I love visiting Villa San Juliette, they are the neighbors of Ranchita Canyon Vineyard. The beauty there is magnificent, the grounds evoke an image of European splendor. The artistically rendered gates open at 11am, the driveway is punctuated by cypress tress, and olive trees. The statuary, and landscape transport your soul to a place of divine harmony. I feel as though I am in an ancient Roman painting…bring on the banquet!
I have visited VSJ many times, but have never had the opportunity to meet the two gentlemen that own the winery. Ken Warwick and Nigel Lythgoe are the owners, and I am told that the two met as schoolmates in Liverpool and a friendship bloomed. Both young men loved to entertain and as they grew into adulthood, this shared passion led to careers that often intersected, as dancers, then as choreographers and as producers of entertainment enjoyed by millions of people all over the world.
Despite their demanding schedules, in 2004 these two friends made time to catch up over a dinner in Las Vegas. They asked the sommelier to surprise them with a bottle of Cab, and, when both glasses were poured, the conversation took a momentous turn. The wine was spectacular, spurring an interest in the Paso Robles AVA that would grow into a love affair. And thus, in that first sip, the dream of Villa San-Juliette Vineyard & Winery was born.
Smitten as they were, just one year later Ken and Nigel purchased a pastoral 168-acre property located at the northern edge of the Paso Robles AVA in the small town of San Miguel, California. A healthy vineyard was already established across rolling slopes and ideal soils, so Ken and Nigel directed their energies towards enhancing the natural beauty of the vineyard with a tasting room styled after the Tuscan villas that Nigel had enjoyed during trips to Italy.
Ken and Nigel’s belief in Paso Robles wine country comes to fulfillment in Villa San-Ju- liette’s comfortable tasting room, superb wines, and idyllic vineyard views.
The two are the producers of American Idol. They also produce many other talent shows, as well as own the winery. In 2013 the winery became SIP certified, which is no easy feat. One must be able to demonstrate their sustainability, water, animal conservation, soil health, and the overall carbon footprint are measured.
Their wines have won several awards too, so it’s so worth a visit. Every time I have visited, I have been fascinated by what appears to be a sculptured wind vane. I recently was told that the “Fat Monk” is a second label. I can’t personally attest to it’s yumminess, but the Fat Monk looks super cool.