Landmark Winery & Vineyards was founded in 1974 by a group that includes Damaris Deere Ford, the great-great-granddaughter of John Deere. (Inventor of the first steel plow in Grand Detour, IL) The original Landmark Winery location was in Windsor and moved to Kenwood in Sonoma Valley in 1989. With the acquisition of Hop Kiln Estate in 2016, this now includes estate vineyards.
We have a small estate vineyard on our Sonoma Valley property. Our winemaking philosophy is to source grapes from California’s best vineyards. Our winemaker then weaves together the nuances of each vineyard, blending them to create wines that must be greater than the sum of their parts–multifaceted, complex, and balanced to be called Landmark wine.
In 1991, Damaris focused exclusively on producing Landmark's Chardonnay and created the first vintage of the flagship Overlook Chardonnay. Overlook is a neighborhood in Moline, Illinois, the headquarters of John Deere. Overlook was named after the home of Charles Deere, which sits on a bluff above Moline Centre overlooking the Mississippi River in the Overlook neighborhood. The house was declared a Moline historic landmark in 2002, and two of the houses are now museums you can visit.
Landmark Winery locations have a storied history:
- In 1905, Sol Walters hired the Italian stonemason Angelo “Skinny” Sodini to construct the massive stone and redwood kilns, now the Landmark Winery tasting room. Sodini’s crew finished the building within 35 days. The building consists of three stone kilns for drying hops and an attached wooden cooling barn with a two-story press for baling hops.
- After Sol died in October 1919, his son and daughter took over the property. Adelma took over the 125 acres of present-day Rochioli, and William took over the other 200 or so acres of the 6050 westside area. William lived in his late parent’s 1905 home, and Adelma lived in the house near Rochioli. Her house burned down in 1930 and then again in 1933 after rebuilding. William had 1,440 sheep and built a sheep barn. In 1960 Sol’s house that Will was using was also destroyed by fire. A year later, Marty Griffin bought the property.
- In 1961, Dr. Martin Griffin was a conservationist and well-known for his book Saving the Marin-Sonoma Coast. He purchased the 240 acre-ranch from the retired Billy Walters. The 1880 vineyards were still producing grapes that were being sold to local wineries. Griffin immediately began to restore the hop kiln, barn, and the Victorian house he had moved to the estate. He also restored the original 1880 vineyards, planted a few additional grape varieties, and sold the fruit to wineries like Korbel and Gallo.
- In 1975, Griffin had brought the building up to county code and obtained the permits needed to turn the hop kiln into a bonded winery, now Landmark Winery. He made the Marty Griffin’s Big Red (from the 1880 vineyard), Thousand Flowers white (blend), Primitivo Zinfandel, and Rosa Bellissima (Rosé of Zinfandel). Over the years, he replanted all the 1880 vines to Zinfandel, Cabernet, and Chardonnay. Mr. Griffin sold the winery in 2004 upon retirement.
Read additional information about Sonoma County here.
Make sure to visit the GGB Events page for winery events nearby.