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Wild Horse Valley History of Grape Growing

The valley was part of the 8,800 acre Tulocay Rancho which was a Mexican land grant given to Don Cayetano Juarez on January 31, 1841. He moved his family to his newly acquired land from Sonoma Valley.

Tulocay means “red” in the Pomo Native Americans’ language. This refers to the local volcanic soils that are red from oxidized iron. In 1881, Joseph Vorbe planted the first vineyards in Wild Horse Valley. But Prohibition put an end to any more viticultural development until the 1970s.

In 1978, John Newmeyer bought about 1,100 acres of land in Wild Horse Valley. Two years later, he planted 17 acres of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Newmeyer made his first wine under the Heron Lake Winery label in 1985.

This remains the only winery in the AVA. The production facilities and caves are still under production. Heron Lake currently makes their wine in St Helena. AVA status was granted to Wild Horse Valley in 1988.

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