Saarloos + Sons makes wine. But that isn’t the first thing listed under the company name. In fact, it goes: “Family + Farming + Vineyards + Wine.” That’s right, a wine company that lists wine as the last thing they do. “The family piece of it really comes first. Because without them, everything we do is kind of meaningless,” says Keith Saarloos, who is both the Saarloos and the Son in the Central California company.
The younger Saarloos, along with his dad Larry, are both the brains and brawn behind their small family business that has been growing grapes since 1999. With multiple generations working side by side, they strive to follow the family creed of Honor + Prepare.
“Honor + Prepare means we live to honor those who have come before us and prepare the way for those yet to come,” says Keith, who sees himself as a temporary steward of the land.
Situated in the idyllic town of Los Olivos, Calif., Saarloos + Sons have found something they are passionate about and they are working earnestly to not only make a stellar product, but also to leave something for their kids and their kids’ kids.
And it’s just as important to instill the work ethic and passion into future generations. Just ask Keith, whose kids Brielle and Cash can be found on the farm before school helping with the harvest, as well as in the tasting room after school throughout the year.
“My grandfather worked with his father. My dad worked with my grandpa. I work with my dad. My kids work with me. Everything we do today has these ripples that go out for generations.”
“Every morning from my grandfather to my father to my uncle to myself, everybody got up and went to work. What we really want to do is leave something better than we found it,” says Keith. “Not only leaving it better, but leaving it ready for the next person. That’s how I grew up and I wanted to give that same thing to my kids. And now it’s just who we are.”
The family farms a variety of grapes—from Syrah and Grenache to Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc—on Windmill Ranch in Ballard Canyon and El Camino Real Vineyard off Highway 101 and Zaca Station Road. And while the family started primarily as the farmers, it was Keith who moved the family into wine-making in 2003.
“Farming is like the song-writing process. And wine-making is the performance of that song,” says Keith. “There are tons of wineries that buy their grapes from people and then they perform the song, which is great. But what I’m always proud of is that we’re singer-songwriters. That’s the heart and soul of what has always been great about California.”