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New California: Stolpman Vineyards



The Stolpmans know how to build something that lasts. First off, they avoid migrant labor in an effort to create sustainable jobs for the people who work their fields. They dry farm their limestone vineyards, promoting better fruit and easing their take from CA's water table. And when Pete and Jessica get itchy they pack their board bags and find a corner of the ocean to surf.

Stolpman Vineyards Estate Grown Syrah
Ballard Canyon AVA, California

Stolpman Vineyards Viognier
Ballard Canyon AVA, California

Stolpman Vineyards Roussanne
Ballard Canyon AVA, Calfornia

All very cool, all very good sounding. In fact, let's be real, I'm jealous.

But cool as the Stolpmans might be, perhaps their greatest asset in wine is the ability to surround themselves with and win the favor of loyal, talented people.

Vineyard manager Ruben Solorzano has been with them since 1994. He's something of a savant, a leader in California's viticultural circles. And judging by his willingness to stick around, to keep experimenting and pushing the limits of what the Stolpman's Ballard Canyon vineyards can do, the family seem to support their man's vision and needs in ample ways.

Between he and winemaker Sashi Moorman, Côte Rôtie seems to have trans-substantiated in the Golden State. Moorman came on in 2001, after training as a chef and later apprenticing for five years under Adam Tolmach, co-founder of Au Bon Climat. Moorman and Solorzano both have traveled in the Northern Rhône and seek to realize the vision of Ballard Canyon that Tom Stolpman first had in 1991, when he bought the property based on the potential he saw in its deep limestone bed.

But with all this, they're still a small name in the global market. Why? Well, these folks are much less interested in selling huge quantities of wine, getting rich, and spoiling their land and their relationships to each other than they are focusing in on exploiting only what they need to make the best wine they can. Stolpman is about attention, expression and care.

We just landed three of their current bottlings: Syrah, Roussanne and Viognier. These wines are fermented with native yeasts, controlled but not manipulated. In general they are lean, especially for New World wines, and have a touch of wildness that sends the mind reeling in philosophic directions. Accessible wines at basically affordable prices that are crafted on a model of sustaibability and respect for the human and natural elements that bring it to fruition. Really--what more can we ask for?