For the past 27 years Ruben Solorzano has soaked up every drop of knowledge from his mentors. He first turned to his older brother Marcos for guidance, and through the 1990s, Jeff Newton took Ruben under his wing. Then Sashi Moorman and Alberto Antonini came on the scene in 2001, and a few years later, Michel Rolland began consultations. Today Ruben stays in regular contact with these men and Napa’s most revered vintners Tom Prentice, Daniel Roberts, and Paul Hobbs.
Lucky for us, in 1994 Tom Stolpman saw Ruben’s talent and hired him as our foreman. 22 years later, we are proud to join forces with Ruben and his wife in our Para Maria wine. However, we didn’t want our partnership to be limited to only an entry level offering.
Since 2008, Ruben has been making excellent wines in small lots from some of the other local vineyards he manages. Last year, we brainstormed about how to make these wines even more special. The solution was pretty obvious. Ruben crafts his wines in the vineyard; so to make the most authentic “Rubenesque” wine, Ruben must plant his own vineyard and make wine from his domain.
As of January 2016, we have given Ruben and his family 4 acres of land adjacent to the Solorzano family’s home on Stolpman Vineyards. Late last year, Ruben prepped the soil and began hammering upright posts into the ground.
Ruben is in complete control of his vineyard: the spacing, the trellising technique and the varietals mapped out over each hill exposure. The blocks will be planted at extremely high-density similar to the Cote-Rotie inspired Ruben’s Block. The vines will be spaced so tightly all work must be done by hand – literally lending a more personal touch to the grapes.
Last week Ruben announced that his initial vineyards will consist of a 1.5 acre block of Mourvedre containing two clones. This vineyard will sit on the long plateau above his home. The small East facing hill will be dedicated to .5 acres of Clone 470 Syrah. Ruben will leave the Canyon floor fallow for the time being, and a one acre clone 362 Grenache block will round out the offering. Each of the 18,000 budwood segments will be own-rooted for further fruit purity.
Ruben anticipates co-fermenting the Grenache and Mourvedre and then blending the Syrah to make one wine. The vineyard’s first vintage should be 2017 and wine will be released via Stolpman Vineyards in 2019.