Stolo Family Winery prepares to uncork its Cambria tasting ‘barn’

Business expands to include 5,000-square-foot building with 10,000-case capacity

rrailey@thetribunenews.comAugust 9, 2012 

Eight years after the Stolo family began making wine from its Cambria vineyard along Santa Rosa Creek Road, it expects to open its winery and tasting room in September.

“It looks like a rusty old barn,” said Maria Bennetti, of San Luis Obispo, daughter of Don and Charalene Stolo, the owners of Stolo Family Winery. “It fits in with the landscape.”

The new 5,000-square-foot building will include 700 square feet for tasting and capacity to make up to 10,000 cases of wine a year. With two labels, the Stolos currently produce about 500 cases a year.

The family estimates cost of construction at $970,000.

Just applying drywall this week, Bennetti said they hope to be ready for a soft opening by Sept. 15, followed by a grand opening in October tied to the Cambria Scarecrow Festival.

The family has hired Nicole Bertotti Pope as winemaker. She was most recently assistant winemaker at Talley Vineyards in Arroyo Grande. Her husband, Lucas Pope, also manages the Stolo vineyards.

The 53-acre property has a farmhouse, a smaller residence, a century-old dairy barn and nine acres of pinot noir, chardonnay and syrah.

Since 2008, an additional 15 acres of vineyard has been planted to fuel the Stolo Family Vineyard estate label. Bennetti estimates it could expand to 1,000 cases over the next four years.

The TriViti label will focus on wines from purchased grapes, and production will be based on tasting room sales.

“We’re concerned we might not have enough wine to stay open year-round,” said Bennetti, who has worked in sales for small boutique wineries in northern California for the past decade.

The Stolos plan to retire in Cambria. For now, they split time between the farmhouse and Brea, where they operate another family business called Stolo Cabinets.

“At this point, that’s what’s really funding this winery,” Bennetti added.

Grilling and wines put to the test

More than one event Saturday will pit winemakers in competition to test their grilling skills for a good cause:

• The fifth annual SLO Wine and Grill Affair will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. at Filipponi Ranch, 1850 Calle Joaquin in San Luis Obispo. Proceeds support Transitions-Mental Health Association. Tickets are $35 per person or $40 at the door. For details or tickets, visit www.T-MHA .org or call 540-6511.

• The Paso Robles Rotary will hold its 14th annual Winemakers’ Cookoff on Saturday from 6 to 9 p.m. at River Oaks Hot Springs, 800 Clubhouse Drive. The event funds vocational youth scholarships. Tickets are $75 per person or $40 for designated drivers. For information, see www.winemakers cookoff.com.

Nonprofit hosts wine tasting

The Central Coast Wine Growers Association will hold its Summer Extravaganza at Edwards Barn in Nipomo on Saturday.

The nonprofit represents vineyards and wineries in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties.

Open to the public, the event begins at 4:30 p.m. and includes wine tasting, dinner, auctions and live music. Tickets are $50 per person. For details or tickets, visit www.ccwga.org or call John Burke at 928-4950.

Raven J. Railey’s Wine Notes column is special to The Tribune. Have a suggestion for Wine Notes? Email rrailey@thetribunenews.com or call 441-4556.

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