On a rainy spring day, the Coombsville Vintners and Growers (CVG) invited an elite group of wine lovers and industry insiders to an exclusive panel in honor of the debut of the AVA’s Vinous map. The discussion, which examined the past, present, and future of Coombsville, was moderated by Lauren Ackerman and featured an illustrious group of the AVA’s who’s who, including John Caldwell, Tom Farella, Paul Hobbs, Alison Rodriguez, and Harvest Duhig. Antonio Galloni, the founder of Vinuos and creator of the AVA’s new vineyard map, also joined the group for the fascinating conversation.

From left to right: Lauren Ackerman, John Caldwell, Tom Farella, and Alison Rodriguez. Photography by Elan Villamor.

“We're going to make this kind of a fun program and go back and forth,” Ackerman said at the panel’s start. “We’re talking about why people came to Coombsville in the first place, a little bit about what's going on in the vineyards today, and then what the future looks like for this wonderful AVA.” She briefly described each participant’s accomplishments before handing the microphone to one of the region’s pioneers, Caldwell, to discuss Coombsville’s history. In 1980, Caldwell purchased 34 acres of Coombsville land. Why did he pick Coombsville? The area was mostly farmland and not highly populated. “The land was cheap at that time, and nobody could pronounce Coombsville; I mean, nobody knew where we were, right?” Caldwell reminisced. 

From left to right: Paul Hobbs, Antonio Galloni, and Harvest Duhig. Photography by Elan Villamor.

Farella was one of a handful of vintners who knew about Coombsville because his father, Frank, acquired a 56-acre parcel in 1977 and planted Cabernet Sauvignon in 1979. Initially, the Farellas sold fruit to winemakers like Robert Mondavi, where Hobbs worked early in his career. “We were bringing in Farella fruit, and this would be the late '70s, early '80s, while I was an apprentice winemaker,” he remembered. “And, of course, all of us would have the opportunity to taste all the different lots. We kept each union separate, each block separate, and so on and so forth. And Farella’s fruit always would rise to the top in the tasting.” The area quietly became known for its superb grapes, and in 1985, the Farellas established their namesake vineyard. 

Photography by Elan Villamor.

In 1991, several vintners, including Caldwell and Farella, came together to discuss forming an AVA, but the meeting resulted in nothing. So how did Coombsville finally become an AVA twenty years later? Watch the panel’s video and hear Farella’s story, along with commentary from Rodriguez, Duhig, and Galloni that touches on the exciting future of the region. As Galloni says, “This is not a moment of arrival. It's a moment of beginning."

Watch the video now!

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