In 1992, after visiting the vineyards of Northern
Italy and the Chianti region, Mike returned home impressed
with the identity assigned to each small vineyard and the importance
given to the slope and direction of slope. Given varieties
were planted on certain
slopes. Inspired by this trip to Italy along with the death
of longtime friend Monsignor Mulcahy plans were made to develop
some of the last and most difficult acres and to build a stone
chapel honoring the memory of the Monsignor. The hilltop chapel
built with stones from the farm, took three years to complete.
Planting of the hillsides around the chapel started in 1993
and was completed in 1997 with most of the vines planted being
Syrah or Viognier.
This chapel would become the focal point of tours and photography,
yet more than this; it gives an identity to the site. As George Rainbird
says in An Illustrated Guide to wine, “Four things go into
the making of wine, whether it be good, bad or indifferent. First
of all, the soil from which the vine grows; second, the climate,
particularly the sun or the amount of sunshine which shines upon
the vine in any given year; third, the type of grape used in the
making of the wine; and last, but by no means least, the hand of
the vigneron who makes the wine. The first is immovable and permanent,
the second variable, the third important, and the last human. When
these four come into alignment, the result can be a near miracle,
and by the grace of God this sometimes happens”.
We look forward to the future as the fourth generation returns
to the farm. The challenge ahead will be to improve grape quality,
discover all of the nuances of growing grapes in this viticulture
area and to raise the image and identity of Red Willow Vineyards.