Like his great-grandfather, Frederick Doak, who at the turn of the century moved his family to the Napa Valley to grow wine grapes for Inglenook Winery, Fred Rice and his wife Linda relocated their three children from Santa Barbara to a terraced 55-acre ranch over-looking the Santa Ynez River in 1989. The sight was selected for its ideal south-sloping exposure; sandy, rocky soil; and a microclimate which produces early morning fog, warm, breezy afternoons, and cool evenings.

The goal of the Rice family is to produce exceptionally high quality, estate produced wines by utilizing organic farming methods, using extensive canopy and crop management techniques, and handcrafting wines in small lots. Fred explains that "The grapes from our vineyards are hand-harvested, hand-sorted and gently crushed before being placed in small containers for fermentation, where they are continually punched-down for the best extraction."

The site of the winery was originally a horse barn, which was seriously damaged when an oak tree fell on it after heavy rains and winds. The current 5,000 square foot structure was completed in April 1994, and is reminiscent of some of the small wineries in the Provencal French countryside. A kitchen complete with a wood-burning oven is a part of the tasting room ambiance, and a 120' stone barrel-aging cave is built into the hillside at the rear of the production room. Additional caves are still being excavated.

Thanks to that storm, Sunstone now has one of the most attractive wineries and tasting rooms in the Santa Ynez Valley. "Our goal was to create a place where wine and food could be enjoyed in a picturesque atmosphere," says Linda Rice, "along with all the camaraderie and sense of sharing that is so much part of this lifestyle. All of our interests, from environmental preservation and organic growing to the celebration of wine and food, have come together here."

Sunstone Vineyards & Winery / 125 Refugio Road / Santa Ynez, CA 93460 / 800-313-WINES or 805-688-WINE

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