History - Page 3

One of the largest Carneros vineyards in the late 1800s was the Stanly Ranch with over 300 acres. Stanly was the first to achieve critical acclaim for Carneros wines when he garnered medals from viticultural fairs sponsored in 1888.

history4aWhile the wine industry thrived in Carneros in the mid-1800s, it came to a grinding halt by the turn of the century. The combination of phylloxera in the late 1870s and 1880s and Prohibition (1919-1933) virtually destroyed the fledgling industry. 

In 1935, following the repeal of Prohibition, John Garetto established the first post-Prohibition winery in Carneros (the present site of Bouchaine Vineyards). Shortly thereafter, Andre Tchelistcheff and Louis M. Martini pioneered the rebirth of Carneros by establishing it as a cool climate viticultural region.

Both Tchelistcheff (then winemaker at Beaulieu Vineyard) and Louis M. Martini first purchased Carneros grapes in the 1930s from the Stanly Ranch, a part of which had miraculously survived the phylloxera infestation. In 1942, Martini purchased 200 acres of the Stanly Ranch and six years later he began Pinot Noir & Chardonnay clonal experimentation. A cutting from these plantings in fact was the source of the Davis Chardonnay clone #108 which is widely planted today throughout California.

The 1960s heralded a new wave of vineyard development begun by Beaulieu Vineyards and growers Rene diRosa of Winery Lake Vineyard, Ira Lee, and the Sangiacomo family.

The ground breaking for Carneros Creek Winery in 1972 signaled a new era of winery development in Carneros that continues today. The '80s were marked by skyrocketing development as hundreds of acres of land were planted to vineyard.

history4bGone are the bears, elk, and cougar that wandered freely across the wooded hills that greeted the first Carneros settlers. Reminders of times past are to be found though, for those who search. Many a street name or landmark in Carneros carries a rich history indicative of the Mexican heritage, family or place after which it was named.

The name Carneros itself - Spanish for sheep - is a prime example, referring to the many sheep ranches that dotted the hills. Huichica Creek and Carneros Creek are two other names whose origin dates back to pueblo times. Duhig, Dealy, Stanly, Leveroni, and Arnold roads are all named after the families who pioneered them. Cuttings Wharf, Buchli Station, and Bentley Wharf roads take their name from the railway stations or docks from which goods were shipped to San Francisco.

Last but not least, no history of Carneros would be complete without mention of the famed Sonoma Rodeo which took place annually from 1929-1950 in Carneros. A crowd of 5,000 people would gather annually on the windswept fields of the Millerick Ranch (the former Sonoma Creek Winery, currently Larson Family Winery), to watch star cowboys from across the west, including brothers Tom and Jack Millerick, compete for top dollar prizes. 

Carneros Wine Alliance
The Carneros Wine Alliance is a non-profit association of wineries and grape-growers in the Carneros American Viticultural Area (AVA).  Carneros is the only appellation located at the crossroads of two major wine regions, the Napa and Sonoma Valleys.  Influenced by the maritime breezes and fog from its southern border with the San Pablo Bay, Carneros produces the region’s finest Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and sparkling wines. The Carneros Wine Alliance is committed to promoting the distinction, diversity and above all, quality, of the grapes and wines from Carneros.