Cuadrilla Especial 2020
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 positively affect everyone involved. 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 locally and 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, the fruits of the crew’s labor! 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, at least 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 both a year-end bonus as well as weekly bonuses on each paycheck. The big year-end bonus allows the crew members a chance to add to their savings and overall cushion, while the weekly bonus aims to increase the quality of everyday life for la cuadrilla and their families.
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. La Cuadrilla Especial celebrates the 10th anniversary of creative director Kari Crist’s artist series of labels. It is a throw-back to the very first Picking Shears label she created for the 2011 vintage. We only work our vines by hand here at Stolpman, and our shears are used throughout pruning, adjusting, and harvesting. The limited production Especial bottling is a classic Rhone-style blend that will be sold to our wine club members as a thank you for their passionate support of our sustainable employment efforts.
The 2020 vintage started with much needed late rain in March and April. The cold moisture pushed back bud break and set up an anticipated late harvest. Ripening then accelerated after late season heat waves. The August and September heat brought intensity and robustness to make 2020 a full-bodied, ripe vintage.
A blockbuster nose of pretty red cherries and plum – the wine presents itself as feminine and silky yet fresh and pure. Youthful fine tannin, perfect for any cuisine, will continue to become enveloped by the forceful red fruit flesh of the mid palate in the coming months. With a few moments of air the red fruit becomes even more pronounced and opulent.