Wine Wednesday: Campana Ranch
I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Steve Bell and Sher Bell Boatman from Campana Ranch Wines, who I met for the first time at the Russian River Valley Single Vineyard Night earlier this month. After spending five minutes with them, you feel like you’ve known them for years. They’re truly the type of people who feel that strangers are only friends that they haven’t met yet – warm, welcoming, gracious in their hospitality and they also make incredible wines.
We sat on the patio at their ranch recently and enjoyed the beautiful flowers and vineyard views on one side and gardens and a horse pasture on the other. It’s truly a quintessential Russian River Valley setting to say the very least. Campana Ranch Wines is owned by Steve and his wife, Sher; unique backgrounds and intertwined paths led them to each other. Steve, who began his winery career decades ago in Napa, when there were only 25 wineries in Napa, has a passion for the vines that runs deeper than old vine rootstock. Sher’s background and passion for horse training and vaulting ultimately led her galloping to Steve where she has fully embraced her self-appointed title of “Quality Control” at Campana Ranch.
Campana Ranch Wines has been a member with Russian River Winegrowers for about four years now and their favorite events by far are the Single Vineyard Night events for multiple reasons that all lead back to the focus on wine. “When we’re at the Single Vineyard Night, we know that all of our fellow winery and winemaker friends are going to be in the same place at the same time. Sometimes it’s really difficult to see everyone outside of work – we’re all so busy with vineyard work, events, bottling. It’s a lot of fun for us to all see each other in the same place at the same time and also get to share our own wines with each other. The guests who attend Single Vineyard Night are amazing – they’re there for the same reasons that we’re there. We all share the same passion for really great single vineyard wines and we love that we get to share the wines that come directly from our property,” said Sher.
When I asked them about their favorite food and wine pairing in perfect unison and unrehearsed, they both replied “our tri–tip” and then looked at each other. As for the wine, it looks like they are going to open up different bottles. Sher leans toward the Cabernet Sauvignon or the Cab Franc, while Steve says, “I’ll open the cuvee; I don’t mind having more than one bottle open at a time in the house.” When it comes to other wineries, there are three that are at the top of their collective list: Merry Edwards Pinot Noir, Pride Mountain Cab Franc and all of the sparkling from Schramsberg Vineyards.
One of my favorite questions to ask anyone living and working in Sonoma County, specifically the Russian River Valley is “What about this region inspires you?” and “What is your favorite time of year?” Both for the same reason – there is no wrong answer and the examples given are usually tied to a specific story and experience. Steve and Sher are no exception. Inspired by the “multitude of micro-climates and the ability to grow world-class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and the sheer beauty of the region. How could one not be inspired daily by where we live? We’re truly blessed.”
Is there anything fun and exciting to look forward to with Campana Ranch this year? Absolutely! Mid-July there will be a few new releases, including an Old Vine Zinfandel and a Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Next year, Campana Ranch will be releasing a Petit Verdot. They’re also releasing an estate rose of Pinot Noir – which will be released soon and sell out very quickly! Campana Ranch is by appointment only, which only means that you need to plan ahead. It’s well worth it! Campana Ranch Wines is also a Harvest Card Winery partner which means that Harvest Card Members receive complimentary tastings for Card Member and one guest AND discounts on bottle purchases, too! Perfect timing to stock up on some summer wines!