Get the Dirt about Falcone Family Vineyards from Helen Falcone

3 Mar

Our family’s team approach makes our wines truly special. John oversees farming aspects of our estate vineyard and outside vineyard sources while Helen co-produces the wines and markets them. In 1998 we celebrated the arrival of our daughter Mia, the namesake of our family vineyard. Mia assists with punch-downs, yeast cultures and grape sorting.

falconepeeps1. What was your first vintage year? 2002

2. How many cases do you make per vintage? 1200

3. Do you have a Tasting Room? No, but people can taste by appointment. Contact us at or (805) 350-0397.

4. If not you, who is your winemaker? Both my husband John and I make the wines

5. How did you get your start in the winemaking business? John – 1st job out of JC, worked harvest 1976 in Monterey County & never looked back!

Helen – UCDavis Food Science grad 1984, developed Hypo-allergenic whey proteins for infant formulas until 1990 when I decided I wanted to do more than be a home winemaker (Pinot from Sonoma) so I took lab job at Beringer Vineyards.

6. What wine made you want to become a winemaker/start your own winery? John – when I tasted a 1969 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Reserve. Helen – Beringer Reserve Cabernet, Knights Valley

7. What varietals do you work with? Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petite Sirah and Chardonnay clone 15. Which varietal/wine is your favorite to make? Syrah Why? Because it is the most challenging to grow and make balanced wine from.

falconevineyard8. What vineyards do you source from? We grow Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah (in the Templeton Gap) on Highway 41 East and Cripple Creek Rd. We buy Petite Sirah from Camp 8 Road, near Creston and Chardonnay Clone 15 from the Sierra Madre Vineyard in Santa Maria Valley. Why? Because these vineyards are in the best microclimates and soils for the fruit expression/characters we like and these vineyards are farmed meticulously for the best quality.

If estate, why did you choose the spot you’re in? Micro climate and soil.

9. What type of oak treatment do you use? 60 gallon French oak primarily, moderate use of new oak. Why? so we don’t mask the fruit and vineyard characteristics

10. What do you love about your winemaking region? Paso Robles is a relatively new area, young vineyards with tremendous potential. What makes it special? Different microclimates and the various soils.

falcone_label11. What’s the story behind your name/label? Family name – we all get involved, even our daughter Mia, and because we take pride in what we grow and produce so the wines are good enough to have our name on them.

12. What’s the one thing you wish someone had told you about the wine business before you started your own winery? Ha, ha – we are veterans so nothing would be the answer.

2014 marks John’s 38th harvest and Helen’s 24th commercial harvest.

13. We’re curious…do you even get tired of drinking your own wine? Not really because we learn more each time we taste our own wines over their lifetimes, but we love tasting wines that other people make and feel it is important to taste as many other wines as possible to educate our palates.

14. Do you still have a day job? Definitely!!!! Over the decades we’ve worked for a variety of wineries in Monterey, Napa, Washington state and Santa Ynez Valley.

John has always had a full time job in addition to Falcone Family Vineyards & currently he is Director of Winemaking and General Manager of Gainey Vineyard in Santa Ynez.

Until May 2012, Helen was Assistant Winemaker at Rusack Vineyards and is now focused only on Falcone Family Vineyards.

For more information about Falcone Family Vineyards, please visit their website or follow them on FACEBOOK.

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