A storied past, an exciting present, and a bright future

When Frank and Antonia Bartholomew purchased, in 1943, the property that is now Bartholomew Park and Bartholomew Estate Winery, they had no idea that there was so much wine history there. It was the location of the oldest winery in Sonoma, Buena Vista, and once had vineyards planted by pioneering California viticulturist Agoston Haraszthy.

They replanted the vineyards and restored the winery, which had lain dormant since phylloxera destroyed most of the vines in the late 19th century. Through a combination of hard work, determination, and luck, they made a success of it, selling off the winery portion of the property in 1968, but keeping the vineyards. These they then used for a second winery, Hacienda, which they built inside the old hospital building on the property, the same building that now houses our winery.

It was also a success, and was also eventually sold, but this time, only the brand changed hands; the Bartholomews retained the winery building and, of course, the historic vineyards. For this project they hired Steve MacRostie to be their Winemaker, and Steve, many years later, selected Kevin Holt to be the Winemaker for Steve’s own winery.  The fact that Kevin is now the Winemaker here at Bartholomew Estate shows how the cycles of Sonoma winemaking go, from hand to hand.

The vineyards themselves have gone through many planting cycles; grapevines don’t last forever, and none of the original vines remain. The grape varieties have changed over the years as well—there is no longer any of the Riesling or Sylvaner that the Bartholomews planted. But we do still have Cabernet Sauvignon, which they put in, and, of course, Zinfandel, some of which they had discovered hidden in the weeds when they walked the property.

To these we have added Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah, both of which do very well in this soil and climate. While we use modern trellising for most of the vines, we have resolutely stuck with the traditional head-training method for our Zinfandel. This not only gives them the look they must have had when the land was first planted in the 1850’s, but has a practical benefit as well: Zin often produces better wine when grown that way.

With the current vines fully mature, having been planted between 1998 and 2006, and our new winemaking partnership, Bartholomew Estate is poised to enter the finest years of winemaking ever in its long and distinguished history.  We look forward to you joining us on the adventure.

Bartholomew Park

Our vineyards are owned by the Frank H. Bartholomew Foundation, which operates and manages Bartholomew Park, a beautiful green oasis located just northeast of the town of Sonoma, CA.  For more information about the park itself, please click the on the link below.

Foundation Website