When Charles and Helen Bacigalupi met in their final year at The University of California at San Francisco, Helen had hopes of becoming a pharmacist while Charles dreamed of owning his own ranch. While living in the city and finishing their degrees, their relationship progressed. Soon after they graduated in 1952 they were married. Coming back to Sonoma County, they decided to settle in Healdsburg, a place that Charles had said he always wanted to live. He started his dentist practice and soon acquired a list of devoted patients. He would practice dentistry in Healdsburg for the next 39 years. Helen worked at Meese’s Pharmacy, filling prescriptions, waiting on customers, and recommending medications. In 1956, hearing through the grapevine of some land for sale, Charles and Helen made the drive out Westside Road and soon purchased 121-acres of land furnished with a quaint house. The property was owned by the Goddard family who had lived on the ranch for the past 100 years. Daniel Goddard, the father, had three children of which none had children of their own. With no one to pass the ranch down to, the family decided to sell. The land was mostly planted with prunes, cherries, and apples with a few acres of grapes; Golden Chaslis, Mission and Zinfandel. At the time, neither knew much about vineyards and grapes but had a natural green thumb and enjoyed working outside.
Through his dentist practice, Charles got to know many of the local grape growers including one in particular— Paul Heck. Paul and his brother, Adolf, had recently acquired Korbel Champagne Cellars in Guerneville. During his visits and taking the family in for regular check-ups they got to talking about vineyards. Paul advised Charles to plant Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. “It’s cooler over there in the valley near the river,” he said. Charles also heeded the advice of Bob Sission, another patient of his whom at the time was the farm advisor for UC Davis. Charles had to write the names of the varietals down to keep from forgetting them as no one was planting those grapes at that time. Eventually, Charles was able to obtain Pinot Noir and Chardonnay budwood from Karl Wente. This budwood came from France via the family’s old vineyard in Livermore. Charles planted the budwood on the family’s home ranch in 1964. To celebrate our 60 years of farming, we have produced a 100% Wente clone Pinot Noir exclusively from fruit off the Goddard Ranch. This wine represents our family history, reminds us of the ones who have come before us, and solidifies our commitment to sustaining the land for future generations.