Fork in the Road: Biddle Ranch Vineyard
Have you ever noticed that beautiful, iconic, old barn situated off the 227 as you are leaving San Luis Obispo and heading into the heart of Edna Valley? There used to be a “for sale” sign outside the barn for years until one day Anne Fortini finally reached out to the real estate agent to inquire about the property details. The Fortinis, along with their friends (and now business partners) the Rawlings, the Roncas, and the Woolperts, purchased the property together in 2012 with the vision of producing incredible regional wine, having an on-site tasting room, and converting the existing home into a rental property. “A lot of the partners have really strong ties to the Central Coast—many of them grew up here as small children. It’s exciting to finally be here, it’s exactly what everyone had envisioned for Biddle Ranch Vineyard,” smiles General Manager Leigh Woolpert.
In 2014 they hired on renowned winemaker Ryan Deovlet to develop and manage their wine operations; in 2015 they renovated the ranch house into a stunning VRBO and wedding venue; and in November 2016 they opened up their on-site tasting room—with everything finally in place, 2017 is going to be a big year for Biddle!
To make their dreams into a reality, each partner brought their unique skill set to the collaborative table. “Mark Woolpert particularly was really involved from an architectural standpoint, designing the building, and playing off the structures that were already here. He wanted to design the new tasting room in such a way that it feels like it fits here and it has a sense that’s it’s been here as long as the other buildings on the property,” explained Leigh. Anne being an Interior Designer [of Fortini Interiors] was really involved aesthetically with the interiors and exteriors of both the tasting room and the ranch rental; her son Ryan [of Fortini Landscapes] is a Landscape Architect was heavily involved from a design standpoint designing all the hardscapes and softscapes; and the Roncas and the Rawlings brought their business expertise to the entire joint venture. “The partners and everyone working here created this space to make it feel like you are at home—it was really made for the San Luis Obispo community. Grab a glass, grab a bottle, make yourself comfortable with an indoor or outdoor tasting. We want you to really experience where we live, soak it all in, and enjoy it,” Leigh beams.
The Biddle Ranch Tasting Room is open Thursday through Monday, 11-5 pm., Tuesdays and Wednesdays by appointment only. Summer 2017 they will be open every day; for current wine selection and ranch rental inquiries, visit www.biddleranch.com.
Spotlight on Winemaker Ryan Deovlet
“I love the craft of winemaking. It’s a 6,000 year old craft, and to be able to carry the torch for a little bit as a winemaker and to have a career in that is an honor,” says Ryan Deovlet—a humble, genuine, salt-of-the-earth man whose passion for winemaking is positively palpable.
Tell me about your first experience in winemaking.
I was in this wanderlust period after graduating UC San Diego with a Sociology & Economics degree—I thought I was going to go into law. But before I went to law school I wanted to travel a little bit, I found this program in Australia and New Zealand, it’s called Willing Workers on Organic Farms [WWOOF]. I got the WWOOF program and circled all the vineyards because my Dad was a wine drinker, and I wanted to travel to these places on a bit of a budget, and I wanted to see the country, and to learn at the same time. Within 6 months I was officially bit by the wine bug. I just loved it, I thought everyone was so passionate and their work ethic was through the roof and yet no c omplaints, they were in the right place.
What drew you to the Central Coast?
It would be hard not to speak about the transverse mountain ranges, proximity to the ocean, and these diurnal shifts that we have so that we can get a great kiss of sunshine in the area all the while retaining good acidity from colder nights. You get fantastic flavor development and phenolic maturity in the grape, plus you get good acidity which is very nice for food and wine.
What is the most exciting thing about producing wine in Edna Valley?
The vibrancy of Edna Valley—compared to Napa and Sonoma—we are only 30 years young [in Edna Valley] and we are taking such phenomenal strides. Not only what the grapes, the soil, and terroir can provide, but we can rely on the youth of the area and learn from the Niven family, the Talley family, Stephen Dooley, Jean-Pierre Wolff, Claiborne and Churchill. We can really continue what they’ve done to set the bar, and constantly keep finding the tenderloins and honing in, and making this region better and better.
Wine Profiles + Food Pairings
This lovely wine offers quintessential Chardonnay flavors and highlights the Edna Valley region with naturally high acidity. Offering seductive fruit and maintaining its freshness, the wine explodes on the palate and provides great length on the finish. Fermented in both stainless steel and neutral French oak barrels. Suggested food pairing: chicken.
2014 Sauvignon Blanc
Lovely nose of bosc pear, lychee, green apple, and white flowers with a flinty mineral undertone. The palate delivers bright delineated fruit, and pristine focus, all the while filling out a rounder mid-palate from its time in barrel. This wine was aged in both stainless steel and neutral French oak barrels for 10 months. Suggested food pairing: salad or cheese.
The wine has stunning aromatic lift offering an expressive nose of blue and black fruit, dark olive, espresso and bakers’ chocolate alongside beautiful floral notes of violet and plum blossom. Balanced with both power and concentration from the warmer vintage and freshness from the coastal vineyards, the wine has great structure and the quintessential chalky tannins of Syrah. Suggested food pairing: pork.
2014 Odyssey-Thurlestone Pinot Noir
Wonderful red fruit, quintessential brightness and acidity found in pinot noir, with stunning palate presence and texture. Suggested food pairing: fish.
2014 Spanish Springs Pinot Noir
This single vineyard wine leaps from the glass with sweet dark cherry, plum skin and spice. With the addition of 50% whole cluster fermentation, the wine has great structure and a tight core, that with air offers bright red fruit, herbs, crushed flowers, potpourri, and sassafras. Suggested food pairing: red meat.
Biddle Ranch Wine Club Membership Perks
Free to join!
Enjoy 15-20% discounts off all wine purchases based on your membership
Complimentary tastings for members + 2 guests (4 total)
Exclusive members-only events (pick-up parties, winemakers dinner) and promotions (access to newly released wine and first dibs on library wines)
Priority reservations at the Biddle Ranch Tasting Room
Originally published in Edible San Luis Obispo & Wine Country
Spring 2017 · Issue 17