A vineyard rooted in family

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Leon chats with a visiting couple.Tackitt Family Vineyards

Tackitt Family Vineyards’ history goes back three generations on the land on which the winery and tasting room now stand. The winery is currently run by Leon Tackitt and his wife Cindy, along with Leon’s father, Boyd Tackitt. The vineyard was planted in the 1970s by Leon’s grandfather. He had brought some Gewürztraminer vines to the US with him from his native Germany, and planted them among the rolling hills of San Miguel.

Leon says that his grandfather made wine from the vines, but only for family and friends—the wine was never sold. Leon returned to the area in 1998 after a twenty-eight year career in the U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) community and founded Tackitt Family Vineyards. Now he and his father make wine from the family’s Gewürztraminer vines as well as from other fruit they purchase in the area. A Petite Sirah vineyard was also planted on the property, the first vintage of which was made in 2011.

The wines produced at Tackitt Family Vineyards are Petite Sirah, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, a Bordeaux blend, Merlot, Zinfandel, Gewürztraminer and a Port-style dessert wine made from Zinfandel. They also make a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Barbera-Zinfandel blend, both of which are available only to wine club members. Annual production comes in around 850 cases each year.

In keeping with the family-run tradition, Cindy does the bookkeeping for the winery. Boyd and Leon’s mother, Charlotte, live on the property, and the tasting room is staffed either by Leon, Cindy or Boyd. This allows visitors to Tackitt Family Vineyards the opportunity meet and chat with someone who is a part of the Tackitt Family – it is a truly family-run winery.

Another substantial part of the operation at Tackitt Family Vineyards stems from Leon’s career in the EOD branch of the Navy (the military’s bomb squad); Leon produces wine for a second label called EOD Cellars. There is a red and a white wine under this label, which is designed to raise money for the Wounded EOD Warrior Foundation, a non-profit organization that raises money for wounded members of the EOD branches of the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force, and for their families.

EOD Cellars was started as a one-time fundraiser to raise money for the foundation. The success of the brand, and the success of it as a fundraiser for the Wounded EOD Warrior Foundation, led Leon to expand its production to multiple wines. Leon is excited about the brand and plans to keep production growing along with the increasing level of popularity that the brand is receiving. Leon likes the idea of expanding EOD Cellars while keeping the Tackitt Family Vineyards label as a boutique winery, with a smaller production.

In addition to being sold in a handful of stores throughout the state, EOD Cellars wine is available in the Tackitt Family Vineyards tasting room, on the winery’s web site as well as in six markets, or exchanges, on Navy bases.

With both Tackitt Family Vineyards and EOD Cellars wines finding a great reception among fans, Leon is excited about the future of the winery. An event in the near future is the annual Bordeaux Blitz, a wine and food event put on by the group of wineries that make up the Pleasant Valley Wine Trail for charity. This year’s proceeds will benefit Wine For Paws. The event will take place on April 14th at Riverstar Vineyards. For more information visit pleasantvalleywinetrail.com.

Whether visitors to the area are tasting Leon Tackitt’s wines at the Bordeaux Blitz event or at the Tackitt Family Vineyards tasting room, they can plan on a great experience.
Visit Tackitt Family Vineyards Friday – Sunday, 12-5pm at 6640 Von Dollen Road in San Miguel.  See tackittfamilyvineyards.com or call (805) 467-9490 for more information.

— By Kate Joyce

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