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  • Writer's pictureMike Mahoney

Northern California Wine Country

Updated: Sep 2, 2023

My friend Tom sure knows a lot of people. We grew up in the same town but went to different schools, Tom La Canada High, and I went to the all-boys catholic school St. Francis. We would run with many of the same kids at various events, and through brothers, sisters, and sports. When I spent time with Tom and Janine in Arroyo Grande, Ca, he mentioned he had a friend from high school who owned and lived on a vineyard in Healdsburg and that I should visit. Are you kidding, a friend with a vineyard. Absolutely! As a bonus, he said I could probably camp on their property.

I love Napa, Sonoma, Healdsburg, and Santa Rosa, all of the California wine regions, and I love me some wine! I love how the grapes and the wine reflect nature and are all so unique. Every vintage of grapes is different and represents a specific period, environment, and conditioning, continually changing and evolving just like each of us. Throughout my adult life, I've been fortunate to experience several trips to this beautiful region. Quick spring and fall weekend trips, Darlene and I spent part of our honeymoon there, I also was married at a vineyard in Calistoga. Before heading to my friend's vineyard, I stopped and camped in the center of Napa Valley and visited some of my favorite wineries. Rombauer was one of them. It was Darlene's favorite. I had a glass of their famous Chardonnay in honor of her. Funny story - when we visited while on our honeymoon, George, our driver for the weekend chuckled when I mentioned Rombauer. He said "You know what the locals call Rombauer's buttery Chardonnay don't you? There are two nicknames for that wine, the first is 'cougar crack' and the other is 'catnip'. We thought that was hilarious! Try it sometime and you'll see!

Back to my story. Ridge Muller and his wife Carol own GRAMM Vineyards in Santa Rosa in the renowned Russian River Valley. I had a few connections to Ridge I was unaware of until then. His older brother played football for my Dad who coached and taught at La Canada while Ridge used to hang out with my sister Kacey, and her boyfriend Tony at the time. I can't believe we never ran into each other. Ridge is not only a viticulturist, farmer, and grape grower, he's also an emergency physician in Santa Rosa in his spare time. He and Carol operate the vineyard and wedding venue that they rent. Their winery is GRAMM Vineyards, an acronym developed from using the first initial of their children's names They grow Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. Most of the grapes they grow and sell to a couple of major winemakers in the area, they also produce about 700 cases of their estate wine. They make a tasty Pinot Noir, refreshing Chardonnay, and an easy drinking Rose'. Although the visit was brief, it was rich with stories about our mutual friends. Portia also enjoyed sniffing and running around the vineyard while we talked and toured the property. I enjoyed getting to know Ridge and Carol and appreciate them sharing their property and passion for grapes and wine with me. Until next time. Cheers!

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May 21, 2023

What a neat connection from your school days. Looks like a beautiful property as well.

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