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 used his Fruit Science degree from Cal Poly, and his wife Amy used her degree in Agricultural Economics from U.C. Davis to plant the twenty-five acres of gravely loam soil in the foothills. They felt it 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 his first contract. Planting began with 25 acres of Syrah in 1997, followed by 90 acres of Cabernet and Petit Verdot. Most recently planted 10 acres of Chardonnay and the Spanish varietal Verdejo. These varieties of grapes were selected as they are best suited to the area’s climate and soils. Over the years the Doherty’s have sold grapes to many Napa and Sonoma county wineries. The wine makers 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. The multi generational family prides 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 proud supporter of charitable events throughout Colusa County. You will often see a donated bottle of Grindstone in a raffle or as an auction item, spend freely you won’t be disappointed!