Janice Schmidt - Winemaker/Owner Estate 1856
There are points in everyone's lives that revolve around self-reflection: Am I happy with what I'm doing? Is my life heading in the direction that I want it to? Did I really need that cheesecake? Some of these "reflective stages," if you will, are more serious than others. Robert (Bob) Lamborn, our hero of the story, was in one of these serious stages when he made a life altering decision. He had no idea of the legacy he was about to create.
Recently divorced, Bob, a Private Investigator in the San Francisco Bay Area with security clearance in both the CIA and FBI, made the conscious decision that his life needed more structure and complexity. What better industry to add structure and complexity (he was already well-balanced and getting better with age) to Bob's life than the wine industry! Bob convinced his son, Michael, to purchase with him two separate but adjacent plots of land on Howell Mountain, an eastern appellation of the Napa Valley. Having no idea what they were getting themselves into, father and son team, Bob and Mike, purchased respectively, 25 and 15-acre plots of land at 2,200 feet in elevation in 1971. Of the forty purchased acres, a total of 14 were actually plantable.
The two men, along with other friends and family members, put their heart and soul into clearing these ruggedly beautiful plots of land into what are now majestic mountain top vineyards. After thorough research, both vineyards were planted to Zinfandel. Bob and Mike knew they needed a name for their wine. Of all the potential ideas, one stuck out the most to them: Lamborn Family Vineyards. It was a perfect name, simple and true to the business. Despite the fact that the majority of their friends told them the name made them sound like a couple of guys making wine in a garage, they went ahead with it anyway. Thus, the very first "family" winery label in existence was created. Many wineries have since followed suit. The first vintage, 100 cases, came in 1982, and was crafted by family friend and neighbor Randy Dunn. 1983 marked the first commercial release of Lamborn wine at around 350 cases. Production was kept very small and all excess fruit was sold while the Lamborns established their market. 1984 brought about 500 cases and production levels slowly increased each vintage until it reached a peak of 2700 cases in 1992. Not a lot has changed with Lamborn Family Vineyards in the last 20+ years. They continue to focus on their Number One goal: producing modest quantities of estate grown zinfandels and cabernets of a superior quality at an affordable price.