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East Dry Creek Road

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One of the first sizeable plantings of grapes in the valley was that of Samuel O. Heaton, a native of Kentucky who settled in the area in 1855. His farm was located about one mile south of the junction of East Dry Creek and Canyon roads (6100 Dry Creek Road), where he cleared the land and planted Mission, Grey Riesling, and Grenache grapes (Florence 1993:16; Peninou 1998:158-159).

In 1864, his neighbor Andrew J. Galloway acquired the 120-acre Table Grove Ranch, just south of Dry Creek and Lytton Springs roads (2470 Dry Creek Road). A native of Tennessee, Galloway planted 40 acres of Zinfandel, Sauvignon Vert, and Burger vines, and by 1886 had 60 acres in vines. In addition to wine grapes, he also planted table varieties such as Tokay and Coleman, as well as planting peaches, plums, and prunes, eventually operating two large fruit drying and packing plants; one at the ranch and one in Healdsburg. A small winery was built by his sons Allen and Andrew in the early 1890s, and operated until the early 1900s, although a portion of the land was in vineyard until Prohibition. The ranch was sold to the John Cuneo family in 1917, who resided in the Andrew Galloway home at 2525 Dry Creek Road (Peninou 1998:159, Florence 1993:21, Dry Creek Neighbors Club:42-43). The house is still under Cuneo family ownership.

It wasn’t until 1885, however, that a substantial winery was established. In that year Charles Dunz built the Laurel Hill Winery, with a capacity of 70,000 gallons, a bit north of the intersection of Lytton Springs Road and Dry Creek Road. His vineyard, planted primarily to Zinfandel,  totaled 75 acres. A distillery was added in 1889, and three years later the whole operation was sold to a fellow Swiss, Andrew Frei. Frei had first purchased 400 acres near Graton, most of which was planted to orchards and vineyards. After he bought the winery, his grapes were crushed at Laurel Hill, later renamed the Frei Winery, and enlarged in 1904. One of only seven wineries in Dry Creek Valley to survive Prohibition, it reopened and remained a family operation (Peninou 1998:159).

Nearby, on Lambert Bridge Road (2735 Dry Creek Road), Charles Lambert, one of Dry Creek Valley’s first settlers, planted a vineyard in the early 1880s. A native of Virginia, Lambert arrived in California by ox team in 1851, obtaining title to his 110-acre ranch in 1860. He later acquired a part interest in the Cloverdale Wine Company, and his son William operated the vineyard until Prohibition (Peninou 1998:159-160, Florence 1993:16).

Two decades after Lambert’s first planting, in 1906, R.H. Bagley and G.W. Petray and a group of local growers erected a 60,000-gallon capacity winery adjacent to Bagley’s vineyard and the Dry Creek Store. In 1908 the plant was leased by two San Francisco Italian-Americans, Angelo Lencioni (also spelled Lencione) and A. Pardini, who had built the Sunnyside Winery on Lytton Springs Road the previous year. After Prohibition the plant was sold to Edward A. Norton and Fred Haigh of Healdsburg and operated until 1948 (Peninou 1998:160).

Jean-Baptiste Trapet, a Frenchman from Burgundy, came to Dry Creek Valley in 1877. There  he planted wine grapes on the hillsides above Dry Creek Road, about a mile south of the Galloway Vineyard. His Promontory Winery, which produced excellent red table wines, was  was built in 1886. After his death, his son Edmond continued operation of the winery until World War I, when he left to serve in the French Army and leased the property. Soon after his return, Prohibition was enacted, but he continued to maintain the vineyard, selling wine grapes for personal use (Peninou 1998:160).

 Two other nearby vineyardists were James Miller, from North Carolina, who planted 30 acres to Zinfandels and Burgers (600 Dry Creek Road), and his southeastern neighbor, Richard H. Warfield. A native of New York and Civil War veteran, Warfield planted 15,000 cuttings of Carignane, Sauvignon, and Burger grapes. After 1891, when he became owner of the California Hotel in San Francisco, the operation was run by his son George (Florence 1993:16; Peninou 1998:160-161).

On the east side of Dry Creek, in 1882 Hanoverian German Charles A. Reiners began planting Zinfandel, Riesling, and Golden Chasselas grapes on his 60-acre vineyard on the slopes of his 400-acre ranch (4791-5017 Dry Creek Road), where he built his redwood winery. The first vintage, in 1886, produced about 15,000 gallons of wine. By 1890 he and his two sons had added a general store, post office, blacksmith shop, barn, and distillery; an area that came to be known as “Reinersville.” By the turn of the 19th century, the vineyard had been increased to 170 acres and included Petite Sirah, Carignane, and Burger grapes, with 85 acres of Zinfandel. In addition to his own vineyards, Reiners purchased grapes from neighboring growers and produced between 250,000 and 300,000 gallons of wine a year. The plant was enlarged in 1899, and new steam crushers were installed. After his death in 1905, his son John managed the winery, also building his own 100,000-gallon winery nearby. The winery was destroyed in a fire in 1931 and not rebuilt (Dry Creek Neighbors Club 1979:32; Peninou 1998:161).

Although not mentioned in local newspapers of the time, the winery of Peter Holst, on Brach’s Road, was apparently planted in the 1880s, and was officially listed in 1891. Holst grew Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Alicante, Grenache, and Burger, and the grapes were sold principally on the East Coast. At his store on Third Avenue in New York, Holst sold 30,000 to 50,000 gallons of wine annually to customers who picked up their wine in their own containers. The last sale of Holst wine was in 1932 (Florence 1993:26).

Meanwhile, in the old Cozzens Corner area (Dry Creek Road and Dutcher Creek Road), Conrad Wagele set out 22 acres of grapes in 1882, the first sizeable vineyard in that area. A native of Baden who first made wine near St. Helena, Wagele planted two-thirds of his vineyards to Chasselas and Riesling grapes. By 1886 he built the fifth winery in the valley, enlarged in 1889 to produce about 20,000 gallons a year. Wagele continued planting a few acres each year, until he had 28 acres planted to Chasselas, White Riesling, Zinfandel, Black Malvoise, Mataro, and Burger, with 780 vines an acre. After his death in 1889, his operation was taken over by his son Charles, who produced wine until Prohibition, when the vineyards were ripped out and the land planted to prunes and pears (Florence 1993:16, 27; Peninou 1998:161-162).

Immediately to the north of Wagele (7850 Dry Creek Road), in 1881 Robert Borner purchased 42 acres and by the following year had 19 ½ acres in grapes. By the summer of 1889 Borner had also established a winery, the tenth in Dry Creek. In 1899, Borner sold his ranch to Patronak, at the start of a depression (Florence 1993:27-29).

Another early-day vineyard was that of Captain Louis A. Norton, a prominent Healdsburg attorney. About 1885 he planted a 110-acre vineyard to Zinfandel and Chasselas grapes, partly on hill slopes and partly on bottomland along Mill Creek. In 1889 he remodeled a building in Healdsburg into a winery, but it was destroyed in a fire two years later. Shortly before his death he formed the Norton Land Company with his sons, and in later years son Edward went into partnership with George Buchignani, a Healdsburg grocer; they built a new winery adjacent to the vineyard. Operating until Prohibition, it was dismantled during those years (Peninou 1998:162).

Davenport Cozzens, one of the early settlers of Dry Creek Valley, established a winery at a place on the east side of the valley, which became a small community known as Cozzens Corner. A native of New York, Cozzens settled in Sonoma County in 1852, planting a small vineyard and building a winery. Cozzens continued winemaking until about 1890, but  maintained his vineyard until 1895 when he sold to Joseph Patten, a native of Missouri. Patten purchased about 30 acres adjoining Cozzens, and by the late 1870s had set out 20 acres of Zinfandel. He died in 1910, and his son Richard set out new vines with resistant rootstock and maintained the two vineyards until Prohibition (Peninou 1998:168).

At the far northern end of the valley, on Dutcher Creek Road, the Fricke & Priest Winery was built in 1889, with a 30,000-gallon storage capacity (Florence 1993:39).