Green vines in front of a a white house with an orange tiled roof

Jenny and Marcus believe that great wine starts in the vineyard. At Great Bear, we are fortunate to be located close to University of California, Davis, with its world famous Viticulture and Enology Department and resident experts, as well as fellow winemakers through Yolo County, Napa and Sonoma, who share their passion for wine and their knowledge freely. Our goal in the vineyard is to produce the highest quality grape we can in our terroir.

Our modus operandi is to work in harmony with our special soil and climate with minimal chemical inputs to produce premium grapes for sale, and from which our wines are made. Our growing region is situated on the north edge of Davis in Yolo County with Napa to the west and Solano to the south. Great Bear Vineyard’s Rincon soil is a combination of silty loam and clay loam and is well drained, very similar to the soils of the valley floor in Napa’s famous wine growing region. We practice deficit irrigation, encouraging our vines to search for the water. The long growing season with the combination of warm days allow full ripening, and cool nights aided by the delta breeze, delivers full flavor formation and enhanced complexity.

We carefully manage the light entering our canopy by our east-west planting, and our choice of trellis system, the bilateral cordon. We spur prune late February each year, in May, we shoot thin, leaf pull and cluster thin the vines which are planted in six-by-six foot spacing. We harvest by hand, and personally sort before delivery, ensuring that clients receive the finest clusters. Our Cabernet Sauvignon is usually perfect by the last week in August or early September for winemakers targeting 24.5 Brix and ideal pH.

Ripe grapes on a vine
Hands holding a bunch of grapes attached to the vine
Grapes being dropped from a bucket into a larger container

Our passion for the environment and sustainable farming practices mean we are a haven for all things natural. We start with the soil, practicing no-till means we have a healthy microbiome with beneficial microbes, as well as a safe home for gofers, toads and jack rabbits. We plant lavender and have swaths of wildflowers for the bees and beneficial insects. Birds and animals live amongst the trees, shrubs and make their home in our ancient barn and water towers. Many of these practices, possibly don’t improve the quality of the wine, but we hope they improve your enjoyment knowing it was grown in such beautiful and harmonious surroundings.

Squirrel clasping a tree branch
Bee next to a lavender flower
Butterfly on a yellow flower