Stephen Ross Wine Cellars
Possibly the Most Under-the-Radar Quality Pinot Producer
You Haven’t Heard Of—and Need to!
Stephen Ross Wine Cellars is tucked away, unobtrusively, on a small street in an industrial area, just outside central San Luis Obispo. The urban winery and tasting room produces some of the most delicate, magnificent, well rated Pinot Noirs on the Central Coast. This is a destination tasting room, you aren’t going to be “just driving by” and say, “Oh…..let’s stop there.” So, if you love Pinot, and I mean really good Pinot, make this a Central Coast wine tasting destination, you will be more than pleased that you did.
The Road Less Travelled
Stephen Ross Dooley took the road less travelled as he created his own label of refined, quality wines. He was born in the small town of Mankato, Minnesota (population about 30,000 back then), where his college major was biochemistry. After two years, he transferred to University of California, Davis earning a degree in enology. He started working in Napa Valley at the Louis Martini Winery in 1977 and spent the next decade there—while taking some time off working harvests Down Under. Dooley moved to California’s Central Coast in 1987 becoming winemaker and general manager for Edna Valley Vineyards. Stephen Ross Cellars was formed in 1994, allowing Dooley to use his experience and creativity to craft what has become a well-respected, sought-after label, focusing on his passion: Pinot Noir.
Quality, Quality, Quality
There is a saying in real estate, that the three most important things to consider when purchasing a house are: Location, location, location. Likewise, in winemaking, the three most important things to consider are: Quality, quality, quality. To this end, Stephen sources fruit from the best vineyards in California, that allows him to produce wines that express terroir, weather and, of course, the grape. Fruit is sourced from premier vineyards in Edna Valley, the Santa Maria Valley, the Santa Lucia Highlands and Paso Robles, in addition to Dooley’s own estate vineyard, Stone Corral Vineyard in the Edna Valley. Committed to producing wines that reflect the terroir and micro climates, the vineyards Dooley sources from are all SIP Certified* or certified organic.
*To learn more about SIP (Sustainability in Practice), visit www.sipcertified.org.
Come Taste Pinot Noir — and More!
The urban location of the winery and tasting room is off the beaten track, under the radar and certainly over delivers! Paula Dooley (Stephen’s wife) will tell you that the majority of their visitors are “inquisitive, engaging and seeking a great glass of wine.” The tasting room itself is relaxed and welcoming, with several seating areas, a tasting bar and an array of colorful, local artwork exhibited on the walls. The tasting menu will always offer five wines (generally three Pinots and two other varietals), and changes monthly. You can see the winery through the glass window, and if not too crowded, don’t hesitate to ask Stephen or Paula (who are generally there), for a tour.
If you come at a time when you can sit down and talk with Stephen, he will tell you about his passion for a nuanced approach to winemaking as he shepherds remarkable fruit into exquisite wines. Dooley says: “ I see my role as winemaker as turning sunlight into wine. The best wines start in the vineyard, and I guide them to excellence.” And, indeed, he does!
The next time you are on the Central Coast, make it a point to plan a tasting at Stephen Ross Wine Cellars.
Fun Fact: The top of the tasting bar was specially designed to be white, so that you can easily assess the color and clarity of each glass of wine.
Specialized “focused tastings” are available by appointment.
Check the website for details on the benefits of wine club membership.
Recent Wine Enthusiast ratings:
• 2014 Santa Lucia Highlands (93 points)
• 2015 Edna Valley Estate (91 points)
• 2014 Bien Nacido Vineyards (92 points)
• 2014 Stone Corral Vineyard, Estate (92 points)
• 2015 Albarino, Jespersen Ranch, Edna Valley (90 points)
• 2014 Chardonnay, Edna Valley (91 points, Editors’ Choice)
• 2014 Grenache, Bee Sweet Vineyard (93 points, Editors’ Choice)
If you are looking for exquisite wines, and an engaging experience without “the hoopla,” Stephen Ross Wine Cellars is for you!