Set in the coastal mountain hamlet of Comptche, the Comptche Ridge Vineyard epitomizes the best of Mendocino County - redwood and fern strewn valleys, rolling vineyards highlands, breathtaking views, secluded yet accessible and all located in temperate year round climate.
Originally homesteaded in the late 1800s by Finnish immigrants seeking sunlit meadows and ridge tops to plant their orchards and graze their livestock, the ranch provided the sustainable backdrop for generations of Johnsons. Besides what they farmed, the ranch provided a rich bounty of resources: steelhead & coho salmon in the year round creeks, deer, bear and other game in the surrounding woods and redwood and hardwood species to both build and burn. In 1996, the Weir brothers, John and Mark, seeking a refuge to raise their Family away from the bright lights and chaos of the Bay Area, bought two adjacent ranch parcels with John’s ranch being 160 acres Comptche Ridge Vineyard.
Only remnants were left of the original homestead and almost all had to be constructed from scratch. The brothers aimed to create structures harmonious with their surroundings resulting in residences, studios, barns and other outbuildings feeling more like and integral part of the environment they occupy. Redwood and open beam construction bring the depth of outside into the buildings to give an ample sense of space, while partially covered deck with big mountain vistas allows one to soak in the ambience of nature itself. Pathways lead you between the main residence, yoga studio, office and guest house while rolling vineyards invite you to stroll their maze of rows. Leaving the mountain enclave behind, the internal road systems winds you down through redwood and fir forests to the convergence of Johnson Creek, Sheep Creek and John Smith Creek. Trails shoot off from the main road offering endless possibilities for the more adventure oriented on 160 acres nature preserve - backing up against Mendocino Redwood Company’s 100,000+ acres of private land further assures this property will continue to be a wildlife sanctuary unburdened by development.
The John realizing he had something special, next sought to make the land produce. Seeing the success of Pinot Noir in Anderson Valley, he thought the ranch could do all of that plus some and went about preparing the ridge tops for planting. Using four proven clones - Swan, 115, 828 & 667 and planting close spacing the first acre and half of Pinot Noir was planted in 2000 (8 X 4 panting for approx. 1000 vines) and then an additional 2 1/2 acres were planted in 2006 (6 X 4 planting fro approx. 4500 vines). A relationship was struck somewhere in this period between winemakers Anthony Filiberti, Webster Marquez and David Low of Anthill Farms and the John Weir. There was a common recognition amongst the parties that what was being produced here was notably distinct and superb in quality and taste from other nearby regions. There efforts into turning the fruit into something has paid off dearly. Today there is a waiting list for the wine.
Besides the commercial vineyard, Comptche Ridge Vineyard is also zoned TPZ (timber preserve zone) benefiting the owner by reducing the property tax liability. There currently is an NTMP (Non-Industrial Timber Management Plan) on the ranch allowing for long term management of the redwood and Douglas fir timber stands which in turn allows for sustainable timber harvesting or allows for a basis to establish carbon credit bank.
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