The Gleason Family Vineyards Santa Ynez Valley portfolio of brands (Roblar Winery and Vineyards, Refugio Ranch Vineyards) has officially announced the acquisition of Solvang’s Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard, a 106-acre property in the heart of Santa Barbara County wine country.
Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard consists of a 42-acre estate vineyard, onsite winery facility, tasting room and gardens, a two-acre orchard, small hop yard and 10 acres of rotated seasonal produce.
The property, founded in 1968 on a principle of sustainability, was first utilized as an equestrian operation, followed by the planting of organic fruits and vegetables, and in 1983, the initial planting of the vineyard.
Originally created by Betty Williams, a founder of The Land Trust for Santa Barbara County and an engaged community planning member, Buttonwood’s sustainable vineyard was first planted with a focus on Bordeaux-style wines. The vineyard evolved over time, and small blocks of grenache blanc, chenin blanc, grenache, syrah, sauvignon musqué and malbec joined the original plantings of merlot, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, sémillon and sauvignon blanc. The entire vineyard is own-rooted.
Bret Davenport, president and managing partner of Buttonwood, along with his wife Barry Zorthian and partner, Seyburn Zorthian, have been instrumental in furthering Ms. Williams’s vision for the Buttonwood property. She and Mr. Davenport partnered in 1983 with the original planting of the vineyard, continuing in 1989 with the building and bonding of the winery. Seyburn Zorthian has been the designing artist of Buttonwood’s labels since the founding, working from her studio on the property since the early 1970s.
“It’s been fascinating to review our family’s 50-plus years here on Buttonwood Farm. We’ve observed the evolution of our wine region, partnered with wonderful people to create special occasions with the land as the backdrop, and enjoyed the wine and food that we grew. My partners and I feel that we are handing over the Buttonwood legacy to the right people, who share our philosophy of preserving the intrinsic character of this special land. We look forward to seeing this new chapter in Buttonwood’s history unfold,” said Mr. Davenport.
Kevin Gleason, proprietor of the Gleason Family Vineyard portfolio along with his wife, Niki Gleason, added, “Buttonwood farm and vineyard property is iconic, and the family behind it has such deep roots in this wine region, and in the area’s agricultural community. As a family-owned and operated group, this resonated highly with us, and we look forward to becoming new stewards for this land to continue to prosper and evolve.”
In 2004, Niki and Kevin Gleason purchased a Santa Ynez Valley cattle ranch, which had been used for grazing for hundreds of years. The 415-acre site, now Refugio Ranch, sits along the northern face of the Santa Ynez Mountains with the Santa Ynez River serving as its northern property border.
The Gleasons planted 26 acres of vines in 2006, and produced their first Refugio Ranch Vineyards wines in 2008.
In 2017, the Gleasons purchased Santa Ynez Valley’s Roblar Winery and Vineyards, Royal Oaks Wines, and what was then-Royal Oaks Ranch which, in 2018, became the planting site for the family’s one-acre organic farm, now Roblar Farm.
The proprietary farm sparked the introduction of new food menus and in the summer of 2021, the Gleason Family Vineyards portfolio announced a new executive chef and head of culinary operations, Peter Cham, as part of the brands’ concerted expansion of Santa Barbara wine country hospitality experiences.
“Buttonwood fits extraordinarily well into our existing portfolio, not only due to its ideal positioning within the Santa Ynez Valley wine region, but also due to the farm component of the property and the hospitality for which Buttonwood is well known,” said Matthew Bieszard, Gleason Family Vineyards general manager. “We are very excited about the possibilities Buttonwood has as a vineyard, farm, brand and winery, and we look forward to putting the Gleason Family Vineyards touch on each facet of the business.”
Karen Steinwachs, Buttonwood’s winemaker for the past 14 years and one of the region’s trailblazing women winemakers with a double-decade wine industry career, will remain part of the Buttonwood winemaking team. Buttonwood’s winery will continue to operate, with the Gleason Family Vineyards portfolio’s winery facility on the Roblar property serving as the winemaking hub for all brands, led by head winemaker Max Marshak.
Buttonwood Farm Winery and Vineyard, located at 1500 Alamo Pintado Road in Solvang, is currently open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily for outdoor wine tasting experiences and bottle purchases. Advance tasting reservations are recommended.
Roblar Winery and Vineyards, located at 3010 Roblar Ave. in Santa Ynez, is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily for wine tasting experiences and bottle purchases. Advance tasting reservations are requested. Chef Cham’s weekly “Bites Menus” are offered Friday through Sunday, and house-made, to-go style sandwiches and salads are available in Roblar’s “bodega” the remainder of the week.