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
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 the1993 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
This winery truly has it all—history, climate, soil and most
importantly, a family dedicated to producing wines their ancestors would be