Rancho CaƱada de los Pinos: People

Ben Merz, Owner/Partner, Coastal Vineyard Care Associates

“The farmer’s footprint is the best fertilizer.” Few winegrowers exemplify this quote as well as Ben Merz. Ben immigrated from Germany around the time he was attending grade school. He spent many of his formative years working on his family’s Arabian Horse Ranch in Santa Ynez Valley. He earned a degree in Viticulture and Agribusiness, from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and joined Coastal Vineyard Care Associates immediately following his formal academic training. Ben’s sound judgment and broad level of experience has earned him a reputation as a respected viticulturist. Such experience and respect has fostered strong and lasting relationships with vineyard clients, winemakers and industry professionals alike.

Ben is pleased to have been involved in the Rancho Cañada de los Pinos project since its purchase in 2018. “The Rancho Cañada property is historically iconic. It’s in the heart of Santa Ynez, and the family that operated it for decades is well-known in the local community. From a grower’s perspective, the location is ideal. It’s right in the foothills of the San Rafael Mountains, so the soils are amazing – they’re gravelly so they drain well. Also, it’s a uniform parcel. Every grape within a block will have the same maturity level, so what comes in for winemakers will be ideal for achieving world-class wines.”

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Rudy Bravo, Vineyard Manager

Rudy Bravo has been growing wine grapes for 35 years on the Central Coast. He has worked with Coastal Vineyard Care Associates since 2009, farming some of Santa Barbara’s most esteemed vineyards. Rudy is excited to be putting his considerable experience to work on developing Rancho Cañada de los Pinos. “Doug Circle is incredibly supportive, always eager to accomplish the next goal and is involved every step of the way. I’m grateful that CVCA has the opportunity to fulfill Doug’s vision of this exceptional property.”

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