Sonoma County

  • Are You in the 95%?

    October 18, 2021 09:07

    Are You in the 95%?

    An urban legend has existed for years in the wine world. Article upon article, blog post upon blog post, and many more words have been written about how quickly we consume the bottle of wine we just purchased. Along the way the numbers people published their take on how much wine is drunk upon arrival and how much is stored or cellared away for future enjoyment. I am not sure if it is true but ‘they say’ it is something like 95%. Wow. Drink up people.

    I suppose if all of us drank the wine we bought and consumed immediately upon arrival at home we’d be out of wine--worldwide. So there is something fishy about those assumptions, I mean numbers.

    So I put together this poll for you.
    When I buy wine I:
    a-drink it within 0-48 hours
    b-wait a bit-I am saving it for a dinner party next week
    c-put it away for a time-out of sight, out of mind etc
    d-I collect so I save every bottle I get and cellar for 10 or more years
    e-all of the above

    Here’s the sticking point. We really don’t know how soon everyone does drink the wine they buy. I do know the numbers were up during the pandemic year 2020 and have maintained somewhat in 2021. As evidenced by many re-orders of Pedroncelli wine during the pandemic-beyond the usual direct to consumer numbers. So, if you chose ‘e’ as your answer I think this is more in line with what we all do with our wine purchases.

    There is no greater joy than opening up a bottle within minutes of arriving home after a long day at work or opening a treasure years after purchase, beautifully aged, all shared with friends. Choosing wines for a party or for an upcoming holiday can be fun and an adventure. There isn't much difference on the joy meter which category you find yourself in-unless you waited too long to open that bottle.

    At Pedroncelli you have it both ways really. You can enjoy a glass tonight or enjoy it 10 years hence-you won’t be disappointed. I had the opportunity to try a 2017 friends.white the other night-a 5 year old white wine blend. The color was amazing because it hadn't changed and the taste was fresh and lively-it was as if it was in a time capsule. 

    Let's join the 95% tonight and open a bottle up-from today's purchase or something tucked away for a special occasion. Either way we'll be joining in with millions around the world.

  • Tying Up Loose Ends

    October 11, 2021 08:39

    Tying Up Loose Ends

    I feel like Fall sometimes mirrors spring. This week, the first full week of October, I am tying up loose ends just like cleaning out the fridge or the garage is spring cleaning. These loose ends coincide with national market work, the weather, the cellar and vineyard as well as at home.

    Tying up loose ends with the weather report: The rain season starts October 1 and runs to September 30-which seems odd when we start the new year in January or ususally start our fiscal year in July. It makes sense when it comes to the weather cycle and when we typically see rain. It looks like in just 10 days we are in for some precipitation, fingers crossed. This month, so far, has been what I call picture perfect fall weather-cool mornings with heavy fog burning off late, a bit of sun and then back to the cool evenings. We turned our heater on this week! Love it, love it, love it. And as far as the predictions for our newly minted rain season it looks like we may have more than last year and, while we aren’t pulling out of the drought just yet, every little bit helps.

    Tying up loose ends out in the vineyard. The vines are getting a sip of water here and there to give them their post-harvest boost as the vineyards get pretty thirsty after all those grapes were harvested. Other tasks include spreading the pomace, aging it, adding it back to the soil. Pomace is what we have left after pressing off the red wines-made up of the skins and seeds removed after fermentation. Part of life here has always included a big pile of pomace there for the taking as it is great for gardens too. The gondolas are put away for another year and other harvest related equipment is cleaned and stored. I hear a couple of our vineyard crew are going hunting this month-wishing Mitch and Lance well.

    Tying up loose ends in the cellar. Cellarmaster Polo is finishing up fermentations in the cellar and transferring the new wine to holding tanks until ready for barrel aging. Winemaker Montse is watching over the tank of Bushnell Vineyard Zinfandel (which takes its’ time every year) to finish fermenting as well as other small lot wines like our Wisdom Cabernet and Courage Zinfandel. And the barrels of our F. Johnson Vineyard Chardonnay are aging away sur lies-that is on dead yeast cells which, while aging, impart added complexity. Ahhh, and the wonderful fermenting wine aromas in the air-as I drive the 9 miles to work the aromas penetrate my closed windows because there are many wineries between home and the office. If only there were scratch and sniff newsletters.

    Tying up loose ends in the market. Final meetings with brokers as we are smack dab in the middle of OND-which covers October/November/December and the fourth quarter of the year. AKA the selling season. Samples have been sent out for consideration by media, wine competitions are winding down for the year. 

    Tying up loose ends in the tasting room. Prepping and planning for events we hope to host next year like Winter Wineland and Passport to Dry Creek Valley. Rearranging the main tasting room area because most of our visitors have been enjoying their tasting experiences on our deck. Since the cold weather will be here in a few weeks Gina and Lizzy are moving things around in order to help our guests get the most out of their visit, indoors or out.

    Tying up loose ends in our homes. Putting away the outdoor furniture, and perhaps the BBQ in some areas of the country. Bringing out slow cookers and going through recipes for said cooker. Turning on the heater for the first time (true story-just this week). Assessing your sweater and coat wardrobe. Planning your winter getaway spot where it is nice and warm while chilly and cold at home. 

    One big loose end I am hoping will be tied up is the pandemic, with an end sooner rather than later. What loose ends have you been tying up this month? Whatever it is I hope you find yourself taking the time to relish the change in seasons and enjoy life with family, friends and a little vino.

  • An Early Finish for Harvest 2021

    September 28, 2021 08:12

    An Early Finish for Harvest 2021

    The hardworking vineyard and cellar crew have completed vintage 2021 in what has to be one of the fastest harvests in our 94 years here. What began on August 25 ended on September 23, 30 days! It brought to mind previous vintages and was very reminiscent of 2014 (September 24) and 2015 (September 23) which were also drought influenced years at Pedroncelli.

    The overview of the harvest this year starts with the growing season which was in the normal range without too much heat or other challenges along the way. The lack of water for a second year impacted the vineyards and the results are a bit lower in production in varieties overall.  During harvest Mother Nature stayed even for the most part, just a few days in the high 90s, which of course sped things along as the vineyard blocks ripened and the grapes were ready to pick and waiting for their tank space in the cellar.

    Winemaker Montse Reece gave a few of her comments on the vintage:
    “This harvest is a pleasant surprise. We had good weather so far with just a few hot days but not as intense as in past harvests. The grapes matured at their own pace without rushing. Each of the grape varieties came in on their usual timing once harvest began, just a more compressed cycle as compared to other vintage years.

    Because it’s a drought year our yields are down between 20-30% depending on the varieties. Berries are also smaller so volumes are lower. Because of the smaller yields and berries, we are having high concentration of phenols. The aromatics this year are fantastic, I‘m very much looking forward to tasting the final wines from this vintage.”

    The winemaking team creates the tagline for the harvest shirts each year. For 2021 it was Pronti? Via! (Ready? Let’s Go!). To give you an inside look at what goes on during harvest I had Marcus Cano do a short video on a recent harvest day. You'll see many familiar faces including winemaker Montse Reece, cellarmaster Polo Cano, Vineyard Foreman Manuel Diaz with his crew along with Mitch Blakeley, Vineyard Assistant, talking us through the process.

    For now fermentations will continue over the next couple of weeks and, once finished, the new wines will take their place in the cellar until aging in barrels or bottling in the case of the Sauvignon Blanc and Rosé. I’ll finish by tweaking the phrase slightly by saying Pronti? Beviamo! (Ready? Let’s drink!).

    The final load of grapes for vintage 2021 was from our Block 007 estate Cabernet Sauvignon.

    Cabernet Sauvignon 2021 Block 07

  • Reflections: 9 11 21

    September 20, 2021 13:10

    Reflections: 9 11 21
    Pausing to reflect as we go along in life is important. Remembering a time, a place, people. We pause to gather our thoughts even amidst something like harvest here in Wine Country, the beginning of a college semester, or in the middle of a busy life. Today I couldn’t write this note without reflecting on something that changed our nation 20 years ago.

    If you are 25-30 years old and older I am pretty sure you remember where you were. I sure do because Ed was traveling and I was home with Adrienne and Joe. Ed called me as he was in upstate New York and told me about what had happened before I had a chance to see for myself. It took him three days to get home. First by car then, along about Nebraska, he saw the planes moving and bailed on his cross country trip with his boss and co-workers and hopped on a plane to complete his return trip home. Ours is one in a million stories about this time and I know you have yours as well.

    Travel is on my mind because it changed so much two decades ago. And these days, with the pandemic, travel has changed again. This isn’t the only thing that is on my mind of course. I remember two years ago I was in New York for a series of events. Ed and I took some time to take in the sights including the 9/11 memorial for the first time and the musical Come From Away, based on the true story about 7000 people landing in a small Newfoundland town as planes were rerouted away from the U.S. to clear air space. We came away with a sense of awe, thankfulness and appreciation of what had taken place. Strangers lending aid to thousands of souls who took an unplanned trip to a far away place at a very unsettled time. Remembering and reflecting on the events of those days helps us to process and to keep hope alive.
     
    9 11 in 2019 2


    In May 2019 we walked around the memorial. Appropriately it was a rainy day. 





    I also reflect on what takes place on this day over the last 20 years here at the winery. This is the time of year we harvest grapes and, as each September rolls around, we are deep into the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the vintage. 20 harvests telling the story from the growing season to the first pick. Reflecting on each one, whether framed by weather variations, production large or small, fires, or the pandemic we finish yet another year, another grape harvest. The timelessness of nature seems to cross all boundaries and life goes on even as we take time to remember and honor this solemn day.
  • Hospitality Comes in Many Forms

    September 20, 2021 13:01

    Hospitality Comes in Many Forms

    As Vintage 2021 winds down here at Pedroncelli, with last grapes expected to come in through the end of September, hospitality is on my mind. Wine has always graced our tables from my grandparent’s time to my parents, aunts and uncles, cousins and sisters. It just makes food taste better, the conversation flow and becomes the backdrop for a weeknight meal or romantic night out.

    Family BBQHospitality comes in many forms especially when I think back over the many generations of family who have hosted meals over the years. In the early years, during my grandparent’s time, many people made their way to the home here at the winery. Cheek and jowl to the cellar, perfectly located, this was the site for many Sunday gatherings. Even though that home is now our office it holds many memories of abalone feeds, barbecues and pasta dinners.

    My grandmother Julia oversaw all these meals with help from the ‘kids’. She also canned fruits and vegetables from their garden which was filled with 10 or more varieties of fruit and nut trees along with the main staples of tomatoes and zucchini. My uncle John was a hunter and contributed venison, my uncle Al hunted and fished—I remember burlap bags full of abalone or eating surf fish or trout at their home. The visitors, some still among us, have told me how much they cherished those times, those alfresco meals held where the harvest trucks now bring their bounty to the crushpad. 

    Marianne and Viola 1984I remember my aunt Marianne entertaining guests at her home in Healdsburg (the place we live in now). She would set the table the day before, plan the menu, pick the wine and get ready to welcome her guests. John and Christine, who lived on a hill atop the vineyard, would entertain with gorgeous views of the rolling hills to the west. I also fondly recall the Sunday dinners my mom hosted with family. The olfactory memory of roast beef with onions, carrots and potatoes stays with me even now. Sometimes, when it was a special occasion, we dressed up and went to dinner at Catelli’s in Geyserville. 

    I enjoy having people come to our home too—our Christmas Eve dinners with prime rib are legendary. Now that family is spread between Reno and Arroyo Grande we tend to spend the holiday on the road enjoying our kids’ hospitality. In recent years the second third and fourth generations have gathered at our property on Dry Creek where a small park, in honor of my uncle John, was created and many alfresco meals have been enjoyed down there-both family and staff members use it for a nice getaway.

    Tasting RoomHospitality also comes in the form of our tasting room. My grandfather welcomed many friends and family over the years, proudly pouring wines with his name on it. He would tell stories, share a glass of wine and sometimes make someone late for Thanksgiving dinner (true story). We have one of the longest continuously operating tasting rooms in Dry Creek Valley and to this day, through many emanations of tasting room hosts and associates, we continue the legacy of proudly sharing our wines with those who stop by for a taste and the stories. Many of our hosts are legendary for their stories and personalities: John Soule, Jerry Campbell, Gary Patterson, George Phillips, Elmo Barbieri (Colin’s grandfather by the way), Tony Giorgi, Augie Foote, Shirley Buchignani, Julie Richardson, Jon Brown, Gary Gross and many others who have helped us welcome all of our visitors. Gina and Lizzy now helm the tasting room with warm hospitality.

    Sip N SavorThose alfresco meals from my grandmother’s day have morphed into our Sip & Savor Wine Club dinners we have held in recent years. We are working on a date which transcends the pandemic, the power outages and fire season which have cancelled recent gatherings. You’ll be the first to know once we have a solid date in mind.

  • Crush On!

    August 31, 2021 12:45

    Crush On!

    We are 3 days into the harvest of 2021 with a good portion of the Sauvignon Blanc picked. We look forward to a an even-handed harvest, mother nature willing, but it won’t be over until the last grape is picked.

    When I was growing up in the midst of the winery operation and harvest was happening I heard people using terms like crushing grapes, or crush is here, or crush pad. In my imagination the grapes were crushed like stomping on a bug or crushing an aluminum can. The origin of the term is lost to history-I even asked Google-but we do know grapes were crushed millennia ago, mostly by foot, in order to make wine. These days, of course, it is done differently using machines in place of legs.

    We've come a long way from stomping on grapes and fermenting juice in stone vats in the ground. The whole process has been refined over the centuries. We all remember LucyLucy stomping grapes 2 treading on grapes-which I thought was so silly when I was a kid-watching and thinking we don’t really do it that way but it was great entertainment. Imagine my dad and uncle circling a vat of grapes with their bare feet! Actually I know at least one local winemaker who tread on his grapes this week before sending them off to ferment. (Bill Nachbaur at ACORN I'm looking at you). 

    Many of us who have been around a harvest or two have our favorite memories or vintages or story. There is nostalgia recallling things like my sister Lisa walking over the grate of the sump and falling in getting soaked. I remember a time my sisters and I picked second crop zinfandel in our buckets and wheelbarrows proudly making our way to the scale to weigh our harvest. I chuckle at the memory because there was probably 20 lbs of grapes in total in my wheelbarrow. How about the first harvest here for winemaker Montse (2007) or cellar master Polo's in 1989 which was a rainy year. I often wonder what those first harvests for my grandparents were like with kids in tow and all hand on deck to make it work. We are all steeped in sticky grapes, bees, hot days, the heavenly smell of fermenting wine filling the yard and getting ready for more grapes tomorrow.

    These days crush in wine country, for visitors, is an open invitation to experience the sights, sounds and smells of harvest. Perhaps taste some wine grapes (which are the best flavor and if it weren't for the seeds people would be clamoring to buy them), get stuck behind a grape truck trundling back to the winery and sometimes the winemaker or cellar crew are at the crushpad and can answer questions about the process. There is nothing like the beginning of another vintage to bring together the growing season, the hard work in the vineyard and, eventually, a delicious glass of wine in your hand.

  • Waiting...

    August 31, 2021 12:31

    Waiting...

    8 14 21

    This time of year in Wine Country we are in waiting mode. Things have been buttoned up in the celllar-emptied tanks & barrels, bottling finished, and now preparing the crushpad for the launch of harvest. On or around August 24 we will bring in the first grapes of the vintage, our estate Sauvignon Blanc. Fittingly I wrote about this a year ago and in other posts over the years-we always seem to be waiting for harvest to begin, having completed or checked off all the preparations. Sometimes it comes early, sometimes later. Nevertheless it always begins.

    Another form of waiting these days is for the pandemic and virus to end. I wrote about it exactly a year ago in The Waiting (Is the Hardest Part).  While the restrictions have changed and guidelines loosened over the last year, the CDC, State and County are issuing mandates to curb the spread now and in coming months. I sure hope we don’t go back to the ‘purple’ zone.

    Many years ago, I listened to a speaker talk about waiting for her child to be born. She compared it to preparing for a move to Italy. You know where you will end up and you familiarize yourself with the destination. You read up, study the language, study the culture and prepare as best you can. But there was a change in plans for her. She landed in Amsterdam and her life took a different turn when her special needs daughter was born. As prepared as she was for Italy she now was in an unfamiliar land, unprepared for the language, culture and experience. I find this true of the pandemic. Living with a culture of masks and social distancing, missing the grand and large gatherings all make the waiting longer.

    I found myself in a similar situation this week. I should say my husband and I found ourselves in a similar situation. It involved a lot of waiting. As he was preparing for major surgery they wanted to see if his heart could take the stress, so they put him through a stress test on the treadmill. They found a problem so fast tracked him to get an angiogram. We waited over the weekend, counting the hours until he could get an appointment and then went in on Tuesday. What was supposed to be a 3 hour wait turned into 6 hours with Ed in the prep area and me in the, wait for it, waiting room. The news about his heart wasn’t good and they admitted him then and there. We spent the whole week waiting to hear what was next. Next week he’ll be getting a coronary bypass or three.

    We went from expecting one type of operation (which will now have to wait 12 weeks) and entered the world of cardiologists and cardiac surgeons. I can speak for both of us when I say we dodged a major bullet and Ed will soon be back to his regular old self with a few tweaks in the food and wine department.

    How about you? Has your life taken a turn, did you expect one outcome and receive another? I hate surprises, I like life to go along with the sameness of day to day. We have all heard about these types of surprises and how they change us inside and out. I know I am thankful for the turn our life took this week and look forward to learning about the language and culture of the heart. With harvest just around the corner and the pandemic still part of our lives we wait for the grapes to ripen just right, for the vintage to go smoothly and celebrate our 94th year.

  • Making Connections: Montse Reece

    August 3, 2021 09:53

    Making Connections: Montse Reece

    A few months ago my sister Lisa made a suggestion to write about our staff and their connections by using the PBS series “Finding Your Roots” as inspiration. So far Manuel Diaz, Polo Cano and Gary Gross have been profiled.

    The last three interviewees all came from climates with extremes-the desert or bitter cold winters. Montserrat ‘Montse’ Reece comes from Catalonia Spain where she compares the climate as very close to Sonoma County’s. There is a similarity between Montse’s home in Spain and home here in Sonoma County. They are nearly equal in temperature and geography with marine influence from either the Pacific Ocean or the Mediterranean Sea. Later on when her path took her to California this made for an easier transition, weather wise. Culturally too because we are as focused on wine and food as Montse’s home in Spain.

    By virtue of growing up in Spain Montse was steeped in wine and itMontse 17 seems she was almost predestined to become a winemaker. Her father encouraged her to follow this path and she received her degree in Agricultural Engineering with a specialty in Oenology from Universitat Rovira i Virgili. During her first year at university, in order to make money, she worked in a Cooperative winery in the Penedes taking directions from the winemaker over the phone. She finally met him for the first time at the end of harvest. There she processed white wine grapes for making the base wine for Cava. The rest of the time away at school she spent at Montblanc in the Priorat region making red wines. She gathered her years of experience and, once graduated, made her way to California.

    She came over in 1998 to intern at Gloria Ferrer and spent the harvest grape sampling, analyzing those samples, riddling bottles, and general cellar work. She loved the area so much she stayed on and was next hired at Ferrari Carano where she worked in the lab and cellar. She married Pat Reece in 2001.  Then a stint at Rodney Strong as enologist for three years followed before being hired at Pedroncelli as assistant winemaker.

    Polo John Montse Lance 2The 2007 harvest was the first here and she trained under John Pedroncelli for the next 7 harvests learning the ropes, sharing her knowledge and getting to know the ‘house style’ as well as the estate vineyards and vineyards of our grape growers.

    Her passion is microbiology. Finding the right yeast for the right wine is her focus. It is also where she and John differed in their approach to making wine. They discussed and considered which blocks or vineyards needed a specific yeast to bring out the best in the wine. She quips, “Every yeast has its’ own personality much like people do. Using a particular yeast complements the fruit and style bringing the best results.” My favorite example is her use of Barolo yeast for our Bushnell Vineyard Zinfandel. She’d notice when the grapes were brought in they needed a slower fermentation to get the right balance of aromas and flavors. Use of this yeast slows the fermentation down significantly and the proof is in the glass-a beautiful expression of Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel with spicy pepper and ripe berry notes.

    Montse with Gondola at Harvest 20192021 marks the 15th harvest for Montse. As she prepares for harvest she talks about what she looks for in the fruit as the samples will begin to come in to her lab in a couple of weeks. When sampling a vineyard the berries or bunches are picked over a wide swath of several vines as well as different spots on the vines. Her decision about when to pick is to seek maturity without over-ripeness. I have called it picking on acidity but that isn’t quite the point. It is when the acids and the sugars have harmoniously come together maintaining the aromatics, the flavors, and the structure of the building blocks for a great wine.

    Thinking back over her first experiences here she says, "As a Spaniard I had never tasted Zinfandel. The flavor surprised me as it was like nothing I had tried at home." She first tasted Zin back in 1998 when the couple she was staying with, who also worked at Ravenswood, sent her to try the wines. She fell in love with the grape. And to end up at Pedroncelli where she makes four versions of Zinfandel is kismet. She continued, "Zinfandel matches the Pedroncelli personality perfectly."

    On the homefront, she and Pat adopted their daughter Marian seven years ago. And Montse maintains one family tradition started in Spain: she makes Paella every Sunday, no matter what.

    In the good timing department, my friend Cindy Rynning of Grape Experiences interviewed Montse recently and included a few of our wines. 

  • Dry Creek Valley is Home Base

    July 29, 2021 10:40

    Dry Creek Valley is Home Base

    There are many days when I take for granted the view as I drive up Highway 101. From my home in Healdsburg to the winery in Geyserville the panoramic view before me is of Alexander Valley, which parallels Dry Creek Valley. Alternately I take Dry Creek Road home and the tour is complete-these two ‘AVAs’ are the geography I grew up with, two valleys I have known all of my life.

    What is an AVA? According to Google: "An American Viticultural Area, or AVA, is a specific type of appellation of origin used on wine labels. It is a delimited grape-growing region with specific geographic or climatic features that distinguish it from the surrounding regions and affect how grapes are grown.Take a little trip across the county with this video produced by the Sonoma County Vintners showcasing the geography of our world class grape growing area.

    When my grandparents bought the property there were no AVAs. They lived in Geyserville. Canyon Road was a connector to Dry Creek. In those days, up until Warm Springs Dam was built, the creek actually was dry over the summer and fall until the rains came. The Army Corps of Engineers completed Lake Sonoma in 1982 and brought with it year round flowing water, flood control, much needed water for downstream use, fishing, recreation, as well as allowing fish migration.

    I grew up in ‘Dry Creek’ because the appellation name wasn’t used until later. Looking back it seems like something akin to the Gold Rush came along to name and create the many AVAs within the county. Sonoma Valley was established in 1981, Dry Creek Valley in 1983 and 16 other sub-appellations all came together over the course of the next 30 years. The wine geek in me looked to the TTB (short for Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau) which has set up a website where you can find any appellation that has been approved in these United States. 

    Old Barrel StencilInterestingly the stencil shown here includes Sonoma and this was used by my grandfather to mark the barrels containing our wines in the 1930s and 1940s. This was before we began to bottle our wines in convenient carry out containers. We began using Sonoma on our label in the 1950s to identify where the grapes were from as compared to the more generic California appellation on previous labels.  

    1987 CabernetOnce the AVA was approved we added Dry Creek Valley to the label. Each valley or AVA has its’ own criteria, setting it apart from neighboring areas with different climate attributes, soils, and sites. Vineyards near these borders sometimes cloud the issue—our Chardonnay comes from F. Johnson Vineyard where they drew the appellation line right through the property with Dry Creek on one side and the Russian River Valley on the other. There is a difference in quality growing Chardonnay 10 miles south of us. We had it planted on estate vineyard and found it was too warm for the variety and now Cabernet Sauvignon thrives in its place. The cooler area south brings a bit of minerality as well as bright acidity to the fruit striking a nice balance.

    Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay not only dominate the plantings in California they are the two most widely planted in Dry Creek Valley-followed closely by Zinfandel, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc. We grow four of the five top varieties. 

    Dry Creek Valley, as an AVA, excels in producing the best from these grapes as well as Italian and Rhone varieties. Those cool nights and warm days combined with unique soils bring about an expression of place. Our winemaker Montse likes to say you find the personality of the vineyard in our wines, in France they call it terroir. As for me it's home base. 
     

  • Snapshots from Home on our 94th Anniversary

    July 29, 2021 10:33

    Snapshots from Home on our 94th Anniversary

    We celebrated our 94th anniversary on July 22 commemorating the date when my grandparents brought their young family to Geyserville to start a new life. If you have been reading my notes you might know almost everything there is about the winery’s history. These snapshots from home are a refresher for those in the know and a history lesson for those who don’t.
     


    Giovanni Pedroncelli, Founder Julia Pedroncelli, Founder

    Wineries weren’t a new idea when my grandparents, Giovanni and Julia Pedroncelli (pictured above) bought the property at 1220 Canyon Road in 1927. While they purchased 90 acres which included a home, 25 acres of grapes and a shuttered winery it was still Prohibition throughout the nation. This dry time in our history would take a few more years before ending. Prior to 1919, when the 19th Amendment was voted in, there had been a burgeoning wine business in Dry Creek Valley with nearly 20 wineries established up and down the valley. Grape growing and winemaking began in the 1850s and gathered steam as Italian immigrants made their way to the area after being attracted by the Gold Rush and the push west. About a half a million gallons of wine were made in the final year before Prohibition and closing down wineries made it difficult for many families to wait it out.

    Three Kids

    These three ‘kids’ (above) were Margaret, John and Marianne, who arrived with their parents in 1927.

    The family who sold to my grandparents, the Canatas, built their winery in 1905 or thereabouts. The original winery, set up to make 50,000 gallons, was put in place to make wine for the family’s store in North Beach, San Francisco. Imagine, wine made from our property has been enjoyed by generations of San Franciscans! The Canatas were related to another local wine family, the Foppianos, and by the time they put their property up for sale the bottom had fallen out on wine grape sales and there was no end in sight of Prohibition. And my grandparents began their own legacy.


    Facade 1
    Facade 2
    Facade 3

    The winery façade has changed somewhat over the years, as shown in the three photos above. The shape of the building remains the same from that original barn structure—iconic for us as this is the heart of the cellar. As the winery expanded more buildings were added with the last, our barrel room and tasting room, completed by 1987.


    Family Dinner

    This is one of my favorite family photos (above). It is from the 1950s. I have very few group shots of the first and second generations and there’s a bonus in this one as my cousin Carol represents the third generation. The second photo (below) features my uncle John and dad Jim in a photo taken in the 1970s in the first generation of our Mother Clone Zinfandel vineyard. Having snapshots of these times in their lives when they were on the brink of success as a second generation business is very precious to me.

    Jim and John, Second Generation


    Vineyards 1 Vineyards 2

    The hills remain the same even though we began replanting in the early 1980s on the Home Ranch. Our vineyards have survived more than a few droughts, lots of rainy seasons, the pandemic and some recessions and boom times. 9 decades helped us find which grape does best in which block. From the first Zinfandel to the latest planting of Petite Sirah we have 11 varieties thriving on our estate vineyards. A testament to what my grandparents began when they purchased the property so long ago.