It’s going to be a great year at WBC16! We had such a tremendous response to the excursions, our friends at Ironstone Vineyards threw their name in the cap to host a second post-conference excursion option. This excursion is designed to give attendees a unique and intimate setting few will ever get to experience getting to know this beautiful winery known to some as the Queen of the Sierras!
About Ironstone Vineyards
At the base of the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountain Range sits the Sierra Foothills. The soils have intense rich minerals that were discovered during the 49er gold rush. Start your visit to Ironstone Vineyards with a tour hosted by Founder, John Kautz. A second generation farmer, John’s parents immigrated to the United States from Germany and purchased just a few acres of land from a U.S. Land Grant. Taking the lead, John built this family farm of 38 acres to where it is today with over 7,000 acres of vineyards in Lodi and the Sierra Foothills. John has many honors to his name including U.S. Jaycees National LP-Gas Association National Outstanding Your Farmer, Ford Foundations’ Top Farm Manager USA, California State Fair Agriculturalist of the Year, California Association of Wine Grape Growers Grower of the Year. Additionally, John has served on many boards promoting agriculture and tourism for California. These include Ag Policy Advisory Committee (APAC) to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Clayton Yeutter, CFO of the California Travel & Tourism Commission, Chairman of the California State Chamber of Commerce and President of the California State Board of Food & Agriculture. He is also a member of Winrock International-Rockefeller Foundation, California Farm Bureau, California Wine Institute, Western Growers Association and KVIE Public Television. Building Ironstone has been his dream and he will share every aspect of the winery and gorgeous grounds that surround it.
Meet Your Excursion Hosts
Stephen Kautz, President of Ironstone Vineyards and Steve Millier will lead you through what makes the iron and granite soils ideal for wine grape growing. Stephen Kautz attended California Polytechnic State University and has been instrumental in developing the vineyards that are a part of Ironstone’s Reserve range of wines. His passion for Calaveras County shines through with his memberships as President of Calaveras Wine Grape Alliance, Calaveras County Fair, Calaveras Visitors Bureau, as well as a past Director of the California Wine Institute and California Agricultural Leadership Program.
Director of Winemaking, Steve Millier is an Enology graduate of California State University, Fresno. His career started in the Santa Cruz Mountains with famed David Bruce Winery, known for their Pinot Noirs. Later, Steve joined Stevenot Winery in Murphys and for many years purchased grapes from the Kautz family. In 1989, Steve joined Ironstone as founding Winemaker and has been instrumental in all aspects of the winery. Winning numerous awards through the years, such as the prestigious “Prix d’Excellence Award” from the International Du Vin in France, as well as a plethora of Gold medals, Steve shows his creative side with unique varieties, like Symphony, Cabernet Franc and Petite Sirah.
Joan Kautz, Sales & Marketing, who will be your host throughout the day has lead a career in marketing and sales of her family’s brands. After graduating from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and after some short stints in D.C. politics, she elected to start the international marketing and sales for Ironstone. Taking the family’s brands from a few US states to approximately 50 countries worldwide today, she has been the passion behind the distribution. Involved in all aspects of the branded business, Joan has helped with the direction of the wines, branding all products and expanding both the domestic and international markets.
A Deeper View
Steve Millier, Craig Rous and Joan Kautz will guide you through a tasting of their Ironstone wines including Sierra Foothills Estate Grown Chardonnay, Viognier, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Meritage. Additionally, Craig Rous, Director of Operations and owner of the famed “Rous Vineyard” will taste through a vertical of the Ironstone Lodi Reserve Rous Vineyard Ancient Vine Zinfandel. The Rous Vineyard planted in 1909 has had an interesting life surviving phylloxera and being used in a white zinfandel blend. Craig brought this incredible vineyard back to its roots of an intense and elegant Zinfandel. Craig will explain how he made the changes and how the wine has evolved over the years. A graduate of U.C. Davis in 1979, Craig started his career at Robert Mondavi Winery, where he was instrumental in directing research efforts and grower education programs pointing towards constant vineyard and wine improvement. His 19 years spent at Mondavi elevated him to the task of becoming Director of Operations for the Kautz family’s Bear Creek Winery, a production winery that crushes approximately 50,000 tons of grapes per year. Craig’s main priority has been to constantly improve wine and grape quality by using technology and winemaking techniques found in smaller wineries. For example wine/vineyard lots are held separate until each is evaluated for attributes desired in each brand, then blended.
Indulge in a delicious pairing of Ironstone wines and fine foods artfully created by Outer Aisle Restaurant. Eric & Christine Taylor, owners of Outer Aisle, will prepare a flavor-filled menu using Calaveras-grown produce. Their philosophy is that the best-tasting food begins with fresh-picked locally-sourced ingredients, many of which they grow on their own farm. Their commitment to flavor, quality and healthy eating are values that inspire them to create their wonderful ‘farm to fork to flavor’ menu.
Sounds amazing…right?? There are only a few spots left on this fantastic excursion so please make sure to sign up soon!