Juventino Cervantes is a true artist at heart, with kind eyes, an infectious smile, and a meticulous sense of detail and nuance. 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 900 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 the Thompson Vineyard, it would indubitably be Tino Cervantes. He has spent nearly 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 walks its hundreds of rows daily, physically touching every plant countless times year after year before personally hand-picking its fruit for a select group of eager winemakers.
Tino and his wife Elva have lived and worked full time on the ranch since the beginning. They literally raised their children within the vines at Thompson Vineyard. This second Cervantes generation now also works alongside their parents and have children of their own growing up in the unique countryside we also call home.
Today three generations of the Cervantes family both live and work at the Thompson Vineyard. In a recent conversation, Tino’s son Roberto was asked how his family members are all able to work so intuitively with the vines.
Roberto responded simply, “This is what we do.”