Founding Cholame Vineyard has been rewarding experience. As my friend Mark shares, Life experiences “make for good stories to tell later.”
In 2005, I went on a motorcycle ride in California’s Central Coast with Steve, a good friend from my high school days. White riding through the Paso Robles area, we took many of the back roads. This area is primarily cattle ranches with a few vineyards and the most beautiful Oak trees you can experience, not to mention some of the best winding roads a biker can appreciate! One of our stops included lunch at the Parkfield Café in the small town of Parkfield, located in Cholame Valley. Originally named by the native Yokut Indians, Cholame, pronounced (Sho-Lamb), means “The Beautiful One.” The name of this valley confirmed my experience of the area.
The beauty of Cholame Valley inspired me to come back and experience the land on a deeper level. Drawing on my background in horticulture, I decided to find some land where we could start a vineyard from the ground up. With the purchase of 75 acres along Vineyard Canyon Road, we realized this goal. The 10 acre vineyard was planted over a 4 year period. We chose our varieties carefully, matching the soil with the environmental conditions, to ensure our vines would thrive. Honoring the heritage of the Central Coast of California, we planted Zinfandel. We introduced new varieties to the valley including Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah, Petite Sirah and Tempranillo. Each variety compliments the other for blending and while individually they are all strong enough to stand on their own.
I am grateful for the support of friends and family and look forward to gathering together to share a meal, a story, and a bottle of Cholame Vineyard wine. We invite you to join us in the tradition.
Meet the Winemaker
I found my passion for wine early in life.
In 1980, I got my start working in the fields at Brander Winery and Vineyards in Santa Ynez. When it rained, I would go inside the winery to help with racking barrels, cleaning pumps and filters, or whatever was necessary at the time. One day while racking barrels, I tasted the Chardonnay I helped harvest only two weeks earlier and was amazed with what these grapes had produced. In 1985, I was offered a position managing, La Presa Vineyards, a 40 acre vineyard in Solvang, owned by Eric Caldwell and which I still manage today. Eric was also a partner in the Santa Ynez Winery where he offered me a job, working with a Wine Maker who taught me the Enology, the study of wine and making of wine. In 1997, Eli Parker offered me a position at the Fess Parker Winery, in Santa Ynez, as a Wine Maker. Here I began making five of their bottled varietals, receiving accolades for the wines. In 2004, Fess Parker submitted the 2003 Riesling, to a wine competition in Germany. This Riesling received 14th place in a worldwide competition.
Soon after, I started to receive Gold Medals and 90+ point ratings in prestigious wine magazines, including a 92 point score in the Wine Enthusiast for my own wine, a 2002 Petite Sirah. In 2005, I took the position of Wine Maker at Rideau Vineyard in Solvang. In 2006, the Estate Roussanne won Best White Wine in the “White Wines of the World” LA County International Competition. Similarly, the Reserve Chardonnay was given 98 points and received Best Chardonnay in the State in the 2006 California State Fair. In 2007, I was selected to create a wine for the Latin Grammys. From 2008 to 2011, I received innumerable Gold and Double Gold Medals from various large scale competitions both state and nationwide.
I was fortunate to find my passion at an early age and continue to love the work I do. I am dedicated to the craft of understanding the soils, the climate and the grapes, all which unfolds into the “art of winemaking”.