Stonehaus: Fine Vines in Westlake
By Bekah Wright
Published Dec 18, 2012 8:00 AM
This gourmet tasting room features the wines of Bruin Bob Kelly.
Thirsty for a good local vineyard? Look no further than, say, 40 miles northwest of Westwood. In the July 2010 issue of UCLA Magazine, we featured vintners, including Robert “Bob” John Kelly, Jr.’88, the owner of Pacific Ridge Vineyards in Los Olivos, California. Now you can sample Kelly’s grapes at Stonehaus at the Westlake Village Inn.
Before the first bricks were laid for Stonehaus, a very important component was added at the corner of Agoura and Lakeview Canyon Roads – a vineyard. Two and half years ago, Kelly was approached to work his magic and transform the empty lot adjacent to the toney suburb’s Westlake Village Inn with grape plants that would yield wine.
“It was a pretty challenging project from the start,” he remembers. “It’s not the typical rural or farm setting you think of when it comes to vineyards.”
Kelly dove into the project by doing a bit of research. “I knew from experience what was going to grow and ripen well in that area,” he says. “To back myself up, I checked more than just national weather stations. I accessed private ones that give you more information to base decisions on.” From there, the soil was prepped and “super plants” made the corner in Westlake Village their home. “They were a year old when we planted them,” says Kelly. “They were chosen for their vigor, salinity, drought and pest resistance and optimized for area weather.”
The rows of grapes are intended for future bottles of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and syrah. The initial harvest took place the first week in October with a picking crew that included many Westlake Village Inn gardening staff members who’d nurtured the vineyard since its inception.
“These plants have been well-tended,” says Kelly. “Moreso than most vineyards.”
From here, the grapes made their journey to Kelly’s Los Olivos facility where they went through a process that began with crushing and ended with full French oak barrels of wine. “The general public won’t be able to taste it for 14 months or so,” says Kelly, who’s also the winemaker and viticulturist for Westlake Village Inn. “But the color is excellent and it already tastes pretty good.”
But thirsty Bruins need not wait that long. The first of November marked the opening of Stonehaus, a gourmet coffeehouse cum wine bar/tasting room. There are 164 wines on the menu, which will be joined by Stonehaus’ own label in the future. Rounding things out is a menu including paninis, salads and antipasti.
“It’s turned into a gathering place,” Kelly says of the now lush Westlake Village corner where locals stroll past a waterfall and fountain, play Bocce ball or stake out a spot on the patio to soak in the sun. Just a few more reasons to raise a glass and offer a toast.
Stonehaus is open daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.. For more information visit www.the-stonehaus.com or call 818-483-1152.