Iron Horse is one of Sonoma County's most prestigious, small, independent, estate, family owned wineries located in cool, foggy Green Valley, within the famed Russian River Valley. The founding partners, Audrey and Barry Sterling first saw it in the pouring rain in February 1976. Driving down Ross Station Road, they were sure they were lost until they crested the knoll and the view opened up to 300 acres of gentle rolling hills and a wall of trees behind that looked like Camelot to them. Incurable romantics, and having extraordinary vision, they bought the property in just two weeks. Terlato Wines is proud to represent Iron Horse Vineyards in Canada.
In those days, Iron Horse was the most westerly vineyard in Sonoma County. Even the agricultural extension agents from UC Davis recommended they look further east as this vineyard was prone to frost as late as June 1st, well after bud-break, and jeopardizing the crop. But having lived in France, the Sterlings knew the cool, foggy climate was exactly what they were looking for to grow Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. And, as a native San Franciscan, Audrey Sterling had spent part of her summers on the Russian River and was familiar with the area.
There were 110 acres in vine at the time, originally planted by Forrest Tancer when he was working for Rodney Strong. Forrest and the Sterlings became partners, upgraded the vineyard, engineered an elaborate frost protection system, built the winery and produced their first vintage of Estate Chardonnay in 1978. The winery officially opened in 1979 with the first vintage of Estate Pinot Noir on Barry Sterling's 50th birthday. The first vintage for the Sparkling Wines was 1980.
The name Iron Horse came from a train that stopped at Ross Station at the turn of the 20th Century. The logo, the rampant horse on a weathervane, came from an actual weathervane that was unearthed when they were leveling the ground to build the winery.
In the arena of sparkling wines, Iron Horse stands at the top. It is the Wine of Presidents, Prime Ministers, Kings, Queens...and the Pope. Iron Horse has now been served at the White House for five consecutive presidential administrations, beginning in 1985 with the historic Reagan/Gorbachev Summit Meetings, which ended the Cold War. The first Bush administration served Iron Horse sparklings at several State Dinners and brought our Classic Vintage Brut to Moscow for the signing of the START treaty. The Clintons chose Iron Horse for many occasions-most impressively for the official White House Millennium Dinner New Year's Eve 1999 to toast the new Millennium. Iron Horse was served at the 200th anniversary of the White House attended by all of the living presidents except Ronald Reagan who was too ill to travel to Washington. The first time the George W. Bush administration served our wines was on the most somber of occasions-September 20, 2001, at a working dinner with Prime Minister Tony Blair, immediately prior to the President's momentous address to Congress outlining U.S. response to 9/11. The winery is very proud the White House served Iron Horse at the dinner honoring the Pope on his 2008 visit to the United States.
The winery is also proud to produce a limited number of special cuvees for Charlie Palmer, Michael Mina, Bradley Ogden, Commander's Palace and Disney.
Iron Horse is truly a family affair. Audrey and Barry's daughter Joy Sterling is the CEO and lives at the foot of the vineyard. The Sterlings' son Laurence, his wife Terry and their children moved to Iron Horse in 1990 and built their home on the far southwest corner of the property. Laurence is Director of Operations. Audrey and Barry are retired, but still reside at the heart of the estate in the original Victorian built in 1876.