As the Napa Valley was exploding in the early 80’s, founders Bob and Lelo Kerivan decided to rebel and push further north to set root in the beautiful Illinois Valley, home of our estate vineyard and winery. Lelo had a dream “every German dreams of owning a vineyard.” The estate vineyards were planted in 1982 in dense European style 6 foot rows of Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Muscat, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, and Riesling. German varietals were a rarity at the time they ware planted, but the Kerivans had a passion to bring the vines of the ‘old world’ into the new world of American produced grapes. Dense planting of the vineyard was also a new concept in ‘the new world’ as standard American tractors would never have fit down the 6 foot rows. This was no obstacle for the Kerivans who imported European tractors to fit down the narrow aisles. Over the years many vineyards adopted dense planting practices and now many vineyards are planted in this style.
In 1998 we planted our 80 acre Applegate Vineyard with Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Riesling. The warmer climate of the Applegate Valley makes it an ideal location for Bordeaux varietals to reach optimal fruit ripeness which in turn produces the most full bodied, fruit forward wines.
In 1999 and 2001 we planted 40 acres of Pinot Noir at our Bear Creek Vineyard which is also located in the Illinois Valley. Pinot Noir is a classic German varietal known by the name of Spatburgunder to Germans. Pinot Noir is our second most produced varietal and the rocky soil of the Bear Creek property provides the perfect home for ripe, flavorful grapes.