Located in Cienega Valley, DeRose Vineyards was founded on land rich in winemaking history. Since 1854, when French immigrant Theophile Vaché began hauling his wine to market in San Juan Bautista, the property has survived several changes in ownership, a few major earthquakes and the age of prohibition. Prized by generations of vintners for its temperate climate and great soil, it is an ideal location for growing wine grapes.
William Palmtag, a German immigrant, acquired the property from Vaché in 1880 and produced wine of such quality as to win silver medals at the 1900 World Exposition in Paris.
Run by only a handful of people over the next 50 years, it was purchased by Almaden Vineyards in 1953 for its red wine production. The wine industry giant changed its focus in the early 1980s and sold the property to Heublein in 1987. It lay dormant in Heublein’s hands and was soon put on the market.
The DeRose and Cedolini families, whose ancestors have been making wine for over 10 generations, purchased the vineyards and cellars in 1988 along with partner Ernie Miller. Later, Winemaker Pat DeRose rescued 100 acres of abandoned vines from the clenches of tall weeds and thistles, including about 40 acres planted before 1900. Most of these vines are dry-farmed in deep sandy-loam soils on terraced hillsides. Besides revitalizing the vineyards, the DeRose and Cedolini families downsized the large operation into an ultra-premium artisan winery.
In their first year of production, the family made just 600 gallons of zinfandel, cabernet franc and pinot St. George (now called negrette) under the Cienega Valley Winery label. Production increased to 9,700 gallons in 1990 and is now at 5,000 cases. The ultra-premium DeRose Vineyards label was introduced with the release of the 1993 wines.
Situated directly above the San Andreas Fault, DeRose is one of only a few wineries on Earth to have a major fault line dissecting its main building. A plaque declares the site a National Natural Landmark for its strategic positioning while University of California Berkeley seismologists have installed instruments to monitor movement.
The property’s largest cellar, four acres in area with a capacity of 37,000 fifty-nine-gallon barrels, was at one time “the world’s largest covered wine cellar” according to the Guinness Book of World Records. The winery is also the “oldest existing winery” in the State of California according to well-known wine historian Charles Sullivan.
DeRose Vineyards produces award-winning zinfandel, negrette, cabernet franc and viognier. Every bottle shows depth, intensity and true varietal character. Drinkable upon release or with proper cellaring, they possess the necessary fruit and structure for enjoyment at any level of interest.
This winery truly has it all—history, climate, soil and most importantly, a family dedicated to producing wines their ancestors would be proud of.