Who in their right minds would pay for 100 acres of rugged land with space for only 12 ½ acres of vines? In strictly business terms, this would be a challenge to pencil out. So, if it’s not money, it must be love.
After certain milestone birthdays and inspiration from travels near & far, husband & wife, Cindy & Bill Wenzlau decided to follow a dream more than two decades in the making. Bill had already started making wine at a custom crush facility with a couple of buddies, so that experience made him want to dive in deeper. He wanted to make wine from his own fruit. Cindy has spent decades with dirt under her nails maintaining her own garden, managing community volunteer groups to maintain the grounds at the local schools and working with many to create their own gardens.
But, oldest son, Tommy (a certified somm who assists with the east coast wine distribution), was the catalyst for taking the next step. After returning from a year in France, he declared that he had found his true passion in wine. Bill replied, “Not fair. It’s my turn. I’ve waited longer than you.” The two scoured California for available property, up and down the coast. Looking to do something small in scale, the perfect plot on the cool, foggy, western edge of the Santa Rita Hills was found. Although it was 100 acres, only 12 ½ acres were planted. The rest of the property comprised parts of the Santa Ynez River and steep, rocky canyons. This was a manageable size to provide the attention needed to farm organically and grow fruit of the highest quality.
It was an ideal climate to feed their passion for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines. It was spring, 2011. The four year old vines were just breaking bud. Wenzlau Vineyard was born. To manage their demanding farming duties, they decided to partner with the knowledgeable and hard working team at Agritetrad Land Company. They have a clear goal. Produce the highest quality, organically grown fruit, so that the wine made from the grapes reflects the specific sense of place. Justin Willett, their winemaker, (and partner in Agritetrad) understands that making wine from beautiful fruit makes his job a lot easier. He is as much shepherd as skilled winemaker, allowing the juice to become wine with the minimal amount of intervention. Both philosophically and practically, he is a big asset to the Wenzlau Vineyard team.