It started in 1993 when I moved into a house in Palo Alto. There was a beautiful old apricot tree in the backyard, a remnant of the fruit groves that used to blanket the Santa Clara Valley in the first half of the 20th century. The first year we lived there, the tree produced a bumper crop of apricots, so I thought it would be fun to make wine out of it. I found a few recipes in various library books (this was before the Internet) and, after a few attempts, was finally able to make a decent dry white apricot wine.
In 1995 I started making grape wines. I started out with various wine-making kits based on concentrates, and this led me into contact with several wine makers in the area whose advice was invaluable in making better wine. I began to get real grapes. In 1998 I began using Brehms Vineyards' frozen varietals. By 2002 I was beginning to source fresh grapes as well, and was making around 25 gallons a year. In 2008 I moved to Encinitas and bought my first 32 gallon American oak barrel, and filled it with Merlot from grapes I got from a grower in Ramona. That wine got a silver medal from the Ramona Valley Vineyard Association in 2010.
From that time on I continued to increase the volume and range of wines. I also continued to add to my awards, with a gold for a 2009 Merlot (also from the RVVA in 2011), silver for 2010 (Orange County fair, 2012), and a first-in-class gold for a 2011 Dry Creek Valley Merlot at the Del Mar Fair in 2013.
By 2012 we had already decided to start Little Oaks in the warehouse of our Vinmetrica wine analysis business. We were already making 60 to 80 gallons a year anyway, so why not get on with it! That year we produced about 200 gallons, but our bonding and licensing was not done until 2013. Starting in 2015 we are releasing our first 2013 vintages, ranging from a pleasant light Viognier to a very sultry Malbec, all made from grapes in the greater San Diego area.
Thanks for visiting our site. We hope we can share our passion for wine with you. We create our wines using only locally sourced grapes from Southern California.
-Rich Sportsman, President & Winemaker