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Russian Colonists cultivated the first grapes at Fort Ross, Sonoma Coast.

1817 - Russian Colonists cultivated the first grapes at Fort Ross, Sonoma Coast.

Although some wine grapes were produced before Prohibition and the first wine grapes in Sonoma County were planted by the Russians at Fort Ross in 1817 using Peruvian grape cuttings, Michael Bohan marked the start of the modern period of winegrowing along the West Sonoma Coast. George, Michael’s son, told me the following historical details when we spoke. Since the middle of the nineteenth century, Bohan’s family has been keeping sheep, as well as rearing dairy cows, turkeys, and other livestock near Fort Ross. Michael (also known as “Mick” by his pals) used his GI Bill benefits from his time in World War II to purchase his grandfather’s ranch on Bohan Dillon Road in Cazadero in 1946. On his property, which was perched above a ridge at an altitude of 1,400 feet, he raised a variety of crops.

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