In 1971, Davis acquired vineyard land in the Napa Valley, near St. Helena. After unsuccess-fully attempting to build a winery on the property in 1973 (due to a moratorium on new winery construction by the Napa county planning commission), the Bynum Family -- Davis' wife Dorothy, son Hampton and daughter Susan -- purchased the 83-acre River Bend Ranch in the Russian River Valley in Sonoma County. On the property was a 1950's hop kiln which the Bynum Family converted into the winery and permanent home. "A friend convinced us to come over to the Russian River Valley. You can grow better grapes there anyway," Bynum chuckled.
In the first few years of operation at the new winery, grapes were hauled over from Napa and crushed along with local Russian River Valley fruit. This ended when the Napa property was sold off in 1976. During this period, the Bynum Family made their first pinot noir -- the 1973 Davis Bynum Pinot Noir from the Rochioli Vineyard was the first ever pinot to carry a Russian River designation.
Today, Davis Bynum Winery crushes about 250 to 275 ton of grapes annually (which makes about 15,000 cases of wine), bottling premium varietals under the Davis Bynum label. It is still family oriented: Davis oversees the vineyards and finances, though he now leaves winemaking decisions in the capable hands of Gary Farrell. His son, Hampton, oversees the daily operations at the winery as well as sales, and is responsible for product development. During harvest, Hampton helps with winemaking. Dorothy, Davis' wife, oversees the landscaping and a building improvement program. View all Davis Bynum Wines
About Russian RiverView a map of Russian River wineries
The Russian River Valley is named as such due to its proximity to the Russian River, the river itself named for the Russian fur traders who came down from Alaska in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The Russian River is agricultural land. While there is a focus on wine, beyond the vineyards are many small, family-owned farms cultivating everything from cattle to Christmas trees.
Notable FactsThe proximity of this cool river and the rolling fogs from the Pacific Ocean make the area amenable to cool-climate grapes like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. In fact, the region is quite known for its full-bodied, yet elegant Pinot Noir, as well as their ripe, yet lean Chardonnays. Within Russian River Valley lie the smaller appellations of Chalk Hill and Green Valley. Chalk Hill is the warmer of the two and furthest from the ocean, while Green Valley is cooler and closer to the water.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.