Stolpman Vineyards is attorney Thomas Stolpman's thirty year project in the Ballard Canyon AVA (American Viticultural Area) which lies entirely within the larger Santa Ynez Valley AVA which, in turn, lies entirely within the Central Coast AVA. Stolpman purchased his vineyard land in 1990, planted in '92 and hit his stride in the early 2000's with the addition of two key colleagues, wine maker Sashi Moorman and vineyard manager Ruben Solarzano.
Stolpman Vineyards is a two hundred twenty acre tract with one hundred fifty three of them in sustainably farmed vines. Ninety three acres are in Syrah with the rest primarily in Sangiovese, Roussanne, Grenache and Marsanne. Stolpman wines are 90% estate-sourced.
The Ballard Canyon lies to the east of the Santa Rita Hills (AVA) which serve as a buffer to blunt the stronger Pacific winds. To the east lies the considerably warmer Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara AVA and just to the north lies the Los Olivos District AVA. Ballard Canyon is a long and narrow, north-south expanse that many recognize as the best AVA in Santa Ynez Valley.
Ballard Canyon prides itself as the only "Syrah-focused" wine appellation in the country with half of all five hundred sixty-one vineyard acres in the canyon planted in that one grape. Stolpman chose his property for the limestone soils and the drainage they provide and the cool climate featuring the diurnal temperature shifts that are conducive to making rich wines with balanced sugars and acids.
At this writing we plan to taste the Stolpman La Cuadrilla red blend at this week's Thursday tasting. Cuadrilla means "people of the block" and refers to the talents of those select vineyard workers who have applied their talents all year long in that vineyard. Those workers earn an end-of-year bonus based on the sales of the wine.