The Land

Personal and complex; nuanced and intriguing;
the story of our land emulates the wine it produces.


Rancho Viñedo Vineyard

Rancho Viñedo Vineyard, at the Western portion of the original Rancho Tepusquet Land Grant, was planted to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes in 1973 by the Robert N. Woods family. The vineyard continued to be farmed by the Woods' hands until 2012, when James leased the vineyard, operating it with the assistance of Robin Woods.

Old vines, on their own roots (something with which James had vast experience from a neighboring property), albeit on entirely different soils, were the main draw. Rancho Viñedo offered a terrific juxtaposition to the land James was already farming at Rancho Ontiveros. Although only four miles away, the soils of Rancho Viñedo are millions of years older, the vines decades older, and the property itself carried a meaning that might be hard for someone else other than the descendant of this land to appreciate.

Planted in 1973 on its own root, without root stock.
Originally 27 acres, reduced to 12.75 in 2014.


  • Elevation: 430 ft
  • Vine-Row Orientation: East/West
  • Trellis type: T-Trellis
  • USDA Soil Series: Pleasanton Series over river-washed cobble
  • Aspect: Rolling, slightly West-facing

North Block

  • Varietal: Chardonnay // Acres: 4.93 // Rows: 1-29
  • Clone: Wente Clone 72 // Vines per acre: 605
  • Planting density: 12' x 3'
  • Farmed: Head trained, cane pruned

Middle Block

  • Varietal: Pinot Noir // Acres: 2.78 // Rows: 30-54
  • Clone: Martini // Vines per acre: 605
  • Planting density: 12' x 6'
  • Farmed: Bi-lateral cordon, spur pruned

South Block

  • Varietal: Chardonnay // Acres: 3.06 // Rows: 55-79
  • Clone: Wente Clone 72 // Vines per acre: 605
  • Planting density: 12' x 6'
  • Farmed: Bi-lateral cordon, spur pruned

Rancho Ontiveros Vineyard

James and his sister grew up on Rancho Ontiveros, a small, humble cattle ranch their folks worked hard to make their home. Located at the southernmost side of the Santa Maria Valley, Rancho Ontiveros, at over 700 feet elevation, overlooks the Rancho Tepusquet Land Grant but was not part of it. An area that had been dismissed, if not discarded, due to historic oil operations, James' parents saw an opportunity to raise their family outdoors in the country. Later, the high elevations of windswept Garey Series soils would be the vehicle that drove their son, at the age of 23, to plant his first vineyard to Pinot Noir—at the time, a risky, unconventional choice.

Ultimately, the struggle of the vines in the nutrient-depleted, often inhospitable conditions has an ironic, positive effect on the wine, in what James appropriately calls "the poetic weirdness of life."

Native9 is sourced from 2 select blocks, totaling just 8 of the 153 acres of Rancho Ontiveros Vineyard. Planted in 1997 and 2000.


  • Elevation: 764 ft
  • Vine-Row Orientation: North/South
  • Trellis type: VSP (Vertical Shoot Position)
  • USDA Soil Series: Garey Series Sandy Silty Loam (GaC2)
  • Aspect: Fairly flat; Block 1 is slightly East-facing; Block 2 is slightly North-facing

Block 1

  • Acres: 5 (the original planting of this vineyard)
  • Planted: 1997
  • Clone (1 Acre Each): Pommard 4, Wadensville 2A, Dijon Clones 113, 114, 115
  • Vines Per Acre: 907
  • Planting Density: 8' x 6'
  • Farmed: Bi-lateral cordon, spur pruned

Block 2

  • Acres: 3
  • Planted: 2000
  • Clone (1 Acre Each): French Selection 1A, Swan Clone, Benedict (from the original Sanford & Benedict planting)
  • Vines Per Acre: 1,089
  • Planting Density: 8' x 5'
  • Farmed: Bi-lateral cordon, spur pruned

The Club

Ranchos de Ontiveros is, first and foremost, real. We’re still farming and ranching right here in the Santa Maria Valley—where our family’s dream began nearly two centuries ago. If you’ve liked what you’ve tasted, seen, heard or experienced, we’d love for you to join our club to get access to our limited releases and events.

Join the Club