Our premium estate vineyard, which bears the name Carly in honour of Sherman’s daughter, was planted in 1998 and is situated just east of the Salinas River. It is one of the few dry-farmed, head-trained Sangiovese vineyards in California and is planted with the noble Sangiovese and cabernet sauvignon varieties.
In 2020 we planted Kevin’s Vineyard, named after the man himself. In true Bella Luna fashion, it is also dry-farmed, but instead of head training, we are vertical training this vineyard. On it we planted, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Dolcetto.
The ten-acre estate of Bella Luna has some extremely distinctive features. We benefit from the evening breeze because they are influenced by the Pacific Ocean, which originates from the well-known Templeton Gap.
Four different types of soil make up the Estate’s distinctive terroir structure. First, our most intense fruit comes from the “Rock Pile,” made up of alluvial river bottom. Sandal loam is followed by clay loam, where moisture lingers the longest and produces our most plentiful harvest. According to experts, this is among the best soil types for growing grapes.
On the east hill, up high, last but not least, we have simple loamy soil, which our Cabernet appears to enjoy. Because of the possibility of a late frost down in the bottom, Cabernets thrive there. Our vineyard is managed sustainably, and “mother nature” is the only water source for the vines.
We take pride in having dry-farmed vines. Dry farming can have a couple of different meanings, but to us, it means we only use the water that mother nature supplies for us. Some recent years that has been very little rainfall. Other years we get more rainfall. Each vintage will be different because of the weather, and that’s what we enjoy tasting in our wines. We have no trellises in the vineyard since the vines are either head-trained or vertical-trained.
In 1970, after serving in the Army during the Vietnam war, Kevin returned home. He decided he needed a “sabbatical from civilization,” so he took up residence on a large vineyard in Adelaida’s hills to reflect, as he puts it. There, he learned all the aspects of viticulture from a seasoned dry farmer—Mel Casteel.
Kevin developed a love and respect for how Mel nurtured his dry-farmed vineyard. He spent roughly twenty years as the assistant winemaker at Pesenti Winery alongside Frank Nerelli. When he started in the Paso Robles wine industry, there were only three wineries!
Today, Kevin can be seen in our estate vineyard, enjoying his tractor time and off-day fishing and playing with his grandchildren.
After serving in the Navy with distinction, piloting F-4Js from aircraft carriers, Sherman decided to go into commercial aviation. He has spent more than 30 years traveling the world and has had the amazing chance to experience wine from almost every nation. Sherman consequently acquired a taste for unusual wines from around the world.
Sherman’s degree in biological sciences from Washington State University has aided him in his convictions that while the artisan method and the scientific method occasionally spark heated arguments at the vineyard, in the end, it is how he does what he genuinely enjoys.
San Luis Obispo, California, is the place where Jimmy was born and reared. His father, Sherman Smoot, and partner Kevin Healey built a dry-farmed, head-trained vineyard in the Templeton Gap District of the Paso Robles AVA in 1998, sparking his passion for viticulture and winemaking.
Jimmy began working for Eberle Winery as an intern and worked his way up to Assistant Winemaker for four years, establishing his winemaking skills. Jimmy began his career as the Assistant Winemaker for Bella Luna.
Jimmy was given a chance to come back to Bella Luna as the full-time winemaker in November 2014 by Jimmy’s family. Jimmy commits himself to producing Bella Luna’s exquisite wines.
Running around the Pesenti vineyards during her childhood days in the late 1980s is where Nichole’s career in wine began. She didn’t learn practical experience from her dad till she was in her teenage years.
Working in the vines served as her way of establishing a solid foundation in her family. It might involve pruning, suckering, thinning, or bird netting, depending on the season.
Kevin finally asked her what she wanted to do with her life as her senior year approached. This—standing in Carly’s Vineyard at Bella Luna—was the response.
Winemaker / Viticulturist
Sherm and Kevin approached Lukas and Nichole in 2016 while they were on vacation in California celebrating the first birthday of their daughters to let them know that they needed all hands on deck as the label was about to expand. They started the immigration process right away without pausing. They arrived in America after a very trying two years.
Lukas began working as an associate winemaker at Eberle Winery in August 2018. Three harvests in a single year set a new record for him that year!
Bella Luna was prepared for Lukas to join the club in January 2020, and he is keen to inject some Australian flavor into Bella Luna. The final component of the puzzle for the following generation is now complete!