We – Mary Radu and Rich Auger — lived for a number of years in Saint Helena in the Napa Valley where we grew an acre of Cabernet Sauvignon and later Syrah grapes. Looking for more land and a more rural setting, we moved west into the Sonoma County wine country in April of 2009, renting a house near Forestville while we looked for a property to buy. It took us a year to find what is now Rusty Gate Farm, and it turned out to be a 10 minute walk from where we were renting.
Our goal had been to find a 2-3 acre property with a house in move-in condition. What we ended up buying was an overgrown 7 acre property strewn with junk (including a half- demolished in-law house, a wrecked Air Stream trailer, an abandoned toilet and refrigerator sitting in a field, tents, etc.)
Over the next several years, we cleaned up the property and restored and remodeled the farmhouse. We cleared out the front of the property which was full of scrub oak and planted the vineyard. The peach orchard already existed when we bought the farm, but it was in rough shape. We put in a drip irrigation system and began a regular watering and fertilizing program. We also began both summer and winter pruning to bring the trees under control.
Today, after several years of planting and upgrading, we believe we have accomplished what we set out to do – make Rusty Gate Farm a producer of top quality tree fruits and winegrapes and create a wonderful place to live, work, and share with our family and friends.