McDowell Valley History of Wine Grape Growing
The History of Rhone Varietal Wine Production in McDowell Valley
The Buckmans planted Syrah and Grenache. Clones of these vines were replanted in 1948 and continue to produce grapes. In 1970, Richard and Karen Keehn moved to the region and began developing vineyards. They bought about 350 acres in the secluded valley. In 1979, they started producing wine and focused on Rhone varietals.
Karen’s son and Richard’s step-son William Crawford grew up in the valley and has been involved in the family business for over 30 years. After earning a biology degree in 1982, he returned to his home vineyards in 1984. In 1988, he was made CEO of the winery.
In 1993, Richard, Karen, and William sold their winemaking facilities but retained most of their vineyard land. They began a major overhaul of the vines with William overseeing replanting. Crawford is currently one of the foremost experts of Rhone clones and rootstocks in the Western Hemisphere. He is also the winemaker at McDowell Valley Vineyard, and is the President of the Rhone Rangers.
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