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.