Lyle and Karen Hatten farm about 4 acres of Merlot grapes in the Sonoma Valley. They bought the vineyard in 2007 and moved to Sonoma Valley in 2008 after retiring from their respective jobs. Growing wine grapes has brought them back to their roots in working the land. Karen was raised on a farm in South Dakota, and Lyle had worked on farms during his high school years in Montana.
Émigré’s from the SF Bay Area, in the late 80’s seeking the bucolic and romantic life style of vineyard development. What a surprise, it’s not romantic, it’s almost 24/7, 12 months a year effort. Add a winery to your job description, and it really becomes work.
Fred Nunes and his wife, Wendy, decided to plant 35 acres of Pinot Noir in 1997 when Fred retired from a 30-year career as a firefighting helicopter pilot. The land came to Fred from his grandfather, Fred Muzio, who bought it in the 1950’s to farm hay and raise pigs and as a weekend spot for the family to gather.
Steve and Gwen Hill along with son Ned own Parmelee-Hill Vineyard (50 acres) and manage Durell Vineyards at Sand Hill Ranch in Sonoma Valley and Sonoma Carneros. They feature such varieties as Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. Some of the wineries that use their grapes are Steele, Kendall-Jackson, Chateau St. Jean and Castle. Steve is a Commissioner on the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission.
John and Katherine Clendenen farm their home vineyard of four acres in the Dry Creek Valley since 1977. Since 1992, their vineyard management company has farmed for a number of clients in the Healdsburg area including Michel-Schlumberger Winery, Raymond Burr Vineyards and Ravenswood. They enjoy halibut with Sauvignon Blanc or a Dry Creek Zinfandel with an interesting pasta or pheasant.
Several generations of Young’s now work at the Robert Young Vineyards where the family have been farming since 1858. Robert Young is one of the first vineyard owners to have his a vineyard named on a wine bottle, “Chateau St. Jean 1975 Robert Young Chardonnay.”
His oldest son, Jim, is now winery president and vineyard manager. They have 317 acres planted to 15 varieties. Chateau St. Jean still has Robert Young Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc named on its labels. Jim was a Commissioner on the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission.
Bill and Betsy Nachbaur farm 27 acres in the Russian River Valley of Old Vine Zinfandel (field blend), Dolcetto, Sangiovese, Syrah and Cabernet Franc. Some of the wineries that buy their grapes include: Ridge and Rosenblum buy Zinfandel, and Wellington and Hamel buy Syrah. They also produce wine from their own fruit under the Acorn brand. They enjoy salmon and Sangioevese; duck with Dolcetto and Thai sausages with Zinfandel.
John started his ranch with his wife Carolyn in 1984 in the Knights Valley. The ranch has 24 acres planted to Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc. John is very involved in the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission having served as a Commissioner and is currently a member of the Marketing Committee.
Mark and Jane Houser farm about 300 acres of 11 varieties of winegrapes, including the more unusual ones of Cinsault, Mouuvedre, Grenache, Primitivo and Viognier. Their grapes go into Arrowood and Hoot Owl Creek Late Harvest Johannisberg Riesling. They love grilled rib eye steaks and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Jim and Eliza Rickards have 50 acres of Old Vine Zinfandel (1908), Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Malbec. From their Cloverdale vineyards, their grapes are used in wines from Silver Oak, Dry Creek and Geyser Peak. Their food and wine favorites include: grapevine grilled salmon with Zinfandel, wild mushroom risotto with Sauvignon Blanc and roasted lamb with Cabernet Sauvignon.
George and Greta MacLeod planted 30 acres in 1974 planted with Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel and Merlot. Their Sonoma Valley Sauvignon Blanc is now used by Bezinger as a single vineyard wine. The family is also now making their own Sauvignon Blanc from the ranch under the MacLeod Family Vineyard label.
Milo Shepard’s family bought the ranch in Sonoma Valley in 1905. It has 124 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Zinfandel and Syrah. His Jack London and Wolf Vineyards are trademarked and licensed to Kenwood Winery.
Jim Murphy is owner and partner of Murphy Vineyards LLC. He manages 300 acres of vineyards in the Alexander. He is a Commissioner on the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission and lives in Healsburg with his wife and four children.
Chuck Hussey has 17 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc in the Alexander Valley. He believes that sustainable agriculture practices are essential for both good stewardship of the land and quality grapes and wines.
Don and Barbara Stiling own and farm 35 acres of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the Russian River Valley. In 2007, they were the presented the “2007 Viticulture Award of Excellence” by the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission. Barbara was a founding board member of the organization and headed the marketing committee.
Jim Pratt owns, leases and manages 175 acres of six grape varieties in the Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast. His grapes go in Imagery Viognier and MacPhail Pinot Noir. He loves fresh abalone and Pinot Noir.
Duff Bevill owns 82 acres of vineyards in the Dry Creek Valley and his company manages more than 800 acres. Some wineries that use his grapes are Lambert Bridge, Dry Creek Vineyards and Nickel and Nickel.