Vina Robles History
“I want Vina Robles to express a unique balance of Swiss heritage and American opportunity. As individuals, we are rooted in the Old World. As viticulturists and winemakers, we are empowered by the New World."— Founder Hans Nef
1990-1999 The Beginning
Vina Robles is the result of a unique personal trajectory, one that led founder Hans Nef from a rural village outside Zurich, Switzerland to the rugged terrain of California’s Central Coast.
As a child in Switzerland, Nef learned to appreciate his rural surroundings and the blessings of agriculture. It was this special appreciation that led him to expand his interests into agricultural land in the southern United States in the early 1990s. At the same time, he leveraged his passion for fine wine into his own wine import business, furthering his appreciation for California wines.
Each time Nef traveled to the U.S., his desire to grow his own wine became more intense. He discovered Paso Robles in the mid-1990s and quickly became enamored.
Here, where the Pacific coastline unfolds into rugged ranchlands and cowboy ambiance, a new generation of California winemakers was turning Paso Robles into one of the world’s most dynamic winegrowing regions.
In 1996 Nef selected longtime friend and business associate Hans–R. Michel, a Swiss expatriate, as managing partner. A year later, the duo planted the first of what would later become six vineyards in Paso Robles, and soon thereafter Vina Robles was born.
2007-present Dream Realized
The Vina Robles Hospitality Center and Bistro, which combines classic California Mission-style design and modern elegance, was opened in 2007.
In the summer of 2013, the Vina Robles Amphitheatre celebrated its grand opening and now hosts world-class artists April through October each year.
Vintage 2018 was the first harvest in the new state-of-the-art winery, which was built to take the wines to the next level and beyond. Nef’s dream of a lifestyle filled with wine, food and music was realized.
Vina Robles Timeline
1997 • First planting at Jardine Vineyard, location of legacy oak
1999 • Acquisition and planting of Pleasant Valley Vineyard, Huerhuero Vineyard and Creston Valley Vineyard
1999 • First vintage of Vina Robles
2007 • Hospitality Center opens
2012 • Kevin Willenborg joins as Winemaker
2013 • Vina Robles Amphitheatre opens
2014 • Arborist contracted to save the declining legacy oak
2016 • Acquires Terra Bella Vineyard
2019 • Winery construction completed
Vina Robles Founder
In Memorium 02/16/1944–11/29/2019
Hans Nef was an entrepreneur, engineer, developer and restaurateur—but his two greatest passions were wine and his family.
Growing up in a rural village outside Zurich, Switzerland, he gained an early appreciation for agriculture. Having studied civil engineering, Hans eventually founded his own civil engineering consultancy firm. He later became a collector of fine Bordeaux wines, and ultimately branched out into the wine importation business. As his interest in California wines intensified, he began an extensive search for the perfect place to plant wine grapes and make wine. This brought him to Paso Robles where he planted his first vineyard in 1997, and established Vina Robles in 1998. The Nef family home remained in Switzerland, but the patriarch visited Paso Robles often, bringing groups of friends, and his entire family along whenever possible. We lost Mr. Nef in a tragic swimming accident off the coast of Africa on the Cape Verde Islands in November 2019.
While members of his family have continued to move his legacy of Vina Robles forward, he is sorely missed by all.
Paso Robles Region
Paso Robles is located approximately halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco on California’s Central Coast.
Here, the growing season is distinguished by warm days and cool nights. To the west, the Santa Lucia Mountains border the coast and insulate the Paso Robles region, trapping heat during the daytime. In the afternoon, however, coastal air billows inland through the Templeton Gap, a notch in the mountain range, as well southward from the Salinas Valley.
Temperature swings of 50 degrees are not unusual during the summer months. Such conditions are optimal for Bordeaux and Rhône varieties, with ample sunshine to develop fully defined flavors and sufficient natural cooling to maintain excellent acid structure and overall balance.
In addition to Paso Robles’ exceptional wine growing conditions, we were drawn to the community and culture of the region. Paso Robles is a friendly place with a pioneering spirit and an optimistic energy, particularly within the local wine industry.
Learn more about the attractions of Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo County by visiting the following web sites:
Explore Vina Robles
Meet the Team
Family-owned, Vina Robles is progressing to second-generation generation ownership with Founder Hans Nef’s two daughters: Michèle König-Nef and Nicole Nüesch-Nef, at the helm. Their vision cannot be accomplished without the dedicated team of industry professionals striving towards the same core values or sustainability, hospitality and quality.
The Vina Robles vineyard team takes care of our vineyards, while Winemaker Kevin Willenborg selects only the finest blocks from each site for the production of VinaRobles wines.
The Craft of Winemaking
While honoring traditional winemaking methods, veteran winemaker Kevin Willenborg implements modern technologies to make our estate wines with minimal intervention.
Discover Our Wines
Our sustainably farmed, estate vineyards are showcased in each bottle of wine.