From vineyards to bottle

Friday, February 24th, 2012

Clavo_tasteClavo Cellars showcases the best of Central Coast grapes

While he attended college at Fresno State, part of Neil Roberts’ education was working in the vineyards with the field workers. “I was a green kid, and the guys in the field took me under their wing,” Neil said. They gave him the nickname “Clavo,” which means nail (sounds like Neil) in Spanish.

Neil has been managing and farming vineyards for most of his life. He grew up in California’s Central Valley, where his family farmed grapes and row crops. After graduating from Fresno State, he started working as a viticulturalist for Robert Mondavi and traveled to San Luis Obispo, Monterey, and Santa Barbara counties. It was this time spent traveling, farming, and learning the ins and outs of the vineyard that piqued his interest in making wine.

In 2006, Neil started his own vineyard management company, Robert’s Vineyard Services, and in 2004, he started making wine of his own – under the label Clavo, an homage to his nickname from the fields.

While Clavo Cellars does not have their own vineyard, per se, “We source the grapes for our wines off of the properties that we manage,” says Neil. “We have lots of latitude in using these sites because we manage the grapes.” This flexibility as well as hands-on work with the grapes allows Neil to make wines that express the individuality of each vineyard and see the process from beginning to end.

“I have a unique opportunity to make unique wines,” Neil says, “We are always experimenting to get the best out of each vineyard.”

The grapes that go into Clavo wines are sourced from several unique sites, from old vine zin at Peachy Canyon to mourvedre and grenache growing on steep West Side hillsides, to 870 acres of grapes on Santa Margarita Ranch.

Clavo Cellars’ tasting room is located in downtown Templeton. “Templeton has its own character and uniqueness,” says Neil, “It seems like a sleepy town, but we have great restaurants and community events – it’s a truly unique destination. I would love to see more tasting rooms downtown.”

One of Templeton’s great community events is the summer Concerts in the Park series, which take place every Wednesday evening during the summer months. Each week, Clavo hosts a pre-concert party, where guests can come enjoy a glass of wine, catered hors d’oeuvres, and live music while they pick up a bottle of wine to enjoy in the park.

Clavo Cellars is located at 315 S. Main Street in Downtown Templeton. The tasting room is open from 12:00-5:00pm daily. For more information, please call (805) 226-0174 or visit They can also be found on Facebook:

— Laura E Zolnoski


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