We both grew up in California's wine country: Clay in the Healdsburg area in Sonoma County, and Margarita in St. Helena in Napa County. We met when we were both working at a Napa Valley winery. From there, we went on to build a vineyard management and development company.
We’ve grown fruit for many wonderful people and we've enjoyed tasting what our grapes have contributed to their wines. Still, we wondered how our wine grapes would stand up on their own. For us, the challenge was to take our grapes from bud break all the way to the bottle. Our goal was to make really enjoyable wines that taste like perfectly ripe grapes on the day you harvest them.
In the late 1980's we began working with wine grapes from Lake County and recognized the area's potential to grow great mountain fruit. Then, in 1995, we visited a magnificent mountain property about 35 miles north of the Napa county line. At altitudes of 2,100 to 2,400 feet above sea level these steep mountain ridges are cooled by steady winds off Clear Lake and from the higher peaks just north of us. The lean, rocky volcanic soils promised to make the vines produce small berries with concentrated flavors.
There was also the stunning beauty of the ridge. To the south, you see the deep blue waters of Clear Lake sheltered by Mount Konocti. To the north, snow capped mountains loom above, and all around us brick-red rocky soils. The landscape is rugged and wild and so are our neighbors -- we're surrounded by wildlife. In addition to the ducks, geese, deer, raccoons, quail, golden eagles, wild turkey, chipmunks and bobcats that visit us regularly, we've spotted bald eagles, a mother bear and her cubs and mountain lion tracks! Everything about this land screamed out to us, and we answered with an enthusiastic “yes!”
Our first vineyard on the ridge was Terre Vermeille, which is planted to Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Barbera and Sauvignon Blanc. Since then, we've developed several additional vineyards and have put down our roots here. For the first three years we lived in a small cabin on the Caldwell Ranch. We've moved into a more accommodating home with magnificent views of the vineyards and mountain ridges.