With annual production of about 50,000 cases, Stolpman Vineyards might seem like a large winery compared to many of the others in Santa Barbara County, but the reality is that it is fairly small relative to the big corporate producers. Still, we were wondering why this winery that produces a wide variety of excellent wines including a great selection of Rhone varietals that are right in our wheelhouse, had not attracted our attention enough to pay them a visit until now. Of course, we had enjoyed their wines at various events and Eve had visited them some time ago, but for us not to have paid them a visit yet was definitely our loss.
The answer might lie in the history of the property.
Tom and Marilyn Stolpman acquired the land in 1990 in what is now the Ballard Canyon AVA. For years, most of the excellent grapes grown under the care of legendary vineyard manager Ruben Solorzano were sold to other wineries, while Tom continued with his law practice in Southern California. It wasn’t until Tom and Marilyn’s son Pete left his wine distributor employer to focus full time on the winery in 2009 did the business model change to keep most of the grapes for production. And demand took off, so production had to keep up. We had not spent much time in the area during this surge, so we missed the excitement. We’re glad to have rectified that.
Stolpman Vineyards is a true family operation. Tom and Marilyn are still involved. Pete’s wife Jessica, who he met at the aforementioned wine distributor, runs California’s wholesale market. Ruben’s wife Maria is also involved in Stolpman Vineyards day-to-day operations.
The family treatment extends to Stolpman’s workers as well. Stolpman Vineyards not only employs its workers full-time and year-round, but these workers get to enjoy the profits of wines made with the La Cuadrilla label designations.
Of course, without the efforts of head winemaker Kyle Knapp and assistant winemaker Matt Nocas, none of this would matter.
A fairly new member of the Stolpman Vineyards “family” is Nicole McAllister. Nicole’s story might sound familiar to many who experienced difficulties during the pandemic. When the shutdowns hit in March 2020, Nicole had to leave her sommelier position at the acclaimed Jean-Georges restaurant in New York and ended up heading about as far west as possible to the Santa Ynez Valley. She brought her expertise to Stolpman where she has created a private tasting program in the vineyard.
On the day that we were scheduled to meet with Nicole at the vineyard, the threat of rain was hanging over us. Fortunately, the wine gods were smiling and we were able to keep our scheduled appointment with Nicole and her assistant, Rye.
Nicole tasted us through several wines…
2022 Love You Bunches Rose – Central Coast. Blend of Grenache and Mourvedre. Citrus notes. Effervescent with a kiss of sweetness on the finish. From Stolpman’s “So Fresh” line of wines.
2020 L’avion Estate Blanc – Ballard Canyon AVA. Roussanne aged in new French oak. Peach and apricot notes. Buttery brioche in color and on the palate, deliciously rich style.
2021 Estate Rouge Grenache – Ballard Canyon AVA. Cherry and floral notes on the nose. Well rounded mouth feel.
2021 La Cuadrilla Estate – Ballard Canyon AVA. 75% Syrah, 15% Grenache, 10% Sangiovese. Ripe, raspberry notes. Juicy, fruity, structured and balanced. Buy this wine. You’ll like it and so will the workers.
2021 Pliocene Estate Mourvedre – Ballard Canyon AVA. 100% Mourvedre. Bedrock and limestone earth coming through. Cobbler, brambly fruit notes. Medium finish. Cool label too.
2020 Angeli Estate Syrah – Ballard Canyon AVA. 100% Syrah. Dark fruit, lush, supple, soft. Great example of what Syrah can be from this are. Angeli is named after Marilyn Stolpman’s side of the family.
If you check out the Stolpman Vineyards website, you’ll see that they make a lot of different wines. They do have a tasting room in Los Olivos, if you can’t make it out to the vineyard. But, if you get the chance to visit the property, you definitely should. We appreciate the time that Nicole spent with us and her expertise in picking some shining examples of Stolpman Vineyards wines for us to try, as well as showing us around the beautiful vineyard. Rye was a little lacking in the expertise department, but made up for it with her exuberance; she really is a very good girl.
Tasting room: 2434 Alamo Pintado Ave, Los Olivos CA 93441
Michael and Karen Perlis have been pursuing their passion for wine for more than 30 years. They have had the good fortune of having numerous mentors to show them the way and after a couple of decades of learning about wine, attending events, visiting wineries and vineyards, and tasting as much wine as they possibly could, they had the amazing luck to meet Eve Bushman. Michael and Karen do their best to bring as much information as possible about wine to Eve’s Wine 101 faithful readers.