The Del Fava family planted the oldest currently producing vineyard at Limerick Lane in 1910, a field blend consisting mostly of Zinfandel as well as small percentages of Peloursin, Negrette, and Syrah. Without the benefit of modern scientific methods now used to determine the best soils and sites, the Del Favas were the first to recognize the rare potential of the soil and climate along this one-mile lane just south of the town of Healdsburg.
In 1977, the Del Favas sold their thirty-acre property to brothers Michael and Tom Collins. Like the Del Favas, the Collins brothers saw the potential inherent at Limerick Lane, and set about improving and replanting the vineyards, including a twenty-five acre field blend of Zinfandel, Syrah, and Grenache--the iconic Collins Vineyard. The brothers brought tremendous passion and enthusiasm to the property, selling some of the grapes as vineyard designates to preeminent local wineries including De Loach, Chateau Souverain, Ravenswood, Davis Bynum and Gary Farrell. In 1985, Limerick Lane Cellars was created to market wines produced exclusively from grapes grown on the estate for the first time under the Limerick Lanes label.
By 2009, Mike Collins was ready to sell, but was unwilling to see the beautiful old vines and all his hard work absorbed into a corporation or fall into the hands of investors just out to make a quick buck. Instead, he approached his neighbor Jake Bilbro and asked if Jake would like to buy Limerick Lane Cellars and the Collins Vineyard. Jake had grown up in the wine business, a member of a family renowned for principled vineyard stewardship and sustainable winemaking. Jake and his young family had moved in across the street from Limerick Lane Cellars in 2007, drawn to the place from which his father, among others, had sourced exceptional fruit. For two years Jake pitched nearly every bank in California before a local bank in Healdsburg finally agreed to give him the loan. Jake’s brother Scot signed on as winemaker.
“The original homestead where Mario Del Fava was born is where my wife, three kids, and I live today,” Jake says. “Literally the day after escrow closed, with our third child on the way, we picked our first grapes of the 2011 harvest. As only the third owners in its hundred and five year history, we feel privileged to steward the Limerick Lane legacy. Pairing modern farming and winemaking techniques with the incredible fruit that only the historic Collins Vineyard can produce, we create wines that live up to the heritage that preceded us--wines noted not only for their exceptional balance and elegance, but wines with a sense of history and place as well.”