GUARDIANS OF SOIL & VINE
Juventino “Tino” Cervantes is a true artist in the vineyard, with kind eyes, an infectious smile, and a quiet but meticulous sense of intuition and nuance. His warm family originates from a group of historic mariachi troubadours who have lived for centuries in Jalisco Mexico near the famed town of Tequila. After immigrating to California as a youth he spent several years in Los Angeles as a master furniture maker, however, he eventually sought refuge from city life and began to look for a more peaceful environment to apply his skills and raise a family. In 1989 he met a young Jeff Newton, co-founder of Coastal Vineyard Care, an ambitious farming company focused on the burgeoning premium wines grown on carefully selected vineyard sites in Santa Barbara County.
Jeff and David Thompson were deep in the process of selecting a vineyard site within the nearly 800 acre Thompson Ranch and needed someone with a keen eye and intimate feel for the land to help bring the project to fruition. In 1986 only 119 acres of Syrah existed in all of California, and Thompson was to be only the third vineyard in Santa Barbara County to be planted with Syrah after Zaca Mesa and Bien Nacido had proven themselves in the 70’s and 80’s. Jeff introduced David to Tino, and through their combined efforts the Thompson Vineyard became a reality in 1990.
If there were one person today most physically, emotionally, and spiritually connected with Dovecote Ranch and its Thompson Vineyard, it would indubitably be Tino Cervantes. He has spent over three decades amongst its vines, from the first cuttings that were pushed into the soil to the gnarled and weatherbeaten trunks of today. Under the sun and rain, within the fog and wind, Tino and his family attentively walk its hundreds of rows daily, physically touching every plant countless times year after year before personally hand-picking its fruit under a harvest moon.
Tino and his wife Elva have lived and worked full time on Dovecote Ranch since the beginning. They have literally raised their children within the vines. This second Cervantes generation now also lives and works alongside their parents with numerous young grandchildren growing up and beginning to assist us in the unique countryside we together call home.
Today three generations of the Cervantes family both live and work at Dovecote Ranch. In a recent conversation, Tino’s eldest son Roberto was asked how his family members are all able to work so intuitively with the vines.
Roberto paused briefly and responded with a smile, “This is what we do.”