In 1988, John, his wife Gail and their children dedicated themselves to the creation of a wine of their own. While still maintaining grape sales to top wineries around the world, they brought award-winning winemaker Steve Millier aboard to launch Kautz wines, which would evolve into Ironstone Vineyards, a wine brand dedicated to the production of exceptional wines of unparalleled quality, outstanding value and everyday approachability.
In 1989, using dynamite, pick axes and shovels, a crew of miners carved through limestone and Calaveras Schist Rock on Gail’s family ranch in Murphys, California and fashioned the site of Ironstone’s wine aging caverns, which in the beginning, also served as the facility’s first tasting room., Ironstone Wines and the Ironstone Winery have each grown and become famous in their own way. John, Gail and each of their four children - Stephen, Kurt, Jack, and Joan - remain actively involved in the growth of both the winery facility and the wine brand. View all Ironstone Wines
About Sierra FoothillsView a map of Sierra Foothills wineries
Called gold country since the mid-1800's, the Sierra Foothills, located between Sacramento and the Nevada border, was a hot spot for those seeking a gold rush fortune. Some of these settlers brought some European vines with them and somewhere in that mix was the Zinfandel grape.
Notable FactsZinfandel remains the grape of choice here, followed by Rhone Blends. Volcanic rock & granite-based soils give their wines a robustness that make them unique, and highly sought after, particularly from the two best-known counties, Amador and El Dorado. Zinfandels here are spicy and structures, with brambly fruit and excellent backbone. Once a well-kept secret, wine from the Sierra Foothills is now on the national wine map.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.