Occidental Road Cellars
Russian River Valley AVA
Consistently awarded with top medals and lofty ratings
With an inspiration to continue a long-standing farming tradition, Occidental Road Cellars was established in 2005 by Richard and Joelle Prather. The exquisite Russian River Valley property has been in the family since 1910, and the Prathers continue to leave their mark with a reputation for beautifully crafted, estate grown wines.
Located about a mile east of Occidental in Sonoma County, the property has always been full of potential and originally caught the eye of Joelle's great grandparents in 1910. After purchasing the site, they cleared the ridges and planted an orchard of Gravenstein apples and Royal Anne cherries. At the time, apples and cherries were abundant in the Sonoma County region, and it was only natural to take part in the prosperous industry. The family farm was named 'El Centro Orchards,' and expanded over the years to include an array of livestock such as horses, chickens, and sheep.
In 1996, Joelle's father, the late Vince Pedroia, made a decision that took the family farming business to the next level. He realized the potential in growing premium wine grapes and cleared a portion of the orchard to plant a small 11-acre vineyard to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The vineyard produced outstanding fruit, and for many years, Vince sold the fruit to several prominent wineries in Napa and Sonoma Counties.
Joelle's husband Richard began showing interest in his father-in-law's vineyard, so much in fact that he decided to go back to school at the Santa Rosa Junior College to earn a viticulture degree. He then interned at nearby Dutton Estate Vineyard and eventually became the assistant winemaker under Mat Gustafson. Richard's love of farming and passion for winemaking led him to take over the family vineyard operations in 2003 with his wife Joelle, and the couple produced their first commercial wine release in 2006. Occidental Road Cellars was born!
The winery's estate vineyard has now expanded to its current size of 20 acres and includes plantings of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel and Syrah. The Prathers have also acquired a 12-acre vineyard down the road. Richard continues to manage all viticultural aspects of the vineyards as well as all of the winemaking operations. Occidental Road's wines are consistently in high demand and always awarded with top medals and lofty ratings. We are pleased to introduce our Gold Plus! Wine Club members to this tiny producer, and feature one of their latest achievements. Cheers!
Map of the area
About the Vineyard
Occidental Road Cellars’ estate vineyards are found in a very unique location, actually straddling the Sonoma Coast and Russian River Valley appellations - the designating line goes straight through the site! This cool climate, 880-feet elevation site has performed remarkably well for Richard and Joelle Prather’s premium wine grapes, and their fruit has become among the most desirable in the region.
Their primary vineyard of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Syrah is named Horseshoe Bend Vineyard, after the narrow gauge North Pacific Coast Railroad that once passed along the edge of the property in the early 1900’s. Everyone referred to the turn as Horseshoe Bend, so it only seemed appropriate that the vineyard be named after it. According to Joelle, you can actually still see the old rail!
The Prathers also manage a smaller Zinfandel vineyard that was named Helen’s Ridge Vineyard after Joelle’s grandmother. The vineyards are both managed by Richard, who strives to always optimize the fruit’s potential.
Richard Prather - Owner, Vineyard Manager & Winemaker
Richard Prather wears a number of hats at Occidental Road Cellars, including owner, vineyard manager, and also winemaker. After honing his winemaking skills under Mat Gustafson at Dutton Estate Vineyard, he felt confident trying it on his own and experimented with home winemaking before Occidental’s first commercial release in 2006.
Being the vineyard manager and winemaker means Richard knows his vines and fruit incredibly well, and he knows how to make the most of his premium grapes. His wines have been featured nationwide at prestigious industry events, and each vintage garners more ratings and Gold Medals to add to the winery’s proud collection.
If not working in the winery or vineyard, Richard can be found with his 6-year-old daughter, whom he and Joelle adopted just 3 years ago. The couple also enjoys traveling and snowboarding in their free time.