Paul Hoover – Paso Robles’ Wine Person of the Year!January 26, 2017
Paul Hoover was born and raised in Bakersfield, California. Born the youngest of the Hoover siblings, early on Paul had an entrepreneurial spirit. As a kid he would collect seeds off of the flowers growing among the neighborhood and sell them in envelopes to his neighbors. He cultivated vegetable gardens (and obviously tried to sell those as well) as well as rabbits, fish, etc. When he was 16, his mother invited him to bring his boat to help supplement the water ski club at West High in Bakersfield. It was there that he met his partner in crime, Patricia. She was 15 and throwing ropes in Paul’s boat. And the rest, they say, is history.
Paul and Pat came to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in the late seventies. Paul graduated with a degree in Ag Business and Mechanized Ag. While completing his last years at Poly, Paul started bar tending at the San Luis Bay Inn in Avila Beach. While his love was Agriculture, the career opportunities in the Hospitality industry were very attractive. Soon after graduating from Cal Poly, Paul was promoted to General Manager of the 76 room hotel, restaurant and golf course. With very fast growth of Laral Hotel Group, he soon would be named executive vice president and oversee the management of 10 hotels and several restaurants across the western United States. He worked in the hospitality industry for 15 years. Paul developed both a strong knowledge and love of the retail side of wine industry from the hotel & restaurant business.
In 1998 a career opportunity presented itself which meant much less travel than required with the hospitality industry. He was offered a position in the field of Health Benefit sales at Morris and Garritano Insurance in San Luis Obispo. He eventually would be named CEO of Morris and Garritano Insurance. Throughout both of these demanding careers, Paul still managed to stay connected to his love of the land, whether planting large vegetable gardens or being a 4H leader for various animal groups. Paul and Pat raised two children, Ben and Stephanie, in Atascadero who participated in all of the agricultural ventures as well as every sport that was offered to them.
As an amateur wine maker during the 1990’s, Paul continued to keep his hands in Agriculture. In 1995, the Hoovers began experimenting with their own small vineyard. When the kids would be competing at the Mid State Fair with their animals, Paul would enter his homemade wine into the competitions and slowly, he started winning awards! When the kids moved on to become Cal Poly students themselves, Paul decided it was time to invest in a larger vineyard and started to develop the winery and tasting room that is now known as Still Waters. Although “Hoover” could have been an entirely appropriate name, “Still Waters Vineyards” was anointed when daughter, Stephanie, designed the label reflecting the family’s favorite pastime of water-skiing and always looking for the perfect “still water”. The original label is a picture that Pat took of their son, Ben, fishing on a quiet lake of still water above Lake Tahoe.
Still Waters Vineyards is the realization of a lifelong dream for the Hoover family. After many years of running large hotels, restaurants and insurance companies, Paul’s motto and company goal for Still Waters is to stay small, have fun and focus on quality. Paul can be found in the tasting room most days, (unless of course the fish are biting), and loves entertaining the guests with both lovely wines and lively stories. Above all, Paul and Pat know they would not be where they are without the amazing longtime staff that supports them and is responsible for the success of Still Waters. General Manager Kasey, Winemaker David, Tasting Room Manager Taylor, and vineyard team of Carlos, Pedro, Charlie and Jesus are responsible for the fulfillment of this dream. Kasey, Carlos and Jesus have been with Paul since the first days of Still Waters! Thirteen years later, Paul is constantly working with the whole team to find ways to improve the wines and vineyard practices. He is proud of the long standing direct to consumer policy in the tasting room and the successful relationships with the wineries and home winemakers that the vineyard supports. Through it all, there is still plenty of time to focus on quality and continue to have FUN!
For many years Paul participated with the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance as an associate member. Then with the opening of Still Waters Vineyards and Winery, he had an opportunity to serve 6 years on the Board of Directors of the PRWCA. He currently serves the industry on the San Luis Obispo County’s Ag Preserve Committee. He also is currently a board member of the Cal Poly Corporation.
Paul Hoover is an extraordinary man. He has the unique ability to share his passions with anyone and have them utterly enthralled in his tales. He is beloved by his family, friends, and employees. He is honest, he is hilarious, and sometimes outrageous. His infectious spirit is the backbone of Still Waters and we are extremely proud (and not at all surprised) that he is 2017’s Paso Robles’ Wine Person of the Year.