Bradford Mountain is the tallest of the hills making up the coastal range bordering the west side of Dry Creek Valley in northern Sonoma County.
From the top, the Pacific Ocean is a mere 15 miles to the west and in between, there is nothing but forested hills, the home of countless deer, mountain lions, and wild pigs. Just south of the summit lies a swale that was planted to zinfandel nearly 100 years ago and, as the site of an old grist mill, has been known as the Grist Vineyard for some years.
The Dry Creek Valley has long been known for producing zinfandels of both great elegance and power. It is here that the raspberry flavors in the variety step to the fore. Because of the climate, the vines tend to ripen evenly, producing wines with concentration but without weight. Fruit from the hills surrounding the valley offer the same palate, with the addition of greater depth of flavor and a bit more spice. There is not much land suitable for planting in this stretch of mountains, and the Grist Vineyard has long been sought after for its fruit.
Over the years, our fruit has been purchased by Turley, Gary Farrell, and other well-known producers, and in early 1980s was purchased by Bill Hambrecht, who subsequently began producing wine from this site under the Bradford Mountain label.
Today, the vineyards are farmed sustainably using organic principles. The current vines are between 8 and 45 years old, and while the old-vine Fruit is still bottled under the Grist Vineyard moniker, the younger vines supply fruit for the more approachable Dry Creek Valley appellation wine.
At harvest time, the running joke among the vineyard workers is that they know the fruit is ripe when the indigenous picking crew (the wild pigs) show up. Chasing them out of the vineyard to get the real crew in there is always exciting, and the image of the wild boar has been added to the label to honor the help we receive from our somewhat disagreeable neighbors.