Solvang 2020 Winery of the Year

The End of an Era.....

As many of you know my Dad, Bennie purchased the property in the Santa Rita Hills in 1981, it was consisted of a 35-acre parcel off the beaten path with water from a shared well and no electric power. In 1984 we completed work on the 5-bedroom, 4000 square foot Spanish Style ranch house. Two years later Dad planted Chardonnay and then Pinot Noir Grapes at the urging of Brian Babcock from Babcock Winery.

In 1995 we harvested enough Pinot Noir to make about 5 gallons of wine under the watchful eye of Brian Babcock. In 1996 and 1997 Brian bought the fruit and made Babcock Pinot Noir from the Casa Cassara Vineyard. The yield in 1998 was slim but in 1999 we created the first Casa Cassara Estate Grown Pinot Noir and except for 2009 we have made Estate Pinot Noir from the Estate Vineyard every year through 2017.

The Santa Ynez Valley has always been a great place to go to get away from the insanity that we lived in the Los Angeles area. My children learned to care for and ride horses there when they were growing up. The Cassara Family spent many weekends of fun and relaxation on our little piece of Heaven affectionately known to our family and friends as “The Ranch”. Dad loved to come up and tinker with the grapes, his 30 fruit trees, and in his vegetable garden. He also spent a lot of time building what we called Bennie’s great wall, a 2-foot-high planter that stretched from the main house to the entry gates of the property, almost 350 feet long. I finally had someone finish the last 50 feet of that monument which along with the Fireplace in the Great Room pay tribute to Dad’s skills as a Brick and Stone Mason.

Bridget and I moved up to “The Ranch” in 2012 and after about a year of us getting settled in we moved Mom and Dad up from Long Beach, they spent their final years surrounded by the beauty of “The Ranch”. Mom passed away in May of 2014 about 2 weeks before her 92nd birthday, Dad was at her side. Dad went to join her in December of 2015 he turned 92 four months earlier. Bridget is the saint who took care of them both right up until the end.

Bridget and I moved into a new home in Solvang in December 2019; we reluctantly took the better part of 2020 getting “The Ranch” ready to sell. After much soul searching, we recently entered into a Lease/Purchase agreement on the property.  I am not sure how many of you know it but keeping up with the maintenance on a 35-acre estate is a lot of work.  This is especially true when you factor in the 7 acres of Vineyards which despite our best efforts and great expense were producing less fruit every year.  I am turning 70 this year and the idea of that much work was one of the factors that led me to the decision to sell. What does that mean for the future of the Casa Cassara Tasting Room? The answer to that question is: with less work to do at “The Ranch” and the location of our house in town we will be able to spend more time in the Tasting Room, so come down and see us.

Dan Cassara