At Santa Ramona Vineyards, we strive to follow the tradition of quality and dedication passed down to us from our beloved mother, Ramona. She was truly one of a kind, a loving and determined woman. Her passions were family and agriculture, both of which gave her great pleasure and purpose. She strongly believed that anything, if nurtured, would blossom.
Each morning, Ramona would wake up at four-thirty to tend to her flowers, plants, and trees. She never considered tending her garden to be work. Instead, she loved anything that grew and saw the opportunity to be outdoors as therapeutic. Her joy came from being able to share the fruits of her labor with her children and her community.
Ramona hoped that by sharing her gift, her dedication to quality would bring happiness to her family and to the homes of her neighbors. In particular, watching her eight children enjoy what she had grown with love brought her tremendous fulfillment.
Guided by her inspiring example and a desire to explore life’s greatest joys we have dedicated ourselves to following in her footsteps, incorporating her values into our winemaking.
Gabriela grew up admiring her mother’s tenacity and now strives to live up to her mother’s example of dedication and grace. She hopes to pass on the beliefs of her mother, Ramona, to her three children and cultivate in them the same values that her mother passed on to her.
In 2009, Gabriela and her family moved to California to be closer to her sister and parents. The scenic views of La Cresta reminded her of her mother’s abundant home, inspiring her to share with her children and loved ones the agriculture she enjoyed as a child. Gabriela and her family worked to cultivate citrus and other fruit trees, transforming the property into an oasis for their families to enjoy.
During her visit in 2011, Ramona said, “This land is fruitful”, a statement that we strive to fulfill as we continue to tend the organically-grown fruit orchards, olive trees, seasonal vegetables, and vineyard that enrich the estate.
Later that same year, Gabriela’s husband suggested experimenting with wine grapes. The first harvest was successful, prompting them to expand their production. He proposed naming the enterprise after Gabriela’s late mother, Ramona, and thus Santa Ramona Vineyards was born.
Assisted by her sister Ramona, and brother-in-law, Juan Herrera, who has an extensive background in agriculture, the family took on the project of cultivating the promising enterprise.
Born in Mexico, Juan Herrera cannot remember a time when he was not working in agriculture. Raised and working on a ranch since a young age, Juan has over fifty years of experience with agriculture. Working in manufacturing and design for many years, Juan returned to agriculture in the nineties. In 2009, he began the development of the estate in La Cresta, fabricating its extensive agricultural program. In 2010, he was asked by the Willis family to plant a variety of grapes, responding, “from where to where.” The following year he began designing of the vineyard, planting 872 grape plants: 400 merlots, 400 cabernets, and 72 seedless table grapes, determined by the wine preference of the family.
Committed to organic farming techniques, Juan maintains the vineyard, using natural products, avoiding chemicals, fertilizers, and pesticides, treating the grapes with products created on-site following the recommendations of the US Composting Council. Juan is aided by Erick Erno, the vintner who has worked with Santa Ramona Vineyards to cultivate their signature wines, developing their beloved port.
A San Diego native, Erick Erno’s involvement with the wine industry began while he was an eager college student, his zeal for wine spurring him to find a part-time job in the industry. In 2008, he was employed by Filsinger Vineyards & Winery, sweeping floors and pouring wine as a part of his “ground to glass” education that would serve him well/taught him the ins and outs of winemaking/served as an essential foundation in his philosophy as a winemaker. Since then, Erick has partnered with multiple wineries and brands, and has been involved in over 15 harvests.
Erick credits his approach to the tutelage of Mike Tingley, a vintner of 35+ years who taught him that “It takes an abundance of beer, to make truly great wine.” Today he works with Santa Ramona Vineyards, putting/including his passion and creativity into every wine he makes, valuing a hands-on approach, nurturing each bottle of wine which he manufactures. Deeply involved with every part of the process, Erick has brought his experience as both an avid consumer and an experienced vintner to Santa Ramona Vineyards boutique wines, pushing the limits and striving for a better bottle of wine with each harvest.
Santa Ramona Vineyards continues to be run and managed by the family.