The afternoon breeze blows in from the Bay like clockwork. It surely greeted the young Lt. Mariano G. Vallejo as he passed through on June, 1834, on his way to secularize the Mission San Francisco Solano de Sonoma, last and north most of the 21 California missions. Vallejo established the town of Sonoma that was for many years, socially and politically superior to Yerba Buena, the little town 50 miles south now called San Francisco.
The land on which Larson Family Winery now sits, was once the Embarcadero, the farthest navigable point up Sonoma Creek from the San Francisco Bay, and the bustling gateway to Sonoma Valley. Where the grapes now ripen, small craft landed European visitors as early as 1823. Passengers and freight bound for Sonoma transferred here from sloops and schooners to horse and ox-drawn carriages and wagons for the ride to the Plaza.
Beginning in 1847, steamboats docked here and turned around for the voyage back to San Francisco. It was a steamboat captain named Stoffen, who built the Civil War-era farmhouse now a vacation rental and known as A Captain’s House. Tom Larson’s great grandfather, Michael Millerick, bought the house and 120 acres of land in 1899. He raised primarily dairy cattle.
From 1929 to the early 1950's, the Sonoma Rodeo was held on the Millerick Ranch. The largest and longest-running rodeo in the Bay Area, it was the event of the year in Sonoma. Up to 8,000 people filled the stands, and thousands dined on beef roasted in underground pits. Each year the rodeo began with a "trail drive" -- down the highway and into the arena came a string of 50 bucking horses, all carrying the Millerick's famous Circle M brand. World champion and hall of fame cowboys competed, but the locals held their own; one year vintner August Sebastiani won a roping trophy.
In 1977 Tom and his father Bob, planted the first Chardonnay vines to make home wine and gradually the 40 acres of grapes produced more wine than they could drink – hence the slogan, “We drink what we can, and sell the rest!” In 1988 Tom earned his degree in fermentation science from the University of California at Davis and the winery was founded that same year.
Larson Family Winery 23355 Millerick Road Sonoma CA 95476 (707) 938-3031