Central Coast AVA
'One of the Top Wineries in the World' - Professional Wine Buyers Competition
From mines to wines, Riverbench Winery is the remarkable transformation of a mining company turned world-class winery with estate grown Pinots and Chardonnays rivaling topnotch releases from Santa Maria County’s most coveted producers. Originally planted in 1973, Riverbench Vineyard has been a fruit source for many renowned wineries in Santa Barbara County for over 30 years. Surprisingly, the rocky, gravelly soil that proved ideal for the Burgundian grape varietals also attracted a group of mining families who saw the property as a potentially successful mining site. In 2004, Union Asphalt (the biggest supplier of construction aggregates on the Central Coast at the time) purchased the Riverbench Vineyard site, and hired vineyard manager Jim Stollberg to maintain the thriving vineyard. The mining families quickly became enamored with the wine industry and started producing their own wine label using small quantities of their exceptional fruit and Riverbench Winery was ultimately born. Chuck Ortman joined the team as consulting winemaker and released the anticipated inaugural vintage in 2006. Met with immediate rave reviews, it’s become quite clear that the reputation of the vines will carry through to the new namesake winery and its limited production wines.
Chuck Ortman is recognized as one of California’s most respected winemakers, with a career extending over 40 years and a developed signature ‘Ortman style” of winemaking.
Ortman began his winemaking career in the cellar at Napa Valley’s Heitz Cellars in 1968. He quickly worked his way up in the winemaking ranks, and by the mid-1970’s he was consulting for some of Napa Valley’s premium wineries, including Far Niente, Shafer, and Cain. Ortman is also behind the founding of Meridian Vineyards in Paso Robles, California, and the success at Meridian helped establish the Central Coast as one of California’s most dynamic and prestigious winegrowing regions.
Ortman is now returning to his earlier days working at Riverbench Winery, as he used to source fruit from the vineyard for Meridian. Over three decades, he has watched the progression of the vineyard, and is proud to carefully handcraft stellar small lots of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from the paramount sections of the Riverbench property.