Here at Crescere, we’ve always thought of ourselves as unapologetically Sonoman. But what does that mean?
Joe first got the idea that he wanted to own a vineyard in 1980 while delivering a piano to a home in Napa. He saw it and the dream was born. As he was attending San Francisco State for undergrad, he had an Economics professor who had a winery in the Sierra foothills and he’d always see bottles around his office. As a result, his curiosity deepened and his proximity to wine country made it easy to access. A few years later he had his first “a-ha” bottle – a Montevina Zinfandel. It was the first time he really noticed that there was more going on inside the bottle (compared to the “Dago Red” jug wine he used to sneak out of his Mom’s kitchen). His conviction to own a vineyard grew. But it wasn’t until the end of the 80s that Joe started to realize that he could possibly make this dream a reality.
Living in Chicago at the time, he started travelling back to California a few times a year to look at neighborhoods and available property. At the time he was visiting both Napa and Sonoma, getting to know the areas better, and Joe very quickly found himself drawn more towards Sonoma. For him, Napa seemed a little too manicured. It lacked the rural feel he’d loved so much growing up, and the private planes flying in and out to their wineries that he witnessed didn’t do much to change that perception. Sonoma, by contrast, had primarily farming roots. There was more agricultural diversity in Sonoma: more than grapes were being grown. There were orchards, cattle ranches, cheesemakers, and so on. And there appeared to be greater diversity in the soil and the terrain.
In 1994, after years of searching for the right spot, he knew he’d found a home when he first saw the ranch in Cloverdale. He could tell it was just the right spot to grow the kind of quality grapes he planned to produce. After moving into the cobweb filled house on the property, he decided to spend some time outside of it and get to know the neighbors. He quickly realized that while people were kind, they also weren’t sure he knew what he was doing. Realizing that these new neighbors might have a point, he decided that he needed to hire someone who did know what he was doing. After talking with these same neighbors, he was introduced to just such a man, Margarito Valencia, who had been working in vineyards for a couple of decades. Joe hired him on the spot, and Margo has been working and living on the property ever since.Joe was still splitting his time between Chicago and the new property, and taking the summers to replant the property and make repairs to the home while Margo and his crew provided the expertise that Joe needed to realize the great potential that the property held.
It took seven years, but finally Joe and the family were out there full time, with his children enrolled in local schools. And it was just a few years later when his grapes started fetching higher prices than his neighbors, that people started to look to him for advice and ask how to farm or plant their vineyards. As all of this came together Joe started to feel truly Sonoman.
But Joe had noticed something else about Sonoma too. Many there in the wine business had an inferiority complex when it came to their richer brethren on the other side of the hill. Joe saw no reason for this to be the case. He knew that we could produce wine as good as our friends on the other side of that divide. That we too could project an authentic state of great comfort and extravagance that comes from knowing that the products you produce are truly world class.
So to Joe we aren’t just Sonoman. We are unapologetically Sonoman. True to our agricultural roots, we feel among some of the best farmers producing wine today. No apologies about it.
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