by Fred McMillin
for August 12, 1997

Rhinefarm Charm

Prologue: "Five generations of Gundlachs and Bundschus have grown grapes continuously on the 375-acre Rhinefarm Vineyard planted by Jacob Gundlach in the 1850's."

...from James Halliday's "Wine Atlas of California"

The Rest of the Story: What have the critics thought of Jacob's vineyard through the years? Here's a sampling.

1889—The well-known Rhinefarm is one of the finest in Sonoma County...the very best of foreign varieties.

...by journalist Frona Wait

1941—In the Sonoma Valley on the slopes of the Mayacamas Range grow the vineyards to which Sonoma's early fame is due...including the celebrated "Rhinefarm" of Gundlach-Bundschu.

...by journalist/consultant Frank Schoonmaker

1984—The revered Gundlach-Bundschu Winery is offering wines made from grapes grown on the original Rhinefarm land and are gathering medals at every competition.

...by author/critic Robert Lawrence Balzer

However, it was not all peaches and cream. You could call it a three-alarm vineyard. First, a phylloxera attack required replanting with resistant rootstock. Next, the large San Francisco storage and shipping center was totally destroyed by the 1906 earthquake. Charles Bundschu was in town and had difficulty writing down his impressions because "a puncheon of Red Wine was shaken from its saddle in the third row right above my desk and Claret flooded everything." Then came Prohibition, the final alarm. However, the Rhinefarm has persisted through it all. This tradition provided added interest to the latest Rhineland wine my panel tasted, which was:

1995 Pinot Noir, Rhinefarm Vineyards, Sonoma Valley
Gundlach-Bundschu Winery
Vineburg, California
Tasting Notes—Substantial Pinot cherry aroma and
flavors. Ready to drink right now with ham, lamb, or
pesto pizza. Delicious.
Phone—(707) 938-5277

Postscript: The Bundschus are as durable as the Rhinefarm. The show is now run by Charles' great-great grandson, Jim and Jim's son, Jeff.

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 and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.

Read more articles by Fred McMillin in the eGGsf

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