Santa Barbara County region
Everything from farming to winemaking is done by hand
An advantageous motorcycle bike ride nearly a decade ago resulted in the eventual formation of this month’s Platinum Series selection, Cholame Vineyard. Pronounced Sho-lamb, Cholame Vineyard is the creation of David DuBois, 51, a native of Southern California.
“A friend of mine went with me and we tooled around the Central Coast,” he explained. “We took many of the backroads and one of our stops included the Parkfield Café in the Cholame Valley. It was so beautiful there that I decided to come back and investigate the entire valley.”
DuBois was already heavily involved in ornamental horticulture, the upscale end of landscaping. He was also very interested in the wine industry and its surging potential. He eventually purchased 75 acres along Vineyard Canyon Road and planted 10 acres of selected varietals.
“I was careful to attempt to match the vines to the existing soils and environment to give my vines the best chance at success,” he added. “I was confident in that the foundations for both horticulture and viticulture are somewhat similar and I knew the horticultural side quite well. I also researched just what would interest the buying public.”
David DuBois chose an interesting varietal combination for his new endeavor. He planted Tempranillo, Mourvèdre, Grenache, Syrah and Petit Syrah on a small section of his property. Missing was the Central’s Coast’s stalwart varietal, the venerable Cabernet Sauvignon.
“I looked around and everyone else has Cabernet Sauvignon planted, somewhere near 70% of the entire planted crop. Some were making really great wines and I thought it might be more adventurous to try something else.”
The something else turned out to be the great Spanish varietal, Tempranillo, and a combination of Rhône varietals. “In my opinion,” DuBois related, “Tempranillo is the next great red that will sweep through California. The grape has great character and is easy to work with. Look at some of the finest Spanish wines and they rank right there with the great wines of Bordeaux.”
DuBois also strongly feels that a new wave of customers is on the horizon. “There are scores of younger consumers who are looking for new and different tastes. Their youth makes then open to changes and trying something new. I know the Cabernets will never go away, but the setting is right for Tempranillo and other less apparent varietals to emerge and become established.”
The name chosen for the new winery honors the valley in which it is located. Originally settled by the Yokut Indians, the word Cholame means “the beautiful one” in the Yokuts dialect and seemed an easy choice for David DuBois. The new label for Cholame Vineyard is another story unto itself.
“I decided on an online contest for the artwork and posted a $500 reward for the winner. A total of 175 entries from around the world made it a difficult job for me to decide. I whittled the entries down to a reasonable number and finally to the best ten. Then it was down to three and finally I found the one I liked best.”
The winning label is a strikingly illustrated tribute to the sun, the main ingredient in a great vineyard according to David DuBois. “The role the sun plays in a vine’s success is huge. The more I looked at this design, the more I liked it,” he added.
Cholame Vineyard’s first release of around 670 cases occurred in 2010 and was met with incredible reviews. In the next few years, production was slowly increased and will rest at around 1,200 for this year.
“I have a specific business plan for Cholame Vineyard, and I have a winemaker (Andres Ibarra) who is very picky about our quality and growth. His wines have received spectacular numbers since we started, so I’m not interested in doing anything different.”
Ibarra’s resume is first class, earning over 35 years of making wines in the Central Coast region. His former stops include Brander Winery and Vineyards, La Presa Vineyards, and most notably, the well-regarded Fess Parker Winery in Santa Ynez.
David DuBois is also proud of the fact that everything (from farming to winemaking) is done by hand at his Cholame Vineyard. “It makes for complete control of everything from the beginning to the end. I realize it’s not really feasible for larger wineries, but here it’s the way I want it done.”
The future is incredibly bright for Cholame Vineyard and David DuBois. Some growth is plausible since DuBois still sells off some of his fruit.
David DuBois - Vintner/Owner
Dear Platinum Series Members,
We hope you enjoy our 2011 Bull Pen Tempranillo as much as we do!
A brief introduction to Cholame Vineyard: While traveling through the backroads of the Paso Robles area, I found an area called Cholame Valley that was primarily cattle ranches with a few vineyards and beautiful Oak trees. Originally named by the native Yokut Indians, Cholame (pronounced Sho-Lamb), means “The Beautiful One.” The name of this valley confirmed my experience of the area.
Drawing on my background in horticulture, I decided to find some land where I could start a vineyard from the ground up. With the purchase of 75 acres along Vineyard Canyon Road, I realized this goal. In 2006, I planted 10 acres of vines and chose my varieties carefully, matching the soil with the environmental conditions, to ensure the vines would thrive, which included Tempranillo. I am committed to sustainable winegrowing practices that yield top quality grapes and wines while protecting the environment and supporting our community. I was also very fortunate to have Andres Ibarra, our Winemaker, on our team. He brings 30 years of experience to Cholame Vineyard and manages the production of our varietals and blends. His style in uncompromising and you can taste his passion for the craft of artisan winemaking in every glass of Cholame Vineyard wine.
The 2011 Bull Pen Tempranillo, a Spanish wine, was named in honor of the famous bulls of Spain and for my love of baseball. I really enjoy the smoky, dark cherry, pepper and currant taste of this wine. Screams for steak!
Enjoy and Cheers!