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|In 1992, Tom and Marilyn Stolpman planted the first grapevines on their 220-acre ranch, with the goal of growing high-quality wine grapes in the promising new winemaking region of Santa Barbara County. Under the direction of Jeff Newton and Larry Finkle, the premier vineyard consulting team of the region, and with the assistance of vineyard manager Ruben Solorzano, Stolpman Vineyards has since expanded those first few blocks of Cabernet Franc and Merlot to 170 acres planted with over 30 clones of 15 varietals, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, and the grape that has become the critic’s darling of Santa Barbara County: the Rhone varietal Syrah.
The present goals of Stolpman Vineyards are twofold: to continue to supply the best winemakers in the region with the best grapes possible, and to produce estate wines that reflect the unique character of this vineyard site. To these ends, we are dedicated to continued development and renovation of both the vineyard and the winery to improve the quality of our wines.
Beginning in 2001, Stolpman Vineyards took several quality-enhancing steps in developing our wine program: securing our own bonded winery space outfitted with customized winemaking equipment and a climate-controlled cellar; hiring Sashi Moorman, formerly of The Ojai Vineyard, to direct the wine program; expanding the winery team to include Peter Hunken as the assistant winemaker; and finally, retaining Alberto Antonini, of the Italian enological consulting group Matura, to advise on the estate’s vineyard and winery projects.To ensure the best grapes for our wines in the future, we have begun work to replant a 15-acre vineyard block with tighter plant spacing, optimal trellising, better-performing varietal clones, improved row direction and the accurate matching of soil types with sympathetic varietals. In the years ahead, Stolpman Vineyards will continue to look for new ways to further efforts to our commitment to quality, in the vineyard and in the winery.
At the time of that first planting at Stolpman Vineyards, California’s Central Coast was not yet a well-known viticultural region. Its vineyards and wines seemed full of promise to those who were acquainted with them, but its development and acclaim were nowhere near the level of those of Napa and Sonoma Counties. Santa Barbara County has since been recognized as one of the most exciting up-and-coming wine regions in the country. Indeed, wine critic Robert Parker recently wrote in his monthly publication The Wine Advocate, "If I were to plant a vineyard today, it would be either on the coast of Sonoma or in Santa Barbara County.”
The vineyards at Stolpman represent Santa Barbara County’s greatest viticultural promise; their southerly exposures and Linne and Chamise clay soils, underlain by limestone, grace the undulating terrain. The three ridge formations on the property offer varied microclimates that provide unique growing conditions from slope to slope, each adding its own earmark to the region’s tendency for warm, breezy days and cool nights.
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