The family ranch that is home to Cooper-Garrod Estate Vineyards is definitely a destination worth knowing. Owned and farmed by the family since 1893, the land is still very much a working ranch, complete with riding stables and 28 acres of flourishing estate vineyards.
The vines were first planted in 1972 by George Cooper, a retiring NASA test pilot who felt he needed a hobby. He studied winemaking and began to produce a private reserve for his family. Twenty exceptional vintages later, the family decided to share their wines with the rest of the world. At harvest 1991, they bonded five barrels of Cabernet Sauvignon, added Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc in 1992, bottled late 1993, and started commercial sales the following spring.
Cooper-Garrod remains a family-owned, family-operated business. George’s son Bill Cooper works in winemaking and sales, his daughter Barbara Cooper manages the tasting room, his daughter-in-law Doris Cooper serves as marketing director, and his nephew Jan Garrod is the vineyard master. Under Jan’s meticulous direction, the vineyards have earned certified sustainable winegrowing (CCSW) status, and nearly all are 100 percent certified organic (CCOF). The last two vineyards will complete the transition next spring.
The Fruit House tasting room is an authentic outbuilding constructed in 1922 to store dried prunes and apricots. It provides a cozy ambience with photographs of family ancestors on the walls, and a 40-foot tasting bar that invites guests to lean in and get familiar with the wines and the Cooper-Garrod family.
It’s important to recognize that a visit to Cooper-Garrod deserves at least an hour or two. Besides the unrushed tasting room, Garrod Farms Riding Stables is located on the ranch, offering trail rides and pony rides for those who call ahead. The family also offers frequent vineyard walking tours and other fun events laden with traditional California ranch hospitality. The wonderful wines and genuine atmosphere of Cooper-Garrod Estate Vineyards make it a destination worth knowing—and going back to.