Santa Lucia Highlands AVA
One sip and you will see why this passionate family is proud to share their achievements with the rest of the world
With nearly a century of combined vegetable farming experience in the Salinas Valley, Tondré Alarid and his son Joe planted the Tondré Grapefield in 1997 with the dream of producing world class Pinot Noir fruit from the heart of the Santa Lucia Highlands in Monterey County.
Tondré didn't know the first thing about planting wine grapes, so he asked good friend and local wine grower Gerald McFarland for some advice. Gerald recommended Chardonnay or Pinot Noir, and being the red wine lover that he was, Tondré opted for the Pinot. With Joe’s help, Tondré planted the first 6 acres on the family property. Little did they know, this 6 acre plot would one day become a hundred.
Tondré and Joe turned their little “grapefield” into a labor of love and enjoyed their first harvest in 2001. The timing couldn’t have been better. Pinot Noir was in high demand and the Santa Lucia Highlands was gaining some serious recognition as an appellation.
The Alarid family decided to sell the grapes, and the well-known David Bruce Winery was first in line. They were actually so impressed with the grape quality, that they made a vineyard-designate wine with fruit and added “Tondré Grapefield” to the wine’s label. “We had a habit of calling it the ‘grapefield’ because of our experience with farming,” Joe Alarid recently explained. “David Bruce’s ‘Tondré Grapefield’ Pinot Noir went on to win a Gold Medal and Best of Class distinction from a major wine competition and the Alarid family quickly realized just how good their grapes were.
“We asked Tony Craig [winemaker for David Bruce] to make wines for us with Tondré Grapefield fruit. We were really just having fun with it, drinking the wines ourselves and giving it away to friends and family,” Joe explained. “But everyone kept telling us how good the wines were and that we should really be selling it.”
In 2005, Joe decided to make it official and established Tondré Wines. He named it after Tondré as a tribute to his farming guidance and his idea to plant the original grapefield. Tony Craig joined the team as winemaker, and Joe’s wife Penny came on board to manage all the wine sales. Together, they make up the Tondré Wines family and continue to be the sole employees of the operation today.
Currently, it appears as though the dream has most certainly come true. World-class, Tondré Grapefield Pinot Noir fruit is in high demand by the best winemakers, and the family’s Gold Medal winning wine brand, Tondré, is sought after by the most discriminating wine connoisseurs.
About the Vineyard
Tondré Grapefield was planted in 1997 on six and a half acres in the heart of the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation. It now has seven blocks for an accumulation of 81 acres of Pinot Noir, 18 of Chardonnay, 3 of Riesling and 2 of Syrah; all carefully tended to by Joe Alarid and his able crew. Joe and family continue to honor the original vision Tondré had of producing the high quality fruit destined for their own Tondré Wine label, as well as a number of other nearby wineries including Morgan, Bernardus, Testarossa, Wrath, La Rochelle, Silver Mountain, and Sonnet to name a few.
Tondré Grapefield is located in one of California’s top appellations for growing premium Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. In fact, vignerons continue to refer to the Santa Lucia Highlands as one of the crown jewels of California viticulture for the venerable grape. This distinguished appellation is known for its protruding southeast facing slopes, strong maritime influences from Monterey Bay, and ancient glacial soils consisting of decomposed granite, gravel and sandy loam. As a result, its grapes have an intense expression of deep fruit flavors and incredible complexity.
Tondré Grapefield also earned the SIP (Sustainability in Practice) Certification which assures that the grower preserves and protects the natural environment, treats employees fairly, is concerned about the community and has a long view that protects both the present and the future. For more information about SIP visit www.sipcertified.org
Tony Craig - Winemaker
Originally a Shakespearean actor from Newcastle England, Anthony (Tony) Craig found his way into the world of wine by chance. After moving to California to find work in Hollywood, Tony soon realized that he needed to pursue a different career. He answered an ad for a cellar worker at David Bruce Winery and was immediately hired. Within 14 months, Tony became head of their vineyard-designate Pinot Noir program. In 2005, Tony became the resident winemaker at Tondré Wines and continues to be thrilled with the quality of grapes he has the opportunity to work with year in and year out. He is committed to producing elegantly refined and luxuriously flavored Pinot Noirs, and specializes in crafting vineyard-designate wines.