High Tech & History at New Foothills Winery
May 27, 2011
By Jon Tourney, Wines & Vines
Fair Play, Calif.—Skinner Vineyards officially opened its new tasting room and “green” technology winery in the Fair Play AVA of California’s Sierra Foothills last weekend. Mike and Carey Skinner purchased the 67-acre property in 2007. Ranging in elevation from 2,300 to 2,750 feet, the property, known as Stoney Creek vineyard, includes original blocks of Syrah and Viognier planted by the previous owner in 2000. The vineyard now has 20 acres planted with Rhône varieties that also include Grenache, Mourvèdre, Carignane, Counoise, Petite Sirah, Grenache Blanc and Picpoul Blanc.
The winery project culminates a quest to revive the Skinner family legacy in El Dorado County, which dates to the Gold Rush, when Mike’s great-great-great grandfather James Skinner arrived in search of gold. James purchased property in western El Dorado County near Rescue along the Pony Express Trail in the 1850s. He planted grapevines, and by 1861 started one of the first commercial wineries in the area, known as J Skinner Native Wine and Brandy. The winery and Skinner Ranch operated until the early 1900s.
A century later, Mike, Carey and their son Ryan began researching the family history, which led them to the original ranch near Rescue where they purchased 25 acres. To date, the Skinners have planted 13 acres with Rhône varieties and Zinfandel at this 1,400-foot- elevation site, now known as White Oak Flat vineyard.