In 1926, the Kautz family began farming in Lodi, California and in 1948 Ironstone Vineyards was founded by John Kautz. Starting with 12 acres, John quickly built a reputation as a premium wine grape grower, amassing over 5,000 acres of vineyards planted in Lodi and the Sierra Foothills and eventually becoming one of the top ten wine grape growers in California. In 1988, John, his wife Gail and their children decided to produce their own wine. While still maintaining grape sales to top wineries around the world, they hired winemaker Steve Millier and launched Kautz Wines, which would evolve into Ironstone Vineyards. Today, Ironstone is among the ten largest family owned wineries in California. The vineyards benefit from over 30 years of sustainable viticultural practices, including cover crops and compost, owl boxes and raptor perches and riparian habitat restoration. The key varieties are Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Symphony and Merlot. There are parcels of Petite Sirah, Malbec, Syrah and Verdelho grown as well. The vineyards in the Sierra Foothills are planted on red volcanic soil at 2,300-2,600 feet and the Lodi vineyards are planted at 50-590 feet on sandy loam, clay and gravel. In 2012, John Kautz and Kautz Farms were recognized as Grower of the Year by the California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG).
|The story of Ironstone Vineyards started in the hands of John Kautz, a young row crop farmer from Lodi who saw the future in growing wine grapes in Lodi. With 12 acres in 1948, John quickly built an excellent reputation as a premium wine grape supplier, amassing over 5,000 acres of grapes in Lodi and the Sierra Foothills and eventually becoming one of the top ten wine grape growers in California.
In 1988, John, his wife Gail and their children dedicated themselves to the creation of a wine of their own. While still maintaining grape sales to top wineries around the world, they brought award-winning winemaker Steve Millier aboard to launch Kautz wines, which would evolve into Ironstone Vineyards, a wine brand dedicated to the production of exceptional wines of unparalleled quality, outstanding value and everyday approachability.
The next big step for Ironstone was the creation of a “homesite,” a winery and visitors center that would exemplify the Kautz family commitment to excellence, and provide an environment that would reach beyond the world of winemaking to include the support all of the cultural arts.
In 1989, using dynamite, pick axes and shovels, a crew of miners carved through limestone and Calaveras Schist Rock on Gail’s family ranch in Murphys, California and fashioned the site of Ironstone’s wine aging caverns, which in the beginning, also served as the facility’s first tasting room. Humble beginnings for what has now become California’s largest winery entertainment complex.
Over the years, Ironstone Wines and the Ironstone Winery have each grown and become famous in their own way. Truly a family business, John, Gail and each of their four children - Stephen, Kurt, Jack, and Joan - remain actively involved in the growth of both the winery facility and the wine brand.