Paso Robles AVA
"Unlike most vineyards, we plant our vines close together and use the region's abundant rainfall instead of irrigation,"
Want to know the best kept winery secret on the entire Central Coast? Then, read on my Platinum friends, this might just be what you are looking for.
The winery is called Adelaida Vineyards & Winery and is named for the old mining town of the same name outside Paso Robles, the darling growing area for so many successful wineries and growers. It is due west of the town of Paso Robles and almost due east of the incredible town of San Simeon, home of the famous Hearst Castle.
Adelaida Vineyards & Winery was incepted more than four decades ago when Don and Elizabeth Van Steenwyck found a marvelous piece of land atop a peak that offered a panorama of unequaled beauty. That was in 1971 and the land was immediately referred to as Hilltop Ranch. Don was seeking a return to his native South Dakota roots and gave little thought to grapes or planting. Some walnut and almond trees inhabited the grounds, but the couple was more interested in the peace and tranquility the place offered and gave little thought to the grape industry that was in its infancy on the Central Coast.
The Van Steenwycks’ next door neighbor was Dr. Stanley Hoffman who was interested in grapes and wine. His HMR (Hoffman Mountain Ranch) operation is credited with being the initial prime mover in the area and was the first entity to plant Pinot Noir as early as 1964. Hoffman’s success and a helpful nudge by the Farm Bureau (at the time, Farm Bureau was responsible for most of California’s agricultural development) caused Don Van Steenwyck to consider planting vineyards along with his multi-nut trees.
The rest is history, part older and part more modern. The Van Steenwycks did plant some vineyards and also purchased a larger vineyard calling Viking Ranch that became the main source of their fruit. Interestingly, when HMR Ranch became available, its historic vineyards also became part of Adelaida Vineyards.
Fast forward to today, and Kedrin Van Steenwyck (Don and Elizabeth’s daughter) and her husband Liam Duggan (both retired OB/GYN’s) have taken over the leadership of Adelaida Vineyards & Winery. They have expanded the actual vineyard holdings to include Anna’s, Don Juliette and Michael’s Vineyards where they are able to vineyard designate specific varietals.
“This is truly a labor of love for both of us,” stated Kedrin Van Steenwyck. “Mom and Dad loved this place and carried on organic farming practices when it wasn’t really popular. We have continued that practice and consider ourselves good stewards with regard to the land and the vineyards.”
The first Adelaida Vineyards wines were rolled out in 1984 to excellent reviews and consumer interest. At the time, Adelaida Vineyards was the ninth official winery in the Paso Robles AVA that has since grown to more than 200 wineries with more added each year. The area now has ten sub-regions of which Adelaida District AVA is one. The entire area is part of the storied Santa Lucia Range that has arguably produced California’s finest Pinot Noir for many years.
But, there are changes afoot for Adelaida Vineyards. A new label that incorporates the beauty and elegance of the land is featured on every new offering. “We want to share our natural splendor and elegance with our customer base,” added Kedrin Van Steenwyck. “Our peak is 2,320 feet high, the tallest point in the entire area. The views are fantastic and we wanted to share them with our friends and customers.”
A new project is also about to bear fruit (literally), when plantings of a number of Bordeaux varietals reach fruition next year. The vineyard is part of their larger Viking Ranch and is called Tir na nOg, which is Gaelic for Land of Youth. For the record, Liam Duggan is originally from County Tipperary (of the song of the same name) in mid-western Ireland.
Adelaida Vineyards’ renaissance is due in great part to the work of winemaker Jeremy Weintraub, who is considered among the Central Coast’s most gifted practitioners. Besides gaining accolades at Napa Valley’s Seavey Vineyard, Weintraub is winemaker at SITE Wine Company and has previous stints at wineries in Italy, Australia and New York. He is considered the “rock star” of Paso Robles winemaking and has a dedicated following among consumers and industry periodicals.
While Adelaida continues its rise to extreme upper level quality, its wines must be considered as excellent price/value examples. We are delighted to bring this wonderful wine to our members’ attention and hope you enjoy it. Cheers!
Map of the area
Dear Platinum Wine Club Members,
Adelaida Vineyards & Winery is a family-owned winery that organically farm 150 acres of grapevines on the high-elevation, limestone-rich soils of western Paso Robles, on California’s Central Coast. The vineyards are planted from 1,500-1,900 feet, with multiple aspects and slopes, allowing us to grow a range of varietals with an eye to quality and distinction.
The Adelaida wines are known for aromatic complexity, bright acidity and a generous mouthfeel. I attribute this entirely to the site, rather than to anything fancy that we’re doing in the winery. In fact, we are largely traditional with our approach to winemaking techniques: the grapes are sometimes de-stemmed, sometimes not, depending on the vintage. They ferment mostly in concrete and sometimes in oak tanks. And the wines age in French oak barrels and puncheons.
The 2016 Anna’s Red is a blend of Mourvèdre, Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, and Counoise, varietals that excel here in Paso Robles, where the days are warm and the nights are cool. The nose offers spices, meats and flowers, and the mouth is medium-bodied with a long finish.
John Munch - Winery Figurehead & Winemaker
John Munch is clearly in his element at Adelaida Cellars. He is thoroughly enjoying his key role as winery figurehead, winemaker extraordinaire, and vineyard honcho. In an era when winemaking has largely become a sophisticated scientific endeavor, John Munch stands out as a bit of an enigma. Virtually self- taught in viticulture, John has cultivated his culinary sensibilities into a flair for making outstanding wine the old fashioned way - as an art.
John Munch was born in Costa Rica. His father is an American civil engineer who went on a two week mapping expedition to Mexico and ended up staying 38 years in Central America as a general manager for the United Fruit Company. After living in a variety of small villages primarily involved with banana production, John's parents brought him back to the United States to enter 9th grade. For the next three years he attended a boarding school in the Bay Area. After graduating, he left on a three week European vacation that ended up lasting for five years.
It was during his European jaunt, working as a paralegal in Geneva, when he met his wife Andree. John brought her back to the United States when his Swiss employers offered to send him through law school. Once back in the States, John’s interests instead turned to the study of language. He earned a Master’s degree in Old English Poetry from San Francisco State and in his off-hours worked at restoring Victorian houses. By the mid-70s he had become a licensed contractor.
‘Up to this point,” John comments, ‘my wine attention had all been directed to one side of the cork.” However, Andree was speaking with French friends and relatives about exporting California wines. Eventually this discussion evolved into a desire on the part of European interests to purchase California vineyard land. John was assigned the task of gathering viticulture data and taking classes at U.C. Davis to bolster his wine knowledge. In the process of his research, he and Andree visited California's Central Coast. The fell in love with the natural beauty of the San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles area and found too, that the area was prime for winegrape production.
In 1981 they purchased 10 acres in the hills above Paso Robles with the intention of creating and marketing sparkling wines on behalf of their French investors. In conjunction with these efforts John also tried his hand at producing a Cabernet Sauvignon by blending grapes purchased from nearby vineyards. His first wine, a 1981 Cabernet Sauvignon, was an immediate success. "Not having a lot of formal training, or a degree in microbiology I was nervous about our first release” says John. But after receiving numerous medals and glowing reviews he had the confidence to expand his operation.