Many people have asked us why and how we began our venture into the wine business. (Many times, we ask ourselves the same question!) It has been a long, hard process, but it has also been extremely rewarding, and it gives us great pleasure to share our story with you.
Founded in 1999, proprietors Sherrie and Elliot Graham purchased a picturesque 34-acre parcel of rolling hills and sprawling oak and pine trees. The property, which is a portion of the old Meyer’s Ranch, was bare with the exception of a historic barn, once a notable stopping point for miners to change horses en route to Placerville.
The Grahams’ dream of owning and operating a vineyard and winery was born in the early nineties, when Sherrie worked as a retail wine manager and buyer. Like many enthusiasts of Sierra Foothills wines, Elliot and Sherrie first explored Napa and Sonoma before discovering the splendor of El Dorado County. By this time, Sherrie was working as an advertising executive and Elliot worked in sales in Sacramento. A three-year search for the “perfect” property followed, before finally finding and purchasing part of Meyer’s Ranch on Grizzly Flat Road in Somerset. Both left their jobs, relocated, and concentrated their efforts on transforming the barren property into their dream of a home, land, vineyard, and winery.
Soon thereafter, the Grahams painstakingly planted their first vineyard, 5 ½ acres of Zinfandel. Additional plantings of Petite Sirah, Grenache, Tempranillo, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Mourvedre, and Viognier were carefully selected with nothing but the finished wine in mind. The vineyard now consists of 15 acres situated on rolling hillsides at an altitude of 2,500 feet, providing the ideal location for premium wine grape growing. With the generous help of many friends and neighbors, the winery and tasting room were constructed atop a knoll overlooking the vineyard property. The tasting room opened July 2004.
Our philosophy at Busby Cellars is that most of the winemaking occurs in the vineyard. From the beginning of each growing season to harvest and beyond, every plant is cared for individually. Pruning, canopy management, and crop thinning is determined through ongoing assessment of each grapevine at every stage of the season. In his role as both vineyard manager and winemaker, Elliot can assure that only the best fruit makes it to the winery at crush. At the winery, additional crop sorting is conducted to eliminate any leaves and unripened or unwanted clusters for fermentation. Our mission at the winery is to impart as little energy as possible to the young wine. Fermentation occurs in small lots, usually not exceeding one ton in each tank. Manual punch-downs assure the gentle handling of each wine as it is carefully guided through fermentation. Pumping of the wine is kept to a minimum, and gravity is used whenever possible to transfer the wine into barrel.
With the special attention provided throughout the growing and winemaking process, we craft elegant wines which marry true varietal characteristics with our mountainous terroir.