Our second winery stop was at Gundlach Bundschu – good luck trying to pronounce that name! It is the oldest continuously family-owned winery in California. It was founded by Jacob Gundlach in 1858 as Rhinefarm, with Charles Bundschu joining the company in 1868 – originally the farm in Sonoma was about 400 acres. It was renamed Gundlach Bundschu in 1894 and at the turn of the 20th century the company was producing about 250,000 cases of wine each year.
Up until that point the winery facility was located in San Francisco, but the production facilities and about a million gallons of wine were destroyed by the earthquake in 1906. They moved the production facility to Sonoma after the quake and then Prohibition hit.
During prohibition the winery closed its doors, and all but 130 acres of the farm were sold – the family managed to make a living selling grapes for juice and raising cattle. After prohibition, the farm began selling grapes to Inglenook, Almaden and then Louis Martini wineries, but didn’t reopen the winery until the 1970s.
The winery now produces about 25,000 cases total – I believe all their wines are estate grown. They have a huge tasting room with a gorgeous outdoor patio area; seems that they do a lot of events. Too bad it was too cold to sit outside and enjoy the view!
Gundlach Bundschu was a fun winery; our server was Columbian and he was super friendly. We tried Gewürztraminer, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. We both loved the Zin! It was fruit forward and balanced, without losing structure. There was a lot of pepper and spice on the Merlot, and the Chardonnay was a nice acidic wine with a light balanced oak on the back of the palate. The only wine I didn’t really like was the Gewürztraminer. I liked it at first taste – it was semi-sweet with citrus, but there was a floral finish on the back of the palate that didn’t appeal to me.
While we were there several other groups came in, and you can tell they have a loyal following. Which isn’t surprising, given the quality of the wine. What a fantastic visit!