months to transform the property into a gathering place for the public to celebrate the unique wine history of SLO County as well as the pioneer heritage of our region. Public hours will be expanded significantly, including participation in Arts Obispo’s Art After Dark. Changing exhibitions inside and outside the adobe will give locals and tourists a great reason to visit, and visit again. And long-term master planning for the property is underway, including commissioning a Historic Structure Report (an essential preservation planning tool for the more than 160-year-old building) from San Francisco firm Architectural Resources Group.
“I first learned of the Dallidet Adobe when my father-in-law passed away and we had his memorial service in the gardens,” says History Center board president Bill McCarthy. “My father-in-law, Kirk Zirion, left us too soon and far too young. I could not have possibly imagined that I would have the honor of overseeing the grounds upon which his memory was celebrated.”
“This is a special place,” continues McCarthy, speaking now on behalf of all the directors. “We, as a board, are steadfast and beholden to its prosperity. Libbie’s involvement secures this beautiful and magical location for innumerable future experiences.”
The California State Historical Landmark Dallidet Adobe was donated to the Historical Society of San Luis Obispo County (now the History Center) by Paul Dallidet. It opened to the public in 1958. According to History Center executive director Eva Fina, “the partnership with the Wine History Project will ensure that a new generation can discover and appreciate the Dallidet Adobe as one of San Luis Obispo’s most precious cultural resources. Libbie Agran’s vision and dedication to local history are an example for us all. And her generosity is unparalleled.”