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really GOOD story… ampelos has been a family endeavor from the start. Initially corporate folks”, we loved getting away to the Sta. Rita Hills on the weekends and dreamt of one day planting our own vineyard and making wines. A cancelled meeting in New York on the morning of September 11, 2001 helped us to realize that someday was today! we purchased 82 acres in 1999 not knowing that one day it would be part of the Sta. Rita Hills appellation. Our son, Don, came out to help get the vineyard underway and soon our dreams became reality. The first 15 acres were planted in 2001 and in 2005 we expanded with another 10 acres so today we have a total of 25 acres planted. we moved to the property in January 2002 and spent the first four years learning how to farm the land, pruning the vines, coaxing them onto the trellis, nurturing the soil and preparing for the first harvest. To get a jump start on learning the new trade, we purchased a ton of Pinot Noir and two tons of Syrah in 2002 and started to make our own wine, under the stewardship of son Don. 2004 brought forth the inaugural ampelos vineyard harvest! 15 tons of Pinot Noir and 6 tons of Syrah were picked, and the program of purchasing grapes from warmer regions continued to add to the spice cabinet”. This was just the beginning of the journey, but we are firm believers in the journey being the destination. We are driven by a deep love and passion for the art of viticulture. We are truly a small boutique winery producing about 3500 cases a year. Our focus is viognier, ros of syrah, pinot noir, syrah and grenache. As for the Greek connection —- ampelos is the Greek word for vine”. It was chosen for our winery because we believe that all great wines start in the vineyard”. We also have close ties to Greece. We were married on a small Greek island, and fell so much in love with the island that we created a small Bed and Breakfast there called Ampelos Resort.
we believe that experimentation with new and old winemaking methods will lead to continual improvement in the cellar resulting in complex and intriguing wines. for our viognier and ros of syrah we want a clean, crisp and fruity wine profile. since it is important to keep the freshness of the fruit and make the wine very focused our winemaking style is therefore: we keep them in stainless steel tanks to allow the fruit to show through we ferment at very cool temperature to not burn off any of the fruit – we retain the volatile esthers we do not let them go through secondary fermentation so no butteriness” our approach to red wine making is based on our almost 10 years of winemaking experiences but has been heavily influenced by our son Don (today winemaker at Seasmoke) as well as our good friends Kris Curran and Bruno d’Alfonso. we believe in: picking the grapes when the flavors as well as all other sensory evaluations tell us it is time – not based on numbers like brix, pH or sugar cold storage at the freezing point in our cold room – we do not use dry ice (bad for the environment) gently destemming and no crushing for pinot noir fermentation in small 1.25 ton fermenters hand punch downs twice a day to submerge the cap and stir the fermenting juice – better and gentle extraction moving more towards wild (indigenous) yeast fermentation – 50% in 2010 extended maceration where the wines stays on the skins in the small fermenters for additional tannin and flavor extraction. almost all pinot lots in 2010. syrah and grenache is more sensitive to tannin extraction so we tend to avoid extended maceration for them keeping all of the lots separate during barrel aging until it is time for the final blend. this allows us to determine the best combinations for our blends. not only do we keep clones (Pinot Noir 115/667/2A etc.) separate but also different yeast (including wild) minimal racking (moving the wine out of the barrel to eliminate sediment and returning it to a clean barrel) balanced oak it is another spice for us and just like you would not over-salt your food, we don’t over oak our wine. bottle ageing – we will not release a wine until we feel it is ready for consumption. we believe it is our job to age the wine for you! we are respectful of, but not hampered by traditional winemaking methods and will continue to experiment in our quest to craft interesting, enjoyable and exciting wines. what a great journey we are on!
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