Skinner Vineyards and Winery
● By Morgan Cásarez
In 1852, Scottish miner James Skinner struck it rich during California’s storied Gold Rush, and within a decade, managed to turn his fortune into one of the Sierra foothills’ first wineries, J. Skinner Native Wine and Brandy. With its capacity to produce more than 15,000 gallons annually, the business flourished well into the early 1900s. Fast forward seven generations and the family business has been resurrected by James’s great-great-great-grandson, Mike, and his wife, Carey. Thanks to a bit of detective work by their son, Kevin, and his wife, Kathy, the present day Skinners discovered their deep Sierra foothill roots in 2006, rebirthed the vineyard and winery, and celebrated the grand opening in 2011. “We were excited and committed to producing some of the same varietals that James produced in 1861,” share Mike and Carey, “wines that people would enjoy while breaking bread with family and friends.” To that end, the Skinners have spent the past three years cultivating a collection of carefully farmed, small lot wines that showcase El Dorado County’s most distinctive elements, while making necessary updates along the way. The original winery, for example, was powered by a six-horse engine—“state-of-the-art” for its time according to the Skinners—while today’s operation uses a solar-powered facility made from 80 percent recycled steel. Additionally, its North-facing barrel rooms feature automatic windows that allow winter air to provide natural cooling and reduce energy use. But even as they look to the future, it’s clear the 21st century Skinners will never waver in their dedication to honoring the past. “We were recently fortunate to complete the purchase of the site of our family’s original cellar,” Mike says. “The cellar is completely intact from the 1800s.”
Style’s Sip of the Day: 2012 Grenache
Fun Fact:In the tradition of their ancestor, the Skinners plan to use James’s original cellar to age Angelica, Port and Brandy, while the building on top of it will be used as a museum.
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