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Stories from the valley

Wine in the Dunnigan Hills

Contributed by Steve Beckley

Matchbook Wine Company is located in the Dunnigan Hills of Yolo County, just west of Zamora off of Interstate 5.  This isn’t an area in which you would expect to find a winery and the more than 1200 acres of grapes tended by Matchbook owners, John, Lane and Karl Giguiere. They’ve also have located their winery and tasting room here.  The hills are dry in the summer and seem better suited for dry land grain and livestock, which was the principle farming activity until the Giguieres mastered the art of growing grapes and making quality wine in this area, first starting at R.H. Phillips Winery in the early 1980s and now at Matchbook.

Matchbook 2I toured the vineyards with John the other day, interested in how they were handling the drought and limited water supply that all California agriculture is facing.  He pointed out that white wine grapes only use about 24 inches of water a year, while red wine grapes use 18 to 20 inches of water.  The water is applied via both surface and subsurface drip irrigation and carefully managed to insure quality.

One of the most interesting aspects is the trellising systems they use to expose grapes to the air and sunlight.  One system is the hanging curtain where the vines drape down, but also they use other systems such as vertical shoot position, and smart dysion on various varieties.  Their goal is to maximize quality and water efficiency.

Matchbook 5Soon they will be starting harvest with the result being producing over 100,000 cases of wine plus some of their grapes going to other wineries. You can taste their wine at the on site tasting room.  My wife and I enjoy going out on weekends to the winery and sitting on the patio that overlooks the vineyards.  I’m always amazed what good agriculture practices combined with technology can result in.  This time it’s great wine and an important economic resource for the Sacramento Valley.