The Garrod family began involvement with California agriculture and open space in 1893, when David and Sophia Garrod purchased lands from the Mount Eden Orchard and Vineyard Company. R.V. and Emma Garrod continued with apricot and prune orchards, which defined what was then known as ‘The Valley of Heart’s Delight’. Harkening back to these historic roots, the Cooper-Garrod wine label recalls glorious orchard blossoms which enhanced spring views from our hillsides early in the previous century. The Fruit House, now the tasting room, was built in 1922 to store dried fruit until it was shipped to market.
Where did the Cooper name come in? Louise Garrod and George Cooper met as UC Berkeley students in the 1930s and married. Cooper and Garrod cousins grew up together at the ranch. Vince and Jane Garrod started Garrod Farms Riding Stables while George fulfilled his career as a research test pilot for NASA. When George’s retirement neared, the idea of making wine became a reality: the family land was known for growing fruit, and wine grapes would be a good addition. The first vineyard was planted in 1972 with Cabernet Sauvignon cuttings from the original Paul Masson vineyards. Jan Garrod continued with Chardonnay, then other varietals. For 20 years, George made wine for the family while grapes were sold to other wineries.
George’s retirement hobby became another part of the family agriculture business. Spring of 1994 saw the Cooper-Garrod label on wine lists and store shelves with the first commercial release. The Fruit House tasting room opened that fall for special event days. Bill Cooper retired from the Foreign Service in 1996, bringing his family back to the ranch and learning winemaking from his father. Now open daily, The Fruit House welcomes visitors in a relaxed ambiance to taste wine where the grapes are grown.