People

our History

For nearly 20 years, Red Car has been on a journey—one that started in sunny Los Angeles and marched steadily northward toward a vision of cooler vineyard sites and the complex, aromatic wines they can express.

Red Car was founded by Mark Estrin, Carroll Kemp and Richard Crowell in 2000 with 50 cases of wine made from a single ton of Syrah grapes vinified in a Culver City garage. In a nod to their California roots, the new venture was named Red Car after the trolley line that ferried riders across Los Angeles for the first half of the twentieth century. “While our wines were met with early critical acclaim, we knew that to truly excel we would need to farm our own vineyards, and in a cooler climate location,” says Richard. “So, we started looking.”

In 2004, the partners purchased 125 acres of land and began developing vineyards in the wild coastal ridges north of Sonoma County’s Bodega Bay, a region now known as the Fort Ross-Seaview AVA. Here, the interplay of warm sunshine, cool Pacific breezes and sandstone soils would yield the age-worthy wines of structure and complexity that had captured their imagination. Unfortunately, in 2005 the three were reduced to two with the passing of their inspiring friend Mark Estrin. He is deeply missed to this day. It was Mark who led Red Car to produce Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah on the West Sonoma Coast, and it was Mark who exhorted his partners to develop the Estate vineyard as the heart of the winery. Fittingly, the oldest Syrah vines from the Estate vineyard are now classified as the Estrin Block and are the cornerstone of Cuvee 22, a limited-production lot dedicated to Mark. In 2017, Carroll left Red Car to pursue a personal project.

Richard and his wife Alison, now the sole remaining founders, are focused on promoting Red Car’s wines and the excellent people who make up the team including General Manager Jesse Mackey, Winemaker Tanner Scheer and Viticulturist/Farming Manager Greg Adams.