About Us

Over 40 Years of Winemaking
in the Russian River Valley

Davis Bynum and current winemaker, Greg Morthole

Past, Present and Future

Davis Bynum and current winemaker, Greg Morthole

Davis Bynum

Originally distinguished as the first winery on Westside Road in Healdsburg, California, Davis Bynum was first to produce a single vineyard Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley. The vintage was 1973 and the grapes were from Joe Rochioli's now prized vineyard. Today, more than forty years later, the heritage of Davis Bynum lives on through the hand crafted creation of single vineyard wines grown exclusively in Russian River Valley.

The Original Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

40 Years of History

When Davis Bynum started making wine in the Russian River Valley, Pinot Noir was not commonly produced in the region -- in fact, this delicate and often fickle varietal was largely ignored in favor of the more robust Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. But in 1973, Davis Bynum became enamored with the Pinot Noir grapes from Joe Rochioli vineyards. The wine produced from that year’s grapes was, as Davis says, “really good, surprisingly good.” Spurred by that early success, Davis Bynum continued making Pinot Noir, experimenting with techniques including whole-berry fermentation, cold soaking, dry ice and extended maceration.

Early Days

Early Days of Pinot Noir

About Davis

Early Days of Pinot Noir

Davis Bynum

Davis Bynum first flirted with winemaking at his home in Berkeley in 1951. Then, he was a young reporter at the San Francisco Chronicle, first working as a copyboy and then as a special editions reporter for This World Magazine. Spurred by his father’s love for wine -- Lindley Bynum was an esteemed wine judge at the Los Angeles County Fair and then at the California State Fair -- Davis Bynum bought a single box of Petite Sirah from Robert Mondavi for all of $1.80.

Astoundingly, the three and a half gallons of wine yielded from that first box of grapes -- made using the most rudimentary home-fermenting methods -- turned out well. Bynum tried again a month later, with five boxes of cabernet sauvignon. “It just turned out lovely, a lovely wine,” Bynum recalls. “We were still drinking it 10 years later.

Tribute To Davis Bynum

National Wine Week 19xx

During National Wine Week a tasting of California wines and imports was held at The Clift. Judges were Dr. Robert T. A. Knudsen, Dr. George Selleck, both members, Wine and Food Society; Mr. L. David Bynum, Chronicle, and Mr. Don McColly, President, Wine Institute.

Davis Bynum enjoying wine with Wine Maker Greg Morthole

Davis Bynum, 89 years old, who founded the Davis Bynum winery on Westside Road in Healdsburg with our Davis Bynum winemaker, Greg Morthole. Davis’ 1973 Pinot Noir was the 1st labeled from Russian Rivery Valley, 10 years before the appellation was created.

A Career in Winemaking

Davis Bynum

After several years making wine for family and friends, Bynum left the newspaper business for good to strike out formally in winemaking. He transformed a warehouse in Albany, California into a small winery, where he made wine with knowledge gained from the extensive library at the University of California, Berkeley. Then, Bynum’s wine went mostly to university personnel -- professors, graduate students, teaching assistants -- who were charmed by the high quality and affordable price -- then, $4.00 a gallon -- of Bynum’s wine.

In 1971 Bynum purchased a 26-acre vineyard in Napa Valley with the intention to build a winery. Restrictions on construction in the area led him away from that venture and into Sonoma County in 1973, where he found an 84-acre piece of land that quickly became Davis Bynum Winery.

Davis established a quality reputation for the winery, in large part due to his relationships with the local community of growers.  Grapes from great vineyards with contracts that were often simple handshake agreements, along with “intuitive winemaking,” as he refers to it, led the winery to become synonymous with distinctive Russian River Valley Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays.  Eventually, acclaim for Bynum wines, along with other area producers, won Russian River Valley recognition as one of the worlds’ very best.

Continuing legacy

Keeping the Legacy Alive

Years In The Making

Keeping the Legacy Alive

In August 2007, ready to retire from the day-to-day activities of running a winery, Davis sold the winery to Tom Klein and the Klein family, a fourth generation California farming family. The focus on Russian River Valley remains the same and the goal to produce excellent single vineyard wines is unchanged.  Bynum agreed to stay on to provide insight and support so the winery could maintain the soul that he has come to embody.

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