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. With the generous help of many friends and neighbors, the vineyard was planted beginning in 2001 and construction of the winery and tasting room began in 2003.
In the summer of 2004, Elliot and Sherrie Graham culminated their dream by opening Busby Cellars. The Grahams were joined by resident winery dogs, Ruby and Guster, who joined us in 2011 and 2013, respectively. The vineyard now boasts 15 acres of premium winegrapes and the winery reached its maximum annual capacity of 2,000 cases consisting of over 15 varieties. Busby Cellars is proud to share hand-crafted and award-winning wines, modest prices, panoramic vineyard views, and hospitality with you, our valued customers.
Our mission at the winery is to produce elegant and flavorful wines of exceptional quality and exceptional value. At Busby Cellars, we pride ourselves on crafting wines which marry true varietal characteristics with the mountainous terroir of the Sierra Foothills. How do we do this? We believe that “keeping it small” is essential to the success of our wines. Our philosophy 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. Depending on the variety and style, each wine is aged in American and French Oak barrels for a period of 12 to 36 months. All of our hand-crafted wines are crushed, fermented, racked, blended, aged, and bottled at our facility, which reached its maximum annual capacity of 2,000 cases in 2006. Although Zinfandel reigns as King in the foothills, we enjoy all types of wine and produce over 15 different varieties including Rhone, Bordeaux, Spanish, and Italian varietals. Be sure to check out our shop page for details. Our award-winning wines are sold exclusively through the tasting room and online store and tend to sell out quickly. We welcome you to sample our wines and enjoy them with friends and family.
In 1999 we purchased a 34-arcre vineyard parcel consisting of nothing but pasture land, oak and pine trees, and a massive early-20th century historic barn. With little more than a dream and the willingness to painstakingly toil in the heat and dirt, we commenced vineyard development in fall 2000. We began by bringing in bulldozers to till the soil and building fences to keep the deer out. After building almost one mile of 8-foot high fence, we were just about ready to throw in the towel but managed to graduate to the next phase of installing irrigation. After spending almost all of our money on PVC pipe, we successfully buried more than five miles of pipe in the ground! While surviving on macaroni and cheese, top ramen, beans, and wine from our home-winemaking days, we laid out the trellis system for our first planting. Spring 2001 arrived along with 3,000 bare-root Zinfandel plants, which we planted with the generous help of wonderful friends and neighbors. We were now officially proud vineyard owners!
As we could afford, each year we added to the vineyard, which now consists of 15 acres planted to Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Tempranillo, Grenache, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Viognier, and Mourvedre. In 2005 we began dry-farming the Zinfandel vineyard, meaning we apply no water to the plants other than what mother nature provides. Dry farming rewarded us with intense and concentrated flavors, which we feel makes our Zinfandel stand out from the rest. The downside is reduced crop yields, but we feel the sacrifice is well worth it! In addition to dry-farming the Zin, we now practice deficit water management on the rest of the vineyard. This means we only provide the vines with enough water to survive and ripen fruit. Believe it or not, the stress on the vines makes for superior crop quality. resulting in full-bodied and flavorful wines.
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. At the winery, additional crop sorting is conducted to eliminate any leaves and unripened or unwanted clusters for fermentation. It may take a little longer, but we feel the extra effort in the vineyard results in full-bodied, balanced, flavorful wines.