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One-woman winemaker

  • Inman Family Wines winery cat Stella hops across a row of pinot gris vines as winemaker Kathleen Inman checks the canes after pruning, Saturday, February 9, 2013. (Crista Jeremiason / The Press Democrat)

It's taken a lot of blood, sweat and perseverance for one-woman winemaking whirlwind Kathleen Inman to get from Napa to England to Sonoma County, and for her wines to evolve into the silky, complex Russian River Valley bottles now found in her very own tasting room.

It all started with the 2000 planting of a plot of land that Inman would call Olivet Grange Vineyard (OGV), set on the corner of Piner Road and Olivet Lane. A little over 10 acres, she planted the majority of it to pinot noir and the rest to pinot gris, while sectioning off another 3 acres or so to sow vegetables and herbs.

"When I walked the property I just knew it was what I was looking for, with the Olivet Lane pinot noir vineyard just a few parcels over and the Papera (Ranch) and Mancini old-vine zinfandel vineyards on two sides of me," Inman recalled.

Inman Family Wines

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"I was excited by the potential of this property to grow not just good but outstanding fruit."

Inman's first wine, a pinot gris, was released in 2002, the first pinot noir in 2003. Her tasting room and winery opened in late 2010.

"It was clear to me even though she was starting out as a novice," noted winemaker Kevin Hamel of Hamel Wines in Healdsburg, "that she wanted to learn and planned to do things on her own."

Hamel helped Inman get her first few vintages off the ground and remains a mentor.

"She was more determined than anybody I'd ever met and committed from the ground up to make her wine representative of her vineyard," he added. "And she was pushing back from the super-extracted, super-ripe style; balance and elegance were important."

From the beginning, Inman took to farming organically, with a sustained commitment to composting from what she calls "Four Course Compost," a m?ange of fancy restaurant scraps that would otherwise be thrown out.

That eco-sensibility continued with the installation of an electric vehicle charging station fueled by solar power in her tasting-room parking lot. The building is old and new, based entirely on a redwood barn originally built on the site more than a century ago, re-done using salvaged wood, steel, concrete and insulation.


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