Gleason Family Vineyards – Santa Barbara News-Press
Emphasis is placed on the sustainability and regeneration of the vineyards and farm in the Santa Ynez Valley
The Gleason Family Vineyards Santa Ynez Valley brand portfolio (Roblar Winery and Vineyards, Refugio Ranch Vineyards, Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard) has launched a series of new sustainability efforts for its Santa Barbara County vineyard and farm properties.
Additionally, Gleason Family Vineyards features Michael Vining as Director of Agriculture and Sustainability, overseeing all agriculture and sustainability initiatives for the entire portfolio.
Mr. Vining, who joined the Gleason Family Vineyards team in August 2021, has changed the harvesting practices on the side of the companies’ wine operations by composting all vegetative waste from the cellar of the 2021 harvest in a new project located on the group’s Roblar Farm property in Santa Ynez.
Grape pomace from Roblar Winery and Vineyards and Refugio Ranch Vineyards was incorporated into the composting program, and the company’s vineyard waste haul contracts were canceled.
The new composting program also includes all kitchen scraps from Roblar Winery’s tasting room, where executive chef Peter Cham crafts farm menus for winery visitors as well as private menus for events both at Roblar Winery and at Roblar Farm.
At Refugio Ranch Vineyards, the Gleason family’s first property in the Santa Ynez Valley, the group returns the land to one of its former uses as pasture for farm animals, but this time, between rows of vines , which cover 26 acres of the 415-acre property.
Before the start of the growing season, the vineyards of Refugio Ranch were cultivated under cover and a flock of sheep joined the viticulture and grazing operation, along with a shepherd. The operation includes the advice and services of Central California-based Cuyama Lamb, a sheep company committed to the regeneration of native California grasslands and the sustainable production of ethically raised foods and fiber, which operates primarily in the coastal foothills of Santa Barbara County.
“We are building an agricultural team here, incorporating the vineyard and farmland into one regeneration system,” Vining said. “We are a company founded by a family. And we want these lands we now steward to prosper, for our own families, for future generations, and for the entire Santa Ynez Valley community.
Originally from Santa Barbara, Mr. Vining is no stranger to agricultural practices and their importance to various communities.
In 1993, he completed his senior thesis at UC Santa Cruz. It was titled “Growing Alternatives and Opportunity: Homelessness and Garden-Based Social Change in Santa Cruz”.
After graduating and earning his bachelor’s degree in community studies, Mr. Vining maintained and managed several community farms in the Santa Cruz area. His work on these farms has been featured in magazines like National Geographic, honoring his unique attention to design, color presentation and arrangement of locally grown fruits and vegetables.
Mr. Vining went on to a 15-year career in home planning, development and construction, developing a successful construction business, which operated in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. He draws on his dual experience in construction and agriculture in his new role with Gleason Family Vineyards, where he led projects such as the establishment of a chicken coop and residence for Roblar’s population of 200 chickens. Farm, all perched in a structure and yard made from salvaged materials.
As part of Mr. Vining’s efforts, Roblar’s organic farm, which previously spanned an acre, received a two-acre addition, which he planted as a “market garden” – a field season containing over 40 varieties of vegetables and herbs to supply the kitchens of Gleason Family Vineyards as well as the newly upgraded Roblar Farm stand, which is located at the entrance to Roblar Winery and Vineyards at the corner of Roblar Avenue and Refugio Road. The stand regularly carries eggs and produce pulled directly from the Roblar farm for purchase by locals and visitors.
Additionally, in June, Mr. Vining and the Gleason Family Vineyards team launched a new CSA program for Gleason Family Vineyards Wine Club Members and Santa Ynez Valley residents, and the team also plans to launch community days where local residents are invited to walk. the farm to glean produce for free.
Roblar’s culinary platform also plays an important role in farm planning, with Chef Cham and Mr. Vining working hand-in-hand to plant what might be on a seasonal “chef’s wish list.” A stone’s throw from the Roblar kitchens, Chef Cham selects fresh produce for his dishes, such as beets, which color his eggs stuffed with smoked salmon, or Roblar Farm lettuces, which accompany fresh salads such as a black garlic Caesar. , or radishes to top her avocado and sourdough seed toast, which also includes ricotta salata, puffed grains and a poached farm egg.
More of these farm eggs can be found in a lunch offering, a tarragon egg salad sandwich with house-pickled mustard seeds, and Roblar Farm-grown shallots and celery. .
“It really is a dream to sit down in Roblar and eat the most amazing salad you’ve had in years, all with produce grown right next door. Although our main focus is still viticulture, it was a joy to work on improving our properties to showcase the additional riches that the Santa Ynez Valley has to offer, while being mindful of how we can use these outings as regenerative inputs for the continued health of this land,” said Matthew Bieszard, general manager of Gleason Family Vineyards.
In addition to Roblar’s bounty of fruits and vegetables, the Gleason Family Vineyards team also raises more spirited residents. Roblar Farm recently added a flock of Babydoll sheep as well as Duroc-Hampshire pigs, both of which will add animal inputs to the farm’s soils and, in the case of the sheep, act as natural shearing tools.
Beehives also dot Roblar Farm and Buttonwood Farm, powerful pollinators that are an integral part of the Gleason Family Vineyards farming system and provide the natural sweetness of honey to Chef Cham’s varied menus.
Over the next year, the Gleason Family Vineyards team will revitalize the 10-acre farm, two-acre orchard, small hop farm and 42-acre estate vineyard at the new Buttonwood Farm Winery and Vineyard property in Solvang.
As part of a multi-year project, the entire vineyard trellis will be updated as the team works closely with vineyard management to monitor each block to better manage growth and yields to produce the best possible fruit. The agricultural team also tends to Buttonwood’s agricultural crops, such as the property’s prized peaches, olives and pomegranates.
A Buttonwood farm stand located in the tasting room offers these items for sale as they ripen, along with fresh sweet corn and popcorn, watermelon, squash, Asian pears, plums and apricots, as well as products from the Roblar farm. The restoration of Buttonwood’s famous peach lineup by Gleason Family Vineyards also means that canned peaches, mini peach pies and peach sorbet are available for sale.
The Buttonwood property, founded in 1968 on a principle of sustainability, is well placed to be part of the Gleason family’s plan to introduce agritourism programs for the public, essentially travel packages for those looking to learn more on regenerative agriculture methods in food and wine. industries in the Santa Barbara County wine region. Packages will include accommodation options at the Roblar Farm, dining opportunities courtesy of Chef Cham, as well as wine tours, vineyard walks and tastings with the Gleason Family winemaking team Vineyards comprised of Head Winemaker, Max Marshak, and Assistant Winemakers Kat Neenan and Brett Reeves.
“I use the term ‘sustainable fertility’ for what we’re trying to do with this land,” Vining said. “We use organic methods to fertilize the soil, aiming for sustainable plant growth and optimal yields, while minimizing our environmental impact.
“It’s not just about ‘now’. It is about cultivating this region for our future.
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