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Steve Kistler

Winemaking is such a simple, elegant process when you rely on native yeasts and bacteria to transform grapes into wine. And yet what excites me each year at harvest, when I look down into one of our fermenters, is that there is enough magic at the heart of this process that no amount of theory could ever hope to explain.

I have always respected and been a student of the work that has been done before us in the vineyards and cellars of Burgundy. My goal is to adapt Old World principles to Occidental’s coastal vineyards and wines.

Occidental represents the culmination of my dream to make pinot noir from the western edge of where it can be grown successfully in California. To farm the Occidental vineyards requires all our skill, experience and tenacity, while the Occidental wines need our most delicate touch. Each year we try to refine and adapt our approach to farming and winemaking to express more clearly the singular character of each site.

I have always been happiest in the vineyards and cellar.

I have always looked forward to my daughters Catherine and Elizabeth joining me full time now that they have returned from college. They share my passion for the vineyards we farm on these coastal ridges and appreciate what a privilege it is each year to make pinot noir from these special sites.

Steve Kistler received a B.A. in Creative Writing from Stanford University, studied at U.C. Davis for one year, and was an assistant at Ridge Vineyards for two years before founding Kistler Vineyards in 1978.


Mark Bixler passed away in November 2017 after working closely with me for nearly forty years. He helped found Kistler Vineyards in 1978. Throughout his career, Mark held many essential roles, which he infused with his love for the world of fine wine and those in it. His keen mind and enthusiasm are greatly missed.

Steve Kistler and Mark Bixler - Invalid date
Steve Kistler and Mark Bixler