When we started to look for a talented winemaker to add to our team, I made one call.
Kyle Knapp began his winemaking career in 2005 at Ballard Canyon neighbor Beckmen Vineyards. Beckmen’s Purisima Mountain Vineyard borders Stolpman and like our ranch, lies on Limestone soils. In 2006 Kyle embarked on an ambitious triple vintage first in Australia’s Flying Fish Winery Margaret River. Kyle returned to Santa Barbara County for the Pinot Noir harvest at Fiddlehead Winery STA Rita Hills and finished the year with our later ripening Rhone Varietals alongside Sashi. Kyle quickly assumed the role as Stolpman’s Assistant Winemaker and continued on with us into 2010. Kyle then hopped back over the fence to Beckmen Vineyards where he worked with Mikael Sigouin and Steve Beckmen until I recently gave him a ring.
After 10 years of experience making Ballard Canyon wines, Kyle is rejoining Sashi Moorman and John Faulkner at Stolpman Vineyards. Kyle is especially excited to dive back into our Grenache program as he convinced Sashi to bottle our first varietal Grenache back in 2006. Kyle’s own project, Press Gang Cellars, focuses on Grenache.
Rejoining the Stolpman team gives Kyle access to our new concrete fermenters and the opportunity to craft our unprecedented new vineyard developments all the way to bottle. Kyle’s official start date is February 8th, when Sashi and John will begin a crash course in our evolving methods leading up to the 2016 harvest. Kyle will provide an invaluable palate and a well-honed skill-set to start new trials and experiments.
With fourteen new acres of head-pruned vineyards coming online in 2017, Kyle will help us take on an increase in our highest quality fruit and he will play an instrumental role in the augmentation of our winemaking operation.
Kyle and his wife, Savanna, have an energetic two year old son, Milo, and a second baby due in April. Born and raised in Lompoc, Kyle is an avid surfer and the survivor of a 2008 Great White Shark attack. I was relieved to hear that Kyle no longer paddles out at Surf Beach, where the attack occurred.
Investing in our Future
In January, we met Kyle on the vineyard and inspected both the steep new high-density blocks and the gnarled original plantings. With the combination of mature vines nearing their 30s and new vineyards just planted; Kyle, Ruben, Sashi, John and the whole team agree – the brightest era of Stolpman Vineyards lies in front of us.