ON A LICHEN COVERED
IN ANDERSON VALLEY.
We Focus on The Vineyard
In the year 2000, we bought this 203-acre farm in the heart of Anderson Valley. It had been a sheep ranch for 150 years. Oaks, bays, and madrones lined the four creeks and dotted the rolling hills of our watershed. Every winter the oaks lost their leaves but the green ghostly garb of lichen remained. Lichen is everywhere here, from the Yorkville Highlands to the Mendocino Coast. We named our farm “Lichen Estate” in honor of its beauty and grace.
Most locals know our property as Breggo. We founded Breggo Cellars in 2005, intending to reset the bar on Pinot Noir and cold-climate whites in Anderson Valley. Breggo bought fruit from the most renowned vineyards in Anderson Valley. Not long after releasing the first vintage, accolades for Breggo’s wines started rolling in: Robert Parker called Breggo’s 2006 Pinot gris the “finest ever in the New World,” then Food & Wine Magazine named Breggo the “Best New Winery of 2008.” Breggo became the highest rated winery in Mendocino County history. In 2009, we received an offer too good to refuse. Reluctantly, we sold the brand but kept the land, with an eye toward starting a new venture focused on sparkling and still wines made from the estate. We leased the winery building to the new owner for five years.
We began planning and preparing our own soils in 2007, then planted the Lichen Estate vineyard in 2008. At the end of 2014, that Breggo lease ended and Lichen’s first estate-grown wines were ready. We’re back, baby.
We intend to reset the bar on our own wines with estate-grown fruit, and estate crafted still and sparkling Pinot noir and Pinot gris.
We farm gently, meticulously, organically. We strive to leave our children and grandchildren land that is healthier than it was in 2000 when we arrived. In the vineyard, we foster biological diversity from the top of the canopy to deep in the soils. We left half the property outside the fence that contains our vineyard and the flock of 80-odd sheep, with a wilderness corridor, including our main creek, from the ridge to valley floor, tracing the edge of the vineyard. Bears rummage through our pomace as it composts. Tree frogs and crickets sing our vineyards to sleep. Clusters warm up to the whir of honeybees. Lichen creates a symbiotic relationship with its host trees. Like lichen, we farmers develop a symbiosis with the land — we feed it, it feeds us.
-Douglas & Ana Lucia Stewart, Winegrowers