Taylor Serres of Sonoma Valley’s Serres Ranch, has deep roots in Sonoma County agriculture. As a sixth generation farmer, Taylor is proud to live and work alongside her family at the ranch, which has been owned and operated by the Serres family since 1924 where it originally operated as a dairy and row crop farm. Like many farming families in the area, the Serres’ are diversified in their agricultural endeavors, offering services not just in grape growing but in cattle raising, and blueberry farming in both Sonoma and Mendocino Counties. The family also owns a general contracting company and their blueberries are well-known and well-loved by locals. Each year when Serres blueberries hit the market, you can find them by name in stores and on restaurant dessert lists, where Sonoma’s farm-to-table chefs delight their customers with cobblers and pies made with the famed berries.
The evolution toward grape growing began for the family when Taylor’s father, John, planted grapes in the early 80’s after Jim Bundschu (of Gundlach Bundschu wines, another historic Sonoma family) bought a piece of the ranch. Jim planted grapes which John helped manage. This led John to develop a great love for winegrowing. Eventually, the Serres family would purchase this piece of the ranch back from Jim and continue the legacy of winegrowing on the property.
“We are very blessed to get along well and always strive for quality since our name is on our product.”
The Serres family embraces their deep roots in Sonoma Valley, where they often work with partners that they’ve known for generations. Family members and their long-time employees grow and oversee multiple varieties throughout the valley, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Zinfandel, Aleatico (a very rare variety in the area), Barbera, Petite Verdot, Malbec and Tennat. Although at times challenging, Taylor feels grateful to be working with her family.
When Taylor joined Serres Ranch after graduating from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and after spending five years working to gain experience (a rule in their family business) she quickly got started having the vineyards certified. The Serres’ believe whole-heartedly that using sustainably sound practices is the only option when preserving the longevity of their business. Certification also benefits the winegrower from a business standpoint as many wineries pay their growers a stipend for being sustainable. The Serres’ vineyards are certified sustainable by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA), and the family is working toward certification with Fish Friendly Farming (FFF). The vineyards have been certified for 3 years, but sustainable practices were long in place, so certification was just a matter of paperwork.
Recently, the younger generation of the Serres family has spearheaded a project to begin making the family’s own wine. Taylor is the winemaker and is thrilled to be entering this next chapter in the family business. The first vintage of these wines will be bottled and available in 2021.
In addition to farming, Taylor recently opened a wellness center in Sonoma called Sonoma Cryo, where she offers specialty wellness treatments including whole body cryotherapy, infrared sauna and aqua roll. She is active in the local ag community, is an alumni of the California Agricultural Leadership Program, is active in Sonoma-Marin young Farmers and Ranchers and is a board member and sustainability chair for Sonoma County Winegrowers, among other organizations.
During our conversation, we also asked the Taylor a couple fun questions:
What is your favorite thing about farming?
The ability to be outside in nature and to be able to connect with the five generations before me that farmed the same ground.
Farming gives me a sense of serenity and centering that many careers don’t allow. Being able to provide the most natural and real product to fee the world is a true blessing and a gift.
Where did you work before joining the family business?
I worked for our local AVA group, Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers Alliance, where I co-produced Sonoma Wine County Weekend and the Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction. Then I worked for a private hunting club in Sonoma Valley, where I was able to mix my passion for planning events with one of my favorite hobbies, hunting.
What would you do if you weren't farming?
I know what I would do, because I am doing it in addition to farming! I just opened a wellness center in my hometown of Sonoma. It’s just getting off the ground. I am passionate about wellness in addition to farming, and I love helping people feel their best. I offer Whole Body Cryotherapy, Infrared Sauna, Aqua Roll, CryoSkin and much more. If you don’t know what any of those are, give me a call!
What are you most excited about right now?
In addition to the wellness center, I am excited to launch Serres Ranch wines which will be available in 2021. One of our products is a sparkling aleatico / blueberry wine in a can. It’s delicious and I can’t wait to share it!