RAKE is an extremely small lot winery specializing in distinct wines made from Santa Barbara County grapes and produced by winemaker Rob DaFoe.
Santa Barbara dirt...
Born and raised in Santa Barbara and Goleta, my connection to this land was tested by a need to explore and travel. For 15 years after high school I was a semi-transient... Lake Tahoe, San Diego, Costa Mesa, Big Bear, San Francisco, France were the places I ended up hanging around the longest. After many travels, it was the beauty of the area that brought me back to Santa Barbara and then the Santa Ynez Valley. In the end, wine, friends, the ocean and the love of my beautiful woman make it worth staying.
Despite not being raised in a wine drinking or culinary family, for me, a connection with wine and especially the vineyards was evident early on. I knew that some day, somehow, I would be making or growing wine. After dropping out of college for a chance skate/snowboard road trip to Canada with friends Mikey Taylor and April... my life detoured. A stop in Tahoe led to the next 12 years being spent traveling around the world snowboarding. I was witness to and part of the revolution of board sports and youth culture that defined the late 80's through the 90's. Endorsing products through signature model snowboards and clothing lines, allowed me to travel and see a new perspective. I was able to use my creativity to design and manage the building of many courses and snow parks including the original Outlaw Snowboard Park at Bear Mountain which signaled a change in the culture and direction of all snow parks and staffing at ski areas moving forward. Through this time, life was spent enjoying travel, great friends, music, art and culture. It was these experiences mainly in France, coupled with the importance of food and the majesty of the vineyards that solidified my connection and intrigue with wine.
After some injuries, I found myself back home in Santa Barbara and then ultimately the Santa Ynez Valley. I looked into going to school for wine, but besides not having the tuition, I had a successful career budding in video and photography. I felt I needed to find another way into wine. With a photo job at Firestone winery, I was lucky enough to meet local winemaking legend Chuck Carlson. Chuck agreed to mentor me through making 2 barrels of wine that I documented for a film I ultimately called FROM GROUND TO GLASS. The wine was 55 cases of a 2002 Syrah from Hallauer Vineyard and the movie premiered at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival...
Now, fifteen years later, my family an I pour everything we have into creating special wines and making true one of the last lines of the movie where I say "from now on, each year I hope to find a way to make at least a little wine..."
Although Cabernet Sauvignon is my first love and the basis for my Tanner DaFoe label, Rake allows me to work with other varietals and styles. Finding special vineyard sites is the goal. Often these intriguing sites are unknown in the traditional sense of what is possible in that place. Some vineyards have even been cast aside by other winemakers for various reasons. I look at all the vineyards I now work with as a discovery of what can be...
In the winery I try to embrace and not push beyond what the vineyard gives. Tradition and a connection to the old world is paramount to enjoying this process and making wines of character. I prefer hands on work, no magic dusts or chemicals, minimal additions and minimal technological interventions. Having faith in the land and simplicity in the cellar.
To me, often what you do to a wine is not as important as what you don't do.
Analog vs digital winemaking.
The name mainly comes from a Townes Van Zant song. Among the many hauntingly and beautifully poetic lines is the one... "welcome the stars with wine and guitars, full of fire and forgetful..."
Though the meaning of a RAKE may have many interpretations, for us, looking through the poetic filter, the Rake boils down to a Bon Vivant cloaked in pain, confounded by enthusiasm and laced in Americana.
The dictionary definition goes on to say he is "one that spends or wastes his money on wine..."
The Hawk is a visionary symbol and guardian. For 10+ years, counting hawks while making the drive to the winery was a way to pass time. The ultimate count determining the omen of the day. They are a source of beauty, strength and inspiration to me...everything I aspire my wines to contain.
In 2009 I started my TANNER DAFOE label to focus on Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc grown in the Santa Ynez Valley. It has been cool to see a revival of Cabernet in our area and we have been blessed with great support and following for our efforts.
Now with RAKE I am excited to expand and explore my passion for wine making with other grape varietals as well as to steward and learn from the vineyards.
We hope you enjoy our wines,
Robert S. DaFoe