The Cooper Ranch has been around since the 1800’s, but did not plant grapes until 1970. Dick asked Darrell Corti what grapes he should plant, and lacking a piece of paper, Darrell wrote the varieties Barbera and Dolcetto on a dollar bill and gave it to Dick. Dick looked around and could not find Dolcetto, but got enough cuttings from neighbor Cary Gott (Montevina) to plant 5 acres of Barbera. The vines did well and Dick sold the grapes to winemakers like Scott Harvey, Jeff Runquist and Bill Easton, all of whom have garnered dozens of awards at the CA State Fair, Los Angeles International and the San Francisco Chronicle wine competitions.
Since then, the Cooper Ranch Vineyards have grown to 100 acres, mostly Barbera, with a total of 17 varieties on the property. Dick has helped at least a dozen other growers plant Barbera, and in addition to Zinfandel, Amador County is well known for the variety. In 2013 a Barbera Festival was born, which today some 80 producers pour there, including some from Italy. In chatting with the family, Mr. Cooper wants the committee to know that “this is a family operation, we have many good long time employees, we have good soil and good luck, and we are proud of what we have accomplished.” Darrell Corti’s dollar bill is on display in the tasting room.