Keeping an eye out for Bucher Farms, I drove along Westside Road in Healdsburg, California. In honor of their new tasting room at Grand Cru Custom Crush, John and Diane Bucher had invited an intimate group of wine and travel bloggers to an afternoon at their vineyard estate. I was among the lucky few to attend.
The sight of cows (many cows) was a telling sign that I had arrived to Bucher Farms/Vineyards. I followed a dirt road passed a couple barns to a brick house displaying an American and Swiss flag. I was immediately intrigued to learn about the history and people behind this family winery.
As I walked to the patio at the back of the house, I was greeted by a chummy yellow lab and a birds-eye view of Russian River Valley. Diane Bucher emerged from the open screened door with a bottle of their 2017 Unoaked Chardonnay in hand. Each guest was handed a glass to cheers as we became acquainted with one another.
As canapés were passed and bottles of rosé were opened, Diane used a laminated map to demonstrate the geographical features of Bucher Farms, which has been in her husband, John Bucher’s family for 60 years. The farm includes a 360-acre organic dairy with 700 milk cows and 38 acres of sustainably-farmed Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards. Thirty-six of the 38 acres are dedicated to several clones of Pinot Noir, with the famous Pommard Clone being one of them.
Wine bottles in hand, Diane led the party down to the tree-shaded yard below. A table was set for ten and although the prospect of a delicious lunch was on the horizon, something else was grabbing our attention at the moment. A two-day old calf from the Bucher Dairy Farm laid quietly in the grass, as if waiting for the adoration it was about to receive. I say ‘it’ because this newborn cow was nameless until we provided one…Emilio.
A parade of food platters descended the stairs and were placed family-style along the table. We found our seats as the gracious hosts refilled wine glasses. John and Diane presented a toast, thanking their guests for joining them on this gorgeous summer day. We clinked our glasses of Bucher Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and the lunching began.
The table was full of tasty Chardonnay and Pinot Noir pairings from Ken Rochioli of KR Catering such as pork meatballs in tomato sauce, mango lettuce wraps, zucchini linguini pasta salad, and fried chicken sliders. The food was delicious but the shining star was Bucher’s collection of wines. We tasted and compared three different Pinot Noirs from the 2015 vintage.
My absolute favorite was the 2015 Three Sixty Pinot Noir, a reserve wine with a special meaning to the Bucher Family. The wine is named after the original 360 acres of ranch that was purchased by John’s parents in 1958. To this day, the land remains fully intact, having never been sold or divided. The Buchers describe the wine as a way to “pay homage to John’s parents, the land itself and the fruit.”
During a lull in conversation caused by the lavish amount of food and wine we were consuming, John shared the captivating story of his family’s history, which begins in Switzerland. His parents, Joe and Annemarie, immigrated to California from Lucerne in the 1950s. Joe grew up on a dairy and comes from a line of farmers. After World War II, Joe’s older brother inherited the family farm which prompted Joe to venture to America where he believed there was more opportunity to own a farm of his own. After seven years of working in agriculture and gardening, Joe fell in love with the Russian River Valley area and found his family’s forever home with the purchase of a 360 acre-dairy farm and 50 cows. Today, the farm’s herd has grown to 700, all descendants from the original cattle.
The afternoon sun was scaling the sky so we said our goodbyes to Emilio the calf who was being led back to the barn. We were taking a break before dessert by walking the yard and watching the tractor hedge the vineyards in the near distance. Our sweet ending was an individual mason jar filled with blackberry trifle and a luscious custard cream, topped with a decorative summer flower.
Without skipping a beat in the conversations, we all moved our lawn chairs from the shade to the sun as the wind picked up. Here was a circle of ten people, who before lunch didn’t know one another. Somehow the beauty of storytelling, a farm fresh lunch, and world class Russian River Valley wines can bring a group of strangers together. When it was time to say my goodbyes Diane hugged me and extended an invite to me along with all my readers (yes, you!) to join her again.
Bucher Wines offers private tours of their vineyard by reservation from March through November, with limited availability during the harvest season. Be sure to also inquire about visiting the Bucher’s new tasting room in Grand Cru Custom Crush in Windsor, California. Tell them I (Girl with Glass) sent you to receive a VIP experience.
Big thanks to Emily Martin from Emily Martin Communications and Events for planning such a spectacular day for us wine lovers!
I market, photograph, write about, and (mostly) drink wine.