Visiting Stan and Julie Simpson at their mountain vineyard, one
senses that they are on top of the world, enjoying the moment as
they bask in the beauty around them. Itís no wonder: their
single-vineyard Merlot has what it takes to achieve cult status;
Stanís hand-built home reflects his artistic craftsmanship; his
vineyard commands spectacular views of the North Bay.
Stan began his career as an industrial arts/art teacher in Southern
California. He next ran his own cabinet shop in Laguna Beach, from which
he designed and supplied furnishings for many up-scale homes in the
Orange County area.
In 1970 Stan and Julie spent a year of study in Denmark. Stanís
background as a craftsman and his artistic eye found articulation in the
Scandinavian sense of design. "Danish woodworking shows off the grain of
the wood rather than the dexterity of the woodworker. The lines and cuts
are clean, the impact on the wood non-intrusive." This concept would
serve not only as a guiding factor in designing and building his own
home on McCray Ridge, but also as an influence in the attitude he would
bring to grape growing and winemaking.
1972, while exploring Sonoma Countys back roads, the Simpsons
discovered and purchased their 40-acre mountain parcel. At that
time, the property had nothing no water, no electricity, no
structures, no fences. Nothing but a fantastic view of the
Sonoma valley and a dry, un-farmed four-acre patch of red grapes
that no one could identify for certain. At first, Stan tried
living there and farming here. Then, in 1985, he sold his
woodworking business in Laguna Beach and moved to Sonoma County
to study viticulture at SRJC, become a full-time farmer, and
build a home.
first couple of years, an 8íx10í trailer made do while wells were dug,
electricity and telephones introduced, and plumbing installed. In the
vineyard, Stan single-handedly tore out the old vines, pulled roots,
prepared the soil, and planted four acres of bench-grafted Merlot vines.
Between growing periods, he began building a home. Room by room, year by
year, with meticulous care given to every large and small detail, a
cottage began to emerge.
One that illustrates Stanís guiding principle of not tampering with the
inherent beauty of a thing, maneuvering it only enough to allow the
beauty to emerge. It is the principle by which Stan Simpson planted his
vineyard, built his house, and makes his wine.