More Than 140 Years of Winegrowing
A Farm & Vineyard with Deep Roots
In the Beginning
The Onastis tribe—also known as the “Wappo”—inhabited this region for some 10,000 years prior to the arrival of Spanish and Mexican explorers and missionaries in 1823. In the ensuing years, military aggression and the ravages of European disease drove off the majority of the native population.
Edward Turner Bale, an English doctor of questionable character and skills, received an 18,000-acre Mexican land grant covering this part of the Napa Valley and gave it the macabre name “Rancho Carne Humana.” Bale died shortly after the conclusion of the Mexican-American War, leaving his Mexican widow to battle the American court system to hold onto a few parcels for her daughters. Homesteaders settled on the remaining land.
A homesteader named A.H. Gibbons sold his 122-acre tract to Charles Scheggia, a Swiss-born saloon owner and wine merchant in San Francisco. Scheggia cut terraces, planted Zinfandel and Riesling vines, and built a winery from stone quarried on the property.
A fire destroyed the winery and phylloxera was ravaging the Napa Valley’s vines. So Scheggia began selling the property’s precious rhyolite stone, a sought-after construction material. The stone—like that shown here, in the old winery entrance—was likely quarried by Chinese laborers. These workers were poorly treated and subject to discriminatory laws in the Napa Valley, but made a massive mark on the region. They are thought to have built this estate’s signature stone terraces and dug an impressive half-mile-long water pipeline.
Emile Werle, another San Francisco saloon owner, acquired the property as a payoff for a sizable bar debt. The timing was propitious for Werle, who closed his Market Street tavern at the start of Prohibition. Calling upon skills he had learned in the wine business back in his homeland of Alsace, he planted hearty grape varieties that could withstand train travel, and shipped fruit to home winemakers, earning a nice profit.
For four decades, the Werle family would use the property as a hunting camp (as seen in this 1949 photo) while farming Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon vines with oxen and mules. In 1960, they would turn their attention to earning more income off the ranch, reestablishing quarry operations and also planting a Christmas tree farm.
Wayne Hogue, a director at Caymus Vineyards, learned that Caymus founder Charlie Wagner had been quietly buying outstanding Zinfandel from the Werle ranch since the 1950s. Hogue bought a 21-acre vineyard parcel from the Werles and planted it to cuttings from his friend Dick Grace. In 1985, after years of selling fruit, Hogue launched an estate label, The Terraces.
Scouting for vineyard property, the Crull family stumbled upon the old Werle ranch. It was a run-down, overgrown 88-acre property with dilapidated buildings, but the old vines, the stone terraces, and the unusual soil type indicated its potential. They purchased it and set to work, replanting vine rows with help from Beringer Vineyards, selling fruit, and eventually releasing wines under the Quarry Vineyards label.
The Crulls purchased Wayne Hogue’s vineyard plot, reuniting the pieces of the original Werle ranch, and expanding their burgeoning winemaking efforts under The Terraces label. They restored the old stone winery on the property two years later.
For more than 140 years, The Terraces has been continuously growing high-quality wine grapes. The Terraces label, now more than 35 years old, continues a tradition of winemaking on the property that dates back to 1881.
A Family Winery
Meet the Team
Timm was born in Cincinnati Ohio, into a truly Midwestern family. His father’s career moves took him to Boston, New York, and Southern California during my childhood. After graduating from the University of California, Berkeley in engineering and economics, he spent a decade working at IBM. Later, he founded Watermark Press, a graphic arts business in San Francisco.
Timm’s love of food and wine started back at Berkeley in the now-famous “gourmet ghetto” and morphed into many years spent as a home winemaker. He was lucky to get a piece of Rutherford in 1993, at which point his days as a farmer began. He feels like he’s “living the dream” as both the vineyard manager and winemaker for The Terraces. When not growing grapes and making wine, he loves to spend time cooking, making things in his shop and tinkering in his gardens.
A Communal Effort
When we got our start, friends and neighbors from nearby wineries offered us advice, equipment and support. Today, we supply nearby wineries with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Zinfandel from our Napa Valley estate. And we collaborate with colleagues in the Clarksburg viticultural area to source other grape varieties we love, including Chenin Blanc, Falanghina, and Tempranillo.