For two generations, the Laird’s have dedicated themselves to the terroir of the world-renowned Napa Valley. From vine to glass, the family has captured the purity of the region, showcasing that all great wine starts in the vineyard.
For 50 years, Ken Laird has devoted himself to the wine industry. His appreciation for farming stems back to his childhood. Spending summers at his grand- mother’s tobacco farm in Virginia, Ken’s fond memories paved the way for a second career. “Ken worked as a Mechanical Engineer in the East Bay, but he and his family loved Napa. He saw the direction and vision of the valley and wanted to be a part of it,” said Director of Marketing for Laird Family Estate, Madeleine Rose.
A pioneer, Ken followed his instincts and his pursuit to acquire 70 acres of land, bordering Tubbs Lane in Calistoga in 1970 with his wife, Gail. Together, Ken and Gail decided to develop the property and transition it from an orchard to a grape vineyard. “The bank wouldn’t loan Ken the $140,000 needed to purchase the land without a legitimate winery owner promising to purchase the fruit after the prunes became grapevines,” explained Rebecca Laird, General Manager of Laird Family Estate. With that, “Ken turned to the yellow pages and cold-called the one name he recognized, Robert Mondavi.”
Mr. Mondavi agreed to walk the property, and after a discussion on farming, he consented to guarantee the loan if the Laird’s would plant 50% Gamay and 50% Cabernet Sauvignon. That struck a twenty- year business relationship between the two families and paved the way for Ken to become a prominent grower in Napa Valley. From that moment on, Ken leaned on his agricultural roots and built a career full of passion and vitality. Today, the Laird’s own and operate Laird Family Estate, Laird Custom Crush, Laird Wine Services and are the largest private landowners in the Napa Valley, with over 2200 acres planted under the name Bayview Vineyards.
In the late 1990s, The Laird’s decided to make their own premium wine label with estate fruit. They were a family business and still are today. Ken and Gail’s son, Justin, works with Ken in the vineyards and is the President of Bayview Vineyards. Ken and Gail’s daughter, Rebecca, is the General Manager of the winery. Rebecca’s daughter, Jillian, was born in 2005, which was the same year the winery’s first red blend was produced. They named the wine Jillian’s Blend.
Known as the Red Hen Ranch vineyard property north of Napa, the iconic vineyard and architectural treasure is home to Laird Family Estate. Providing guests with a home away from home, connoisseurs can experience terroir-driven wines crafted by winemaker, Brian Mox, and Assistant Winemaker Eric Heikell.
Whether enjoying a picnic on the grounds or savoring the Laird wine port- folio, Laird Family Estate embodies the passion behind a dream.
5055 Solano Avenue, Napa, CA 94558
Article By: Valerie Owens