Sustainably Farmed Vineyard   Gustafson Vineyards  Estate Wines Like No Other

Our Story

In the spring of 2002, while driving with his family between Healdsburg and the California coast, Dan Gustafson, a landscape architect and real estate developer, discovered a hidden gem in the mountains above Lake Sonoma. He pulled his car to the side of the road, peered over the fence, and explained to his family that this would be a perfect place to grow grapes. Dan saw his dream of planting his own vineyard come true that year with the purchase of those 87 acres in the Dry Creek Valley appellation of Sonoma County.

  Scroll down to view our milestones.

Lifelong Vision

land   2002

Dan Gustasfon, a landscape architect and real estate developer based in Minneapolis, had a lifelong dream of developing an estate vineyard. He had studied California's Sea Ranch as young landscape architect, and during his time there, had developed a natural affinity for the rugged mountains of western Sonoma County.

Dream Realized

land
2002

In the spring of 2002, Dan discovered an undeveloped 87-acre parcel along Skaggs Springs Rd. Dan peered over the fence, and explained to his family that this would be a perfect place to grow grapes. Dan saw his dream come true that year with the purchase of those 87 acres in Dry Creek Valley. The old sheep ranch, at 1800 feet above sea level, has rich, red volcanic soil known for producing superb wine grapes.

Vineyard Planting

land   2004

The land had previously been cleared to pasture sheep, and in the spring of 2004, Dan planted 5 acres of vines within those existing clearings. The first five acres included Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and a small olive grove. Dan oversaw the vineyard planting from a vintage Airstream situated near the iconic Heritage Tree.

Stewards of the Land

land   2004

Great care was taken to preserve old groves of madrone, oak, and redwood trees, including the "Sonoma County Heritage Tree." This 300-year-old madrone has a trunk diameter of eleven feet and is thought to be the largest madrone tree in Sonoma County, and perhaps the entire state of California.

Estate Expansion

land   2005

Construction began on the estate residence, which was designed by architect Tim Bjella and built by general contractor Grant Lane. A second round of planting added 7 acres to the estate vineyard, including Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petite Verdot.

First Harvest

land   2006

The Gustafson Family enjoyed their first harvest of Zinfandel and Petite Sirah from the young estate vineyard, and the grapes were custom crushed at Mauritson winery. Dan also expanded the mountain estate with the purchase of an adjacent 160 acre parcel, which included a ranch home for our future winemaker.

Winemaker Emmett Reed

land   2007

Winemaker Emmett Reed was hired in the summer of 2007 in preparation for the first estate crush. Winery tanks and equipment were installed just weeks before the harvest and the barrel cellar was constructed underneath the estate residence.

First Estate Harvest

Estate Home   2007

The young estate vineyard yielded a beautiful 32-ton harvest of Zinfandel, Syrah, Petite Sirah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Owner Dan Gustafson doubled as Winemaker Emmett Reed's "cellar intern." All of the 2007 vintages went on to score 90+ points in the Wine Enthusiast.

Final Estate Plantings

Tasting Room   2008

An additional 12 acres were added to the estate vineyard, including Zinfandel on our beautiful Picnic Ridge and Riesling & Sauvignon Blanc in the remote Summit View Block. Vineyard plantings are now complete at 20 acres; varietals of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, and Rosé of Syrah.

Ecological Preserve

Wine
  2008

The balance of the land will remain as an ecological preserve. The 200+ acre preserve is characterized by old growth madrone and manzanita, several of California's native oak species, and isolated strands of redwoods. The preserve is home to many of California's wild and beautiful creatures, including bobcats, rattlesnakes, wild turkeys, red-tailed hawks, and wild boar.

Winery Dog

Wine   2008

Construction on the estate home neared completion, and Emmett produced the first vintage of our famously delicious Estate Rosé of Syrah. Emmett and his wife Jessi also adopted Rampage, the world's best winery dog, from a local shelter.

Tasting Room

Estate Home   2009

The original Estate Tasting Room opened just weeks before Passport to Dry Creek Valley, in a cozy converted garage that doubled as our winery storage facility. Winemaker Emmett Reed recruited his sister, Kaitlin Childers, to manage the Tasting Room and the growing Wine Club. The proximity to the winery allowed our guests a behind-the-scenes look at the estate winemaking process.

First Big Break

Estate Tasting Room 2010

The 2007 Estate Petite Sirah & 2007 Estate Zinfandel were awarded 92 points in the Wine Enthusiast, and the 2007 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon earned a fantastic 90 points. Our Summit View block produced its first harvest of Estate Sauvignon Blanc and Estate Riesling, and the 2010 Estate Riesling won a double gold in the International Eastern Wine Competition.

Vineyard Replanting

Estate Home   2011

A small slide on the lower slopes of our Picnic Ridge block was replanted from Zinfandel to Syrah. The new Syrah planting, which is characterized by cool temperatures and afternoon shade, is dedicated to the production of our popular Estate Rosé of Syrah. The additional planting takes our Rosé production from a mere 100 cases in 2008 to almost 300 cases by 2013.

Developing a Reputation for Excellence

Estate Tasting Room 2012

Our estate tasting room steadily developed a reputation for excellent wines, beautiful views, and friendly hospitality. Additional tasting hours by appointment were added for Friday - Monday, and the Picnic Area became a year-round attraction for Wine Club Members and their guests.

Estate Vacation Rental

Estate Home   2012

The estate residence opened to the public as a vacation rental, offering our guests world-class luxury and a behind the scenes look at our estate vineyard and winery. The popular estate residence is now available year-round via VRBO.

New Faces

Estate Tasting Room 2013

The Estate Tasting Room expanded into its current location in late 2013, and Sharon Garber joined our hospitality team to welcome the increasing weekend traffic. Vanessa Ramirez joined our production team as Emmett's harvest intern, and her knack for hospitality made her a natural fit for our Tasting Room as well.

Hospitality Milestones

Estate Home   2013

Gustafson welcomed 900+ guests during the annual WDCV Passport Weekend, up from 300 guests in 2009. Guests left the event with rave reviews and cases of our estate wines.

Healdsburg Tasting Room

Estate Tasting Room 2014

Dan Gustafson opened the new downtown Healdsburg tasting room at 34 North St. The new location presents our estate wines in a cosmopolitan setting, and features a private VIP tasting room. Vanessa Ramirez began to split her time between the cellar and our tasting room, and Julie Lynn Jette joined our Passport team.