Multi-Generational Businesses-Robert Young Estate Winery PDF Print E-mail
Covenantal Families




Five Generations of Family Farming-Robert Young Estate Winery


Situated on the Pacific Coast in the Alexander Valley in Sonoma County , this beautiful spot boasts a lovely farmhouse, barn, and hope for future generations. I was immediately struck by the honor they paid to their father, grandfather, and great-grandfather and the appreciation for their heritage. It reads: “As a tribute to our father, Robert Young, and to his father and grandfather who farmed this land, we have established the Robert Young Estate Winery. Our family winery allows us to produce premier wines that reflect our commitment to the land and to quality, and will be our legacy to future generations.


Continuing from their family history:The scions of Robert Young are descendants of a long line of farmers. Throughout five generations of farming the same property, they understand the most efficient, best way to cultivate their land. From wheat to cattle to prunes and now wine grapes, they have sustained a unique balance of dedication to and preservation of the land. Savvy business instincts have encouraged them to take risks in farming, becoming pioneers in the planting of new crops. The first of the Young family to emigrate from upstate New York to California came for the Gold Rush. Peter Young, grandfather of Robert Young, settled on a 206-acre ranch southeast of Geyserville , California in 1858. He was among the pioneers who literally built the community of the Alexander Valley . It was Peter’s wife, Rachel, who was a key contributor to the building of the church and establishment of the community Sunday school.


Considered an excellent farmer, as well as a miner, Peter Young planted various grains and prunes and ran cattle on his land. The family tradition of growing for quality began with him. Peter’s three sons, Warner, Maynard and Robert’s father, Silas, continued the prosperous family business and developed prunes as the principal crop.


Cultivation of grapes began when Robert Young Vineyards was established in 1963. Seeing the potential of the emerging wine industry, Robert Young gradually converted the prune orchard into vineyards. Robert and his first wife, Gertrude, worked diligently to expand the property to encompass all of the land previously owned by Peter Young. The scions of Robert Young - JoAnn, Jim, Susan and Fred - believe their legacy is to keep this land together, while carrying forth their father’s commitment to excellence. “The creation of the winery is a result of dad’s years of hard work. Dad is the rootstock who is responsible for this new growth coming forth from the scion,” said JoAnn.


“We are blessed to live on and farm land that is very, very special,” he said. “I hope that what we have now will never be abused; that future generations will treat the land well and understand that, by being generous, the land will continue to grow whatever we wish for it to grow.


Fred Young-Winery Founder and OwnerFred Young was the driving force behind the development of Robert Young Estate Winery. As its first president, Fred used his entrepreneurial and creative skills to help design and direct the construction of the winery facilities, and later managed the initial stages of wine production while building the business and brand marketing. Currently, along with his brother Jim and sisters JoAnn and Susan, Fred oversees the winery’s operation and growth.


Jim Young-Winery Owner and Vineyard Manager Jim Young, the oldest son of Robert Young, learned grape farming at his father’s side. Jim now heads winegrowing for all the family vineyards. He earned a degree from the University of California at Davis in plant science with a specialty in viticulture and enology, then in 1975 returned home to Robert Young Vineyards to continue the family tradition of innovative farming. In 1987, he implemented the planting of six-foot-wide vine rows. To create a more balanced vine, he introduced new trellising systems. “These systems open up the canopy and moderate the vigor of the vine,” he explains. “The larger canopy surface area encourages healthier exposure of the grapes to sunlight, which greatly improves the flavors of the wine.”


JoAnn Young-Winery OwnerJoAnn is Robert’s first child. She is a great cook and follows after her mother Gertrude in that way. JoAnn plans and prepares much of the food for our events using family recipes. JoAnn and Susan often represent the winery at events and give visitors a true taste of family hospitality in old Alexander Valley .


Susan Young-Winery Owner Susan Young is the second child and the family historian. She is director of events and has a very creative side, combining her sense of history with new and creative themes for making events beautiful, fun and new each time.