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Vineyard Spotlight: Siebert Ranch

Siebert Ranch is the home vineyard for Ancient Oak Cellars.  It is a 31 acre ranch just outside the northern boundary of Santa Rosa, and on the eastern edge of the Russian River Valley AVA, as the hills rise to the Mayacamas. In 1956, Henry and Elizabeth Siebert bought the property, which had once been a part of the San Miguel Rancho, owned by Marcus (Mark) West and his wife Guadelupe Vasquez, who was the niece of General Vallejo.  The adobe for the rancho, and the school that they founded, were located less than two miles north/northwest.

Henry and Elizabeth Siebert, with Ken and Austin Moholt-Siebert

In 1993, Grandpa Henry said to his good friend Bob, who was a vineyard advisor, “I want to plant grapes here. Will you help me?”  Bob said, “Well Henry, you’re 80, and it takes a while to prepare and plant the land, and then at least 3 years to get a crop.” Henry said, “Well, what are we waiting for? We’d better stop talking and get to work then.”

Melissa, Ken, Austin, and Lucy Moholt-Siebert with Grandpa Henry, on Siebert Ranch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Henry and Elizabeth’s grandson Ken and his wife Melissa and their children visited often in those years, and learned from and helped Grandpa Henry.  When Henry died, they took over the vineyard, started farming it, and moved to the old farmhouse. The kids grew up roaming the oak-studded hills, catching frogs in the creeks, and helping with sheep shearing or canning, or vineyard and cellar work — so now four generations of the Siebert/Moholt-Siebert family have lived and worked on this land.

Ken, Lucy, Austin, and Melissa Moholt-Siebert with the new Kubota Tractor, on Siebert Ranch

Early in the morning of October 9th, the Tubbs Fire ripped through Siebert Ranch, leaving little in its wake. What was easy to see was what was clearly lost; what had been spared was harder to determine. The house, barns, truck, and other equipment was clearly lost. Many trees (including the ancient oak) and the vines were standing, but their health was not clear. By spring of 2018 it became clear that most of the trees had survived, with the exception of some that had been close to the house. With those, we cut them down and had a mobile sawmill come cut them into planks that will be used as tables or in a new building, or even (in one case) a handmade guitar. The ancient oak and most of her sisters have survived. Our vineyard will have to be replanted.

 

   

 

We are now in the process of pulling out vineyard stakes, replacing fences, trenching for plumbing and electrical lines, repairing electrical panels, and many, many, many other tasks that constitute “rebuilding”.  We plan to rebuild a house, although that project is taking the backseat to the work we need to do on the land.

      

 

We had harvested the Siebert Ranch Pinot (and all of our grapes for the vintage) before the fires, so we the 2017 is safely in barrel and will be bottled next spring. We have all other vintages in bottle. We will have to take 3 or more vintages off, and then our Siebert Ranch Pinot will return. More about our vineyard replanting plans another time.


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