A story of opportunity and fate, Jake and I launched League of Rogues in the summer of 2014. Our journey to where we are today has been anything but conventional. We have bachelor degrees in business, not viticulture or oenology. We are not descendants of winemakers; the extent of our families’ connection to wine is an occasional glass or two at dinner. We won’t be inheriting a vineyard, a tasting room, or even a tractor for that matter. Simply put, winemaking is a passion Jake and I cultivated together. It is a dream we have been living out since we walked our first vineyard in 2012.
It was September of 2007, our senior year at Arizona State University, when Jake and I first met. A college tennis player, I was approaching my last year of eligibility and Jake was set to graduate early with me in May of 2008. After playing competitive sports for most of my life, I needed a fresh take. I wanted to embark on a new journey that didn’t require a racquet in hand. Jake, who has quite the culinary talent, was looking for something that could complement his skills in the kitchen.
Shortly after graduation, Jake and I spent time in Phoenix planning life after college. That’s when our passion for wine came to existence. A constant topic of conversation, wine very quickly became a focal point in our life. We thought, where better to start than by taking a trip to world-renowned Napa Valley?
Researching the many wine regions of California; Paso Robles seemed like a nice fit due to its close proximity to Phoenix and its excellent grape types. Within months, we flew out to meet with a grape broker who encouraged us to meet a friend of hers—Christian Tietje, owner/winemaker of Cypher Winery.
After a two-hour meeting with Christian, drinking un-oaked chardonnay on his tasting room patio, Jake and I were hooked. Christian asked if we would be interested in working harvest that year and in return would teach us how to make wine. We ended up working with Christian for the next three years.
Jake and I are heading into our fifth harvest. This will be our biggest and busiest season yet, hand-harvesting approximately 30 tons worth of fruit. What started in 2012 as a 260 case production of zinfandel has turned into a 1,600 annual case production, across five different wines. Our journey has been wonderful. We have many people to thank in the Paso Robles community and look forward to calling Paso Robles our home for many years to come!