Mihila Kawna Wines
Alexander Valley AVA
Mihila Kawna, meaning 'Dry Creek', hopes to continue building its presence in the Alexander Valley
This month’s Gold Wine Club Plus feature comes from a rather unique new venture, Mihila Kawna Wines, which was established by the Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians. The Tribe’s Pomo and Wappo ancestors occupied the Russian River and Dry Creek Valleys continuously and successfully for more than five thousand years. Their success was due to their sophisticated knowledge of the environment, refined arts and technologies, and participation in complex trade networks, with strong family and community bonds. Today’s Dry Creek Rancheria has approximately 1,000 members and has successfully operated its River Rock Casino in the Alexander Valley since 2002.
In 2011, the Dry Creek Rancheria purchased 310 acres of land surrounding their River Rock Casino property. The Alexander Valley land included 130 acres of premium vineyards, which the Tribe saw as a valuable asset to their organization. This purchase promptly made the Dry Creek Rancheria one of the largest vineyard owners in the Alexander Valley. They named the vineyard 'Bellacana,' which combines the Italian word for 'lovely' and the Pomo word for 'river.'
With the help of winemaker Alfonso Alarcon (Kendall Jackson, Charles Krug, and Murphy Goode), Mihila Kawna produced its first two wines, a Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, in 2012. The production was tiny (just 600 cases overall) and the wines were exclusively available at the Tribe’s River Rock Casino. Since 2012, production has grown just slightly, and the large majority of Mihila Kawna's Bellacana Vineyard fruit continues to be sold to nearby wineries and other producers. The name of the winery, Mihila Kawna, derives from the Tribe's southern Pomo language and means 'Dry Creek.'
The Dry Creek Rancheria hope to build Mihila Kawna’s presence in relation to other Alexander Valley wineries, many of which are world-renowned brands that even export their wine to other countries. The Tribe knows this is an ambitious plan, but they are passionate about Mihila Kawna Wines and they know the potential for greatness is there.