CACHE CREEK VINEYARDS
250 New Long Valley Road
There are many reasons families develop world-class vineyards and wines. In the case of Cache Creek Vineyards in California's scenic Lake County – an increasingly heralded wine region due north of Napa Valley – the raison d'etre is to honor one's father. Known as "Poppo" to family and friends, Bill Van Pelt, who died in 2004, was born in Minnesota, reared in Alaska and Washington state, and educated in Mendocino County. Bill moved to Lake County in the 1970's and established a business supplying decorative rock from local quarries. In 1997, he purchased a 590-acre piece of property along Cache Creek in the eastern foothills of Clearlake Oaks in southern Lake County. On Poppo's first visit to the property, he was greeted by a herd of Tule elk. This encounter quickly sparked a love affair and Bill would drive to the land nearly every day to spend time with his newfound friends. The elk fired his imagination about what could be done with the property. He wanted to enhance its natural beauty and preserve its wildlife habitat and decided that a vineyard would be the best way to achieve his goals.
Bill started cultivation of the land and embarked upon his dream of creating a beautiful vineyard in which world-class grapes would be grown, and enhancing the refuge for the Tule elk. As the year's progressed and the vineyards were planted, several ponds were built for the elk and various grasses were planted creating a sanctuary where the elk cows would calve and wild turkey and deer would feed. The special relationship between Bill and the elks became poignant when the Tule Elk made an appearance at Bill's memorial in 2004, held at the ponds, as if to say "goodbye" to their dear friend. Today, Bill's youngest son, Don, has become the guardian of the elk and the ambassador of his father's dream. Don can be found out at the property late at night and early in the morning to ensure the grapes and vines are well cared for and protected from the elements