"Steve was born and raised in picturesque rural Santa Cruz county on a 68 acre farm while Leslie spent her wonder years in the Southern California’s suburbia Inland Empire aka San Bernardino County. Who would have thought that decades later they discovered that their love of the wine industry and dark humor would lead them off the beaten path to Murder Ridge?
Steve, a graduate of San Jose State University with a degree in photojournalism worked summers for Newsday in New York and National Geographic Society in Washington DC. After graduation, he traveled around the country freelancing, married a hometown girl and settled in Santa Cruz, California. By the early 90’s Steve found himself spending more and more time developing and managing his families’ 2000 acre timber ranch in Coastal Mendocino until 1994 when he and his wife moved to Healdsburg, California. As he transitioned to a full time rancher and father, Steve immersed himself in viticulture and establishing Perli Vineyards on the Mendocino Coast. Today, you can find Steve — a hands on farmer, driving his dusty Chevy truck with his dog Pepper in the back making his way around the ranch, checking vineyards and occasionally photographing some of the beautiful vineyard and wilderness scenery you see on this website.
Leslie chose a traditional educational path by attending UC San Diego, then transferring to UC Davis and graduating with Plant Science, Viticulture degree. After partaking in a thirteen month global agricultural work program she continued her pursuit of a fulfilled life by getting married, starting a family and working at various large wineries including Chateau St. Jean and Rodney Strong. She eventually stumbled onto a family operation known as Kendall Jackson where she welcomed the challenge of this dynamic, growing, business and worked her way up from lab tech to Pinot Noir Princess during her thirteen harvests. After spending most of her 20 year career working for large wineries, she was ready for the new role as a winemaking consultant. Since 2005, she has helped to establish several premium wine brands ranging from the vast Sonoma Coast to Russian River Valley to Mendocino County.
SO HOW DID THESE TWO INDIVIDUALS MEANDERING ON SEEMINGLY DIFFERENT PATHS FINALLY MEET?
It was an uncomfortable muggy late night at Vinwood Cellars in Geyserville, at the close of an extremely long harvest in 2001. When the air conditioner routinely shut down at 10pm everyone seemed to morph into their hostile harvest alter egos. The unending wait for that last, very last, truckload of merlot from Perli Vineyard was causing Leslie, nicknamed Snappy, more angst as the minutes turned into hours. What could have been an ugly encounter between a prickly winemaker and a happy-go-lucky grower turned out to be a start of a long-lasting friendship. Despite the circumstances, the grapes were the best looking fruit of the 16,000 tons processed that year. They also produced one of the best lots of wines. Throughout the years Steve has sold grapes to premium wineries such as Drew Family, Donkey and Goat , Edmeades and Donelan to name a few. Leslie has made wine from Perli Vineyards since 2007 for various clients including Arista and Oakwild Ranch. With two minds always on but slightly off, it was a no brainer for Steve and Leslie to join forces and unleash the force de noir behind the coastal wilderness of Murder Ridge.