Get the Dirt on DENO Wines from Dennis Sharpe

22 Oct

denodennisAlto Pomar (DENO’s estate vineyard) was initially planted in 1993, as the dream of a frustrated farmer. From Southern California city boy to a farmer planting grapes, was a long journey. In 1992, me and Marty Diffley found a property which became Alto Pomar in the Templeton Hills of the Paso Robles winegrowing appellation. A move from Hermosa Beach to Templeton was a major undertaking. Over the years, Alto Pomar grew little-by-little and the decision to make wine from the estate fruit was made in 2008.

1. What was your first vintage year?  2008

2. How many cases do you make per vintage?  350

3. Do you have a Tasting Room? No, but we are doing tasting by appointment. Please contact me at

4. If not you, who is your winemaker? Eric Ogorsolka at Zenaida Cellars

5. How did you get your start in the winemaking business? Was an AG Major in College. Learned to love wine. Decided I could grow grapes! Making wine just naturally followed.

6. What wine made you want to become a winemaker/start your own winery? I’d need a small book. I’ve been fortunate to have tasted a lot of wine from many grapes and regions. Started with lovely German Rieslings. Now I grow Rhone varieties. And everything in between!

denograpes7. What varietals do you work with? Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Zinfandel. Which varietal/wine is your favorite to make? Why? Grenache is my favorite. It loves to give. It is big fruited, bright when it’s not overripe, has guts but can be complex, and likes our sunny climate.

8. What vineyards do you source from?  Our estate property, Alto Pomar Vineyard primarily. I thought this was a marginal but opportune sight. Soil. Exposure. It seemed to be the right place. Alto Pomar is located in the eastside Templeton Hills at over 1300 feet in elevation and takes advantage of the winds and temperature swings of the Templeton Gap.

The varying soils are primarily calcareous marls and shales with mixed clays and gravel. Farming the steep ridges of Alto Pomar is always a challenge. Water is limited and the vines naturally produce extremely low yields (2 tons/acre) of high intensity and well-balanced fruit.

The grapes from Alto Pomar have a common thread of spice, brightness and balanced maturity. Grenache, syrah, mourvedre and a few scattered other varieties make up the small (3 acre) vineyard. The vineyard is farmed in both trellis and head-trained fashion. The oldest vines are now in their 21st year.

denobottle9. What type of oak treatment do you use? Why? Primarily neutral barrels. I typically do not like the taste of strong oak, especially in Grenache based wines.

10. What do you love about your winemaking region? What makes it different special? An incredible mix of micro climates, soils, and exposures. You can probably find some where close by to grow almost every grape varietal well. And it’s a beautiful area.

11. What’s the story behind your name/label? DENO is a nickname given to me from my sister. The splotch on the label? Subject to interpretation. I did listen to a lot BST.

12. What’s the one thing you wish someone had told you about the wine business before you started your own winery? It’s a lot of work. But the Best Work. If you can pay for it.

13. We’re curious…do you even get tired of drinking your own wine? Absolutely! It would get boring if you didn’t try a lot of the other wines out there. But I taste my wine with others to try and see what they’ve done differently.

14. Do you still have a day job? Yes. Pays the bills!

To get more information about DENO Wines, please visit their website or follow them on FACEBOOK.

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