When Tom Rodrigues was growing up as the son of fruit farmers in the Santa Clara Valley, he never imagined that his grandfather’s hobby of making wine in the basement would become a passion and vocation for him later in life. Today, his Maple Creek Winery boasts a selection of premium, sustainable, and award-winning wines, including Estate Chardonnay, Estate Pinot Noir, Estate Merlot, Largo Ridge Zinfandel, Flora and Symphony, as well as Bordeaux Blends and late harvest varietals. Maple Creek’s wines, all of which are released under the Artevino label, are made in small lots, handcrafted with passion, and approachable enough to please every palate.
The label’s name, Artevino – a combination of the words “arte” (art) and “vino” (wine) – was inspired by Tom’s background as an artist. His storied, five decade career has included launching his own stained glass studio when barely out of his teens, being the Designer and Production Manager for the stained glass studio at George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch, painting in acrylic and oil (including the “Legends at the Stick” baseball series, which was featured in Sports Illustrated and eventually saw one of the paintings being permanently installed in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY), and designing wine labels for a variety of winemakers, including those in the Far Niente family — Dolce, Nickel & Nickel, EnRoute and Bella Union. This last venture brought Tom in intimate contact with an industry that would inspire him and ultimately lead to the purchase of Maple Creek Ranch, Vineyard and Winery, in the Yorkville Highlands appellation of Mendocino County.
“I was on a motorcycle ride through the Anderson Valley and fell in love with the area,” states Tom. “Then I found the ranch and vineyard in Yorkville in 2000. My daughter was all grown up and I was ready to leave Marin County for a slower pace of life. Little did I know that becoming a grape farmer and winemaker would be anything but! I was lucky enough to hire Kerry Damsky to mentor me and teach me the chemistry of wine making in the French style using California fruit. A long friendship with Kerry and wine has brought me to where I am now, nineteen seasons later.”
Maple Creek Winery has 13 acres of estate varietals, including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Flora and Symphony. These grapes thrive in the hot days and cool nights of the Yorkville Highland AVA, growing in hillside clay, loam, and rocky soils. Estate grapes are complimented with Mendocino County Zinfandel from long standing relationships with other local vineyards. These varietals burst with flavor as a result of the right varietal growing conditions, including the vineyards sustainable practices. The proximity of their vineyards to their onsite processing and storage facility ensure they control the process from when to harvest to final bottling. This is how Tom creates the wonderfully rich and complex flavors of his boutique, low production, wines.
Maple Creek has garnered many recent awards under the Artevino label, including a gold medal for the 2017 Estate Pinot Noir at the 2019 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and another gold for the 2017 Estate Chardonnay at the 2019 American Fine Wine Competition. Other popular wines under the Artevino label include Symphony, a slightly sweet wine that’s perfect for picnics; Largo Ridge Zinfandel, made with grapes grown in Anderson Valley; Cowboy Red, a very approachable table wine made with Merlot, Zinfandel and Carignane; and variety of dessert wines, including “Nectar of the Goddess,” a heavenly late harvest wine made with a blend of Estate Flora and Symphony grapes.
Maple Creek Ranch spans 165 acres total (13 planted with grapes), 7 springs, natural gardens and fruit orchards. It is home to many types of edible mushrooms, wild boar and a plethora of wildlife. The property is sustainable, as well as herbicide- and pesticide-free.
All are invited to experience Artevino wines at Maple Creek’s friendly tasting room in Yorkville, California, where you will find Tom’s artwork on the walls, and Australian Shepherds Buster and Posey on hand to greet visitors. The tasting room is open year-round and their motto is “Enter as strangers, leave as friends.
Maple Creek will be pouring Artevino wines at the upcoming Taste Mendocino event at San Francisco’s Fort Mason on April 27, 2019.