Spring Featured Winery: Hearst Ranch Winery

442 SLO San Simeon Road San Simeon, CA 93452
http://www.hearstranchwinery.com/scripts/contactWinery.cfm
Phone
Tel: 805.467.2241 Fax: 805.467.2245

“Stupid Good.” That’s how Hearst Ranch Winery owner Jim Saunders summarized how things have gone since he partnered up with Steve Hearst (Great Grandson of William Randolph Hearst and now Director of Hearst Corporation Western Properties) to create the winery featured in this shipment from Ruby Shoes Wine Club. Stupid good. I love it.

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Hearst Ranch Winery

Our Spring 2014 Shipment

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The JT Connection

“Stupid Good.” That’s how Hearst Ranch Winery owner Jim Saunders summarized how things have gone since he partnered up with Steve Hearst ( Great Grandson of William Randolph Hearst and now Director of Hearst Corporation Western Properties) to create the winery featured in this shipment from Ruby Shoes Wine Club. Stupid good. I love it.

I love everything about Hearst Ranch Winery. It’s pretty appropriate that Jim would summarize the excellence of a partnership, the symbiotic success of it, so cowboy succinctly. That’s because beyond the glitz, glamour and power of the Hearst family, there are deep roots right here in the cowboy country of the California Central Coast. False pretenses fall away pretty fast around here and such is the case when you are lucky enough to pay a visit to the Hearst Ranch Winery or tasting room.

Mention the Hearst name to most people, and the first image that comes to mind is likely the gorgeous castle on the hill in San Simeon. The “Enchanted Hill” is the place William Randolph Hearst spent decades of his life building. It overlooks one of the most gorgeous stretches of coastline anywhere. And beyond it’s opulence and elegance, I really do believe it is enchanted…haunted in a really lovely way.

William Randolph built way more than the castle on the hill during his lifetime, he built a media empire during the time he spent here as well. I feel an affinity and affection for the castle partly because of the experience of paying a visit to a place with such architectural and artistic history. But it is also special to me because it is tied to one of the legends of a business I have been lucky enough to make a living being a part of: The world of journalism.

Ironically, I would end up working for the Hearst Corporation during my time in Des Moines at KCCI-TV, and though I was 1800 miles from home, seeing that name on my paychecks always made me feel more connected to the coastline to which I longed to return.

I had never met Steve Hearst or any of the family before I took off to pursue my career, but it has been a beautiful irony to make the connection upon coming home. To now have the privilege of making the introductions to you, through this shipment of the Ruby Shoes Wine Club, feels like things coming full circle in a way. I’m introducing my version of Oz to the friends I made along my journey down the Yellow Brick Road.

I’ve mentioned before how Central Coast Wine Country is also cowboy country, and the Hearst Ranch is beautiful proof of that. The 82,000-acre, or 125 square-mile property is a working cattle ranch. You’ll find the real McCoy cowboys working the herd. Among the mosaic of Stetsons and Wranglers on the guys and gals you may find out roping, riding or working the corrals, is Steve Hearst.

Up over the hill to the East is Paso Robles, where the temperature can be 50 degrees hotter in the summertime, and the cool ocean fog slips over for a visit at night cooling the vines at just the right time. There you’ll find another man likely wearing a Stetson and Wranglers working the vineyard, and ultimately making amazing wines for you: Jim Saunders.

Jim and Debi Saunders are no strangers to the wine business. Jim has built a lot of the most successful wineries around the Central Coast in his development and construction businesses. He started growing grapes in the 90’s and sold to many of those successful wineries at the wholesale level. But he hadn’t done his own label.

A few years ago, he bought a day on the Hearst Ranch as a fund-raising auction item. Little did he know the magic that would come with that purchase as well. Steve Hearst gave Jim, Debi and their guests a day to remember with a VIP tour of the ranch, castle and all the hospitality that comes with being a guest of the family in San Simeon.

As a thank you gift to Steve for the special treatment, Jim and Debi bottled a special selection of wines for him with the Hearst Ranch brand etched into the bottle. That was the beginning of a wonderful relationship. That was in June of 2009. By December of that year they shook hands as business partners and six months after that put out 2500 cases of the first vintage of Hearst Ranch Wines. Four years later they do about 15,000 cases. “We do it for fun” says Jim. “We love this region. And the people who make it special.”

Hang around anyone associated with the winery, and you get the idea it’s all true. They are having fun doing what they do, and sharing it with people. It’s kind of like the way William Randolph was about his castle. He was always hosting parties to share the Shangri-La he built up on the hill.

In my humble option, it IS all good. The castle, the story, the wine, the people. Stupid good. And the wines in your shipment carry the magic that occurs when things just come together right.

Some of the brands that make up the
Ruby Shoes experience