When Sandie and I first purchased this property in 2004, I immediately thought it would be perfect for a vineyard,
however I could not imagine how we could make it happen. Ironically, this is the very property where many decades
ago the Thompson Seedless grape was developed.
I took several courses at UC Davis including
a very outstanding vineyard taxation course by Mr. Scott from Coopers in San Francisco; this opened new doors. I had
visited countless vineyards and wineries throughout California and Oregon over the past ten years. We visited Italy
once in 2005. That trip was life changing! It gave us the motivation for completing decorations on our home and also
inspired the European garden that now adorns our backyard. We were particularly struck with the rugged beauty and
history of Sicily, hence the name of our vineyard Sicilia (pronounced “Saychelia”).
We were also inspired by Mr. Reece Cordi, founder of Cordi Winery, in Live Oak who obtained the first permitted tasting
room in Sutter County. He referred me to Diego Barison, our consultant. At the time, Diego was at a grape vine nursery
in Knights Landing and met with us on several occasions to start planning. Diego has a vast amount of training in all
aspects of the wine industry and comes to us via northern Italy.
We have been extremely fortunate to have a tremendous team. Jake from Bi-County Irrigation, Inc. has been a jewel and
has assisted not just with drips and water lines, but with repairs and tutorials on how to repair things on our own.
Diego referred us to Mr. Clemons, a farm equipment innovator in Woodland. He, along with his assistant, Heiko, have
taught us all about tractors and the attachments we would need. Alan Olivera has provided the crews for setting up
planting and grafting and has also been a dynamo in the nuts and bolts of the vineyard operation.
The first step was to rip the soil; we accomplished this in late summer of 2009. We encountered some a few unexpected
problems. One day the ripping machine parked on the front acreage and the teeth happened to drop directly onto a large
water line leading from the agricultural well. Needless to say, water was everywhere! There were three clones of
rootstock planted; 5C, 3309, and 101-14. The rootstock was specially developed at a winery in Washington State and as
Diego says, “this is the best and cleanest rootstock anywhere.” We had decided by this time to graft onto the rootstock,
Warm Weather Italian Varietal Grapes. We determined there would be Grecco, Fiano, Coda di Volpe, Primativo, Barbera,
Negro Amaro, and Taraldego. Our vision is to produce outstanding wine, which always starts with outstanding farming
practices and grow what the terrior allows.
The first year we did not have the tractor as we were keeping expenses down. We dug weeds by hand for countless hours in
the summer of 2010 and were happy to see the rootstock go to sleep in Autumn 2010. In 2011, we purchased a vineyard
tractor with the appropriate attachments to keep the vineyard “clean” as Heiko likes to put it. We also did the grafting
with the help of Alan’s crew. Then it was a battle with gophers, which at this time, we seem to have won.
Sandie was diagnosed with breast cancer, the month before our first harvest, in 2012. Currently she is cancer-free, but
battles side effects of the prevention medication on a daily basis and has not had many pain free days or days with
adequate energy to physically assist in our efforts; she continues to provide vital support. We now have several partners.
Mark Henry of Montolivia Vineyard & Winery in Grass Valley loves our Negro Amaro. He purchases this variety and he made
our Barbera from our 2013 harvest. Ruggero Mastroserio of Mastroserio Winery in Somerset has been a great friend and
partner; he made our first release Primitivo and Barbera from 2012. Reece Cordi made our first white release from 2013;
Due Bianchi is a unique blend of Fiano and Grecco. Rockwall Winery in Alameda and Montagna Winery in Napa Valley also
purchase our grapes for white blends of Grecco Fiano and Coda Di Volpe.
We have just completed our fifth harvest and we are looking forward now to selling our wines. Our Sicilia label has been
officially approved and we have Primitivo and Barbera from 2012 and 2013; Due Bianchi (white blend of Grecco and Fiano)
from 2013 and well as some interesting white Fiano based blends.
We will be exploring a tasting room here on site. We are both excited anxious and nervous as we move forward with this
adventure, but overall we’re very excited to see this project evolve. The vineyard is indeed beautiful and we have improved
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