We Are Open!

It’s on!

All the forms are filed, all the permits are signed off, we are ready to host at our new location in Gilroy!      This past weekend was all about having fun with our friends in Tacoma, Washington.  We were hosted and treated to awesome VIP service at the Tacoma Dome to see Alice Cooper and Motley Crue.  During the day we goofed around Tacoma, visited nine micro-breweries, took in some local art and let our hair down while the last of the legal permits were being processed.   We flew home Saturday afternoon, unpacked and reconnected with our fuzzy butt family, had a quick swim, then settled in to the home routine.  On Sunday we went to the Annual Garlic Festival, because as you know we are now Gilroyans and I have to have an opinion on everything!  The Festival was awesome and I do highly recommend it, especially to anyone who hasn’t been in the last 15-20 years.  This was my first time attending so I have no previous experiences to compare it to but I’ve heard from plenty of other people (my age) that would rather have a root canal done than ever go back to the festival.  Let me tell you this; the parking and shuttle system was efficient, the ticketing process was smooth and efficient, the shade tents, mercantile, beer tents, wine pavilion, arts and crafts and even the portable restrooms were all set up in an accommodating and efficient manner.  I had a fabulous time.  We each had a couple of beers, we bought some neat trinkets, we ate a deliciously garlicky sausage with sauteed peppers, and got the heck out of there in time to watch the Giants and A’s game.

Anyway, a great way to spend a weekend of fun and entertainment to keep our minds off the pesky annoyances of dealing with various agencies and logistics of getting a tasting room up and functioning.  We are going Country Feng Shui for the “theme”, meaning, we’ll be natural with the area and landscape. No castles, no fountains, no pavilions, no italian marble, etc.  It’s all about being in the country, where the oak trees surround the area, you might see a cow or two, or resident turkeys and deer that wander our property and we’ve set up some picnic benches for you enjoy a meal or glass of wine.  It’s casual. We’re casual.  Enjoy.









Welcome to 1800 Day Road Gilroy.  I had to add this number sign facing the approach from Watsonville Road. Now that we’ll have people driving ‘the back way’ to see us you’ll need to know where to turn!









We are relatively new members of the Santa Clara Valley Wineries Association, I’m headed over to Morgan Hill Cellars later this week to get our official Member sign to hang up, and any other swag I think we might want or need.






The wine garden is ready! Country Feng Shui does include the propane tank and water tank I’m afraid. That’s part of living out in the sticks, oh wait, they call it ‘off the grid’, it’s all good and it’s a fun space to hang out.









This weekend “Coming Soon” turns into OPEN!

Friends, Family and a Pig Roast Party

Summer is officially in full swing for the Romero’s!  (you know, while we wait for concrete to dry and the real work begins!)

The pig party weather started off cold, windy, and gusty and I actually had a hard time getting the coals lit for the caja china.  Given the nature of our circumstances and the crazy dry country side I carefully selected the pig roasting area where I could keep an eye on it and have a hose handy.  Paul’s garden ended up being the ideal location and I chose it because the large live oak tree keeps that spot well shaded.  Turned out I didn’t need the shade, not with the extreme cloud cover we had, but the canopies came in extra handy when it started to sprinkle on us. Yes, rain! Not measurable, but enough to energize the party.  We invited our new neighbors and visiting friends and family from around the country.

with aj








Friend Allison was visiting from Portland.









Paul’s nephew was here from Tennessee, Dad and Sandy came down from Santa Clara and Mom A. joined us too.  Our neighbor teases Paul all the time about the tie dye shirts, says he needs something a little more country and less hippie.

with ron








The finished piggy came off after 5 1/2 hours in the box, Paul is visiting with Ron while it cools.  The pig came fresh from a ranch that is less than 5 miles from our home.  We didn’t pick her out from a living pen, she was already dressed when we picked her up.  Coming in at number 6 for the number of pigs I’ve roasted so far, she was the best tasting and overall best experience.  Partial credit is given to the new location and having enough space to spread out and have enough room to handle the roasting, cooking, serving.

with ET at Ridge





Friends from Tacoma came down for the weekend, they arrived the same day as our other friends from Virginia headed out.  We did some local sight seeing, had lunch in Mountain View and then wine tasting at Ridge.  It had been many years since the last time I was up there so it was a good experience to see how much it’s changed.  The view was so-so the day we went, but typical for this time of year.  After wine tasting, we arrived back in Gilroy in time for a dip in the pool.  From the water looking up the hill from us we watched a mother deer and her fawn make their way along the fence line eating the low hanging branches of trees and hopefully some of the poison oak.

at ridge








The billy goat beard started growing over winter break and seems like it will be a permanent addition for awhile.  I’m just glad to have a new ‘couple’ picture of us, we take too few during the year. Last but not least, the sunset from the other night after the storm passed through.  We have some of the most spectacular sky viewing out here.  We saw Jupiter and Venus in conjunction last night and the night before, so amazing and awe inspiring.

sky fire


Country Livin’

No, we don’t have goats, but our neighbors do and we are having too much fun visiting with them and getting to know country livin’.  We’re working on a chicken coop, fruit orchard, margarita grove, vineyard, tasting room, and overall general upkeep of our first experience with acreage.  I’ve had my hands full dealing with day to day activities and keeping things moving along at a steady clip with the tasting room construction, meeting and greeting new neighbors, learning how to garden for the first time and really, just trying to adjust to our new home.






Across the road from us I often see these guys in the morning.  The cows move around these hills and nearby properties for grazing and a couple of times this past month I’ve seen the cattle trucks come and go.  I figure this is what modern cattle drives look like anymore.  My plan was to follow these trucks and see which ranch they are servicing but that’s just silly.  Instead I loiter in my own front yard til I can snap a photo.

white truck





I figure what they did was truck the cows in, then two weeks later came and picked them up after grass finishing them.   I base this assumption on the fact that when I first saw these trucks go by, they returned within 30 minutes, my guess was they offloaded at that time.  When they came back through, I was anticipating a short wait to snap the pics but I waited a full hour in the driveway. When Paul got home he wanted to know why I was out front loitering.  They were traveling at a slower rate of speed and sounded heavier and not that I know anything about loading or unloading a cow, I just figure it has to take longer to get them in the truck.  If I’m wrong, please feel free to correct me, as I said, we’re new to this country livin’ thing.

red truck





And then lastly, I put in a photo of a cropped version of our plans sheet.  It shows the road, main house and ag. support structure (second garage/future tasting room).  The building was installed back in the 70’s and was used, from what the neighbors have told us and what makes sense for the property, as a roadside farm stand. The first owners to develop this parcel were Italians and they are the ones that planted the grapes on the property.  Apparently they had a sizable vineyard which has since been downsized to just a few plants.  They also grew many fruits and vegetables and did all of their own canning and processing, which partially explains the accessory building.  We converted their pantry into a walk in wine cellar and their gun closet into a humidor.  We inherited the original plans for the residence and they show a very specific cubby in the kitchen pantry that is labeled for card tables. Wouldn’t you know it, they exactly fit and so that’s where I put mine. Why not!









I don’t have a date yet for the tasting room Grand Opening, but we are “coming soon”, in fact the banner I ordered the other day should be here by now and I’ll need to get that hung up out front.  There are still a million and one things left to do to get ready but we’re not rushing it, that’s not the way we do it out here.


New Releases

We have a new release coming out this week.  Letters are in the mail.  If you don’t get one let us know.  We have three wines we’re releasing.

2012 Stefania Cabernet Sauvignon, Crimson Clover Vineyard, Santa Clara Valley

Release Price: $45 per bottle.
Total production: 108 cases

We harvested on 9/22 and sorted it in the field before transport to the winery. The grapes were 100% destemmed and crushed into 2 bins for fermentation on native yeast. The bins were moved inside the winery and punched down twice per day. We followed our normal pressing and settling routine and the wine aged in 2/3 new oak for 21 months.

The wine is typical Crimson Clover Vineyard with expressive black and plum fruit framed with spice and floral notes. There are notes of mocha and blackberry on the finish and round tannins. We expect this wine to age very well. Alcohol 13.7%

2012 Stefania Mourvedre, ‘Restitutor Orbis’, Spur Ranch, San Benito County

Release Price: $32 per bottle
Total production: 101 cases

Our second year of Mourvedre fruit from Spur Ranch. Paul had so much fun with the Latin quote on our first Mourvedre that he had to keep the tradition up. This one is about a 3rd century emperor. We had the chance to use whole berries in the fermentation process in 2012 and combined that with 40% new oak for a very round and flavorful Mourvedre.

The wine has everything someone who could defeat the Alamanni, Goths, Vandals, Juthungi, Sarmatians, and Carpi could want. There’s plenty of dark wild fruit to power you on to crush the Palmyrene Empire and Gallic Empire as well. Alcohol 14.4%

2013 Stefania Chardonnay, Chaine d’Or Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountains

Release Price: $25 per bottle
Total production: 95 cases

We continued retraining to the Guyot method in the vineyard based on the experiments we had done in 2012.  The results were excellent and on 9/14 we harvested 143 bins or 4290 pounds and pressed the must whole cluster in one pressing. The must was transferred to a chilled tank for settling off the gross lees. Brix was 23 with pH 3.36 and TA .82. On 9/15 the wine was transferred off its gross lees into a chilled tank inside and inoculated with QA-23 yeast and yeast food. We maintained temperatures under 65 degrees during tank fermentation but did not super chill the must before transfer.

On 9/22 the wine was transferred to 7 barrels which were filled 2/3 full to finish fermentation. On 10/5 the wine was showing as completed primary fermentation and was reduced down to 5 full barrels + one keg. Lees were stirred at that time. The wine went through Malo with no issues and for the first time since 2008 we did not have to haul the barrels out into the sun in the Spring to finish fermentation.

The wine showed excellent chemistry and we decided to bottle with out fining or filtration. The wine will appear slightly cloudy in glass but is full of ripe fruit and wonderful crispness. Stefania loves this Chardonnay and it’s her favorite we’ve made. There is just 20% new oak and the stone fruit flavors really shine in this wine. Alcohol 13.7%

Anything that does not sell out in from the mailer we will add to the website in mid-April.

Front Yard & Garden Update

The garden had a little bit of frost/cold damage that got to the potato plants.  They are recovering now and everything else is doing great.  I also lost seedlings in the cold so will have to restart my tomato plants and herbs.    I harvested a leek and a few asparagus spears so far.  The lettuce and swiss chard is just about big enough to make a micro green salad or two for us also.

I put in a couple of strawberry plants and I’m making a second try at artichokes.  The first try I started in the clay soil and they did poorly.  This time around I’m starting them in the planter boxes and will move them to the ground when they get mature enough to deal with the heavy soil.  Since an artichoke is permanent I don’t want to leave it in a planter box.










I should have put these crash pictures up originally of the front yard but I think they were on my work phone and I didn’t have them to upload when I did the last blog.  The front originally had a group of very mature chestnut trees and oleanders along with other trees and shrubs.  There were also some pretty pitiful grape vines on a rickety old trellis.  I removed the vines and trellis right away.  Anyone who would have seen the condition of those vines and trellis would have thought there was no way we know what we’re doing.

This first picture shows the area that was damaged by the two crashes.  The first took out most of the oleanders and damaged the chestnuts.  I had just cut down the chestnuts when the second crash took out most of the rocks and the remaining plants on the south side of the strip.










This is the car in the driveway crashed into an olive that I’d cleaned up earlier.  It stopped about 100 feet from it’s original impact and flip over point.  One large boulder (about 150 pounds) ended up in the creek 200 feet from where it started.  You can trace the impacts as it skipped across the yard.








I wanted to get these up so I can put up some after pictures after all the work we’ve done to repair things up front.  There are new trees and shrubs and strategically located 6x6x6 posts, which will also form a fence and eventually gate.  We put in a lot of reflectors also to provide some visual warning as the plants mature.  I should be done with the first round of work this weekend and just have the fence and gate left to do.

Work Goes On

That’s it, the new tasting room.  Doesn’t look like much yet, and it won’t be much as we start out, but it’s in place and in the permit process.  Our plan is to roll the doors up and have people come right in to what will be card tables at first.  As we get going we’ll make improvements (like interior walls and a ceiling).  We’ve applied to have the outdoor area available also so we can set up some picnic benches for people to enjoy the outside.

We’re working on the parking situation this weekend.  There is room for about 20 cars right now in the drive through and up to 20 more along Madrid Road.  The problem is we’ve had two crashes through the front in the last month and I’ve had to remove and cut down all the trees that created a barrier between the road and the parking area.  I’m putting a new ‘Defense in Depth’ in the front with 500+ pound boulders, 6×6 posts, redwoods and a fence.

In the meantime the property is keeping us very busy.  Here’s last weeks activity.  This is the back of the property along Madrid where I can have overflow parking before 5 hours with the weedwhacker.










This is after I finished.  I wish I had taken more before and after photos.  I’ve already done a ton of clean up inside the tasting room, but didn’t take a single before picture to share.  Oh well


Settling In

No we haven’t totally dropped of the grid, so it’s time for a quick catch up.  We did get moved in to our new place in September and finished our move out of Chaine d’Or and in to our new place in Salinas in December.  All our production was at the new facility last harvest and we have a bunch of new wines and some old favorites we’re working on from 2014.  We’re very happy with the new facility and it was much easier on us with the additional help to handle set up and clean up.  The drive was also much shorter and easier and we put far less miles on the FJ this Fall.

We’ve been very busy of course with all the moving and settling in to our new home.  The building that will become the tasting room is all cleaned up and ready to go, we’re just waiting on the government now for permits.

I thought the best way to run through an update was with some pictures:

First the little kittens are growing like crazy and loving their new home.












We got the bar set up in the new house right away:












We’re still eating Primal:












And we did go to New Orleans on our annual trip:










Spending way too much time in the care of Fay at Coops:










When we got home there were never ending chores and clean up to do.  We hauled away 8 truck loads of yard debris, cut down treees, repaired things and just general new home stuff like stacking a cord of wood:










We had frequent  wildlife visitors with the turkey’s being the most common:










And they like the backyard too:










Stefania hasn’t shot anything yet but she’s ready just in case:












We put a new cellar in and we’re trying to decide what to plant which means lots of research:












Which means more Primal food lick smoked duck legs:

primal duck









With the New Year I’ve started a garden:










And have more seedlings ready to go in:










All this is enough to tucker out a kitty and keep us from writing regularly.  We may be on a monthly summary now, at least until we get the tasting room going.




More Grape Picking and Creature Pics.

It was another busy weekend for us.  Saturday we picked the two largest vineyards that make up our Haut Tubee base wine.  We did the actual picking of 600 pounds of Cabernet and Syrah at Roxie Vineyard near Crimson Clover.  We just had to pick up and sort the 800 pounds of Syrah from the Harrison vineyard in Los Altos Hills.   Most of the day seems like it’s driving at 60 MPH towing a trailer, and it is.  We were out of our old house on Canton before the grapes were ready for wine but one of our neighbors came down and harvested about 200 pounds of grapes to make jam.  No Mourvedre in the Haut Tubee blend yet, but we will have Mourvedre Jam in the new tasting room this Spring.

Sunday we were up early and did what is now a really long 55 mile drive to Chaine d’Or.  Our trusted ‘A Team’ picking crew was there and had already removed the nets when we drove in at 7:30.  We picked just about 3200 pounds of Chardonnay.   The picture below is Jerry walking out the picking bins.  In the lower section we bring the bins up on the tractor but in this upper section the three of us who can drive the tractor, Millie, Jerry and I all prefer to carry the bins out rather than mess with getting the tractor all the way up and down the long rows and around the two sharp turns.













Stefania usually avoids the camera when I’m taking pictures but I thought she was exceptionally pretty Sunday morning and got in this shot.  That’s her usual place and job at harvest time.  As we dump in the 30 pound picking bins she sorts through the grapes and removes, leafs, bugs, twigs, bad grapes, secondaries, water bottles, gloves, twisty tie, clippers and anything else that have found their way into the bins.  We do always laugh when someone says they have hand made wine and wonder if they really touched every cluster with their own hands like Stefania does.  Probably not.











Back at home we’re getting used to the new routines and sights and sounds.  This little guy comes by every day.  I think I’ve seen small bumps for antlers but Stef hasn’t so we’re not sure of its sex.  It is really small so I think it was likely born this past Spring.  I just spent some time on Google and the proper term is ‘Fawn Buck’.


Picking Grapes, Picking Up Grapes and Finally Moving

We’ve been very busy since our last update.  There were significant delays in getting everything closed on our new home and we ended up in a hotel for 5 days.  We finally got the keys on Tuesday afternoon and are getting things set up there.  Stefania and I are really glad to put the process behind us and in getting our home together.

Grapes don’t stop and wait though and we had to carry on with harvest.  It’s been warm and sunny this September and the vineyards are pushing ahead early like last year.  Last Saturday we harvested the Crimson Clover Vineyard’s Cabernet Sauvignon.  I had my regular job of hauling out bins and Stefania sorted everything as I dumped it into the 1/2 ton bins.












We used a small crew of our regulars and a couple of family members, my Mom and cousin Matt.  We had everything picked and were mobile to the winery by 11 AM.












Earlier in the week I had picked up 3000 pounds of Malbec.  We’ll use some for blending but also likely have a Malbec release in the future.  3000 pounds is my preferred amount to buy.  It produces about 4 barrels or 100 cases.  It also is the max payload for the U-haul trailers I rent.  The FJ Cruiser can actually tow much more but I’d need a trailer rated for more weight.  We thought of buying one in the past but we had no where to store it.  Now we will have space to store it so a purchase before next year is likely.


The first picture I took from the new house.  Wild Turkeys that come visit every day.  They come right up to the front and back doors.  Can’t wait to see the first time that happens with the cats looking out the door.














Big News – Part Four!

Our first harvest was in 2005 and we took our grapes to Crushpad which was then in San Francisco.  I worked there too as a volunteer a few days a week in addition to doing our own winemaking.  Probably my biggest contribution was spending an entire Saturday cleaning and organizing the loading dock.  I also volunteered that year at Chaine d’ Or.  Crushpad was just too chaotic for us so the next year we moved our production to a facility in the Santa Cruz Mountains.  I volunteered again at Chaine d’Or.

That 2006 harvest was ok but Stefania and I were still interested in finding a better fit for us and our winemaking.  By pure chance I got a call from Bradley Brown at Big Basin Vineyards.  He was checking to see if I had any Grenache or Mourvedre to sell.  As we talked I told him I was looking for a new space in 2007 and he said he was looking for a new tenant.  We met and decided we’d move into Big Basin that year.  We were all set to move in September when we got the call that August to take over operations at Chaine d’Or.  I still kept the deal with Bradley and we made about 1/2 our 2007 and 2008 wines at Big Basin.

That’s where we met Ian Brand.  Ian was the assistant winemaker then at Big Basin.  He’s started at Bonny Doon and he had glamorous tasks at Big Basin like sorting grapes, cleaning bins and all the other things assistant winemakers do.  Ian and I spent a lot of time together on the sorting line and while cleaning things around the winery.  In 2009 Ian went out on his own to start Ian Brand Family Wines.  We stayed in close contact, talking at least once a month.  Ian asked for advice on getting started and he shared some grape sources with us (Split Rail and Coastview).  We sold Ian our old barrels we were no longer using and spare equipment when we had it.

Sometimes we’d have logistical nightmares of having to pick two vineyards on the same day that where 100 miles apart and Ian would step in and pick up the grapes from one of those vineyards and do the initial crush and fermentation for us.  We’d then go down with out barrels and press the wine into our barrels and haul them home.  He’s been a great friend and a great help to us over the years.

When we knew we would need a new home this year I didn’t think of asking anyone else but Ian.  I think he said “well I know you’re not an asshole, so no problem”, or something like that.  Ian built up a fantastic facility in Salinas.  It will be shorter for us to get to from our new home than the old drive was to Chaine d’Or.  We’re excited by that of course, but mostly we are really excited to be in the same facility with Ian again.  We will work under our own bond in what is called an ‘Alternating Proprietorship’ or AP.  That means we’re making the  wine and using the equipment.  We can hire his crew to do tasks like clean up and maintenance though and that will free up lots of time for us.

Ian makes great wine and if you haven’t tried it, search it out.  We’re so excited to be sharing space with him and so grateful for his generosity.