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Green Valley Wine Country History

Like many high quality regions in California Wine Country, the years around the turn of the century were a golden age for local viticulture. However, Phylloxera and Prohibition devastated the area.

In the years after these two calamities, the land was used to raise livestock and produce agricultural products other than grapes. The Gravenstein Apple was a very popular crop during and after Prohibition. This reflected the economic realities of the time.

The renaissance of the region’s wine industry was led by the Dutton Family, Rodney Strong and Barry Sterling in the 1960s and 1970s. The Dutton Family led the re-birth of the region’s wine industry during the 1960s. The family continues to have a substantial presence in the AVA.

Rodney Strong planted Iron Horse Vineyard in 1970. The Sterling Family bought the vineyard from him in 1976 and founded Iron Horse Winery with Forrest Tancer in 1978. The Hartford Family also began planting their vines around this time.

Sparkling wines dominated production a decade ago, but still wines are steadily gaining more prominence. Many wineries now allow their grapes to mature on the vine for longer. Green Valley gained AVA status was granted in 1983.

With a few exceptions, many of the vineyards are quite young. Even as many regions in California Wine Country experienced a renaissance in production, it was widely believed that the western part of the Russian River Valley was too cold for high quality viticulture.

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