In 1997, when it came time to diversify the Doherty Family agricultural operation, the decision to plant wine grapes was an easy one. Mike Doherty could use his Fruit Science degree from Cal Poly, his wife Amy was a bookkeeper with a degree in Agricultural Economics from U.C. Davis and the twenty-five acres of gravely loam soil in the foothills west of Arbuckle was perfect for stressing grapes into wine-making-perfection. Mike approached his father with the idea and was given the family’s blessing on the condition a contract was secured with a winery to purchase the crop. Mike began the daunting task of cold calling winery after winery before Marc Mondavi of Charles Krug granted him a five year contract. Syrah was planted first on the 25 acres and 90 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot were planted later in 2000. These varieties of grapes were selected as they are best suited to the area’s climate and soils. The vineyard brought forth sweet fruit that is still sold to Gallo today. In the past the Doherty Family has also sold to Fetzer , Martini, Ironstone and R.H. Phillips. The wine makers all have the same opinion that there is high quality fruit being grown in the foothills west of Arbuckle.
It didn’t take long for the Doherty’s to join the “farm-to-fork”; or should it be said “farm-to-glass” movement. With a desire to start their own label and keep their winemaking “local” they approached Colusa County natives Rob Wallace and Lee Traynham who own Del Rio Vineyards in Gold Hill, Oregon. Del Rio was contracted to crush, produce and bottle the newly named and created Grindstone Wine for Amy and Michael Doherty. Each year 500 cases of “Cortina Red”, a delightful blend of the farm’s three grape varieties, are bottled after being aged to perfection. A stand alone Cabernet Sauvignon wine is soon to be added.
The Doherty’s pride themselves on using sustainable agricultural practices in their vineyard, as well as their other farming operations, to help control soil erosion, provide wildlife habitat, improve soil health, protect air quality and minimize the use of pesticides and herbicides. Scattered among the vines are owl boxes, a wildlife pond with wood duck boxes and nesting islands, cover crops, and even grazing sheep at certain times of the year to control weeds. What you won’t often see is a tractor discing as no-till farming practices are used to protect soil and air quality.The Doherty family is a huge supporter of charitable events throughout Colusa County. You will often see a donated bottle of Grindstone-Cortina Red in a raffle or as an auction item, spend freely you won’t be disappointed!