by Fred McMillin
for March 12, 1999


Winery of the Week

A Super Piece of Dirt


1883—Twenty four days after leaving Australia, the county's super-vintner Thomas Hardy stepped off the mail steamer Zialandia at San Francisco. He first went to the Napa Valley where "the vineyards are in splendid cultivation, and the size of the stocks show the goodness of the land."

1997—Australian super-winery Mildara Blass comes to the U.S.A. (not by steamer), "looks at thousand of acres of land, and buys 420 acres in Napa's Pope Valley." Their resident winemaker Adam Marks beams, "This is A SUPER PIECE OF DIRT."

The Rest of the Story

Bayliss and Fortune

Bayliss and Fortune Are Back

Thomas Hardy would hardly be suprised that a century after he recognized the merits of California vineyards, his countrymen are establishing a large vineyard in the Napa Valley. It's in the Pope Valley located withing the Napa Valley appellation. That is, Pope Valley is a sub-AVA in the Napa Valley AVA. (See the last Monday's "Whatsa Sub AVA?" WineDay about Sub-AVAs, if you like details.)

The brand name is Bayliss and Fortune. The vines aren't ready yet, but Bayliss and Fortune California wines are. They've signed long-term contracts with vineyards in Monterey and Mendocino, and leased winery capacity. Aussie winemaker David O'Leary along with Adam Marks made a Monterey Merlot for only $14 that my picky panel gave a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Just the Facts

Brand Name—Bayliss and Fortune Vnyds. (of Mildara Blass, Inc.)
Current Production—80,000 cases a year (40,000 released and 40,000 being held for bottle aging)
Present Wines—Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel (Thomas Hardy said Zinfandel "seems to be the best kind to plant.")
Contact—Sandy Timpson, (800) EJS-WINE.
Prices—Very competitive, $12 to $15


Whence the brand name? Well, just 15 years after Hardy arrived in California, two Mildara salesmen set out to sell their wines in the U.S.A. Their names were Thomas Bayliss and Charles Fortune.

Credits: Gail Unzelman is my wine history sleuth and found for me the text of Thomas Hardy's 1885 The Vineyards and Wine Cellars of California. Her phone number is (707) 546-1184.


About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


WineDay Annex

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Welcome to WineDay, the electronic Gourmet Guide's daily update. Monday through Thursday, WineDay presents a wine profile. Then on Fridays we present the Winery of the Week to take you through the weekend.


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