“…she took her hand and raised her brush. For a moment it stayed trembling in a painful but exciting ecstasy in the air. Where to begin?–that was the question at what point to make the first mark? One line placed on the canvas committed her to innumerable risks, to frequent and irrevocable decisions… Still the risk must run; the mark made.”
Virginia Woolfe

“Every artist makes herself born. It is very much harder than the other time, and longer.”
Willa Cather

I arrived at a vineyard in Paso Robles on something of a lark after fleeing Toronto’s hustle and sleet. I had nothing but a crazy dog, a tiny camper and a few changes of clothes, and I couldn’t have been more delighted. I came following a light I’ve chased my whole life, but never thought I’d see so close. I’ve chased that light across North and South America, always grasping, nearly catching hold and watching it dart past. I don’t know what it is, I hope I never do, I would hate to get old and boring, but I am certain that it’s something in wine and I just have to get a closer look. In my wild chase, I’ve been everything I could for wine: importer, broker, retailer, cellar rat, harvester, vintner. The moment I set foot in that Paso vineyard, I knew I was closer than I had ever been, I just had to stay and explore.

That was years ago now, and my journey has begun a new chapter. My life working, loving and living in wine has brought me closer day by day to knowing exactly what the hell I’ve been after for so long. Honestly, I hope I never rest, I hope that by living in pursuit I coax that light to run along side me.

“If a woman does not keep pace with her companions, perhaps it is because she hears a different drummer. Let her step to the music which she hears, however measured or far away.”
Henry David Thoreau (adapted)

It is no accident that Desparada came into being in the Central Coast. Here my hand isn’t forced into any particular style, I’m free to play, to discover and push toward new horizons. I’m an explorer by nature, I can’t escape that, and my wines are the milestones in my journey. Working in a place so young, there is an unavoidable temptation to use the guideposts left by regions like Pauillac, Chateauneuf or Montalcino. This is a place as singular as those, but we’re still plotting our trail, and I would hate to lose the lure of the unknown by relying on old maps. That’s why the wines of Desparada are guided more by spirit than style. Each wine stands for a particular vision, and in each vintage I use new knowledge, varietals and vineyards to bring that vision into sharper focus. I am a stranger in this wild and strange land, chasing something far-off and faint, but am sure-footed and ready for the chase.


McGinley Cigare
  • 2016

    Varietal: Sauvignon Blanc
    Appellation: Happy Canyon
    Fermented & Aged: 100% fermented and aged for 11 months in New Atelier Cigares
    Vineyard: McGinley
    69 Cases Made
    Tasting Notes: Then there’s this pasta dish - fresh pasta with lemon peel, Spanish EVOO and sea salt. It’s the best you’ve ever tasted. And here, on the Brazilian coast. After supper you are escorted to your oceanview suite. There is a bowl of peaches by the window, a cedar paneled shower and fresh mint sachet. The sun flirts with the horizon as you find the slippers.
Presqu'ile Cigare
  • 2016

    Varietal: Sauvignon Blanc
    Appellation: Santa Maria
    Fermented & Aged: 100% fermented and aged for 11 months in New Atelier Cigares
    Vineyard: Presqu'ile
    69 Cases Made
    Tasting Notes: When Herculaneum was uncovered, treasures were stolen and stashed for a century. You’ve just found them. A series of urns decorated with the allegory of Leda and filled with a still potent potpourri: rosemary, Lebanese ceder, verbena and something unfamiliar but with the scent of fresh tomato leaf. The moment is electric, then the alarms sound.
  • 2015

    Varietals: 85% Petit Verdot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon
    Appellation: California
    Fermented & Aged: Aged in 22% new, 33% once used and 45% Neutral French Oak barriques for 22 months
    Vineyards: 33% TTT, 30% Rolph, 22% White Cliffs, and 15% Star Lane
    219 Cases Made
    Tasting Notes: He made you breakfast in bed. Boysenberry and Luxardo cherry syrup over french toast. Someone from the party left a bag of Norwegian shag. Your post-breakfast hankering to raid the fridge, throw all the fresh mint, basil, and bay laurel over the sheets and tussle again is disrupted by the carnal satisfaction of smoking right here in the rain-softened sunlight.
  • 2015

    Varietals: 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc, 25% Grenache, 25% Syrah
    Appellation: California
    Fermented & Aged: 22 months in 25% New and 75% Neutral French Oak barriques
    Vineyards: 25% Pine Hawk, 25% Vogelzang, 25% Chelle Mountain, 16% Jespersen, 9% White Hawk
    97 Cases Made
    Tasting Notes: There’s a steam train barreling through the desert. As it reappears after going through a tunnel, you can already smell the charcoal, fresh kindling and leather work gloves as you adjust the roses in your bag and rub the chamber of your Smith and Wesson. If it hadn’t been for that miner’s no-longer-lost love letter, you never would have found this place.
  • 2015

    Varietals: 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Barbera, 7% Nebbiolo
    Appellation: California
    Fermented & Aged: Barbera fermented in Amphora, aged in 46% New French Oak and 54% Neutral French Oak - two puncheons and 7 barriques
    Vineyards: 23% Spanish Springs, 22% Chelle Mountain, 19% Pine Hawk, 17% Sorso, 12% Two Wolves and 7% Luna Matta
    272 Cases Made
    Tasting Notes: The large pink peppercorn tree appears in the distance, it’s branches canopying the driveway to the villa. It’s no use, the brakes have failed. After missing ancient olive and fig trees, rose bushes and the freesias, you crash right into the pepper tree. The scent of charred berries hangs in the air. Welcome home.
Death and Resurrection
  • 2015

    Varietals: 89% Sangiovese, 11% Cabernet Sauvignon
    Appellation: California
    Fermented & Aged: Aged in 33% New French Oak and 67% Neutral French Oak barriques for 22 months.
    Vineyards: 89% White Hawk, 11% Two Wolves
    145 Cases Made
    Tasting Notes: What is wrong with you? You wake up on your last day of a year long sabbatical bleary on the beach. A whole year spent foraging cherries and stealing coffee in Tehran, gone, like that. You stumble to the shore, where you inhale a plate of albaloo polow and savor a final clove cigarette in the heavy morning light.
  • 2016

    Varietal: Grenache Blanc
    Appellation: Paso Robles
    Fermented & Aged: 100% fermented and aged for 11 months in once used 500L puncheons
    Vineyard: Alta Colina
    108 Cases Made
    Tasting Notes: As you step off the platform at the train station in Marrakech, weary from travel and buzzing with excitement - you look toward the bustling street littered with hibiscus vendors, dusty rug displays, table of citrus and soft cigars and lose your footing. A headlong fall over a limestone pillar, lands you at your laughing guide’s feet.
Arclight Rosè
  • 2016

    Varietals: 44% Sangiovese, 31% Barbera, 25% Nebbiolo
    Appellation: California
    Fermented & Aged: 100% fermented and aged in Neutral 300L barrel for 11 months
    Vineyards: 44% White Hawk, 31% Spanish Springs, 25% Luna Matta
    32 Cases Made
    Tasting Notes: A cauldron hangs suspended over a campfire, it’s contents bubbling. A hasty blend of red hots, agua de jamaica, strawberry lemonade, and terra cotta bricks is soon to become your most impactful eau de toilette, traded in secret during an ill-conceived wedding.
  • 2015

    Varietal: Cabernet Franc
    Appellation: Paso Robles
    Fermented & Aged: Aged in 50% New and 50% Neutral French Oak barriques for 22 months
    Vineyard: Lunacy
    48 Cases Made
    Tasting Notes:It’s out there. You can feel it. You’ve run this far and it’s right behind you. You’ve torn through sumac, a wall of heliotrope, a roadside berry stand, the ruins of an old iron foundry, a cedar grove and can still hear it rumbling closer, its blood-smeared tusks crashing against the shale hillside. This is when you’re supposed to wake up, right?
  • 2015

    Varietal: Nebbiolo
    Appellation: Paso Robles
    Fermented & Aged: Fermented in Amphora, aged 22 months in one Neutral 225L barrique
    Vineyard: Luna Matta
    24 Cases Made
    Tasting Notes: The key to Byblos has been offered to you - will you bathe in it’s mineral baths, smothering yourself in clay, zinc, and rose petals? Or will you reject the offering, choosing to trudge on toward Pamukkale instead, where you can imbibe on cola, lemon bitters, and a full Thanksgiving feast in the middle of summer?

I would love to have everyone be able to share in my growing vision, but the reality is that Desparada is made in minuscule quantities that tend to disappear faster than I ever expected. If you take a moment to join my mailing list I’ll make certain that you’re the first to know when wines are released. Thank you so much for your support, the twists and turns of this crazy ride are at their best when you’re there with me.

Winery & Tasting Room

Tasting Room Hours:

Thursday-Sunday 11am-4pm
or by appointment

3060 Limestone Way, Templeton, CA 93465
(805) 434-9611
[email protected]