Stonehouse Cellars: Wine and Family that Failed Forward

Stonehouse Cellars: Wine and Family that Failed Forward

Stonehouse Cellars: Wine and Family that Failed Forward

On February 10 at 1 p.m. a moment will occur at 500 Old Long Valley Road that has been 30 years in the making. Stonehouse Cellars will open its home to the community and share its wine with the world for the first time. The path to this moment has not been smooth nor glamorous. The Stonehouse Family faced fires, empty bank accounts, and the arduous task of resuscitating neglected vines. Yet on February 10 you will find us with big smiles, open arms, and deep pride in what we have accomplished. Because while we still have much to learn, we have become experts at failing forward.

In 2009 the economy was gasping for air and Napa grapes were dirt cheap to those who would come and pick them. Greg Stratmann filled his Sprinter van with grapes from Howell Mountain and tried his hand at winemaking with Clinton Jones in his garage in Pacifica. “The wine was barely palatable,” Greg laughs. “But it had the soul of a good cabernet. We thought if we had more control over the grape, we might make some good wine.” An idea was born and Greg and Clinthis wife Jimee, along with a group of ambitious friends, started searching for the perfect land.

Perfect is not the word you would use to describe Pomo Ranch. It was bank-owned, overgrown with starthistle, and the vines were all but abandoned. The last bottle of wine produced from its land was in 1986 and people warned them the vineyard could not be resuscitated. It was the Stonehouse that stole their hearts, with a charm you can feel as soon as you walk in. So in 2010, they bought the disheveled Pomo Ranch and renamed it Stonehouse Cellars. Hana was born the same year and Greg and Jimee became proud parents of a new baby and a fixer-upper vineyardwinery.

When the ranch was in escrow, an oak tree dropped on an electrical line and nearly burnt down Marlene’s, the cozy brown ranch house at the top of the hill. Only months into ownership, a spontaneous combustion burned the mainranch house to the ground, a house that Greg described as “...the nicest house I had ever lived in.” In 2011, Greg took a chainsaw to the vines in an effort to give them a fresh start and only one of the three blocks bounced back. In 2012, Greg and Jimee sold their house in order to finance the building of the new winery. The same year, Kai was born and they found themselves this time with a new baby, a toddler, and a winery that still needed a lot of fixing.

However, in the midst of the struggle, both their marriage and their resolve strengthened. “We pulled together more tightly,” Greg says. “Jimee really stepped up to the plate. I couldn’t have done any of this without her.”

They kept failing forward and falling deeper in love with the land and the choice they made for their family. Greg gets a peaceful look on his face when he talks about Lake County, “We are extremely fortunate to have been entrusted to care for this special piece of land. Lake County is not crowded, not overrun, and not in a valley, but has the same great dirt as Napa. In Lake County you will not see stretch limos, lipstick, or lacquer. In fact, from our vineyard you might not see anything for miles, no houses, no roads, no traffic, no machinery, no developments, just the incredibly beautiful mountains that remain pristine and serene.”

On the afternoon of February 10 you will experience the wine that resulted from a family that refused to give up on its land. The glass of wine in your hand was hard won and you can taste its pride in its struggle. Still imperfect, still learning, still failing forward, and proud of it.

We would be honored if you joined us for the Inaugural Wine Release Party on February 10. Come taste our award-winning wines, tour our land and home, and breathe a little deeper. Register here or call (707) 998-3378 to connect with a member of the team.


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