Rod Park started farming wine grapes on Howell Mountain in 1974 in partnership with Charles Muscatine. Their best known wine was an old vine zin made by Paul Draper. Muscatine's retirement resulted in the sale of that vineyard. Wishing to continue growing grapes, the search was on for a place to start over again. An old sheep ranch,without electrical power or water wells, dilapidated and full of decaying machinery, abandoned vehicles, bed springs and debris from squatters and poachers seemed an unlikely spot. But the rolling landscape, at the same elevation (2000 feet) and with the same soils as his previous vineyard, showed real potential for red wine varieties. What had been the headquarters of the old Rockpile Ranch became the new Rockpile Vineyard. Together Rod and Cathy set about the task of clean-up, fix up and farming. Rootstock was planted in the spring of '92, and budded to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot that fall. Subsequently we planted 4 clones of Syrah. In searching various historic records to learn the history of this property, we discovered that homesteader Tennessee Bishop had a mature vineyard here in 1872. Other discoveries showed that the ranch was once owned briefly by the cast of the Bonanza television series.
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