After two weeks without power and water due to the wildfires that swept through wine country, Nicholson Ranch is once again welcoming guests. We chatted with founder/winemaker Deepak Gulrajani about how his winery fared, and what visitors to Sonoma can expect now.
Deepak, how was Nicholson Ranch affected by the fires?
The flames came close, but fortunately we didn’t have damage to the building except for a little bit to one corner of the structure. Our biggest issue was loss of power, and our water well system had to be replaced and recertified for safety.
What about the vineyards?
About five acres were scorched. We won’t know how many will come back until next year, but our grapes were already harvested so there’s no smoke taint.
How has the wine community come together to support each other?
The winemaking community in Sonoma has always been about sharing knowledge, in regular and unusual situations. We don’t harbor a secret sauce, we discuss with other vineyard people.
How did you get started in wine making?
I started as a home winemaker 25 years ago. I did it with a group of friends for about 10 years. Once I got into making wine commercially I learned from the pros. We planted the vineyard in 1995 and I started making wine full time in 2008. I’m still the winemaker here, and I love doing it. For me it’s about learning, tasting, observing.
What has changed for you?
We’ve gone to organic farming in the last five years with the goal of producing better fruit with better flavor for wine. My winemaking style is minimal intervention—natural yeast, no filtration, no chemicals. We use a little sulfite for aging.
What wines are you known for?
We do a great Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Over the years they’ve won many awards. Nicholson Ranch is a small estate winery producing 5,000 to 6,000 cases a year. We make wine from the grapes we grow, from start to finish, and sell it right here. Our wines are only available at the winery.
How long have you been working with Green Dream Tours?
We’ve been welcoming their groups for about three years now. I like talking with guests in the tasting room, explaining our wines and answering questions.
What do you want people to know now?
Wine country is back—we’re up and running. The fires are behind us. Air quality is excellent. The fire may actually help the vines by adding nutrients produced by the ash.
The way to help wine country is to come back and visit!