Santa Clara & San Benito Wine Heritage

Drew - a couple good snapshot books, in case you don’t have them:

Late Harvest - Wine History of the Santa Cruz Mountains (1983)

Different authors for different chapter, covering history, current producers, current releases, and the future of the region. A fun thing for me, back when I got my copy a decade or so ago, is I’d had many of the wines reviewed by Jason Brandt Lewis as mature wines, and had (and have) more in my cellar.

Mountain Wines, Mount Vines - Exploring the Wineries of the Santa Cruz Mountains (2003)

Overview of the history, with the bulk of the book consisting of profiles of 50 wineries.

1 Like

Thanks for the suggestions, Wes!!

I just looked up these publications on Amazon:

Late Harvest: Wine History of the Santa Cruz Mountains is ~$75!!! I will have to check back on that one, as book prices typically fluctuate over time. Maybe EBay will have a copy available…

Mountain Wines, Mount Vines, by Casey Dawes, was about $8.00 for a used copy, yet it is only 120 pages. I trust your judgement. I would have expected a survey of 50 producers to be a little longer. Nevertheless, I am ordering a copy!

The last wine-related book I purchased was East of the Gabilans by Marjorie Pierce (1981). The history of San Benito County’s ranches and landowning families is covered in detail by the author. Unfortunately, little is said about the area’s vineyards or wineries.

Here is an article about the mysterious Grover Gulch Winery:

Santa Cruz Sentinel
“They Love Their Wine”

by Denise Siebenthal
February 15, 1981

Other SCM Winery Links:

· P&M Staiger

Winery website, “History”:

· Frick Winery

Santa Cruz Sentinel
“The Frick Winery Is Right In The Middle Of Santa Cruz”

by Denise Siebenthal
November 27, 1980

I couldn’t find any articles or websites solely devoted to Cook-Ellis.

1987 Roster of Santa Cruz Wineries:

Santa Cruz Sentinel
“Area Vintner Produce Outstanding Wines”

August 28, 1987

Santa Cruz Public Library Citations:

Siebenthal, Denise. “The Frick Winery Is Right In The Middle Of Santa Cruz.Santa Cruz Sentinel. 1980-11-27. SCPL Local History. The Frick Winery Is Right In The Middle Of Santa Cruz · SCPL Local History. Accessed 25 Oct. 2021.

Siebenthal, Denise. “They Love Their Wine.” Santa Cruz Sentinel. 1981-02-15. SCPL Local History. They Love Their Wine · SCPL Local History. Accessed 25 Oct. 2021.

1 Like

Late Harvest is 80 pages. Sites like that with individual sellers often have people who sit on high-ball listings. It’s older, rarer and more interesting, but there isn’t exactly a big market for booklets like that. I’ll let you know if I see a copy at a reasonable price.

1 Like

Earlier this year, the couple that owns and operates Satori Cellars, a small-scale winery in Gilroy, were interviewed on the Moody Wines podcast

Moody Wine Goes Behind the Wines podcast
“Sandy and Tom from Satori Cellars”

March 11, 2021

· Picuki: @MoodyWine @SatoriCellars
Video Interview: Satori Cellars

Morgan Hill Times
“Satori Cellars”

March 28, 2012

“Serendipity Leads to the Naming of Fun Satori Cellars”
by Marty Cheek
December 20, 2013

Satori Cellars website:

I found an interesting book online that provides some details about the early vineyard owners of the Santa Clara / Santa Cruz Mountains region.

Google Books: “Viticulture” in
Pen Pictures from the Garden of the World, Or, Santa Clara County California, 1888
by Horace S. Foote

According to the text, several varieties of winegrapes were introduced to the San Jose-Santa Clara Valley area by Charles LeFranc (imported via Henry Shroeder), Frank Stock, Peter & Louis Pellier, as well as Antoine Delmas.

Charles LeFranc also secured other cultivars from General Vallejo’s vineyards. Mrs. LeFranc purchased different varieties via the Cañada Raymunde Ranch.

Charles LeFranc is alleged to be the first to have grown Grenache in California.

Per one web-based resource, Pinot Noir growing in California came about via “Pierre Pellier, Colonel Agoston Haraszthy de Mokesa, founder of Buena Vista Winery, or Charles LeFranc”.

Francis Stock of San Jose reportedly introduced Riesling to growers on the West Coast, along with Sylvaner and Traminer. Sonoma County’s Emil Dresel also played a pivotal role in spreading a number of white grape cultivars throughout the state.

Foundation Plant Services
Wine Grapes of UC Davis
by Nancy L. Sweet, FPS Historian, University of California, Davis
December, 2018

"Riesling at FPS: “…Stock was probably the first to import Riesling to California to his San Jose nursery prior to 1857. He supplied Riesling cuttings to Dr. George Crane in Napa in 1859; those are believed to be Napa’s earliest Riesling.”

Antoine Delmas appears to have pioneered Zinfandel cultivation in the Santa Clara Valley.

Pierre Pellier is credited with being the first to import Mourvèdre (among other grapes) into California.

A report from 1885 lists many local grapegrowers and wine producers. The second page features an investigation into how certain cultivars were introduced in California.

Internet Archive
The San Francisco Merchant, Vol XIV No 6
“Report of the First District Convention of the San Francisco Viticultural District”
July 3, 1885

The following link tells the history of grape-growing and winemaking around Cupertino.

· City of Cupertino
“Cupertino’s Wine Country”

*** EDIT ***

I am including a book that identifies late-19th Century grape-growers and wine producers (by county and city). Some of the entries list the grape varieties cultivated by individuals, as well.

Google Books
Directory of the Grape Growers: Wine Makers and Distillers of California, and of the Principal Grape Growers and Wine Makers of the Eastern States (1891)
Board of State Viticultural Commissioners
A.J. Johnson, Superintendent
254 pages

San Benito County’s old-vine sites are attracting the attention of wine lovers, thanks to the dedicated work of small-scale producers who specialize in historical varieties.

From SER Winery’s Instagram page, here are two images of neighboring plantings on Cienega Valley Highway. According to Nicole Walsh, only about 10 acres of Cabernet Pfeffer still exist, predominantly cultivated in this area.

“Gimelli Vineyard’s” 120-year-old vines Cabernet Pfeffer/Mourtaou vines (granite & limestone soils): Link

“Wirz Vineyard” Cabernet Pfeffer/Mourtaou in the foreground, planted 95-years-ago; Riesling vines date back 58 years : Link

SER Winery’s Fall Release includes the 2018 “Enz Vyd” Cabernet Pfeffer (Lime Kiln Valley AVA) and the 2019 “Bechtold Vyd” Cinsault, from Lodi AVA.

SER Winery website:

When it rains, it pours…

STiRM Wine Company’s Fall Release has begun. Although Ryan Stirm produces single-vineyard wines from outside San Benito County, his bottlings from the “Enz Vyd”, “Wirz Vyd”, and the Siletto family’s properties have garnered the most praise.

"2020 San Benito County Cabernet Pfeffer

“One of the wines that truly stood head and shoulders above in the 2020 vintage was the rare bird Cabernet Pfeffer. Grown just South of the historic town of Tres Pinos by the Siletto family, the '20 Pfeffer is tightly structured, intensely flavored, and, as the name would suggest, peppery. It’s one of the rarest grapes grown commercially in the world, as it all comes from 4 different vineyards in San Benito County, around 10 acres total planted. A true San Benito heirloom of a variety.”

"2019 ‘Wirz Vineyard’ Zinfandel - Cienega Valley

“From the legendary ‘Wirz Vineyard’, first planted in 1903 by the Pavetti family*****, this little century-old, head-trained Zinfandel is co-fermented whole cluster with some of the Riesling from the ‘Wirz Vineyard’ (10%) in our redwood fermenters. It’s a new-school twist on an old school field blend. This wine is dark, structured, and drinks delightfully light with the Riesling in the blend. Though it’s drinking really well now, this is a great option to cellar a few years…”.

"2019 ‘Wirz Vineyard’ Riesling - Cienega Valley

“The ultimate California old-vine Riesling, in a league of it’s own. This wine is typically the best single wine we produce in the winery each and every year, and it’s by far the best value (in my opinion). Planted in 1964, this dry-farmed, head-trained, limestone laden landscape looks like a scene straight outta the Old West. We aged this vintage in stainless steel for almost 2 years before bottling; a practice we will adopt for this wine going forward. The '19 is very rich, savory, and well-integrated, and will age for quite some time.”

"2020 ‘Kick On Vineyard’ ‘Eøølian’ Riesling - Santa Barbara County

“A taste of the windy sand dunes of the Central Coast. This zero-zero (no added sulfites), barrel-fermented, and aged Riesling is the nutty, oxidative, salty white wine that really has that oceanic coastal vibe down to a science.”

Over the years, I have exchanged email messages with Ryan. At one point, he helped farm the “Enz Vyd”. Now, his winery buys more grapes from the “Wirz Vyd” than any other producer. This is what Mr Stirm said about the “Wirz Vineyard” in August of 2018:

"…As for the ‘Wirz Vineyard’, it was originally planted by some Italian immigrants starting in 1902 or 1903*****, the first blocks being mixed blacks but the majority was Zinfandel.

“…The subsequent plantings of mixed blacks were done in the early 1920’s (only about 5 acres of reds at ‘Wirz’), and the Riesling was planted in 1963. The Riesling block has both Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc mixed in very small quantities, and possibly some other whites.”

To my understanding, Ryan Stirm and James Jelks (Florez Wines) currently are developing a new vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

STiRM’s Rieslings are, in my opinion, fantastic. I have not had a chance to try the red wines, which, generally speaking, strongly align with the focus of this thread.

Ryan Stirm, STiRM Wine Co, & “Wirz Vyd” Links:

The Wine Write
“Our Conversation With Ryan Stirm of Stirm Wine”

by Randy Smith
April 5, 2020

“Is a Riesling Renaissance Beginning in California? - Chapter 1: Ryan Stirm”

January 5, 2017
by John Haeger

STiRM Wine Company website:

***** It is believed that the oldest vines in the “Wirz Vineyard” were planted by members of the Pivetti family. The descendents still live in the Hollister area. The Pivetti Company operates as a residential property management and development concern. Little information is available online about this family.

The San Andreas Fault is a prominent feature in the Cienega Valley. DeRose Vineyards’ tasting room and facilities bear several overt signs of tectonic activity.

Tect Oldies Blog
“The San Andreas Fault by R Willis in 1925”

April 29, 2018

"Today I choose to post a fine 3D view of the Gabilan Range, SE of San Francisco, as it was sketched by Robin Willis* in 1925 [above image]. The San Andreas Fault bounds that range to the NE.

"Below is a modern Google Earth view of the same area, with in grey stripes of high resolution LIDAR topography (from along the San Andreas Fault trace.

“The following view illustrates how LIDAR may now display fault morphology and geomorphic offsets (see the right-laterally offset terrace in the middle of the image) with very high accuracy. The illustrated section is from a swath of LIDAR data along the Gabilan range (see above).”

  • Willis, R. (1925). “Physiography of the California Coast Ranges”. Bulletin of the Geological Society of America, 36(4), 641-678.

Geo Science World link for Willis article:

Hammerling Wines, formerly known as Blue Ox*, has just released its 2020 Cabernet Pfeffer (Mourtaou) from the “Enz Vineyard”. The following details are from the winery website:

"Hammerling 2020 ‘The Wild One’ Cabernet Pfeffer:

"VINEYARD: The ‘Enz Vineyard’ is located in the Lime Kiln AVA and was originally planted in the late 1800s along the San Andreas fault, making it among the oldest in the state. The vineyard is dry-farmed and organic.

"WINEMAKING: One-third of the grapes were left whole cluster to lend a semi-carbonic element to the wine and soften the often aggressive tannins of this variety. We were very careful with the cap management because we did not want to over extract the wine. It was punched down twice a day simply by wetting the cap with our hands for the first half of the fermentation leading into one punchdown a day as it got closer to dryness. The wine was then pressed into neutral French Oak and aged for 7 months. We produced 8 barrels.

"TASTING NOTES: Wild Raspberry. Black Pepper. Violet.

WHAT’S IN A NAME?: ‘The Wild One’ is the original outlaw biker film, featuring Marlon Brando in his iconic leather jacket and cap alongside fellow members of The Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. The gang descends on the town of Hollister— just a few miles from where our Cab Pfeffer is grown—for a round of mid-50s rabble-rousing. It really puts things in perspective when you learn that this vineyard was originally planted nearly 50 years before this movie was made.”

Hammerling Wines website:

***** Josh Hammerling’s Journal entry explaining the name change from Blue Ox to Hammerling Wines: Link

Here are a few interesting online blog posts related to Santa Clara Valley and San Benito County wines:

Decanting Monterey: A Central Coast Wine Blog
Articles Tagged with Santa Clara Valley AVA:

by “Central Coast” Sharon

· “Odonata: Our Final Stop on the River Road Wine Trail!”
April 22, 2021

Decanting Monterey: A Central Coast Wine Blog
Articles Tagged with San Benito AVA:

by “Central Coast” Sharon

· “Le P’tit Paysan: Let’s Go Back in Time a Little Bit…”
October 7, 2021

· “The Best of the Rest: I Brand & Family Wines”
April 8, 2021

· “Le P’tit Paysan: New Releases Continue to Impress!”
April 5, 2021

· “La Marea: Spanish-Inspired Wines ‘Rooted in the Sea, the Soil and the Sea Air’”
March 29, 2021

· “Joyce Wine Company: ‘Small Lot Wines from Monterey California, with Balance, Finesse and Focus’”
December 3, 2020

Decanting Monterey: A Central Coast Wine Blog
Articles Tagged with Cienega Valley AVA or San Benito County:

by “Central Coast” Sharon

· “Bringing Enz Vineyard Old Vines Mourvèdre to Light!”
May 31, 2021

· “I Brand & Family: Inching Our Way to ‘Central Coast’ Wines”
December 7, 2020

· “DeRose: Dry-Farmed Vineyards in the Cienega Valley”
November 30, 2020

· “Eden Rift: East of Eden, Straddling the San Andreas Fault”
November 25, 2020

Decanting Monterey: A Central Coast Wine Blog
Articles Tagged with Paicines AVA:

by “Central Coast” Sharon

· “Where the Heck Is Paicines and Why Should You Care?”
November 16, 2020

· “Donati Family Vineyard: ‘…Good Grapes Make Great Wine!’”
November 23, 2020

· “Puma Road: Paicines Done Big!”
November 19, 2020

Four Gates Winery specializes in wines from the Santa Cruz Mountains, but this limited-production Kosher producer also bottles a Négrette from San Benito County.

Kosher Wine Musings
“Four Gates Winery’s January 2021 New Releases”

by David Raccah
January 12, 2021

Winery Websites:

DeRose Vineyards website:

Donati Family Vineyards website:

Eden Rift Winery website:

Four Gates Wine website:

I. Brand Family Winery website:

Joyce Wine Company website:

Odonata Wines website:

Puma Road website:

Wine Blogs:

Decanting Monterey homepage:

Kosher Wine Musings Blog homepage:

Ryan Stirm of STiRM Wine Company emailed me with the following information on November 5, 2021:

"…We get Riesling, Zinfandel, Rosa del Peru, and occasionally Cabernet Pfeffer from Pat Wirz. I just started working with the next door neighbor of his who owns the original ‘El Gabilan Vineyard’ that has the original cuttings of Cabernet Pfeffer that ‘Siletto’ now uses, and likely the other old vines in the area.

“The Pivetti family sold their vineyard to the Wirz family, I believe, in the 1940’s, and they originally planted the old vine ‘mixed blacks’ at the ‘Wirz Vineyard’. Pat and his dad planted all the Riesling in 1963/1964.”

And from a November 15, 2021, email:

"…The neighbor who owns the old ‘El Gavilan Vineyard’ is Ken Gimelli (now known as ‘Gimelli Vineyards’), whose brother used to own Pietra Santa, which is now Eden Rift. I don’t know for certain that all the old vines in the area are from ‘Gimelli’, as the planting dates that are thrown around in conversation might not be factual, and it’s hard to find solid evidence otherwise.

"Check out the attached photos for an excerpt from a book that was given to me by a local legend, Marty Mathis who owns Kathryn Kennedy Winery.

“William Pfeffer at least propagated these ‘Pfeffer Cabernet’ vines (doubtful he created a hybrid as current research, in terms of genetics, points to Mourtaou) and the ‘Cienega Vineyard’ mentioned is the modern ‘Gimelli’ (and likely ‘Wirz’) plantings in the heart of the Cienega Valley.”

Like Modern Edens: Winegrowing in Santa Clara Valley and Santa Cruz Mountains, 1798-1981 by Charles L. Sullivan (1982): Google Books link. The screenshots were taken of pages 58 & 59 (“William Pfeffer”).

STiRM Wine Company website:

** EDIT **

Pivetti Family Resources:

  • Augusto Pivetti & Elena Pivetti signed a referendum petition to repeal a Prohibition Enforcement Ordinance, per this journal article.

  • Augusto Bernard Pivetti (family patriarch)

  • Albert R. Pivetti (1915-1999:
    Owned land East of Pinnacles National Monument, as noted in a history of the Park (PDF download)

  • Erma A. Pivetti (obituary)

Contival Family Resources:

Contival Historic Property on Cienega Road:
APN 0261200590 (13-16-SM)

Screenshot from San Benito County Assessor’s Office: Mapping

Eden Rift Vineyards recently launched a second website for hosting weddings and events called Gabilan Vale at Eden Rift.

“The Vineyard”: The former owners of the estate’s ornate facilities, Joe and Deanna Gimelli, also accommodated special events. Pietra Santa was sold in 2005 to Cort Blackburn. In 2017, Christian Pillsbury bought the winery and vineyards, establishing Eden Rift.

Gilroy Dispatch
“Pietra Santa Winery in New Hands”

September 30, 2005

"…While owning an actual winery is a first for the family, Blackburn, 35, who also owns ‘Dunne Ranch Vineyards’ with his family, said they have extensive farming experience in San Benito and Fresno counties and should catch on to the winery business in no time.

“‘We thought it was a good opportunity to expand our ag-related business,’ Blackburn said. ‘We want to try to keep the employees and carry on with what the Gimelli’s were doing. We hope to try to continue to grow.’

“…Joe Gimelli bought the 455-acre property in 1989, hired wine maker and olive oil producer [Alessio] Carli two years later and produced the first bottle of wine off-site in 1992, according to their Web site. But it wasn’t until 1998 that he broke ground on the 12,000-square-foot winery that now graces the property, and was able to crush his first vintage at Pietra Santa the next year, according to the site.”

Joe Gimelli is the brother of Ken Gimelli. Ken Gimelli owns the historic “Gavilan Vineyard” (aka “Gimelli Vyd”) near the “Wirz Vyd” in Cienega Valley. Ken and Jill Gimelli own many Hollister-area properties as well.

Below is an exclusive interview with Pillsbury, conducted shortly after he acquired the Pietra Santa/Eden Rift property.

“Pillsbury Finds his Eden at Former Pietra Santa”

by Leslie David
July 2, 2017

"…The 40-year-old purchased the historic vineyard and winery this spring and the ownership transition is nearly complete. BenitoLink was granted an exclusive interview with Pillsbury to tour the private estate just off Cienega Road along San Benito’s wine trail.

"…Pillsbury is a history buff and views his challenge partially as an opportunity to restore the 168-year-old vineyard’s legacy. Grape vines were planted on the site in 1849, establishing it as one of the oldest continually producing vineyards in California. Originally, the neighboring De Rose Winery was part of the same vineyard.

"…‘Around 1988, the Gimellis rediscovered it and made it something special,’ Pillsbury said. ‘My interest is to take its history, climate and soil and produce the wines that were produced here for the first 100 years of the estate’s history,’ he said. Pillsbury argues that the climate is not ideally suited for Cabernet or Merlot, necessitating the dramatic investment in the vineyards.

"…Timeline from ‘A View of California Wines and Wineries’:

· 1849 Theophile Vache planted first grape vines (approximate);

· 1883-1905 William Palmtag, Hollister Mayor, banker and businessman;

· 1906 Captain Jules Jacques St. Hubert (winemaker) and John Dickenson, (a Chicago grain broker) have San Benito Vineyards. Hubert leaves and Dickenson builds the Dickenson House, designed by Walter Burley Griffin, a partner of Frank Lloyd Wright. Loses business due to Prohibition. The oldest vines on the property date from this period (approximate);

· 1933 Prohibition is repealed and Edwin Valliant Sr. takes over;

· 1943 Hiram Walker purchases the property and retains Valliant name;

· 1988 Gimellis buy property and give it the name Pietra Santa;

· 2007 Blackburn Family purchases vineyard and expands community participation;

· 2017 Christian Pillsbury acquires property, changes name to Eden Rift Vineyards…".

Some of the above info is muddled; 2 distinct Valliant vineyards grew in this part of San Benito County.

As indicated in the 1955 Valliant Winery profile in this post, the Eden Rift property once was known as the “Vineyard District”. DeRose also owns part of the former “Vineyard District”.

This site was planted first by Theophile Vache, and later expanded by William Palmtag, who bought 320 acres of Vache’s land in 1883. Palmtag, with Adam Renz as vineyard foreman and winemaker, established Palmtag Mountain Vineyard and “San Benito Vineyard”. Leopold Palmtag took over as winemaker and vineyard superintendent in ~1895.

William Palmtag sold his operation to a group who renamed the winery San Benito Vineyards Co. Jules St Hubert served as winemaker. John Dickinson gained full ownership of the company’s shares in 1912.

In 1907, Professor Bioletti and Dr Harold Ohrwall purchased over 100 acres nearby. The following year, “El Gavilan Vineyard” (aka “Cienega Valley/Grass Valley Vyd”) was planted with vine materials secured by Bioletti. Beginning in 1914, a winery was constructed to produce bulk wine, sold to the California Wine Association until Prohibition.

In 1935, Edwin Valliant and his son purchased San Benito Vineyards Co. In 1943, WA Taylor Co. (owned by Hiram Walker), bought Valliant’s operation. In 1945, “El Gavilan Vyd” also was sold to WA Taylor. At both sites, many vines were replanted. Until 1963, Valliant Winery owned both the “Vineyard District” and the “Grass Valley Vyd”, when Almaden acquired the land. For the next 30-35 years, Almaden harvested over 90% of all winegrapes in San Benito County.

The (Ken) “Gimelli Vineyard” now exists where the “El Gavilan Vyd” once grew. Own-rooted old vines still can be found in the “Gimelli Vineyard”, DeRose’s older plots, and Eden Rift’sDickinson Block”.

Though most of Eden Rift was replanted to heritage Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines - as well as a small patch of Pinot Gris - there remains an historic parcel of Zinfandel, interplanted with “mixed blacks”.

Block-Map-Eden-Rift-Estate-Vineyard-8.5x11.pdf (1.77 MB)

Eden Rift Vineyards website:

The Like Modern Edens link led me to look up where Etta Hill Vineyard was, which led me to this article on wine history in Santa Cruz County:
It says above “above Scotts Valley”.

1 Like

I will try to dig up more info on the “Etta Hill Vyd”, Dr. John A. Stewart, and/or the Scott’s Valley area of the Santa Cruz Mountains. What is readily found seems to be derived from the author of your article.

“Etta Hill Vineyard”

Vineyard or Winery name???

Dr. John A. Stewart

from Vino Cruz
“About the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA”

"…Draper’s ‘Monte Bello Vineyard’, which straddles a ridgeline 2,400 feet above Cupertino, was first planted in 1886 by Osea Perrone, an MD from Italy. Over the next 20 years, that ridge, stretching from Woodside to Los Gatos, would become known as the ‘Chaine d’Or’ (Chain of Gold), universally acknowledged as one of America’s premier wine-growing region.

"On the other side of the hill and 20 miles south, John and George Jarvis had established the Vine Hill winery above Scotts Valley, and Dr. John A. Stewart established ‘Etta Hill Vineyard’ nearby. According to Ross Eric Gibson’s History of Wine Making in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Stewart was the most serious winemaker in the area—maybe in the nation.

“‘He emulated the best French vineyards and achieved superior quality by blending wines in the French manner—a practice new to California.’ Gibson writes."

from Savannah Chanelle website:

“The Santa Cruz Mountains”

“…Perhaps the most serious Santa Cruz County vintner was Dr. John A. Stewart, a Scot who serendipitously came to Scotts Valley in 1883 and established ‘Etta Hill Vineyard’. Stewart replicated best practices of the most renowned French vineyards of the day. In an ‘everything that is old is new again’ fashion, Stewart achieved remarkable quality for the day by blending wines in the French style. Blending varietals was not practiced in California at the time.”

Scotts Valley area

from Prince of Pinot
Vol 12, Issue #8
“Historic California Old Vine Pinot Noir Vineyards Pulled Out or Planted Shortly After 1980 or Lacking Verifiable Planting Information”
August 30, 2020

‘Roudon Smith Vineyard’: Bob and Anna Maria Roudon and Jim and Sue Smith bought this vineyard land in the Scott’s Valley region of the Santa Cruz Mountains in 1972. They planted Pinot Noir and Chardonnay shortly thereafter, and built a winery in 1978. The winery was sold in 2005 as the owners retired. The vineyard was sold separately and the owner gave it to his wife in a divorce. She let it go somewhat fallow. Currently, Phil Crew, owner and winemaker of Pelican Ranch Vineyard is leasing the vineyard that is in a ‘semi-active’ state.”

San Benito County currently hosts 5 different American Viticultural Areas (AVA’s).

However, another appears to be in the works…

Federal Register: TTB
“Proposed Establishment of the Gabilan Mountains Viticultural Area”

November 10, 2021

"…Summary: The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) proposes to establish the approximately 98,000-acre ‘Gabilan Mountains’ viticultural area in Monterey and San Benito Counties, California. The proposed viticultural area lies entirely within the established Central Coast viticultural area and would entirely encompass the established Mt. Harlan and Chalone viticultural areas. TTB designates viticultural areas to allow vintners to better describe the origin of their wines and to allow consumers to better identify wines they may purchase. TTB invites comments on this proposed addition to its regulations.

"…Gabilan Mountains Petition

"TTB received a petition from Parker Allen of Coastview Vineyards, proposing the establishment of the ‘Gabilan Mountains’ AVA. The proposed Gabilan Mountains AVA is located within Monterey and San Benito Counties, California, and lies entirely within the established Central Coast AVA (27 CFR 9.75). The proposed AVA also entirely encompasses the established Mt. Harlan (27 CFR 9.131) and Chalone (27 CFR 9.24) AVAs. The proposed Gabilan Mountains AVA contains approximately 98,000 acres and has 6 commercially-producing vineyards covering a total of approximately 436 acres, as well as 4 wineries.

“According to the petition, the distinguishing features of the proposed Gabilan Mountains AVA include its elevation, climate, and soils. Unless otherwise noted, all information and data pertaining to the proposed AVA contained in this document are from the petition for the proposed Gabilan Mountains AVA and its supporting exhibits…”.

The applicant, Coastview Vineyard, is located in the eastern ridges of the Gabilan Range. This new AVA would straddle parts of San Benito and Monterey Counties.

Comments are being solicited from the public through this website until January 10, 2022.

Can YOU name the 6 vineyards and the 4 wineries that would exist within this planned AVA?

TTB website
AVA Map Explorer

All AVA’s - current and proposed - can be viewed on an interactive map. From there, website users can access TTB information about specific AVA’s.

TTB Newsletter for November 12, 2021:

AVA Map Explorer website:

Google Books
Directory of the Grape Growers: Wine Makers and Distillers of California, and of the Principal Grape Growers and Wine Makers of the Eastern States
Board of State Viticultural Commissioners
A.J. Johnson, Superintendent
254 pages

**Following the events of 2020, I contemplated posting a eulogy for the “Enz Vineyard”.

2019 marks the final “Enz” vineyard-designated wines from several forum favorites: I. Brand Family Wines, Bedrock Wine Company, Dirty & Rowdy Family Wines*, Sandlands Vineyards…**

Still, one must consider that producers cellar and bottle their wines at different paces. Over the next year or so, I would expect more “Enz Vineyard” releases to appear on the market from 2018 and 2019.

Small-Scale Producers of “Enz Vineyard” Wines:

· Birichino Cellars “Enz Vyd” 2018 Pinot Noir & 2019 Mourvèdre

· Broc Cellars 2020 “Enz Vyd” Cabernet Pfeffer “Sogi”

· Filomena Wine Company 2020 “Enz” Cabernet Pfeffer Rosé

· Fount Grenache “Batch 1” (Grenache, Carignane, Syrah)

· Hammerling Wines 2020 Cabernet Pfeffer

· Hubba Wines 2020 “Enz Vyd” Zinfandel

· Nonesuch Wines 2018 “Enz Vyd” Mourvèdre

· Penville Wines 2018 “Enz Vyd” Mourvèdre “True West”

· Raj Parr Wine Club “Enz Vyd” Mourvèdre

· Tank Garage Winery 2019 Lime Kiln Valley Cabernet Pfeffer “Temple of Flora”

· Terah Wine Company 2021 Muscat from “Enz Vyd”

· Vocal Vineyards 2017 Cabernet Pfeffer “Sabroso”

*** Extradimensional Wine Co. Yeah!** bottled 2019 “Enz” juice in various blends, with one white blend sourced primarily from this site.

More info on the 2020 vintage situation at the vineyard:
Wine Berserkers
“ENZ Vineyard”

by Ian Brand
April 22, 2022

Megan Bell of Margins Wine was interviewed on the Disgorgeous Podcast in October, 2021:

Disgorgeous Podcast
Episode #176:
“Harvest Moon Part One:
Margin Call (ft. Megan Bell of Margins Wine)”

October 3, 2021

"It’s the boys’ harvest season and holy heck is it starting with a bang. Please welcome Megan Bell of Margins to discuss the economics of winemaking, what rosé means and how to make wine when you can’t necessarily afford wine. Megan’s wines are incredible, but more importantly, she has so much to say about this silly little industry. Please buy your favorite winemakers’ wines – support the corners of this space you like.
"ALSO: This week features a song from Libby Winters. It’s Called ‘Terroir’, and it’s fucking great. Check out her bandcamp: Terroir | LAKES and don’t forget to buy the damn zine - stockists are all at"List:
Margins 2020 Chenin Blanc, Clarksburg
Margins 2020 Rosé of Mourvedre, Santa Clara Valley
Margins Sangiovese, Arroyo Seco "

“Santa Clara & San Benito Wine Heritage” thread post on Santa Clara Valley Mourvèdre from Margins Wine Co: Link

Margins Wine Company website:

Calera has been discussed briefly on this thread, particularly on this post. I wanted to share this 1987 article on Calera and its approach to winemaking:

Los Angeles Times
“Nectar From the Lime Kiln : Calera’s Wine Maker Lets Production Secrets Out of the Bottle”

by Robert Lawrence Balzer
June 14, 1987

The timeline of the winery’s creation and vineyard development can be read about here. Strangely, the current winemaker at Calera, Mike Waller, is the brother of Eden Rift’s winemaker.

Calera is located within the Mt Harlan AVA of San Benito County. The AVA petition includes a 1987 interview with Josh Jensen. He states that Viognier was planted on the estate in 1984 and, after much difficulty, the team managed to succeed in getting 150 vines to survive. Another 950 vines were expected to be in the ground by that summer.

Below is a downloadable PDF of the petition submitted to the TTB for its creation:

Calera website:

“Selected Press & Articles”: