Alto Pomar Vineyard (DENO’s estate vines) was initially planted in 1993, as the dream of Dennis Sharpe, a native Southern Californian. As an agriculture student in both High School and College, Dennis made frequent trips to Cal Poly University in San Luis Obispo for agricultural events. There were few wineries at that time on the Central Coast but grape growing had been part of the local farming scene for decades. Dennis noticed the limestone and fossilized sea shells in many areas of the county. After developing a taste for fine wine in the early 1970's the thoughts of those white rock soils brought an appreciation for what these soils could achieve in growing premium grapes.
In 1992 Dennis began a search for country home in San Luis Obispo County. After a few months an 8 acre parcel in the hills east of Templeton was found. This land was part of the Bowers Orchard Tract which included 600 acres of Almond trees planted in 1916. The land had been divided into parcels many years before. This property would become Alto Pomar Vineyard.
Over the years Alto Pomar grew little-by-little. What started as a "hobby" vineyard grew to about 3 acres of primarily rhone type grapes. Another 11 acres of land was purchased in the middle 90's. The the decision to make wine from the estate fruit was made in 2008. Dennis has managed the vineyard and worked with Eric Ogorsolka, owner of Zenaida Cellars, to make DENO Wines through 2017. Since 2018 DENO wines have been made at ONX Winery with the Custom Crush Team.
DENO wines are made from fruit from our estate, Alto Pomar Vineyard, and other local vineyards in the Paso Robles area. The objective is to turn the best fruit into exceptional wines.
Alto Pomar is located in the eastside Templeton Hills at almost 1400 feet in elevation and takes advantage of the winds and temperature swings of the Templeton Gap. The varying soils are primarily calcareous marls and shales with mixed clays and gravel. Farming the steep ridges of Alto Pomar is a challenge. Water is limited and the vines naturally produce extremely low yields (2 tons/acre) of intense and well-balanced fruit.
The grapes from Alto Pomar have a common thread of spice, brightness and balanced maturity. Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and a few scattered other varieties make up the small (3 acre) vineyard.
The vineyard is farmed in both trellis and head-trained fashion. The oldest vines are now over 25 years of age..
Other grapes are purchased.
DENO Wines will always be based on the best fruit available.
Harvest timing is always a challenge and the window of harvest for ideal balance is very short. Grapes are harvested when the acid and maturity appear to be in the best harmony. This results in wines of balance and ripe flavors.
Fruit is harvested as early in the morning as possible to maintain a cool initial soak before fermentation. Grapes are delivered to the winery and destemmed leaving whole berries in the fermentation bins. Dry ice is added when the cold soak is desired for a longer period. Typically, fermentation starts within three days and the wines are pressed after approximately two to four weeks, depending on the fruit and the vintage.
Minimal manipulation of the wine is performed with constant monitoring to bring the wine to a finely finished product. Bottling is usually done unfiltered.
DENO wine typically benefits from decanting in its early years. The wine is balanced with natural acidity and the grapes’ own fruitful maturity.