Once construction is complete, Alamitos Vineyards will be San Jose’s only tasting room with an onsite vineyard. And it’s most certainly the only one with its own fire truck.
Proprietors Shaun Coleman and Chris Maune are tech entrepreneurs who’ve built several companies and have many interests, including vintage NASCAR racing. But the 6-acre vineyard, which they planted in 2015 with sauvignon blanc, syrah and Touriga Nacional, is really their passion project. They purchased the parcel off Alamitos Road just past New Almaden, which includes several residences tucked among majestic live oaks and blue oaks and surrounded by a lush lawn, in 2014 from a couple who had primarily used the property for weddings and events. Coleman and Maune intend to continue with this use when the winery opens.
As to the fire truck, after learning that the local fire department required them to have four pumping stations at a cost of $6,000 each, Coleman—who never met a vintage vehicle he didn’t want to show some love—found a 30-year-old fire truck in Washington state. “It had 24,000miles on it and was in great shape. They age out their equipment after 30 years, and they only wanted $6,000 for it! Done deal.”
Maune admits he was skeptical of the purchase but was sold after the truck helped stop two harrowingly close calls with fires before Cal Fire equipment could arrive on the scene. “Worth every penny,” says Coleman. “Plus, it looks really cool in parades.”
Both Coleman and Maune have farming and/or winemaking in their genes. Coleman’s grandfather and father are and were Iowa soybean and wheat farmers. Says Coleman, “When I told my Dad we were planting a vineyard and were going to be farmers, he said, ‘I can write a book right now about what you already don’t know about farming!’”
With the help of Coastal Range Vineyard Consultants, who installed the vineyards, the men have been learning about the soils on this land that backs up to New Almaden Quicksilver County Park.
Coleman’s Portuguese heritage predisposed him to plant Touriga Nacional, from which they make rosé, a favorite beverage of the Portuguese community, which has shown up to support them throughout the pandemic.
Coleman’s Portuguese grandfather was an early winemaker in Livermore Valley, working for Cresta Blanca, Concannon and Wente.
“My grandfather made sauv blanc for the wineries he worked for in Livermore,” he says. “We even have some old bottles of Cresta Blanca. It turns out he also made sauv blanc for Almaden Winery, which used to be on Blossom Hill Road.”
Each wine at Alamitos Vineyards sports a label derived from an original painting of one of the many birds that inhabit the property, with its beautiful views of Almaden Reservoir, created in 1935 as part of the New Deal. Maune’s aunt painted the intense gleaming-eyed raptor that graces the 2018 Hawk Eye Syrah. The 2019 Laura’s Love Rosé is named for Maune’s mother, who passed away in 2017.
The owners hope to officially open Alamitos Vineyards for tasting on July 1, assuming all goes according to plan. They will be tasting three wines for $15 and six for $25, pouring from a bar built of reclaimed wood from a 150-year-old barn in Gilroy.
Reservations will be required, and 30 people can be accommodated for each of the four or five seatings planned between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. on weekends. Tasting fees will be collected in advance via Cellar Pass. Private tasting appointments and events can also be arranged.
For more information, visit https://www.alamitosvineyards.com.