Hello Roberts Road neighbors! Our 875 Roberts Rd vineyard project has been growing well and we wanted to take a moment to update you on our progress.
My name is Joshua Stewman, and I’m the oldest of four boys who were raised at 895 Roberts Road. It has been our family home for over 30 years. Back in 2008, I returned from grad school in Illinois to find work in architecture here on the Central Coast and as a family project that spring, we decided to plant a small Pinot Noir vineyard. We loved it! The whole process of tending the vines, watering, and harvesting the grapes in the fall soon became part of our family traditions.
In the spring of 2011, my family and I purchased the 21-acre property next door to my parent’s home and began to prepare for additional vineyard plantings. For the past 9 years we have been working on establishing a small winery at the top of the hill. The winery was bonded in 2018, and we currently have about 4 acres in Pinot Noir vines.
Since first planting our hillside vineyards, one of the chief goals has been creating overlapping layers of diversity. This has meant planting and tending to lavender fields and olive & fruit orchards too. This has meant cultivating cover crops that stabilize our hillside and promote better water retention during the winter months. Bee hives are in residence at the top of the Ranch to help with pollination. Our winemaking style has developed into 100% native yeast fermentations. This year marked the first season where we had a flock of visiting Baby Doll sheep grazing our hillside (you might have seen them if you drove past on Robert’s Road).
This coming spring means the completion of our winery construction phase. We have just recently submitted an application for an ABC license - WINEGROWER permit, so you may see this posting at our driveway. This permit will enable us to sell wine through our wine club. Our vision is to be 90% wine club (DTC) and then sell 10% of our wines to local restaurants. Our property is set up as a winegrowing location, but not a place for a regular public tasting room. We may have a bi annual wine club pickup day for local members. If we do this – we will be sure to invite you to stop by and pick up a bottle (on the house). Down the road, we may pursue having a tasting room in Ben Lomond or Santa Cruz, but are taking this journey one step at a time. Please know that we value the quiet and peacefulness of our neighborhood and will seek to honor and maintain that.
If you have any questions about the winery, please don’t hesitate to call me.
Joshua Stewman - Winemaker for Roberts Ranch
Walking our hillside vineyard blocks in mid-June, we see that the flowering phase of our Pinot vines is complete
and already small grape clusters have begun to form. There is an abundant fruit set! The fruit zone is loaded with
clusters. It looks like it going to be a good year. In other vineyard news, our newest vineyard section, the
Leonardo Block, is thriving during its second growing season. The block is our only South facing planting and
commands the best exposure at the Ranch. We planted these vines utilizing Pinot clones 828 (Dijon), Mount
Eden, and 667 (Dijon). This densely planted block has tight vine spacing (3’ between vines) and narrow rows.
This means more labor in and amongst the vines, but a higher production rate. With these varieties of Pinot
clones & the dense planting, we are hoping for a Burgundian field blend style coming from this section.
Since first planting our hillside vineyards, one of the chief goals has been creating overlapping layers of diversity.
This has meant planting and tending to lavender fields and olive & fruit orchards too. This has meant cultivating
cover crops that stabilize our hillside and promote better water retention during the winter months. Bee hives
thrive at the top and the Ranch to help with pollination. Our winemaking style has developed into 100% native
yeast fermentations. These native yeasts are in our cellar, and on the grape skins that arrive in plenty during
harvest. We learned recently that some of our native yeasts overwinter in the bee hives during the coldest part
of the growing season. The warmth of the bee hive keeps the yeasts vital, and they are carried out into the vines
again once the growing season erupts in the spring.
Another aspect of bio-diversity is soil building.
Encouraging and pursuing growing practices which
promote soil health is a win-win for us. Currently,
one of the tools in the shed for this is sheep grazing.
This year marked the first season where we have
had baby doll sheep grazing our hillside. A local
company, The Holistic Shepherd, began running
their flocks through our vineyard blocks in February
while the vines were dormant. Currently, these
same flocks are grazing several areas we have our
eyes on for future vineyard planting. It’s been a
learning experience to have sheep at the Ranch, but
one which we’ve enjoyed immensely. We were even
able to experience a sheep shearing!
Our hope is that all of this diversity means a better single vineyard expression in our estate wines! Our local
winemaker friend, Jeff Brinkman (from Rhys) said while tasting through our 2019 estate Pinot that already the
“terrior” is shining
This summer means the completion of our winery construction phase. Our recent projects include finishing up
our rainscreen siding installation, as well as hanging drywall in the cellar. A new asphalt driveway was also
recently installed (whew!) At the interior, plasterers will be scheduled soon, and kitchen cabinets will be ordered.
We are extremely excited to be able welcome our dear friends and family up for vineyard tours and BBQ’s!
There is light at the end of the tunnel! New wine labels have been submitted to the TTB for label
approval, preparation is underway for bottling and labeling our 2019 vintage, and our ABC licensing
application is underway. All this to say that the “SpaceX” Falcon Heavy rocket is on the PAD! We are
getting to close to our first commercial release of our RRV wines! The is a huge “to-do” list before
us, but we are getting glimmers of good things to come. After so many good years of hard work
invested into getting our vineyards planted, tended, and winery built, we are very much looking
forward to sharing some very fun, vineyard distinctive wines with you all later this fall!