In 1999 we purchased 82 acres in what would later become the Sta. Rita Hills appellation (Santa Rita Hills in California is legally Sta. Rita Hills), and named it “Ampelos,” the Greek word for vine. The name has a two-fold purpose. First, we believe that all great wines start in the vineyard. Secondly, we have close ties with Greece; we were married there and own a small bed & breakfast, called Ampelos Resort, on the island of Folegandros. We bought the land with dreams of someday watching the nightly sunset over the hills and our dogs running through the vines.
Soil. Vines. Wines. This is the order in which great wine is made. Waking up from the dream is the belief that a farmer must know his fruit, and we are resolute in our passion to produce hands-on, minimally invasive wines that both whisper and shout about the terroir from which they are grown. Our vineyard is one of the first in the US to be certified Sustainability in Practice, Organic and Biodynamic. Our commitment to eco-friendly, organic farming and wine making is evident in every sip.
A cancelled meeting at the World Trade Center on the morning of September, 11, 2001, brought us to the realization that it was time to pursue our dreams of growing grapes as if tomorrow might never arrive. We quit our corporate jobs and moved permanently to our fledgling vineyard in the southern Sta. Rita Hills AVA to start learning about farming the land from Jeff Newton (Central Vineyard Care). There we learned how to make wine at the feet of our son Don Schroeder, now winemaker at Sea Smoke Cellars.
We produce approximately 5,000 cases per year, with a focus on growing organic grapes and creating well-crafted wines. Our methods combine a respect for tradition and openness to innovation, keeping our wine making methods as natural as possible and free of harsh chemicals. All the extra grape skins, stems, seeds, and lees are composted, and we hand punch-down our wines to minimize use of electricity. In fact, we absorb more CO2 than we produce.
The combination of carefully nurtured vines, sustainable farming, hand-sorted fruit, eco-friendly wine making, and the passion in a wine that is elegant, unique and supremely drinkable. The clean and cared-for fruit shines through every bottle, glass and sip of Ampelos wine. We relish the privilege of sharing the literal fruits of our journey with friends old and new!