Located in California’s Central Coast, the Smith Ranch was a horse ranch for generations, while to the south, the Hooks raised cattle. Swiss-born Nicolaus “Nicky” and Gaby Hahn discovered these ranches near Paso Robles in 1974 as they searched for the ideal place to grow Cabernet Sauvignon. They decided that the climate along the western slopes of the Santa Lucias was just what they were looking for, so in 1974 they purchased the two ranches and established the Smith & Hook Winery on the old Smith Ranch. The first Cabernet Sauvignon was made in 1979, released in 1980, and quickly developed a reputation for excellence.
Or, here’s an alternate story of the name of the winery: Nicky Hahn named the winery after his mother’s side of the family. His mother’s maiden name was Smith, and his maternal grandmother’s maiden name was Hook. By combining the two names, he created the moniker “Smith & Hook.”
Initially, the winery focused on producing Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay. The first vineyards were planted in the Highlands District of Paso Robles, where the combination of warm days and cool nights fostered the development of grapes with rich flavors and balanced acidity.