After a long and satisfying career as the founder of a restaurant and the wholesale baking company, owner-winemaker Richard Alfaro shifted gears in 1997, acquiring an aging 75 acre apple farm south of Santa Cruz in Corralitos, California, which he and wife Mary Kay subsequently transformed into Alfaro Family Vineyards.
Alfaro Family Vineyard’s 35 acres of hillside vines are located less than 4 miles from the cooling influence of the Monterey Bay in the southern end of the Santa Cruz Mountains appellation.
Alondra / Skylark
Skylark Wine Company is a collaboration between Boulevard Restaurant Wine Directors John Lancaster and Robert Perkins. John and Robert have run the wine program at the acclaimed Boulevard Restaurant in San Francisco for the past twelve years. During their tenure at Boulevard, they have built a close friendship, an inventory of wines from around the globe and a palate of tasting wines of the world from vintage to vintage.
This partnership has created long-term relationships with the entire scope of the wine industry, with winemakers, vineyard managers and owners. With these relationships, their next logical progression was the realization of a dream: making fine wine from select vineyards. While the original plan was simply a barrel, they quickly jumped in with 14 barrels of Syrah from the 2002 Harvest. Skylark Wine Company was formed.
“We strive to produce wines that crystallize our passion within each bottle. Because of our relationships with meticulous and respected grape growers, we have been able to produce wines of distinction and character that represent the best of what Northern California vineyards have to offer. We are proud of Skylark and hope to continue share these wines with family and friends, old and new.”
Winemaker and master grower Ron Silva, known to industry folk as the “Portuguese Grape King,” plants Verdelho, Torrontes and over 20 unique Portuguese varietals, along with Zinfandel and Petite Sirah, on his sprawling 300-acre farm in central Lodi. In fact, he was was the first in the nation to graft some of his vines to Torrontes. Silvaspoons Vineyards–home to Silva and his wife Kat (and about 300 head of cattle!)–is a gorgeous, sustainably farmed estate that yields not only the winery’s own Alta Mesa label, but the grapes for several of California’s top winemakers.
For the Alta Mesa label, Silva produces single varietal bottlings of Verdelho, Torrontes, Tempranillo, Tannat and numerous proprietary blends of Portugese varietals.
They say genetic traits can skip generations. I would argue that passions can as well. This was the case for my father, who grew up watching my grandfather, Maggio Baiocchi, make wine. While the smell alone was enough to dissuade my dad from following in his father’s footsteps, it was not enough to keep me from doing so. As a boy of five or six, I remember watching my grandfather in his basement, working the old equipment. The sights, sounds and smells of watching my grandfather make wine are still vividly alive for me today.
Many decades later, that long dormant seed in my soul was watered, thanks to my wife, Sharon, who opened my eyes not so much to the person I was supposed to become, but the person I came to rediscover. Now, our son Nicholas is preparing to enter the family business after completing a formal education in Wine Business Management.
Jim Barbour was raised on his family’s ranch in Rutherford, California, where he learned the life of farming, a passion for land, and the understanding that hard work breeds success.
After graduating from the University of California at Davis, Jim returned to Napa Valley to begin a career that would lead him to become one of the region’s most sought-after viticulturalists. For over 30 years, he has been dedicated to his craft, producing premium wine grapes using traditional and contemporary hand-farming methods. Jim has planted and managed many prominent vineyards in the valley, including Hundred Acre, Grace Family, Blankiet, Revana, Cain, Pride, Keever, Gandona, The Vineyardist, Pillar Rock, Dr. Stephens and more.
In 2002, two generations of our family—both winemakers by trade—came together to create BAXTER, highlighting the very best in North Coast viticulture. Father & son partners, Phil L. and Phil T. G. Baxter, produce handcrafted single vineyard wines focusing on the Anderson Valley and surrounding Mendocino appellations. Known primarily for their Pinot Noir, the pair combine over fifty years of experience, producing wines naturally, applying instinct and using old-world techniques. They craft wines that possess a notable ‘pureness’ of fruit, reflecting the unique identity of each vineyard site.
Bien Nacido Vineyards® has, over the years, become an iconic American vineyard. Located in the Santa Maria Valley, this historic vineyard has a colorful and storied past.
The vineyard traces its roots back to the year 1837, when a Spanish land grant of some two square leagues was made to Tomas Olivera by Juan Bautista Alvarado, then Gobernador of Alta California. This grant covered nearly 9,000 acres ranging upward to the San Rafael Mountains from the Santa Maria Mesa, which bordered the Sisquoc and Cuyama Rivers. The ranch was generously watered by Tepusquet Creek, so called by the Chumash Indians to whom it meant “fishing for trout.” Thomas Olivera sold Rancho Tepusquet in 1855 to his son-in-law Don Juan Pacifico Ontiveros and daughter Martina. Don Juan Pacifico Ontiveros started construction on an adobe in 1857 and moved to the ranch the following year. He and his wife raised horses, cattle, sheep, several grain crops, and grapes for the production of wine.
In 1969, the Millers, a fifth generation California farming family, purchased this property. They also purchased an adjacent parcel which had been part of the original land grant, and reunited the two as Rancho Tepusquet, now comprising over two thousand acres. The original adobe remains as one of the few privately maintained adobes in California. In the early 1970′s, it became clear to the Millers that the soils and climate were ideal for growing grapes, and they moved quickly to realize the full potential of the property. Premium varieties such as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay were planted is this cool climate growing region, boasting one of the longest growing seasons in the state.
Bien Nacido Vineyards® is planted primarily to Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, and Syrah. The original plantings came from stock grown by the University of California at Davis and grow on their own rootstock. Bien Nacido® also has the distinction of being the first vineyard in California to grow cool climate Syrah.
It is the combination of the “terroir” of Bien Nacido Vineyards®, the people who manage it, and the close relationships they have developed with others in the wine industry of the region that makes Bien Nacido Vineyards® and the Santa Maria region unique in the wine industry.
Calluna Vineyards is a beautiful property in the Chalk Hill appellation of Sonoma County, near Healdsburg. Winemaker David Jeffrey’s stated mission is to capture the qualities of great Bordeaux–balance, intensity, and longevity–in the context of Calluna’s Chalk Hill terroir. In his own words:
“In 2001, I left the New York area to pursue this dream which was the by-product of 20 years of wine collecting as well as my study of the wines of France and California. I spent the next 3 1/2 years in Fresno State’s Enology Program and worked for 3 months in Bordeaux for the 2003 harvest. During and after that time, I was seeking the property which would meet my goals for our vineyard site.
My goal for Calluna is to make wines which have the strength of great Bordeaux, but with the attributes of Sonoma terroir. This means that our wines are meant to have the intensity, balance and longevity inherent in Bordeaux wines, but they should have an additional richness and roundness which is typical of the best Napa and Sonoma wines. I am specifically trying to avoid the excesses which detract from many California wines – particularly the stewed, pruny flavors which often occur when vineyards are pushed past their limit and thus unable to ripen fruit in a balanced manner.
Our vineyards are ideally situated to achieve this goal: The Chalk Hill appellation is in a moderate, transitional climate between the cool Russian River appellation and the hot Alexander and Napa valleys. We have demonstrated that our fruit can reach full phenolic ripeness – all herbaceous, vegetal tones are gone – without excess sugar development. This allows us to make the wine in a natural way, without the additions of water and tartaric acid which are so common in California winemaking today.
When I discovered this property was about to come on the market in 2004, I moved quickly to acquire it as our vineyard site. This was made possible by our small network of friends and extended family who share this dream for Calluna.
Calluna was nothing but bare land at that time. We had a tremendous amount of work to build the infrastructure which was needed: water, power, and septic systems; deer fences and roads and houses. But nothing was more important than planting the vineyards.”
Jonathan Lachs and Susan Marks graduated from UC Davis in Enology, and actually met there at a wine tasting. Before and after graduation, they worked as winemakers in Napa Valley and the Central Coast and decided they wanted to someday start their own winery. They spent 15 years working outside the wine industry, saving money and planning their eventual vineyard purchase. After they found this property in 1995, they spent their weekends and vacations establishing the vineyard. The first Cedarville Vineyard wines came from the 1998 vintage. In May 1999, passion finally overcame good sense and they moved to the vineyard to build their estate winery and focus on their wines full time.
Even at an early age, John had developed a love for farming. He remembers the turning point, when he was only three years old: he was in the garden with his grandfather, who picked and shelled some favas for him to eat. It was a visceral experience that immediately tied him to the land.
The Chiarito Vineyard winery came about as an extension of what John was already doing; farming, gardening, and making prosciutto, bread and wine. It was nurtured and helped along by his family and other influential figures he met along the way, including Larry Pacini, Irece Anzilotti and his dad, Americo.
The creation of this winery has given John a great connection to the land and an older way of life. It is a tribute to his parents, grandparents, and all of the friends who have taught and helped him.
Cochon Wines is the brainchild of Adam Webb and Mike Kuenz, owners of Odisea Wine Company, which is a Rhone and Iberian specialist using California grapes. Cochon, the loving French word for Pig, in this case refers to the use of the 300- liter French oak barrels Cochon Wines are aged in. The term Hogshead or Hog has long been used to describe these unique shaped barrels. We started experimenting with Hogsheads from our beginning in 2004 with Rhone varietals and particularly liked the results, especially with Syrah, where we found the Hogs yielded rounder, softer textured and more elegant wines. The result is this collection of small production California Rhone wines raised exclusively in French Hogsheads.
Cochon Wines is located in the Napa Valley and our fruit is harvested from vineyards planted within two hours away from the winery. At this range we can insure the fruit arrives in the most pristine condition to begin its journey from grapes to wine. We buy our fruit from small family owned vineyards, which in some cases are being farmed by the third generation on their land. Most of our fruit is harvested in Napa Valley, Sonoma County, Mendocino County, Lodi’s Clements Hills and Clarksburg. Our wines are a testament to the hard work and passion of our growers.
Jason and Molly Drew started Drew Family Cellars in 2000 making only 150 cases of Pinot Noir and Syrah while Jason made wines for Babcock Winery in Santa Rita Hills. Jason felt compelled to begin his own project where he could direct the vinification completely. Word of mouth was and continues to be how their wines have gotten their footing in restaurants and with mailing list believers. The wines were quickly sold out and Jason and Molly began to slowly grow their label.
Jason wanted to employ traditional winemaking methods that include hand punch downs, whole cluster and native yeast fermentations and no fining or filtering. With a background of over 20 years in the vineyard and the winery, Jason has been able to bring it all together to handcraft wines that offer a unique sense of place and traditional style.
Drew remains committed to Pinot Noir and Syrah from California’s northern far coastal edge, which includes Mendocino Ridge, Anderson Valley and the Yorkville Highlands. Jason also makes a very small amount of Albariño from their coastal region.
Case production remains small, which allows Jason to concentrate on all aspects of the process, from vineyard farming to all vinification decisions in the winery. Decisions made in the vineyard become fluid into the winery, allowing for a pure expression of place in the resulting wines.
This concept of wines being able to express their place is vital to understanding Drew wines. Drew is not trying to make wines in another image, but rather are creating their own from Mendocino’s far coast.
Ellie Phipps Price purchased the Durell Vineyard in 1998 from Ed Durell. Durell, a San Francisco food broker, acquired the land in 1977 with the intent of turning it into a cattle ranch, but began planting grapes instead.
After hiring vineyard manager Steve Hill, the pair focused exclusively on growing premium wine grapes, which they began selling to Sonoma County wineries in 1982.
Today there are over 20 top-tier wineries producing Durell Vineyard designate wines including Chasseur, Chateau St. Jean, Kistler, and Auteur.
In 2005, Ellie replanted the 8 1/2 acre Ranch House Block at Durell. This block is dedicated exclusively to Dunstan Wines, producing only a few hundred cases of premium Durell Vineyard wine each year.
At Matthew Rorick Wines, we love the longshots. We love the outsiders, the lost causes, the people/projects/ideas abandoned as not having a chance in the world. We love the longshots because we’re all about tenacity, we relish a challenge, and – we admit it – we love us a good tussle.
Hans Brinker, the Dutch boy who stuck his finger in the dike? We’re big fans of his. Penelope – weaving all day and ripping it out all night? She’s with us. Henry V’s speech at the Battle of Agincourt? Pretty much our theme song.
Taken from the Dutch ‘verloren hoop’, meaning ‘lost troop’, Forlorn Hope was the name given to the band of soldiers who volunteered to lead the charge directly into enemy defenses. The chance of success for the Forlorn Hope was always slim, but the glory and rewards granted to survivors ensured no shortage of applicants.
These bottles, the first produced by Matthew Rorick Wines, were our headlong rush into the breach. Rare creatures from appellations unknown and varieties uncommon, these wines are our brave advance party, our pride and joy – our Forlorn Hope.
Gardienne des Vignes (The Guardian)
Created by husband and wife Adam and Tammy Webb in 2009. They specialize in Old Vine and Heritage sites of Zinfandel and Petite Sirah in the Napa Valley. Their wines are hand crafted and of great quality. Adam Webb is winemaker and Co-Owner of Odisea, Spainish for odyssey, as well as his Cochon label. Adam brings the same fruit first approach to the Guardian label which focuses on not over manipulating the fruit in the winery, but instead letting the fruit speak for itself. The winery uses natural techniques like wild yeast fermentation, racking instead of filtering and minimal use of oak.
Love. Laughter. Family. These are the three main ingredients we pour into every bottle of Harney Lane wine. Blended with delicious estate grown fruit, we meticulously produce small lots of handcrafted wines that bring out the best flavors Lodi Wine Country has to offer.
In 1907, long before it was fashionable to go wine tasting, our ancestors planted their first vineyard just east of Lodi, along rural Harney Lane. In time the family home was built, which would bear witness to the lives of five generations of grape growers intent on perfecting their farming skills.
Still resounding from the rooftop of that original homestead is our family philosophy: Whatever you choose to do in life, do it to the best of your ability. For generations, that’s how we’ve treated farming, and now, that’s how we develop our wines.
For a delicious taste of love, laughter, and family tradition, we invite you to visit us at Harney Lane Winery. This is where our roots have been firmly planted since the turn of the century. This is where our new tradition begins.
Located in the extraordinary Purisima Hills, in the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley and just north of Santa Barbara, Grower Roger Harrison and Winemaker Hilarie Clarke Harrison have a premium site with 10 acres of Syrah and 1.5 acres of Grenache.
The distinguishing soil on Purisima Hill is the limestone subsoil, the same soil type that exists in the French Rhone regions. Combined with the limestone are clay and clay loam soils, making the hillside unique and optimal for producing excellent quality Rhone varietal wines.
Before Liquid Farm, our glasses were often filled with old world wine, rather than domestic. We preferred the lower alcohol, cooler climate, and more earth-driven characteristics of European wines to their often ripe, fruit-focused, more alcoholic Californian counterparts.
As we believe, the first bottle to disappear at your the table is really the best wine for you – period. And, for us, when we tried to support California, there was typically wine left in the bottle the next day while the old world bottles. not a drop in them, would be lined up like proud dead soldiers.
We were eating local, supporting mom and pop restaurants and farmers markets – it was time to make wine in a style we craved from our own backyard.
At m2, it’s all about the wine. Since 1999 our focus and purpose has been creating dynamic artisan wines from distinctive vineyards in Lodi, Napa, and the Sierra Foothills. Owner/Winemaker Layne Montgomery is a native of Springfield, Missouri, living there until age 14, then lived in Little Rock, Arkansas until age 30. Previous to the creation of m2 his career encompassed 15 years in television broadcasting in Arkansas, Colorado and Arizona, and seven years in marketing communications with nonprofit organizations in the Sacramento area. He is essentially self-taught as a winemaker; learning the craft by doing, through consultation and coaching from professional winemaking mentors and friends, and through courses at UC Davis. M2 specializes in Zinfandel, especially Zinfandel from the 109 year old Souccie Vineyard. Our first wines were crafted in 2004. In the fall of 2006 we opened the winery and tasting room in Lodi, CA.
Monterey County’s Arroyo Seco AVA is many things: windblown, numbingly cold, fog laden, semi-arid, rock strewn, austerely beautiful. In essence, the perfect grape source for Mercy wines.
Mercy Vineyards represents a pursuit to showcase the innate spirit of Monterey County’s Arroyo Seco AVA as one of the preeminent locales for the cultivation of world-class Burgundian varietals, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Established by vintners Mark Dirickson and Mike Kohne the wines are sourced from three contiguous vineyards, all located in a specific part of the appellation – the dried riverbed. Found along the banks of a now seasonal creek, this unique riverbed corridor features ideal maritime climate with rocky, meager surface soil and hardpan just feet below ground. Low yields, unique soil attributes and meticulous farming combine to produce flavorful and distinct grapes. Grown in such a dramatic setting, the wines truly are at the Mercy of Mother Nature.
Mercy Vineyards is the fruition of friendships. Vintners Mark and Mike have known one another for over a decade and have, collectively, been in the wine industry for over 45 years. Their experiences lead them to believe that the regional aspects of the Arroyo Seco AVA make it one of world’s ideal growing regions for the wines they produce. Sourcing idyllic fruit, the wines are vinified by Mark and Mike’s long-time friend and distinguished winemaker Alan Phillips. Produced in small lots, Alan employs classical winemaking techniques to help enhance the overall character of the Mercy wines.
About a month before the 2010 harvest, a block of Chardonnay was orphaned at a premium vineyard in Sonoma. Being the true rescuers that we are, we adopted these grapes and named them Pip. Our passion is to source great Chardonnay from different vineyards to produce a great wine at an affordable price.
In 1861, as an ambitious young Scot went about establishing J. Skinner Native Wines & Brandy in El Dorado County, a family legacy was born.
Today, more than 150 years after James Skinner planted his first cuttings, that legacy continues. For current owners Mike and Carey Skinner, however, Skinner Vineyards & Winery is more than just the family business; it’s the realization of a long held dream.
With the original vineyards and winery operation closing down in the early 1900′s, the Skinner family moved on to other things, other places – and other passions. But despite their many successes, the lore…and lure…of making wine under the Skinner family name endured.
In 2006, Carey, a successful real estate executive specializing in high end and unique properties, discovered a marvelously peaceful and scenic piece of land on a ridge top overlooking the Sierra Nevada, in the heart of El Dorado County. Sensing that this would be the perfect spot to re-establish the Skinner name in the world of wine, she shared her vision with husband Mike, an entrepreneur and business builder. The site became the tasting room, and Skinner Vineyards and Winery was born…or rather, re-born.
Today, Mike and Carey are afforded the rare privileges of indulging in a shared passion and in recreating a family legacy – vineyards and wine.
Involved in sports and coaching, Mike is down-to-earth and low key, more comfortable in jeans and boots than suits one typically associates with a successful businessman. The Winery reflects his comfortable personality, and his vision. “With Skinner Vineyards, we have the opportunity to build a wonderful company that will be here for years to come. There will be future generations of Skinners carrying on the tradition that James Skinner established,” he says proudly, as he watches Carey greet visitors in the tasting room.
Friendly, vivacious and blessed with impeccable taste, Carey has a gift for making the people around her smile and each moment feel special. Her passion for the Vineyards and Winery are evident in the relaxed, yet sophisticated ambiance of the tasting room. She explains, “We want to provide an environment where people can relax and enjoy the wines, their friends and family, and be refreshed and restored.”
And just as James Skinner sensed that there was something special about El Dorado County and the Sierra foothill country, so does this latest generation of Skinners. As Mike puts it “This is a region – and a community – that has given so much to our family over the years. So for us, giving back is more than a nice idea – it’s a priority.”
Paul and Kathryn Sloan met and fell in love in nature. As partners in rock climbing and mountain biking, they traveled the country only to return home to one of the most beautiful places on earth, Sonoma County, California. It is here, where Paul’s family has been for three generations (and now four), that the Sloans embarked upon even bigger adventures.
What we set out to do in 1998 was to grow the finest wine grapes that Sonoma County had ever seen. That is when we started our vineyard farming and development company, Small Vines Viticulture. We started in the field; we started with the earth; we sought out the perfect sites. After studying fine grape growing in the 1er Cru vineyards of Burgundy, Small Vines adapted the meter x meter concept to fit Russian River and Sonoma Coast soils and climates. As much as it is art and passion, it is also science. Our tractor rows are 4 feet wide (the California average is 8-12 feet), and our plants are spaced anywhere from 3 to 4 feet apart depending on site and plant selection.
We have adjusted our fruiting height, from the Burgundian model, to adapt to our slightly warmer and drier growing season.
At times, it has been challenging going against “the USA norm,” but the response has been astronomical, and it has been an enjoyable road. Our uniqueness provided us the opportunity to innovate so many things. For example, Paul traveled several times to Europe to meet his specialty equipment needs. We have worked with some of the finest winemakers in the country, and they have all been delighted with our Viticulture services and fruit quality. The entire Small Vines team is very proud of their high attention to detail and commitment to excellence.
The impact of our farming decisions on the future generations has always been our concern. We wanted something that would last for upcoming generations; we wanted to leave a legacy. At any time, the young Sloan children Dakota and Savannah, can be found running through the vine rows, riding on a tractor, or sampling the fruit! From the beginning, we wanted to work in harmony with nature, and we are happy to be doing our part by going towards organic certification for any vineyard we now control. We have even started farming some sites biodynamically.
We are in this business for the enjoyment of nature and the gratifying experience with family and friends. We are so lucky to be inspired by past generations and future generations at the same time. It is really about quality of life for everyone involved.
Solomon Hills Vineyards is the most recently developed vineyard in the portfolio of vineyards and wineries that the Miller family have produced in the Central Coast. The close proximity to the Miller family Bien Nacido Vineyards has allowed a synergy to exist between the two vineyards, producing outstanding results from each.
The soils of Solomon Hills Vineyards are composed primarily of ocean floor sandy loams. Because it is the western most vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley appellation, it is perhaps the most maritime of all vineyards in this growing region. With the Pacific coastline only miles away, a constant maritime influence results in wines of crisp acidity, bright fruit and an inherent balance.
Developed in the late 1990′s, it didn’t take long for both wineries and wine critics alike to take notice of the quality of the fruit coming out of Solomon Hills Vineyards.
Within a few short years the demand for the fruit far exceeded the supply. Solomon Hills Vineyards is the source for the two highest rated Pinot Noirs in Santa Maria from the famed wine critic Robert Parker Jr.
The Solomon Hills Vineyards takes its name its neighboring hills named for Salomon Pico, a celebrated bandit who in the 1850′s traveled frequently along the stretch of El Camino Real that is known today as Santa Maria Valley. Pico’s life was so colorful that it is believed by many to have inspired the legend of Zorro.
A property once admired by our father growing up, became available for purchase in 2007. We purchased this property in August of 2007. This great location is also known as the historical Dodge Estate. The Dodge Family built a home there in 1866 that stands on the property today. The property has great history as you can read under “The Dodge House” link and it is important to us to honor and preserve that by restoring the home as closely as it may have resembled to its original state. We re-planted the vines which were once on the property as a source of income to the Dodge Family. We rather than selling our grapes, have chosen to build a winery on the property to produce wine and share with others along with the home history. Our mother, being of Italian decent, led us to an Italian theme and our name Sorelle, meaning sisters in Italian. This is a current work in progress and we are very excited about our new venture. We look forward to sharing it with you.
The Spoto family has been hand-crafting wines for over 30 years. Stuart Spoto learned the art of winemaking from his father Henry Spoto Jr. who was featured in Wine Spectatorfor his award-winning wines in June of 2003. This family collaboration has greatly influenced Stuart to create his small boutique winery and perfect his Oakville Bordeaux blends. Stuart’s formal education is in Chemical and Civil Engineering from the University of California at Davis. He has also acquired an extensive knowledge in the art of winemaking by working closely with the Department of Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis. Stuart’s daughter, Arianna, recently graduated with a degree in Wine and Viticulture from California Polytechnic University at San Luis Obispo and is currently distributing Spoto Wines around the Central Coast. Spoto Wines is truly a small family business dedicated to producing the finest Oakville Cabernet and Bordeaux blends.
Suacci Carciere began with a vineyard, a passion for wine, and a 25-year friendship between two families. The Suacci and Carciere families raised their kids together in the tiny town of Sebastopol in Sonoma County. Both had Italian grandfathers who made wine, and their interest in wine grew as the Sonoma County wine industry grew up around them.
The Suaccis planted their family vineyard in 2001, around the time that cooler coastal vineyard sites became more and more sought after by high-end wineries. Suacci Vineyard is located in a south facing valley tucked into the foothills of English Mountain, within the Russian River Valley appellation boundaries.
As the vineyard developed, it became apparent that the quality of the Pinot Noir grown on this tiny site was outstanding. After the first few crops had been sold to other wineries, John Suacci approached his good friends Carol and Andy Carciere over dinner one evening with the crazy idea that they keep the 5th season’s grapes and make wine themselves. And Suacci Carciere was born.
The team wanted to launch Suacci Carciere with both a Pinot Noir and a Chardonnay bottling, so they secured grapes from the noted Heintz Vineyard. Owned and managed by Charlie Heintz—highly rated in the wine community—the winery was thrilled to have such an outstanding fruit source for their very first releases.
Testa Vineyards was established in 1912 by my Great Grandparents Gaetano and Maria Testa.
Gaetano left his homeland of Gallarate, Italy to come to America following his dream to own vineyard land. After working in San Francisco a few years, he then traveled north by train. At the first sight of Calpella it reminded him of his homeland, full of beautiful hillsides and lush trees, he knew this was the land to buy. He then sent for his wife Maria and my Grandfather Victor Testa. The whole family worked side by side to clear the land using Belgian horses and dynamite sticks.
They planted their first vines and the story began!
The varietals planted on the Testa Ranch are Carignane, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, Barbera, Grenache and Charbono. Also just to the north is our Gusto Vineyards – Hillside Cabernet Sauvignon. We are able to make the best “Black” wine using our own fruit. We take great pride in the way we farm our land and vines. It shows in the fruit we harvest.
Our ranch is full of memories and stories of all the hard work and challenges that our family has faced throughout the years… but mostly of the good times spent together, making great wine and life-long friends!
In life, usually the biggest challenges offer the greatest rewards. This is what drew me to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay — Grapes that grow on the margins of viticultural regions. Preferring cool, foggy days to sunlit ones, these varietals have the potential to offer complete expression of their roots. However, this requires the subtle and intuitive touch of a good farmer and eventually the gentle influence of the winemaker.
Witching Stick Wines is a small company specializing in finding unique vineyards. We bring you refreshing, food-friendly wines, wines with minerality and crispness. Located in the Anderson Valley of California, Witching Stick is the team of winemaker Van Williamson and partner Anne Fashauer. Van brings his style of winemaking to this venture.
Yorba is lucky to have a seasoned vineyard manager in the family. A respected viticulturist, Ann Kraemer developed Shake Ridge Vineyard relying on her 25 years of experience in the premium wine industry. After earning her stripes managing vineyards for Domaine Chandon and Swanson, she eventually moved into consulting with wineries and vineyards, including Cain, Calera, Hobbs and Shafer.
Though she thrived in the industry, Ann longed for a chance to farm again. Shake Ridge Vineyards is proving a worthy, and demanding, subject for her passion. By custom-farming small vineyard blocks, Ann is able to provide Yorba and the other Shake Ridge winemakers the highest quality fruit. As Ann says, “It’s all in the details”.
Ken Bernards, our winemaker, has spent years honing his skills with his own label, Ancien. He has devoted most of his career to Pinot Noir, often considered the most difficult wine to make, gaining both regional and international acclaim. We are fortunate that Ken has the time and energy to devote to perfecting the Yorba varietals, all with their own demands for individual attention.
He is flexible and adaptive, able to recognize the subtle needs of a wine-in-progess. He’s thoughtful and questioning, never accepting that what worked last vintage is the ‘recipe’ and ever aware that each year has its own attributes. His uncompromising commitment brings out the best that Shake Ridge has to offer in the elegant, balanced Yorba wines.
Ryan came to California from Wisconsin in 1998 (with no intention whatsoever to join the wine industry.) A temporary harvest cellar job at the noted La Crema winery in the Russian River Valley changed that quickly. It took just days for winemaking to pique Ryan’s interest, and he spent two years at La Crema before heading to New Zealand to work for the famous Sauvignon Blanc producer Villa Maria.
Upon his return to the states in 2000, Ryan had developed an abiding passion for Pinot Noir, and interviewed with the tiny Siduri label for a position as a harvest intern. He has spent eight years as part of the Siduri winemaking team, working with more than 30 vineyards from Santa Barbara to Oregon.
In 2004, Ryan launched his own label—Zepaltas Wines—specializing in single-vineyard Pinot Noirs from Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast. Produced in very limited amounts, the Zepaltas Wines releases continue to earn high scores from the winemaking press.
Today, Ryan is a busy guy, continuing his work with the Siduri winemaking team as well as producing the inaugural vintages of Suacci Carciere and his own Zepaltas Wines releases.