Kelsey See Canyon Vineyards offers Unique Wine Experiences
AVILA BEACH — Just a few short miles from Avila Beach, tucked away in a secluded canyon engulfed by towering Sycamore trees, is a small family-owned and operated winery called Kelsey See Canyon Vineyards.
Some may know the winery from its unparalleled atmosphere that is unlike any on the Central Coast. While many wine drinkers spend their afternoons gazing upon the green or golden rolling hills covered in vines woven together like a tapestry, Kelsey sits in shadows of its foliage alongside a mellow stream that never runs dry.
As happy customers sip wine and cider while absorbing the dulcet tones radiating through the air from live music or feed the eager peacocks, assistant general manager and winemaker Joey Roedl, works diligently to create different, exciting flavors of Kelsey’s new hard cider.
Kelsey See Canyon Vineyards prides themselves on being a small, hometown winery and that starts with Roedl, who is in the quintessential Central Coast boy.
Born and raised in the county, Roedl went to Atascadero High School, where he met his high school sweetheart (now wife) Courtney. After high school, he attended Cuesta College to finish his general education before transferring to Cal Poly, where he majored in Ag Business.
“I knew I wanted to get into beer or wine right off the bat,” Roedl said. “I was actually thinking beer more than wine just to get my feet in the door because I drink more beer than I do wine but my wife now, she is part of the Kelsey family, which is how I met them.”
Kelsey Vineyards went through some big changes back in December of 2012, starting with the hiring of current head winemaker Jac Jacobs, who has spent more than 30 years making wine and is well respected in the industry.
Just a few short months after Kelsey hired Jacobs, they brought on a slender Atascadero kid with bright blue eyes filled with the desire to learn as their assistant winemaker and the rest has been, as they say, history.
“Any chance I could, I would help them out in events, learn the trade, help out Jac [Jacobs] who is a great winemaker,” Roedl said. “They really wanted someone that didn’t know anything. They had a winemaker that knows a lot, has been through a lot and has experienced a lot of winemaking and what they really needed was a hand.”
Roedl started work at Kelsey in the summer of 2014 and began using the knowledge he gained at Cal Poly. He started at the bottom and began putting in the work anywhere and everywhere he was asked.
Roedl’s first harvest with Kelsey See Canyon Vineyards came in 2014 and over the past six years, he has worked hand-in-hand with Jacobs until recently when he was promoted to assistant general manager.
Together, the two have been a winning pair but are just hitting their stride as is evident by the number of awards they brought home from the 2019 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition in early January.
The SFCWC is one of if not the biggest wine competition in the Americas and included approximately 6,700 wine entries from more than 1,130 wineries from the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Roedl, Jacobs and Kelsey See Canyon Vineyards entered 13 of their wines into the competition and came home with 12 awards, including one “Best of Class” and one “Double Gold.” The competition is based on pure blind taste tests and it was their 2018 “Spontaneous Groove” White Blend that earned “Best in Class.” Their 2017 Merlot brought home a double gold medal while “The Kiss” brought home a gold of its own.
While Jacobs and Roedl are both superb at their jobs, they are both also self-aware enough to know that a good winemaker is only as good as his ingredients, which are second to none in the Central Coast.
“It’s such a humbling honor but it’s honestly just a testament to this area, pretty much because there are so many wineries in this area that got awards, not just Kelsey See Canyon Vineyards,” Roedl said. “But it’s a testament to the winemakers in this area and the region that we are in.”
Because their winery is so close to the ocean, Kelsey See Canyon Vineyards can only grow specific varietals that thrive in the climate. They collect many of their grapes for their wines from Paso Robles but what they do have in abundance in the area are apples, which has led the way to their newest release, their canned hard cider.
Kelsey Vineyards has been making an apple cider that is essentially a white wine for the past 20 years but with the ever-growing interest in ciders that is sweeping the nation, Jacobs and Roedl have put out a new product in the canned hard cider.
“It seemed to resonate in the community [the previous hard cider]. We make it bone dry, carbonate it, it’s really refreshing but it also 12 percent alcohol so you can’t be kicking back a few of them. So, now that the cider game is here to stay, it’s not a fad anymore, people want it and people need it, so we see a demand in the market.”
Their newest cider is only eight percent and comes in as a perfect alternative to a beer or a seltzer on a warm, sunny afternoon. The new exciting cider will be released to the public on February 29 and will assuredly be a hit as Roedl has already begun working on different variations for the ultimate flight paired with live music and the mellow sounds of a slow-moving stream.