During those early years, Cecil continued his “day job” as an SF firefighter while he and Christine delved into their new roles as grape growers. They took classes both at Santa Rosa Junior College and UC Davis, read everything about grape growing and winemaking that they could get their hands on, and availed themselves of the generous mentoring offered by neighboring growers and vintners; many of whom had tended the area’s “old vines” for decades.
A Pioneering Wine Family
In 1973, the De Loach family became the first to plant Pinot Noir on Olivet Road when they purchased a second vineyard property not far from their Barbieri Ranch. The 17-acre site, still has Old Vine Zinfandel (planted in the 1880s) and the De Loaches planted to Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Gewurztraminer, would later become home to the family’s first winery De Loach Vineyards. By the time De Loach Vineyards opened its doors in 1975, Cecil and Christine had emerged as leaders of the Russian River Valley movement, and were among the first to use that designation on their labels. Cecil and Christine were founding members of the Sonoma County Winery Co-op, with Cecil going on to become president of the group.
Both Cecil and Christine have served as board members for Sonoma County Vintners, California Wine Institute and Sonoma County Vintners Co-Op. Christine and other members of Sonoma County Vintners that worked tirelessly to research and petition the TTB for Russian River Valley’s appellation status, which was granted in 1983. The De Loach’s also championed the site-sensitive and environmentally friendly farming practices – including the use of nutrient-rich cover crops and beneficial insects, birds and biologics – that today comprise “sustainable farming”. In fact, Christine went on to help draft the first California Code of Sustainable Winegrowing in 1999.