The known history of the Stolo Family property dates back to the late 1800's. This property sits at the mouth of the Santa Rosa Valley, one and one half miles inland from the coastal town of Cambria. It is bordered on the north by emerald green hills and to the south by Santa Rosa Creek, a year-round stream and spawning ground for Steelhead Trout. Deer, bobcats, coyotes, wild boars, mountain lions, and the occasional skunk also habitat the valley. To the east, rise the scenic Santa Lucia Mountains.
According to local historian, Dawn Dunlap, the first noted purchase of the property was by the Phillips Family in the late 1800's. They established a profitable dairy on the property. They also planted 30 acres of oat hay in the field adjacent to Santa Rosa Creek, and added a second story to their home, which still exists on the property. Phillips sold the property in the early 1900's to Italian-Swiss immigrant Salvaore (Sam) Berri and his wife, Katherine. The Berris enlarged the dairy operation and built the barn you see on the property today. They sold dairy products to the creamery in nearby Harmony.
In his native Switzerland, Sam Berri learned the basics of making wine and grappa. After settling in Santa Rosa Valley, he began buying grapes from the York and Pesenti Family Wineries in Templeton. According to local ranchers, during Prohibition, he would secretly crush and rack the juice into barrels to ferment.
He also pressed the leftover skins to make a fiery, yet smooth, grappa. His still was rumored to have been set up in a hidden cellar under the barn. However, this location has yet to be discovered. There was a ready market for his special grappa in the local saloons. For over 30 years, Sam enjoyed a lucrative grappa business in Cambria. In the 1930's, the going price for his grappa was $5 for a pint flask, and $30 for gallon bottles, which was sold to famous saloon owners Rosa Camozzi and Joseph Reali. To this day, you can still visit Camozzi's bar in downtown Cambria.
Sam and Katherine Berri died in the early 1960s and their children sold the property. In the 1990s, John and Peggy Prian purchased the property and began restoration of the historic Phillips/Berri house. The Prians also decided to plant a vineyard on the hillside. This was considered, at the time, a brave and experimental endeavor due to the proximity to the ocean. Planting this vineyard would make it one of the closest to the coast in California. Consultation from experts in the Paso Robles area led them to plant 9 acres of cool climate varietals; Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah. Their crops were harvested and sold to local winemakers.
In 2002, the historic property was purchased by Don and Charlene Stolo. They continued to meticulously farm the original 9 acre vineyard and created their family wine label in 2004. In 2008, Don and Charlene planted an additional 7 acres to Gewurztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Noir. In 2012, they opened Stolo Family Vineyards’ winery and tasting room on the property, adjacent to the stoic old dairy barn. Visitors are now invited to come enjoy the beautiful property and vineyards.
Stolo Family Vineyards
3776 Santa Rosa Creek Road
Cambria, CA 93428
Phone: (805) 924.3131