Central Coast AVA
Best of Show, two Best of Class, numerous Gold Medals.
Silver Stone Wines owner/winemaker Dan Kleck is a most unique individual within the constituency of the California wine industry. His career path must be considered circuitous, even considering the sometime evanescent aspect of California winemaking.
Oddly enough, Kleck’s interest in wine began when he was 16, when he accompanied his parents to the Tabor Hill Vineyard in Michigan. He pocketed a pack of matches and called the winery three years later and asked for a job. In 1979, he moved to Long Island and began working in New York’s fledgling upscale wine industry, much of which was located on Long Island. During his nineteen-year stint in New York, Dan Kleck worked for a number of wineries and finally became winemaker for Palmer Vineyards, one of the leading wineries on the East Coast.
A chance meeting at Palmer with iconic winery owner Jess Jackson and his wife led to a job offer in California. Jackson was impressed with several of Kleck’s wines and was looking at the time for someone to run his Monterey winery. In addition to his winery duties, Jackson offered Kleck the opportunity to help develop Kendall-Jackson’s elite Artisans and Estates umbrella of wineries.
Kleck jumped at the chance and moved to California in 1997. He was successful in his new role and stayed with Kendall-Jackson for five years. Along the way he made important contacts with a number of the small growers and startup wineries that inhabit the Central Coast. “There were a number of small growers who were looking for direction, and my wife Debra and I were ready to set out on our own,” Kleck recounted. “I had started making Silver Stone while I was still on Long Island and was able to put out several vintages of assorted varietals. When the occasion arose, I jumped at the opportunity of continuing the wines in such a marvelous area as the central coast.”
Drawing from his knowledge on the job running Kendall-Jackson, Dan Kleck carefully chose the location for the new version of Silver Stone Wines. He finally settled on tiny and historic Paso Robles, the ambient town that serves as the Central Coast’s northern border. “I just love it around here,” Kleck beamed. “Paso is everything anyone could ever ask for. The fruit this region produces is as good as anywhere in California and the people are the salt of the earth. Most of us are trying to make impressive wines while relearning the craft of winemaking.”
Kleck’s Silver Stone (named for the glistening connection of minerals and earth) took to its new surroundings and was soon winning a multitude of medals and much critical acclaim that was highlighted by the selection of one of its wines as Best in Show of the Mid State Fair, Paso Robles’ top judging.
From his early release of just 300 cases when Silver Stone made its first appearance in Long Island, the winery has grown to its present level of just over 2700 cases, a level Dan Kleck feels will accommodate him for the time being. “I am really satisfied with our production and the superior quality I have been able to achieve. At this level I can really control the quality aspect of our wines. Unless I decide to take on an investor and grow Silver Stone quite a bit, I think we will remain right where we are.”
Nothing like success to back up Kleck’s statement. Silver Stone sells all the wine it produces and has a fiercely loyal following that suits Dan Kleck to the proverbial “T”. He has entered the California wine industry by a path seldom used by his winemaking cohorts, and has taken his surroundings by storm. “I have always been something of a pioneer in the wine business,” Kleck recalled. “When I first started in Michigan and then again during my time on Long Island, it was always the same. Everyone was just getting started and the conditions were usually unbearable. If anyone should be used to difficult growing environments, I guess it would be me or someone just like me.”
His wide experience has led to a number of winemaker consultant contracts with emerging wineries such as Donati Family Vineyards, Orchard Hill Vineyard, and Whalebone Vineyard. Silver Stone Wines also operates a successful combination art, jewelry, and wine gallery on the square in Paso Robles, a must for any visitor to the town.
We are pleased to feature Silver Stone Winery as this month’s Platinum Series selection