Over a period of several years, Kathleen and Simon Inman weighed the possibility of leaving their comfortable life in England for California where they might realize the family’s dream: to produce fine wine from grapes they would plant and carefully tend. Passion for wine was a driving force; moving to California was their destiny.
Simon Inman developed his enjoyment of wine at age 18, before entering university. He spent four months in the cellars of Burgundy in Nuits-St-George and the surrounding villages, where he dealt with every aspect of handwork involved in fine winemaking and tasted wines from many renowned vineyards. His love for Pinot Noir began.
Six thousand miles away, Kathleen McGowan of Napa Valley studied art history at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Prior to her junior year, Kathleen accepted a summer job at Napa Creek Winery where she provided tours and tastings and helped in the cellar.
On her first day at the winery, Simon Inman – on holiday from England – walked into the tasting room. Kathleen and Simon exchanged a few words. Three weeks later, Simon wrote two letters – one to the owner of Napa Creek Winery kindly asking him to pass along the second letter, enclosed, to the "pretty blond assistant” whom he had spoken to briefly in the tasting room. Two years later, Simon Inman and Kathleen McGowan were married.
England was to be their home for 15 years. During this time the Inmans explored the classic wines of Europe and the exciting wines of the New World. They developed a preference for Pinot Noir.
In 1998 the Inmans left their careers (she a finance executive and he a solicitor), their beloved country home and many friends to settle in California and make wine. The Inmans’ search for prime vineyard took them over the country lanes of Anderson Valley, Carneros and the Russian River Valley looking for a property where they could pursue their Pinot Noir/Pinot Gris dream.
One spring day in 1999, Kathleen drove along Olivet Road in the center of the Russian River Valley. A small family farm caught her eye. Within a week Kathleen learned that the property, amidst some of the region’s most respected vineyards, was for sale.
In June, exactly one year after the date of their arrival in California, the Inmans became the property’s owners and named it Olivet Grange Vineyard, a title that reflects the farm’s location on Olivet Road and the family’s English country home: The Grange at Elvington.
In 2000 the family planted 13,000 grapevines, carefully selecting clones of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris and rootstocks best suited to this Russian River Valley acreage. A sensitive, sustainable farming philosophy guides all their viticultural decisions.
Kathleen respectfully restored the three-bedroom farmhouse for the enjoyment of friends and family from England and other visitors. Keeping its restful, rustic character, she added English art and antiques and other amenities for guests who stay at the Olivet Grange Farmhouse , a vacation rental.