Ryan Stirm's path toward winemaking was a circuitous one, but the interest was always there. A Contra Costa country native, he spent the majority of his childhood outdoors exploring the foothills of Mt. Diablo, fishing in San Pablo Bay, and gardening with his grandmother. He participated on the high school wrestling team and caught the wine bug in response to the restrictive diet of being a competitive athlete – we always want what we can’t have, right? He attended Cal-Poly San Luis Obispo because of its wrestling team, and chose to study Wine and Viticulture. Shortly after, he was mentored by Justin Willett of Tyler Winery. After multiple harvest stints in the Margaret River and the Wachau in Western Austria, Ryan decided to start Stirm Wine Co. in Southern Santa Cruz county.
Riesling is the star of the show at Stirm Wines, and a lot of the reasoning has to do with California’s history and the relationship with this variety. Riesling was incredibly popular from the 1850s to the 1960s in the state, and folks at Stirm believe this drought tolerant, hardy, heat resistant grape is due for a massive resurgence. It’s not just his Riesling that has these hauntingly transparent, Old World qualities – it’s all Stirm's wines.
The ethos behind Stirm is all about crafting authentic wines that amplify their unique terroirs like a magnifying glass. It seems simple, but Ryan and his team spend the majority of their time working amongst the vines or sourcing fruit from some of the most unique vineyards in California. Stirm Wine also has a secondary label, Los Chuchaquis, which features more esoteric varietals and experimental vinification techniques. In a state dominated by robust, overtly hot expressions of Cab and Zin, Ryan Stirm’s wines are a refreshing anomaly, and we’re definitely here for them.