In 1863, pioneering vintner George Whitman planted the first grapes and built a winery on the 60 acre estate that would eventually become known as Valley of the Moon Winery. His enterprise was successful and, in just four short years, the winery was producing more than 50,000 gallons of wine and 2,000 gallons of brandy. A heavy supporter of progress, in 1881, Whitman granted a portion of the property to the Sonoma & Santa Rosa Railroad Company where a passenger train station was constructed and tracks from Sonoma to Glen Ellen were laid down.
After 20 years, in 1883, Whitman sold the winery in to Eli T. Sheppard, former consul to China and an advisor to the emperor of Japan. Sheppard renamed the estate ‘Madrone Vineyards’ and, in 1887, he began constructing the first of two stone wine cellars.
In 1888 due to his failing health, Sheppard sold the estate to Senator George Hearst, father of newspaper icon William Randolph Hearst. Senator Hearst further developed Madrone Vineyards into a serious winemaking operation, proudly serving his wine to guests and dignitaries in Washington, D.C.. With his death 1891, the property was passed on to his widow and, in 1905 it was acquired by Union Trust Company of San Francisco who later sold the property to Louis Engelberg in 1922. Prohibition then took its toll on the California wine industry and the winery was closed in the 1930s.
Madrone Vineyards was revitalized in 1941 when the estate was purchased by Italian sausage makers Enrico Parducci and Peter Domenici who renamed the estate Valley of the Moon in deference to its deep roots in Sonoma Valley.
Today, Valley of the Moon Winery at Madrone Estate is poised to take its rightful place among Sonoma Valley’s most celebrated wineries. Under the guidance of the Stewart family, current generation owners, a new winemaking team has re-established high quality winemaking practices and are implementing luxury-driven farming standards, driving smaller yields of higher quality.