Our Story: Paloma’s beginning
The founders of Paloma Vineyard, Barbara and Jim Richards, dreamt of building a vineyard focused on sustainable farming that would highlight the grapes and terroir of their favorite region. This dream was realized in 1983 when a friend, Dan Duckhorn, called and told them about the property now known as Paloma Vineyard. Over the next 25 years, Jim and Barbara worked to clear, plant, and cultivate the 7500 Merlot, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon vines. Barbara’s devotion to the vines was abundantly evident having once claimed, “I can name all 7,500 of my children.”
In 1991, some of the grapes they harvested were sold to Pride to be blended into their Cabernet Sauvignon. In 1993, when Carolyn and Jim Pride released the 1991 Merlot, it was a huge hit! So, Jim worked and learned enology alongside legendary winemaker, Pride’s very own, Bob Foley. In 1996, Paloma released their first-ever vintage, the 1994 Merlot–all 575 cases of it. Paloma’s first commercial Syrah was released in 1998.
In 2000, things really started to propel forward as Paloma built the estate winery. It was barely finished by harvest, but Jim and Barbara were able to crush their own fruit that year for the very first time.
Their son, Sheldon, joined the business in August of 2003, just in time for harvest and for the release of the award-winning 2001 Paloma Merlot. In 2003, out of over 15,000 wines, Wine Spectator named the 2001 Paloma Merlot “Wine of the Year”. As a small family winery, Paloma was hardly prepared for the avalanche of calls, faxes, and general attention, but Jim and Barbara took it in stride. They were incredibly proud of their hard work and humbled by the outpour of support. Both the 2002 and 2006 vintages also graced the Wine Spectator’s Top 100 at 54 and 65, respectively.
The 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon (Sheldon’s first solo vintage), received high praise from James Laube of Wine Spectator in two separate articles written in 2007 and 2009.
After their passing in 2009 and 2016, Jim and Barbara’s legacy has left its mark on Spring Mountain and in the Napa Valley.
“My parents left me an amazing legacy, one that I will continue to maintain–farming, winemaking & hospitality–at levels that would make them both proud. Little will change! I can promise you that. What we all love most about this lifestyle, is you, the people we meet from all over the world. You make the food and wine taste better and always remind us of how lucky we are to live in paradise! To all of our many friends and loyal wine buyers, we thank you for your ongoing support.” – Sheldon Richards