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Santa Barbara, California 93111
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Rancho San Miguel Winery - Russian River Valley

Chairman's Award and Gold Medal winner

The name Rancho San Miguel conjures up visions of early California, and its great land grants that shaped the state and the very beginnings of the California wine industry. It is an excellent starting point for a tiny fledgling Sonoma Valley winery that has scored a home run with its very first release.

“When we got the Chairman’s Award at the Orange County competition, I was almost floored,” admitted owner Michael Adair, 53. “I knew I had something special in the bottle, but the results absolutely blew me away.” (Many observers consider the Orange County Fair Competition the most difficult in the State and the Chairman’s Award is the highest honor in the competition.) While his Rancho San Miguel Winery is a newcomer to the wine business, Michael Adair has had plenty of seasoning before opening his winery last year. His previous work included the likes of Robert Mondavi Winery, Domain Chandon Winery and iconic Grgich Hill Estate, mostly in the sales and marketing arena.

“I worked for more than seventeen years and I tried to involve myself in as many different aspects of the business as was possible,” Adair explained. “While I was working mostly in Napa Valley, I was somehow drawn to nearby Sonoma, where the entire northern California wine experience really began. I started to realize that many of the vineyards there had been owned by multiple owners over the years and that fact fascinated me. When I found twenty acres of Zinfandel off Russian River Road had been planted in 1920, I jumped at the chance of owning it. I’m probably only the second or third owner of the property since it was planted.” Owning Old Vine Zinfandel is one thing, but owning old vine Russian River Zinfandel is quite another story. It could easily be the impetus behind Rancho San Miguel Winery’s initial grand success in competition.

“First of all,” Adair admitted,” I love Zinfandel more than anything else. It has been that way for quite some time. I love the type of plants the Old Vine Zin produces. They are weedy, gnarly looking, and among the most wonderful vegetation on earth. These vines have been farmed the same way for hundreds of years and are still capable of producing exceptional, intense fruit. They are truly the handiwork of Mother Nature herself.” Part of Michael Adair’s maintenance plan for the 80-plus year old vines involves using only rainwater for their continuance. He also employs a careful pruning scheme that only nets about one tone per acre, well below industry standards. The rest he leaves to the vines’ natural process. He also points to the fact that his acreage is all Wahee loam, a soil base that is extremely friendly to rootstock.

“It’s all here,” he added, “Nature has given me the best possible ingredients to work with and it’s up to me to make it all work.” Adair and Rancho San Miguel Winery have formed a valuable collaboration with nearby Pellegrini Family Vineyards where all the Rancho San Miguel wines are made. “It sort of all came together,” recalled Michael Adair. “Our association combined Pellegrini’s excellent facilities and the incredible fruit from our vineyard.” Rancho San Miguel will produce about 450 cases this year and Michael Adair says that number won’t grow much in the future. He is limited by the number of actual vines and his atypical method of pruning back. His immediate success has insured the wisdom of such actions.

“I’m basically a one man band,” he stated flatly. “I’m a guy in love with Zinfandel and also a wonderful piece of property. The vineyard actually speaks to me and tells me where it wants to go. It has so much personality that it is impossible not to fall in love with it.” Such caring and genuine sentiment is rare in today’s hectic wine business. Far too many growers and wineries do everything by the numbers and many of their products seem almost standard in their lack of variation. Not so with the newly devised, old world feeling Rancho San Miguel Winery. Its owner is a throwback to earlier days, and its wine reminiscent of the inspiring Zinfandels of decades ago. It is refreshing to see all this happen to someone who clearly states he is in love with the Zinfandel grape.

It is a delight to bring this new winery and much applauded wine to your attention as a Platinum Series selection. Please enjoy!

  1. Rancho San Miguel
    2008 Zinfandel
    Rancho San Miguel
    Russian River Valley


    Chairman's Award
    id: 1011