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 7,500 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.”
After their passings 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, Owner & Winemaker
In 2003, Sheldon joined the family-owned Paloma Vineyard in Napa, California. He spent the next six years learning viticulture (grape farming) from his mother, Barbara, and oenology (winemaking) from his father. Barbara instilled in Sheldon to respect the vines as if each were one of his children – over 7,500 in total. Jim taught Sheldon how to let the wine make itself with minimal intervention.
In 2007, Sheldon became the full-time Paloma winemaker and continues to build on Jim and Barbara’s legacy. Under Sheldon’s winemaking artistry, Paloma’s 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon was listed as Wine Spectator’s “Spectator Selections – Highly Recommended” in 2011.
17 acres of land at the top of Spring Mountain is purchased. After a few years of hard labor clearing, terracing, and planting, 15 of those will soon be planted with a mix of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.
Jim and Barbara initially sold grapes to Napa Valley wineries, including Pride Vineyard just across the street, while continuing to cultivate the land.
Jim and Barbara built their forever home and moved to Paloma Vineyard full-time. 575 cases of the first Paloma Merlot Vintage, 1994, are release in 1996 and 150 cases of the first vintage of Paloma Syrah, 1996, is released in 1998. The winery construction is finished just in time for harvest in 2000.
Sheldon, Jim & Barbara's son, joins them at Paloma Vineyard. Wine Spectator names Paloma's 2001 Merlot ``Wine of the Year`` in 2003. The 2004 and 2006 Merlot also make the Wine Spectator Top 100 lists.
In 2009, Jim passes after a lengthy battle with cancer, but not before sharing his winemaking secrets with Sheldon. Sheldon continues Jim's wine making legacy of excellent, with the 2009 Paloma Cabernet Sauvignon, his first solo vintage since Jim's passing. It receives special acknowledgement by the Wine Spectator in 2012.
Paloma's Matriarch, Barbara, passes peacefully in her sleep in the fall of 2016.
From 2016-2018, 700 vines of Cabernet Franc replace a small portion of aging Merlot vines throughout the vineyard. Starting in 2019, Sheldon's sons, Jace and Caston, begin taking on invested roles at Paloma.
LNU & Glass fires ravage Napa in the fall of 2020. Fire burned the entire perimeter of the property, but thanks to the incredible work of California's fire crews the vineyard survived. Unfortunately, Paloma's entire crop is lost to smoke taint.
Jace is a third-generation Richards and Sheldon’s youngest son. He lives in Calgary, AB with his wife, Caitlin, and son, Fynn. Jace is a middle school physical education teacher, a university volleyball coach, and a mentor to aspiring athletes. Outside of work, his life revolves around family and sports. When he visits the vineyard, he is often found building “things” for Sheldon or cuddling with Mita and Franc. Jace manages Paloma’s social media content and engagement, so be sure to drop him a line on Instagram or Facebook!
Caston, also a third-generation Richards and Sheldon’s oldest son, manages all of Paloma’s off-site sales from his home in Calgary, AB, where he lives with his partner Heidi and their daughter Julia. Caston spent his younger days working in the hospitality industry and traveling as much of the world as he could. In his late twenties, he went back to university to complete a degree in Mechanical Engineering, only to finish as COVID set in. He spent his pandemic days following in Sheldon’s entrepreneurial footsteps as a partner in Modbox Studios, a backyard office startup, and working to learn the family business on the side. After two years with Modbox, he chose to step back from the startup and step into the wine realm full-time to help Sheldon manage Paloma. When he visits Napa, he enjoys working alongside Sheldon in the winery learning the ropes from his father.
Born in Michyoacan, Mexico, he immigrated to the US to start a family with his wife. Now the proud parent of 1 girl and 2 boys, Jose loves to landscape when he isn’t found in the vineyard or winery. Jose started with Paloma in 2008, learning how to cultivate the grapes from Barabara and how to make wine from Jim. Now, Jose and Sheldon work hand in hand; Jose is the eyes and the ears of Paloma’s operation, tending to the vines just as Barbara would want.
Mita and her younger brother Franc spend their days supervising the vineyard. Generally, they follow the food. Breakfast and dinner at the house, “lunch” with Jose in the vineyard, keeping an eye on tasting guests in between–you never know what they might drop. Don’t be alarmed by their loud barks, they are both lovers at heart just saying hello to knew visitors!