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Unveiling Stiekema Wine Co.: A Journey of Passion, Balance, and South African Influence

Unveiling Stiekema Wine Co.: A Journey of Passion, Balance, and South African Influence

Jonas Muthoni

Nestled in the heart of Paso Robles, Stiekema Wine Co. stands as a testament to the unyielding spirit and dedication of its founder, Mike Stiekema. Established in March of 2021, this young yet remarkable winemaker is already making waves in the wine community, driven by a unique vision and an unwavering commitment to excellence.

A Dream Born from Passion

Mike Stiekema’s journey into winemaking began unconventionally. Dropping out of college in 2012, he worked as a cellar hand at a large winery. This seemingly ordinary job ignited a profound love for winemaking, propelling him on a path that would ultimately lead to the creation of Stiekema Wine Co. After gaining invaluable experience in South Africa, Mike returned to the States and finished his education with a Bachelor of Science in Viticulture & Enology from WSU Tri-Cities and a wealth of diverse winemaking techniques.

Building a Winery from the Ground Up

Starting a winery is no small feat, and Mike faced numerous challenges along the way. He relied on his ingenuity and resourcefulness without an estate vineyard, tasting room, or his own equipment. “It took every cent that I had to chase a very expensive dream,” Mike admits. Despite the hurdles, his passion for winemaking and commitment to his craft kept him moving forward. Today, Stiekema Wine Co. thrives, producing exceptional wines that reflect Mike’s dedication and love for the art.

A Unique WineMaking Approach

Stiekema Wine Co. is renowned for its focus on Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre, sourced exclusively from the West Side of Paso Robles. Mike’s stylistic approach draws heavily from South African winemaking techniques, setting his wines apart in a region known for its diverse offerings. Among the standout creations is his signature GSM blend, a harmonious marriage of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre, meticulously crafted to showcase the best attributes of each variety. The 2022 vintage, with its unconventional blend proportions, exemplifies Mike’s innovative spirit and commitment to producing wines that tell a story with every sip.

Sustainability and Innovation

In an industry often associated with excess, Mike prioritizes sustainability and innovation. By minimizing water, power, and ingredient usage, he reduces the environmental impact of his winemaking process. Mike also recycles byproducts creatively, transforming barrels into planters and glass bottles into candles, promoting a culture of reuse within his community.

Connecting with the Community

While many wineries focus heavily on digital marketing, Mike believes in the power of face-to-face interactions. “If I can pour and chat to people about the wine, they receive an experience that feels sincere and leaves them with, hopefully, a good memory,” he says. His personal touch extends to all aspects of his business, from hosting intimate tasting experiences to engaging directly with customers through social media and events. As a one-man operation, it’s impressive to see.  

Future Endeavors and Philosophical Vision

Looking ahead, Mike envisions expanding his production by sourcing fruit from additional vineyards while maintaining the small-batch, high-quality approach that defines Stiekema Wine Co. His philosophy revolves around balance—both in life and winemaking. Mike aspires to create wines that taste exquisite and promote harmony and well-being, fostering a community of growers, makers, and enthusiasts who share these values.

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Awards and Recognitions

Stiekema Wine Co. has already garnered acclaim, with the 2021 vintage receiving 96 points and a Best of Class award from the LA International Wine Competition. His 2022 Grenache just received a gold medal and Best of Class award from the highly competitive Central Coast Wine Competition. As Mike continues to refine his craft and submit his 2022 vintage to various reviewers, there’s no doubt that more accolades will follow.

Final Thoughts

Mike Stiekema’s journey from a college dropout to the founder of a celebrated winery is a story of passion, perseverance, and innovation. Stiekema Wine Co. is a beacon of balance, sustainability, and South African-inspired winemaking in Paso Robles. As Mike himself puts it, “Wine is the tool that allows me to break the ice with each acquaintance.” With every bottle, Stiekema Wine Co. invites wine lovers to share in Mike’s passion and experience the artistry that defines his wines.

For more information and to explore the world of Stiekema Wine Co., visit their Facebook and Instagram pages.

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