A Pioneer in Organic Farming- Phil LaRocca, LaRocca Vineyards- September 27- The Connected Table LIVE!
Phil LaRocca, founder of LaRocca Vineyards, is a pioneer in organic farming and sulfite-free wine production. Phil was recently named Farmer of the Year by the Organic Trade Association for his work to help create the California Food and Production Act and formulate official guidelines for organic wine, and for his own efforts as a dedicated organic farmer.
This family-owned winery located in the Sierra foothills has quite the farming lineage behind it. Phil’s Sicilian- born mother, Tilly, came from a multi generational family of farmers. Father Nino, also Sicilian- born, was a San Francisco fisherman known as the “fastest filet-knife” on Fisherman’s Wharf.
Phil grew up in the 1960s counter culture world of NoCal. A fun fact: He managed the rock band, Creedance Clearwater Revival. After leaving the band, he started farming row crops in Quincy, California, while teaching at Feather River Junior College. He also worked as a cowboy for Randolph C. Johnson, raising registered Hereford bulls. By 1973 he started farming seven acres of organic apples and teaching agriculture and food classes at Chico Senior High School and Paradise High School via the California State University, Chico’s Upward Bound Program.
In 1975 Phil became the first certified organic apple grower in California. He launched LaRocca Vineyards in 1984. Today, the winery rests on 110 acres where the Cascade Mountains meet the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The vineyards produce old growth Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, as well as Pinot Noir, Barbera and Zinfandel. A second vineyard, located on western side of the Sutte Buttes near a bald eagle sanctuary, grows Chardonnay varietals. 95% of LaRocca Vineyards’ grapes are 100% organic, and almost all wines are estate bottled.
Phil and wife, Judith, have been married 40 years and have raised three children Dharma, Phaedra and Maria and godson, Nathan, all who are actively involved in LaRocca Vineyards along with their four grand-children Jaeda, Nino, Keenan and Atilavea, and god-grandchild, Natalie. It truly is a family affair! www.LaRocca Vineyards