Stuart Spencer
May 1, 2024 | Stuart Spencer

Why We Do It

My dad was the rebel, the independent thinker, the one that went left when everyone else went right. He lived outside the box and had zero patience for fools, charlatans, and salesmen. My mom is the rock, the rudder in the storm, the engine that keeps on going. The one that is always there.

In 1974 they harvested our first crop of grapes from our ranch in Amador County. Those first grapes were bottled as a vineyard-designated Zinfandel Rose by Concanon Vineyards. That wine and that experience launched our family on a 50-year journey into the world of wine. It has been an adventure, a road less traveled, filled with potholes, twists, and turns.

Whether it was frost, fires and floods, or rattlesnake bites, severed fingers and smashed knees, the wine and grape business has been painful. Lawsuits, broken contracts, and dead-beat wineries, distributors, and restaurants were at every turn.  We’ve had stolen wines, and stolen vines. Been bit by black widows, drove redwood stakes through the arm, and busted our bladder. Beavers flooded the ranch, and phylloxera killed the vineyard.  If a mistake could be made, we made it. If a problem could happen, it happened to us. 

When I was 2 months old my parents bought our ranch, at 4 we harvested our first grapes, at 8 they partnered on a fine wine shop, at 9 I was stealing sips of Chateau d’Yquem from my mom’s lap, at 10 I was foot stomping our first port in the front yard, at 11 picking grapes for our first Sauvignon Blanc, at 12 leaf-pulling and cluster thinning, at 13 attending my first tasting event at the Amador County fairgrounds.  At 36, Dad passed, and three days later, I was crushing grapes. At 54, I’m still doing it! At 82, mom is still at it. 

Why do we do it? It was not a lifestyle choice, second home, or the need to have our name on a bottle of wine. Our story is one borne of necessity. At first, we did it to get to the next day. We made wine when the grapes wouldn’t sell. We sold wine to pay the bills.  Quitting was not an option. As time passed, our why evolved. We were doing something special; we were doing something different, and we were part of a bigger story. We were lifting our community up and showing them a different way. 

We were at the forefront of planting Portuguese and Spanish varieties in California. We were at the leading edge of artisan winemaking in Lodi, showing growers a different path, and giving our community a sense of place. We’ve done this through an unwavering multi-decade commitment to our land, to our craft, and to our vision.  And along the way, we’ve made wines that make people happy. Wines that connect them with a time and place and connect them with each other and with us. 

The journey is not over. In many ways, we are still at the beginning.  We have big plans, new ideas, and feel our best wines lie ahead.  We have lifelong customers that have supported our journey, and loyal dedicated employees who help make it all happen. Thank you for your support, and stay tuned, we have exciting news coming!


Stuart Spencer


Commenting has been turned off.