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Stolpman Vineyards, La Cuadrilla Ballard Canyon 2017
68% Syrah, 20% Grenache, 6% Petite Sirah, and 6% Sangiovese
Stolpman Vineyards' La Cuadrilla stems from a novel and admirable concept: the vineyard workers tend a specific section of vines to form the basis of the cuvee. The result is then blended with some more fruit from the estate to ensure that production represents at least 10% of annual production. Stolpman then give all the profits from the wine to the vineyard workers directly. Not just a nice story, this wine is a delicious, spicy blend of 68% Syrah, 20% Grenache, 6% Petite Sirah, and 6% Sangiovese. Dense and structured, but ripe and drinkable.
Roughly 20 years ago, Thomas Stolpman, founded his winery the hills of California�s Central Coast. The terroir is built on Limestone and is essentially unobstructed from the Pacific Ocean wind, which allows Syrah and Roussanne grapes to grow exceptionally well. Stolpman believed he had discovered one of the greatest vinicultural sites on the planet. They have 153 acres of vineyard lying on three major limestone ridgelines in Santa Barbara County, undertaking strict, dry farming methods to push the grapes to the highest level of quality.�Stolpman focuses on vineyard specific wines, and their winemaker, Sashi Moorman, has experience as both a New York chef and winemaker at The Ojai Vineyards. He joined the winemaking team in 2001 and has been crafting complex Syrahs since that time.�Grapes are grown in the Ballard Canyon AVA without herbicide and minimal organic fungicide. Stolpman strive to withhold irrigation from the vines for greater concentration of flavour and to allow the vines to balance themselves. Vineyard Manager Ruben Solorzano pushes the viticultural limits with many own-rooted plantings at extremely tight 6,000 vine per acre density. In 2003, Stolpman Vineyards instituted the La Cuadrilla Project: Each year, the full-time vineyard crew (in Spanish, �La Cuadrilla�) is given a small section in the vineyard to manage as they please. Pruning, watering, and fruit yield decisions on these rows are all made by the vineyard crew. During harvest, La Cuadrilla decides when to pick the fruit, and our winemaking team helps them vinify the grapes. At the end, La Cuadrilla divides the wine among its members�each with a better understanding of how their work in the vineyard has a direct influence on what ends up in the bottle. Each vintage, winemaker Sashi Moorman takes the wine from this block and blends it with other blocks to create a wine named La Cuadrilla, the profits of which go to the vineyard team as an end of year bonus.