Our Family History
Our Family History
My name is Jacob S. Stephens III, but everyone calls me Jake. I represent the third generation in our family to embrace the life of a farmer, following in the footsteps of my grandfather Jacob, and my father Jake II.
Jacob began farming cotton and small grains around the turn of the 20th century near Blyth, California, before relocating the family to the small community of Arlington Arizona, where he had purchased the AK Ranch. Farming was a family affair, my dad and his three older brothers worked on the farm every day, when not in school.
Dad had planned to become an engineer and was in his second year of college, when the US entered WWII. Like most young men of the day he enlisted in the service, Army Air Corps, and became a fighter pilot, plying the skies over Germany. When he returned home he began farming once again, and married my mom. Things hadn’t changed much when my brother Russell and I came along. Like dad, we began working the farm when we were young boys, and have carried on the tradition to this day. Our largest combined effort included a leasehold encompassing some seventy-two thousand acres.
In early 1990, an old family friend suggested that we look into the California vineyard business, specifically high-end wine grapes. Thinking this would be an exciting departure, we began looking for properties north of Stockton, California. After considerable time and investigation we settled on our first property, just south of Sacramento near the then small town of Elk Grove. Through hard work and good fortune, these vineyards proved to be of excellent character, with our grapes being purchased by a number of well known wineries in the Sonoma Valley.
In 1998, one of our neighbors came to us with a proposal to buy the ranch, an offer we couldn’t refuse. Having developed a passion for the business, we applied what we’d learned about the business and went looking for a great undiscovered site, finding it at last in the mountains of the North Coast. Lake County, to be exact, where we planted Diamond Ridge Vineyards.