History of Our Vineyards
When Bennie Cassara first set foot on this mountain top retreat he knew this was the place for which he had been looking. Dad a brick mason by trade was busy running his Masonry construction company in Orange County California, but he was looking for a place where he and his family could get away from the daily grind. That was April of 1981; in the years following the family utilized the property located just three hours north of their home in Long Beach as a weekend retreat. In 1984 construction started on the main house, a magnificent structure built surrounding a huge brick fireplace, which supports the roof of the great room.
It was in 1990 the first vines were planted on the tiny hilltop estate. Dad chose Pinot Noir grapes at the urging of his friend Brian Babcock of the Babcock Winery. Brian told Dad his property with its hillside exposure would be the perfect growing environment for Pinot Noir grapes, this variatal is grown on hillsides in France, and Brian knew the combination of warm days and cool foggy nights would be perfect. It took several years and a great deal of work before the first grapes were ready for market. The first wine produced from the vineyard was actually made in 1995. We made the equivalent of about one gallon of wine. Bennie Cassara, Brian Babcock and I stood in the lab at Babcock Winery and tasted the fruits of the harvest. Brian knew then a world class Pinot Noir could be produced from the grapes in this vineyard. In 1996 there was enough of a harvest for Casa Cassara to sell the grapes and Brian Babcock purchased them to create a vineyard designate wine, named Babcock Winery Pinot Noir from Casa Cassara Vineyards. From the harvest of one-half ton of grapes Brian produced 35 cases of wine.
Casa Cassara Vineyard was on its way; in 1997 again Babcock produced a Pinot Noir using our grapes.
At Casa Cassara Winery and Vineyard we keep striving to bring to market a world class Pinot Noir. The Vineyard is located in the heart of the Sta Rita Hills Appellation; standing at the highest point of the Vineyard you see many of the major grape producing areas of this appellation. Construction of the winery building began in 2000; we were very excited about the prospect of producing a truly estate grown, vitnified and bottled wine brandishing the Casa Cassara name. In the mean time we continued our collaboration with Andy Kahn. For the 2000 vintage we produced two wines, a Pinot Noir from the grapes grown on our property, and a Chardonnay from purchased grapes.
The 2000 Pinot Noir, production run was 400 cases, which was released in September 2002.This release subsequently won a Bronze Medal at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition in March 2003. We were very excited about this wine, and decided our main focus will be to concentrate on producing the finest Pinot Noir in the Santa Rita Hills Appellation. The 2001 vintage included two vineyard designate Pinot Noir’s and one Syrah. The first Pinot is from our vineyard, the second Pinot is from a small vineyard named Burning Creek Vineyard. The Syrah was a phenomenal wine from the Great Oaks Vineyard. All three wines were released in conjunction with the Santa Barbara County Vintners Festival on April 12, 2003. The 2001 vintage proved to be our best overall. As the brand grew over the next few years we made some changes and we have made some other varietals like Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Merlot and even a Cabernet. Our main focus always remained on Pinot Noir and Syrah. Over the years we have tried several different marketing plans and had our wines in many different wine shops and restaurants; finally in 2007 we opened The Casa Cassara Tasting Room in Buellton. Since then we have concentrated our efforts on selling all of our wines through the Tasting Room and our online store. Lately we have been trying some new wines, like a Marsanne-Viogner Blend, our “El Cazador” Tempranillo, and we even gave Merlot a new look with our “Old Hoe” Merlot (which comes from a vineyard that is all hand hoed. We also have had good success with our upside down Syrah. We at Casa Cassara will continue to bring you a quality product at a reasonable price from our family to yours.