Photography by Chris Hardy
Picture this: It is the most perfect summer day in the wine country. The sky is a deep shade of powder blue with not a cloud in sight. The slight balmy breeze beckons for a trip into the town of St. Helena. Driving north from San Francisco, one of the first welcoming sights upon entering the south side of the town is the newly opened Long Meadow Ranch Winery & Farmstead. You and your sweetie pull in for an afternoon of wining, dining, and seasonal market and organic nursery shopping—an agenda that will surely breed romance in a way that only the wine country can do.
Another Sip Please
First stop on the property should be a visit to the winery’s new tasting room. The renovated barn doors officially swung open on December 28, 2009, and at the time of our interview with Chris Hall, vice president of sales, had only been welcoming guests for four days. While the only advertising for the space was a new sign out front, in those four days, the family-run Long Meadow Ranch Winery had already greeted nearly 200 patrons eager to sneak a peek at what the Halls had in store for wine country enthusiasts.
“We’ve had a great response from the local community,” Hall explains, detailing the renovation of the dilapidated farmhouse that previously occupied the property. “For the local community, it has been a change in the looks of the south part of the town; it’s not a broken-down old house anymore. It’s a beautifully restored building.”
The farmhouse that he is referring to was an eyesore that the Halls restored to reflect its former 19th-century gothic-revival glory. During the renovation process, they salvaged wainscoting, restored an old fireplace, and installed a large bar counter made of cherry wood stained in a shade of dark espresso. They also restored a portion of the original flooring and upgraded to a commercial kitchen in order to prepare organic cuisine made using ingredients from their 600-acre ranch, a perfect complement to their wines.
Long Meadow Ranch Winery primarily produces cabernet sauvignon and sauvignon blanc, with a few smaller productions of merlots, sangiovese, a red table wine called Ranch House Red, and a reserve cabernet named in honor of the original founder of the 140-year-old ranch property, E.J. Church Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve.
“The unique quality of the wines from Long Meadow Ranch Winery differs from many of our neighbors in that we have a very moderate alcohol content,” says Hall. He explains that this was an intentional decision when planting the 78 acres of grapes on vineyard sites that are 1,100 feet above sea level in the hills. “This means that our wines are well balanced and have elegant styles that are food-friendly and meant to be complementary to meals.”