by Fred McMillin
for October 7, 1998


A New Moon


c.1830—General Vallejo came up out of the Napa Valley and scaled the dividing ridge. Later he said he was filled with emotion when he first saw the Valley of the Moon, as the Indians called it. Suddenly impelled by the sight, he rode at the head of his company down through the dense covering of oak and manzanita and then galloped across the plain to halt in a cloud of dust before the sprawling adobe buildings of the Franciscan Mission. Visitors were rare, and the fathers hastily prepared a welcoming feast of roast lamb, savory stews and fine wines.

...M.M. McKittrick, Vallejo—Son of California

June 1998—One of Sonoma Valley's oldest wineries, Valley of the Moon Winery & Vineyards, will re-open its doors, after being purchased by Kenwood Vineyards.

...Letter from Margie Healy, Dir. Public Relations

So what's the connection? Let's see.

The Rest of the Story

c.1841—General Vallejo has paid so many of the Mexican government's debts that they repay him with massive land grants, including the 48,000-acre Agua Caliente Grant. Now, let's fast forward a century.

1941—By now a winery and vineyard exist on part of that original Vallejo land grant. The winery was founded in 1863, purchased by William Randolph Hearst's father in 1888 (they lived there), and named by later owners Valley of the Moon Winery in 1941. This is the facility that Kenwood has now converted to a super-premium winery.

Valley of the Moon Winery

Today's Wine

This is no ordinary winery, so start with no ordinary varietal, their 100% Pinot Blanc. "Pinot Blancs are richly structured, often made like Chardonnay, with spicy, creamy, oaky charm," commented Gerald Boyd in the S.F. Chronicle. This one has all those features.
1996 Pinot Blanc
Valley of the Moon Winery, Glen Ellen, CA.
Comments—Plenty of vigor from about 0.7% acids, 13.5% alcohol and nice oak.
Food Affinity—Delicious with a polenta souffle appetizer and a grilled-salmon/crushed-potato entree at the Monaco Hotel in San Francisco.
Contact—Margie Healy, (707) 824-7715


About General Vallejo's land grants, his titles to them began to be lost through legal action when the U.S.A. took over California. The general summarized his feelings in a comment to his wife, saying that he was convinced "there would be no lawyers in heaven!"

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.



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