header6

History

Early History

Native American Tribes include the Miwok, Pomo and Wappo who thrive on the area’s varied food sources and temperate climate  

1850 

Bennett Valley sees an influx of settlers who quickly took to farming the rich volcanic soils

1853

John Shakelford Taylor owned 2000 acres on what is now called Taylor Mountain

1854

James Bennett, for whom the valley is named, is elected to the state senate where he introduces a bill making Santa Rosa the county seat

1862

Isaac DeTurk plants grapevines on land he acquired from James Bennett and establishes the valley’s first winery, Belle Mount

1884

Bennett Valley becomes a highly productive agricultural and high-quality grape growing area

1890

Phylloxera devastates the vines in Bennett Valley

1920

Prohibition, coupled with the damage from phylloxera, ends grape growing in the valley

1933

The end of Prohibition sees grape growing returning to the valley

1977

Matanzas Creek Winery if founded, once again establishing Bennett Valley as a recognized wine growing region

2003

Bennett Valley is formally recognized as an American Viticultural Area (AVA)

2004

The Bennett Valley Grape Growers organization is formed with a commitment to making the valley a premier grape growing and winemaking area

 

Bennett Valley is nestled between three mountain peaks; Taylor Mountain to the west, Sonoma Mountain to the south, and Bennett Peak to the east. The accumulation of ash on the valley floor from these now dormant volcanos has made Bennett Valley a perfect place for growing premium wine grapes.  Long before that however the Valley was home to many Native Americans  including the Miwok, Pomo and the Wappo tribes.  By the early part of the 19th century, both Spanish settlers from the south and Russian settlers from the north were pushing their way into Sonoma County.  Following the Bear Flag Revolt in 1946 and the Gold Rush in 1849, large numbers of people began arriving in California.

 

In the early 1850's, Bennett Valley saw an influx of settlers who quickly took to farming.  The few remaining Indians soon disappeared and the region became a highly productive agricultural region.  In 1949 Bennett Valley’s population (approx. 300) was engaged in farming activities that produced such crops as grapes, apples, hay, wheat, oats, barley, and all types of animal husbandry. In 1862 a man named Isaac DeTurk grew grapes on land he acquired from James N. Bennett and built a winery at the base of Bennett Peak which he named Belle Mount.  Sadly, in the 1890's grape vines were attacked and destroyed by phylloxera. Coupled with the passage of prohibition laws, grape growing pretty much died in the valley and the land was used for other agricultural purposes.

The original settlers who founded Bennett Valley may be gone, but their legacy lives on in many structures still present in the Valley today. Driving down Grange road you will find the oldest standing active Grange Hall in the United States. Built in 1873 from the cooperative efforts of Bennett Valley neighbors, the Grange Hall stands as a monument to community strength and unity. To this day residents of Bennett Valley congregate at the Grange informative community forums and local celebrations.  The Bennett Valley Grape Growers hold their meetings at the Grange Hall as farmers before have for more than 135 years.

 

A new group of “settlers” began to emerge in the 1980s with the intent to once again make Bennett Valley a region known for its grape growing and production of top quality wines. Through a commitment to the land, a willingness to try new approaches and a cooperative grape growing culture the wines coming from Bennett Valley have a focus and personality unlike any growing region in California. Bennett Valley was officially recognized as an American Viticultural Area in 2003. 

 

Flannigans-3-web

foggy-knoll-vineyard