Nestled in the rolling hills of Auburn amid farmland and horse ranches, Viña Castellano’s pristine vineyard is surrounded by stone walls and pastoral views. Longtime Placer County residents, the Mendez Family, have been building this estate for over 40 years incorporating the spirit of their Spanish heritage and history.
The Estate Vineyard and winery was added 14 years ago and now produces a spectrum of mediterranean wines, including their beloved signature and award-winning Spanish varietals. The vineyard welcomes guests to visit their Stone Barrel Cave and Tasting Room, Thursday through Sunday from noon until 5 pm.
Guests will enjoy between 9 and 13 Estate wines, which were produced by the Mendez family along with their longtime Winemaking and Viticulture consultant, Derek Irwin, who is a prized Napa-based winemaker with his own wonderful line of wines. Irwin family wines produced form Viña Castellano grapes can occasionally be enjoyed at the winery, as well.
Visitors may enjoy tasting a full flight which includes the San Francisco Chronicle “Best of Class” Tempranillo as well as the California State Fair “Best of California” Abuelito Red spanish blend. Guests may also choose to go with the Vintner’s Choice limited flight tasting which includes 6 to 7 of the family’s favorite wines.
Special reserved programs also exist, including a box lunch program, a Bootlegger’s Picnic Program and a private Tapas and Tasting Program which allows the visitor to reserve the cave tasting room any evening after 5:30pm and includes a flight of 7 wines paired with Tapas catered and delivered to the estate for parties of 10 or more. This popular program requires reservations weeks, and at certain times of the year, months in advance.
Guests may select the romance of the stone cave tasting room or the picturesque picnic area located in the estate Garnacha and Monastrell vineyards. This outdoor area is home to the Island bar which offers Sangria tasting on summer weekends and allows visitors to enjoy the wines in the relaxed lawn area around the water. Whichever you chose, a trip to Viña Castellano grants visitors the opportunity of experiencing a little piece of the Spain in the Sierra Foothills.
At Viña Castellano the philosophy is that wine-making should be the perfect combination of old-world traditions and leading-edge technology. It is this uncompromising philosophy that dictates the precision with which the farm and estate vineyards, are farmed. Viña Castellano was one of the first estate vineyards re-planted in Placer county since prohibition and the first to use 100% of their own grapes to create their wines.
The Mendez and Wilkins family are dedicated to helping Placer County restore itself to the thriving wine region it was before prohibition. Likewise, they are committed to the idea that Mediterranean varietals from Spain, Italy and the South of France will secure the Sierra Foothills and Placer County a continuing place in the California and international wine industry.
One of the goals at Viña Castellano, is to produce the best spanish varietals in the United States. Since it’s inception, they have been committed to environmental stewardship and the practice of sustainable agriculture. They have implemented many practices within their vineyard to secure that it will be here for years to come, producing world class grapes for it’s award-winning estate program.
Viña Castellano practices sustainable agriculture, including:
- Using drip irrigation and buried soil-moisture monitors to ensure we do not waste water by irrigating below the roots of the vines.
- Leaving some ground cover un-mowed to preserve the habitat for beneficial insects.
- Leaving certain native plants where they exist to provide winter habitat for a parasitic wasp that attacks leafhoppers.
- Utilizing organic products such as sulfur and stylet oil to replace hard chemicals that control powdery mildew.
- Bird netting during verasion
- hand-harvesting of select fruit
The family truly understands and celebrate the notion that great wine starts in the vineyard. This idealistic approach to winegrowing ensures that the family’s estate will maintain its viability for generations to come, while putting the best they have to offer in each tank, barrel and bottle of wine they.
In 2004, the Mendez family moved all winemaking operations in house, to obtain the Estate status they have enjoyed for 10 years. At that time, they hired seasoned winemaking consultant, Derek Irwin, to help them obtain the authentic, Old-world, style they are so passionate about.
It was important to Gabe and his youngest daughter Teena, who is the managing partner of the Estate, that they along with their longtime Vineyard manager and Cellar Master, Victor Brambila, do the handwork of making the wine. At the same time they recognized the value and experience that is offered by winemakers of Irwin’s caliber.
Irwin joined Viña Castellano as both a winemaking and vineyard consultant. He comes to the Sierra Foothills with years of experience in both winemaking and vineyard management in the Napa and Sonoma Regions. There he worked for the well known Viansa Winery and Bouchaine Vineyards, amongst others.
Gabe and Teena met Irwin by chance, as his research on Tempranillo grapes from the Sierra Foothills brought him to the family vineyard. They knew almost immediately that they wanted to work with him in some capacity. In 2004 when Chris Markell, of Clos Du Val fame, left Viña to continue his quest to make wine in every region, a door was opened to work with Derek.
His shared loved of Tempranillo and all things Iberian combined with his increasing fascination with the Sierra Foothills region, made him a perfect match for the program and the family. As a young boy, he spent several years in Spain where his father was employed. It was there where his attachment to Spain began and we are grateful that path has brought him here.
Along with Derek, Victor and Teena (along with her husband Craig and their boys, Chance and Cooper) continue to produce and introduce new and innovative Spanish and Mediterranean styled wines. Together they work to make Viña Castellano a little piece of Spain in the Sierra Foothills.
Since it’s inception, Viña Castellano, has been blessed to receive many prestigious awards. In past years, the family, worried not just about our their opinion of the wines, but whether or not wine judges who had seemingly moved off of Old-world styled wines in favor of increasingly more available New-World styles, would recognize the level of detail. Right out of the gate, the winery received a “Best of Region with their first release 2003 Cabernet Franc.
By request and in honor of patriarch, Gabe Mendez who sadly passed in 2011, the family continues to resist the urge against the more modern and economical New-World style. Following is a list of the awards and wines that have been the most meaningful to the family. The following wines are those that they have judged to be their best over the years, and that luckily, professionals have concurred with!
Here is a list of some of our most prized awards: