The inception of Fore Family Vineyards started with a surprise, an opportunity, and a moment of brief insanity.
Around 1994, Jim Fore had been working as an engineer draftsman at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo, CA designing piping schematics for submarines. When they announced the closure of the shipyard, he was given the chance to re-evaluate his career path, or move to Washington to work at their shipyard. Jim knew he wanted to be more connected to the land with his next path in life. There were a few considerations – become chicken farmers in Ohio, catfish and cucumbers in Lodi, or stay around Napa where he grew up, and farm wine grapes.
Luckily for us, he already had a home winemaking hobby with two close friends. They would purchase second crops from Napa vineyards and make the wine at one of his neighbors and winemaking partners garage-winery.
I came home one day and said “Honey, we are going to be farmers!”
Diane’s response – “Farm WHAT?”
Jim contacted a friend and grapegrower that he had purchased grapes from for a few years, Doug Hill. He worked for Doug learning how to grow high quality wine grapes in Napa, planting and developing vineyards. In 1995, the Fore Hill partnership was created.
In the year 2000, Jim had decided he would like to take the leap and develop his own property to farm grapes. He knew Napa land prices were out of the budget and had to look outside the county. He had considered farming in a handful of regions, but knew Lake County had great soils and climates for grape growing. He found a property on Cobb Mountain through an old friend. When visiting the site for the first time he thought “You have to be crazy to farm here, its too high up, too risky”
Our first vintage from this Cobb Mountain vineyard was 2005 – Cabernet, Syrah, and Grenache Noir
We currently farm 17 acres on this property, varietals including Grenache Blanc, Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Zinfandel.
The farming business has more than just Jim for a working component. Diane retired from her teaching career to help full time with the business. Their son, Eric also left his photography job in San Luis Obispo to help grow the business at a later date.
Since 2005, Fore Family Vineyards has expanded to producing an average of 1000 cases of wine per year, entirely of the grapes they grow. Primarily still a grape growing business, their goal is to produce all thirteen varietals that they farm in Napa and Lake County into wines under their brand.
I want to continue to farm the highest quality grape, to the best of my ability and accept what the mountain gives us.
– Jim Fore
Fast forward to February 2016 and the opening of the Fore Family Vineyards Wine Room in Kelseyville, not far from the Cobb Mountain Vineyard.