As vineyards continue to dot the Nevada County landscape, it has become apparent that the wine industry has taken root in the foothill region. In 2003 alone, two new wineries began distributing their product to retail outlets.
Burch Hall Winery and Lucchesi Vineyards and Winery are in proximity to each other in the Peardale – Cedar Ridge area. Both operations are part of a continually growing trend in California, where wineries offer smaller volumes – 5,000 cases or less – of premium-quality wines.
Steve and Marsha Burch started their winery Jan. 22, 2003. The couple moved to the Peardale area after years of living and working in the Napa and Central valleys. When they decided to start their own winery, the Burches opted to leave the more popular winemaking regions for a place they could create quality of life and good wine.
“It’s really important for us to offer a high-quality product at a good price,” Steve Burch said.
The Burches’ winery is located on five wooded acres. The space set aside by previous owners to house cars and tools now serves as their warehouse. The modified garage stores countless wooden barrels for fermenting wine – enough to fill 5,000 cases of wine. Behind the building, large stainless steel machines sit quietly, waiting for the next crush and fermentation process to begin.
Burch Hall Winery offers a variety of services, despite its small staff of two – Steve and Marsha. They produce two different wine labels – Burch Hall and Coyoteville. Bottles with the namesake label hold variety wines, such as syrah, merlot and chardonnay. The Coyoteville label offers wine blends such as Howling Red, a mix of syrah, Carignane and Grenache.
The Burch’s make about 1,000 cases for their own label.
In addition to crafting their own wines, they also produce about 2,500 cases for other people who grow their own grapes, but lack the facilities or permits to make and distribute wine.
When not making wine, Steve Burch is a consultant to other vineyards and wineries in the area and Napa Valley.
The Burches live on a private road and do not have a tasting room on-site. But they continue to look for space in downtown Grass Valley or Nevada City to host a tasting room for their products.
Just southwest of the Burches, Lucchesi Vineyards & Winery has a tasting room under construction. Owners Mario and Linda Clough are in the midst of the permit process to open their vineyard and winery to the public.
The road to the winery winds slowly uphill, carved between about 14,000 grape vines. The view from the top encompasses almost 180 degrees of uninterrupted panorama.
“One thing this site offers is a really unique visual experience,” Mario Clough said.
It is that experience the Clough’s hope will attract people to their tasting room 10 minutes outside of town.
“Because we have such limited production, our tasting room is the best place for us (to taste),” he said.
The first year, production was 1,100 cases. As the vines mature, Lucchesi has the capability to yield 2,000 to 2,500 cases. By 2005, they want all their production to be from estate grown grapes.
“We don’t want to be the biggest,” Mario Clough said
“It’s just to produce a very good product,” Linda Clough said of their operation.
Under winemaker Heather Nenow, Lucchesi’s first harvest from 2002 grapes offered premium varieties, such as cabernet franc, zinfandel, syrah, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc – released last October.
The Cloughs started clearing the land to plant the fruit in 1998. They never intended to have a winery on the 50-acre property, just the vineyard.
When county regulations for winemaking and tasting rooms eased a few years ago, the Cloughs decided to start making wine. Now they employ five people to help with the business.
Although Nenow is the expert winemaker, Mario Clough contributes just as much. He is the only person who knows how to drive a tractor, something he learned growing up on a farm in Missouri.
Lucchesi and Burch Hall wines are sold in area supermarkets, such as SPD, and at restaurants, such as Friar Tuck’s Restaurant and Bar and Citronee Bistro and Wine Bar in Nevada City.
Though not open yet, there are currently two additional vineyards in the county that are in the permit process to operate as wineries.
Find that wine
For more information about the Lucchesi Vineyard and Winery, check out the Web at
or call 273-1596
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