Gary Eberle, a pioneer of the Paso Robles wine region and one of its biggest ambassadors, has been replaced as general partner of Eberle Winery, which he established more than 30 years ago.
"I'm still stunned," Eberle said Tuesday morning. "I don't know what to say or what to think."
The news that he would be replaced as general partner of the group that owns the winery came without warning on Monday morning, he said. Members of the ownership group, including his sister-in-law, Jeanne Giacobine, and Rob and Charles "Abe" Flory, initiated the leadership change, Eberle said.
It takes 51 percent ownership to replace the general partner, said Eberle, and he and his half-brother Jim Giacobine held nearly 80 percent of the ownership between them. With his brother being cared for in an Alzheimer's facility, Eberle said that his sister-in-law, who is married to his brother and lives in San Diego, now has voting rights on his shares. She holds his half-brother's 39 percent, and the brothers Flory together have 13 percent. With 52 percent ownership, the group "voted me out and replaced me as general partners."
Eberle still retains 35 1/2 percent of the partnership, with the remainder held by five other partners.
Neither Charles Flory, who lives locally, nor Jeanne Giacobine could be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.
Julie Lynem covers the wine industry for The Tribune in San Luis Obispo.