The Godmother of Pinot Noir

Dec 29, 2015 527

by Ray Isle

Helen Bacigalupi has overseen one of Sonoma's defining vineyards for 50 years. Here, she talks to F&W's Ray Isle about the old days of prune farms and dollar-a-gallon zin, and her family's thrilling new winemaking project.

What was the Russian River like back in 1956, when you and your husband first moved here?
Everything was prunes in those days. In the springtime, the ground was covered in the white blooms from the plum trees—it was like the snow had fallen. No one back then paid anything for grapes—$50 a ton. It hardly paid to pick them. Anyone who had actual vineyards, like the Pedroncellis and the Seghesios, they just sold bulk wine to Gallo.

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