The history of Sycamore Cellars begins in the early 1950’s when Harry Kuchta originally purchased the 200 acre ranch in Arroyo Seco, which was originally a turkey farm. At that time he was working as a milker/dairyman in Gonzales for Frank Corda with whom he later became a business partner. He purchased the ranch with the hope that one day it would become the future home and means of livelihood for his family.
It was around 1956 when he took the first step to making his dream a reality. He decided to venture out on his own with the dairy business. He moved his family to where they still call “home” to this day. He started out with 100 milking cows. Together with his wife and children he was able to make the ranch a productive family venture. He eventually quit the dairy business and went into farming because, as Harry would tell you, “The boys were going into the service, so I lost all my free help.”
He grew alfalfa and oat hay, and a variety of fruits and vegetables. As the years went on Harry was approached several times by various people wanting to lease the land to grow wine grapes. Harry’s lack of knowledge in that arena deterred him from accepting these offers. But as luck would have it, he later acquired a son-in-law, Rob Madsen who had that knowledge he needed to help make the transition to the next phase of the family ranch. In 1997, after being approached by Kendall Jackson, the family finally decided to put in 25 acres of grapes and eventually increased it to 60 acres. Harry was excited to have his son Dennis and his son-in-law Marvin Tavernetti working alongside Rob in this next adventure.
Rob’s viticulture experience began at age 14 with Jack Farrior at Paul Mason who has been his mentor throughout the years. Paul Mason was one of the first wineries to come to Monterey County. Rob worked there from 1963 to 1970. In 1972 he again worked with Farrior when they developed Monterey Farming Corporation, which is now known as Scheid Vineyards. Rob worked there until around 1981, growing grapes and developing vineyards. It wasn't until 1992 when he got back into the vineyard and winery scene again, through John Cederquist. Rob developed a strong competence of the business over the years. These various jobs helped him to gain valuable knowledge and experience which has been a valuable asset and helped him to excel in developing a high standard of wine. Rob’s initiative and motivation created a great opportunity to expand the future of what Harry and his family worked so hard for.
Rob, Dennis and Marvin’s hard work and dedication has been paramount in this endeavor and is the reason for the success of Sycamore Cellars.