When Tom Stolpman purchased the land that is now Stolpman Vineyards, he declared that if his dream of owning a vineyard was to come true, it would not be on the backs of people being taken advantage of. He asked vineyard manager Ruben Solorzano to employ our vineyard workers year-round, so the team members could have a steady job, a career, and raise their families with security.
Ruben Solorzano took Tom’s idea a step further: he aimed to further engage our workers. He wanted our crew members to learn the lifecycle of the vine and become engaged and passionate about their work.
A man of action, Ruben started a training program in which he gave one Cuadra - a small vineyard block - to his team so they would take responsibility for their land. Each crew member became the farmer rather than just the worker. A few years later, once the crew had independently mastered vineyard management, Ruben revealed his grand experiment to Mr. Stolpman. Thrilled, Tom declared that all of the wine made from the crew’s training Cuadra would be given to the team members for their own consumption. Having the self-titled wine at the dinner table served as both a source of pride and a chance to appreciate fine wine.
Beginning with the 2009 vintage, we expanded the Cuadrilla program to blend in more wine from the vineyard in addition to the training Cuadra. Today, 10% of the vineyard’s production goes into the blend. The profits are returned to the crew members, divided by seniority, in the form of a year-end bonus.
Because Ruben rotates the Cuadra to a different area of the vineyard each year, the blend of La Cuadrilla changes each vintage. Inspired by the perpetual change and innovation, creative director Kari Crist designs a new black and white image for each vintage’s release. The photos always relate to the Cuadrilla members.
The 2016 label honors the founder of Cuadrilla, Ruben Solrozano. Today, as partner in Coastal Vineyard Care Associates, Ruben manages several hundred acres of vineyards, not just Stolpman. We envision Ruben as one of the Red Tailed Hawks that glide in the wind above our vineyard every afternoon. He oversees our crew and our vines with an all-knowing presence. The Hawk is emblazoned with picking sheers, a symbol for only touching the vines by hand rather than by machine – as well as moons in different phases, as we work the ground and the vines based on variances in lunar gravity.
The gentle, moderate 2016 growing season gave us dark, rich wines that please the palate immediately but are balanced enough to live long, happy lives. The 2016 wines are all about pleasure, and the Cuadrilla blend is no exception.
AT THE WINERY
There are three distinct elements of La Cuadrilla. First, 100% of the crew’s training cuadra makes up the initial base of the blend. Second, we select barrels of gently pressed red wine as all of our Stolpman black label wines are kept entirely free-run for further fruit purity and fine tannins. Lastly, we declassify fruit forward, approachable lots of Syrah that might not add complexity to wines like Estate, Originals, and Hilltops Syrah.
2016 La Cuadrilla pops with a blast of fresh red plum, boysenberry, and blueberry fruit. Enjoyable out of the gate, the full-bodied wine’s power is totally in check – with tannin and acidity already integrated into the pure juiciness that lasts way through the finish. This wine is going to make a lot of folks very happy with the crew!