by Mark and Joan Campagna, Redwood
Far north on the Silverado Trail lies Davis Estates, an impressive,
new, state-of-the-art winery nestled among the sun-drenched hills of
Calistoga, CA...just the type of countryside the Redwood Region
Porsche Club has grown to know and love. We were here at the
invitation of owners and Porsche enthusiasts Mike and Sandy Davis,
who had joined us on our next to last seasonal run. A big THANKS
goes out to them, and to their staff, for hosting such an enjoyable
event and fundraiser. It was the perfect way to cap this early
October Saturday morning run through Northern California wine
Skies were grey - but not our spirits - as club members gathered
at Vintage Oaks in Novato to prepare. The day ahead would be a
double fundraiser. Proceeds from the first activity, our club's
luncheon at Davis Estates, would be donated to CASA, a charity
program long supported by our club that assists abused and neglected
children in Sonoma county. That endeavor raised over $575.00. The
second activity would be a raffle offered by Davis Estates in
support of firemen injured in the Lake County fires.
So in good spirits and for good cause we took to the road. My
husband, Mark, and I, like the other Porsche drivers, were eager to
put our precision machine to the test as we traversed Marin, Sonoma,
and Napa counties. Hi-ho Silverado!
From Vintage Oaks we made our way down 101S to CA-37E and CA-116E
(Lakeville Highway), where we encountered some short-lived,
low-hanging fog. As we turned left onto CA-121N, a zippy red Porsche
Boxster pulled in front of us from a right-side merge lane and
continued to follow our caravan. We wondered: Was this a
serendipitous encounter? Had a potential new member found us by
chance? Answer: No, just incredibly good timing by a member hoping
to join our run in progress. Can you believe his luck?
CA-121N led us to Old Sonoma Road, which we took to avoid the
congestion of lower CA-29. We were now about halfway through our
Using a combination of surface roads we continued across the
valley floor through Sonoma towards Napa, arriving at the Silverado
Trail. Following this historic road north for another 20 miles, we
arrived at Davis Estates.
Mike and Sandy Davis were there to greet us as we arrived and
direct us to a large, airy, barn where we were offered tastings from
the winery's cellar. While we were enjoying the first of many fruits
from their fields, a fine sauvignon blanc, our hosts introduced us
to the purpose and goal of this fundraiser for the Fire Family
Foundation. Specifically for Lake County fire fighters, and other
fire fighters, injured in the Lake County fires, with all proceeds
going directly to the Foundation. Raffle prizes included a 1.5 liter
of their Davis Estates cabernet sauvignon, and a 3-day, 2-night,
stay for 3 couples at the Estate's guest house.
A tour of the property and cellars was next, as Mike and Sandy walked us
through their work-in-progress. Interestingly, the couple who brought
the Davis's together with this property are club members John and Wynne
Bergman, who share their enthusiasm for this unique spot. As new as some
parts of this winery may be, there are buildings on the property that
date back to the early 1900s; that have been lovingly, painstakingly
restored. The blend of old and new works seamlessly here because each
point of view informs and respects the other.
A wooden barn, circa 1920, refurbished plank by plank, is currently
serving as a tasting room. In the barn a custom fireplace is housed in a
replica of a 1900s boiler that is 6-7 feet in diameter. Hanging over the
coffee table in front of the fireplace is a Big Ass fan. No, really,
that's what it says on it, though it's probably referring to the length
of the fan's blades, which are an impressive 6 feet long. A patio looks
out onto a newly constructed, 260-foot deep well with an Aerometer
windmill hand-crafted to match the aged barn. A turn of the century farm
home has been transformed into a well-appointed guesthouse. In the
hillside caves behind the buildings lies the foundation for a hexagonal,
glass-walled, temperature-controlled, "Founders Club" room for members
and special tastings.
Everywhere you look you see the effect of attention and detail and
personality; if Mike is, in his words, the "mechanic," and Sandy the
"artist," the synergy with which they work together is undeniable.
Each attended college on a scholarship, each is a go-getter, each
experienced an upbringing that valued hard work and tenacity. From
starting Applied Computer Solutions together in their Huntington
Beach garage in 1989, through Mike's adventures in auto racing,
theirs is an engaging story.
Cars, it turns out, are a life-long interest for Mike. He raced
professionally in Trans Am and World Challenge, and for a time built
his own racecars and funded the accompanying support teams and
facilities. His older son is a currently a professional racecar
driver. His younger son is entering the "other" family business and
is an operations manager at the winery. With a family as motivated
as this one, there is no question this winery will be ready for its
grand opening in May 2016.
And speaking of ready, our group was, returning to the warehouse
to a refreshing buffet, more wine, and the raffle drawing. Our
luncheon included tri-tip, chicken, mixed veggies, pesto pasta
salad, garlic bread, and cheesecake. The 1.5 liter of wine was won
by Mike and Brenda Hinton, who live so close they're almost
neighbors. The guesthouse stay was won - in another "can you believe
it?" moment - by yours truly, Mark and Joan. We intend to share the
gift with others in the spirit in which it was won. That raffle
raised $860.00 for the Fire Family Foundation.