The Early Years
1976 - 1982
After practicing medicine in San Francisco for many years, Doctors Joseph and Genevieve Roche yearned to purchase a place in the country to escape to on the weekends with their young family. Because both were raised in farming families, they searched for a piece of property where they could raise fruit crops and have a small farm. In 1976, they looked at a large estate in southern Sonoma Valley, and because locals had assumed this area was an unfavorable region for grape growing, it was being offered for quite a bargain. Since the Roche family had no real intention of ever growing grapes, they fell in love with this property because of its beautiful rolling hills, streams, valleys, and proximity to San Francisco. The property was purchased by Joseph and Genevieve that same year, and by the following year, they made the decision to call it home and move their young family there permanently.
The First Vineyards
1982 - 1986
Five years later, through their children’s elementary school in Sonoma, they became acquainted with many grape farmers in the Sonoma Valley. One of these grape growers, perhaps the most prominent grape farmer in Sonoma Valley at the time, told Joseph and Genevieve he believed their southern Sonoma Valley ranch was an ideal place to grow grapes. It was his foresight and encouragement which led the Roche family to plant their first vineyards in 1982, just one year before their property was incorporated in the newly formed Carneros AVA, of which the Roches remain one of the founding vintners. Known for its dark, clay, soils and cool summer nights, Carneros is now world-renowned for the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir produced from this American Viticultural Area (AVA).
The Start of a Winery
In 1987, Joseph and Genevieve Roche founded and built Roche Winery. With an initial production of only 2,000 cases of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, they grew the brand to offer several additional varieties including Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet, Zinfandel, Muscat Canelli and Gewürztraminer. It was never their intention to mass-distribute their wines, rather, they chose to sell their family’s wines directly to their customers. Joseph and Genevieve loved to entertain and hosted thousands of Roche customers over the years at winery events to thank them for their loyalty to Roche Winery.
This tradition continues today, 30 years later, as the second generation of the Roche family has assumed ownership and manages the day-to-day winery operations. Following in the footsteps of Genevieve and Joseph, the family and staff take pride in offering a uniquely genuine, welcoming and unpretentious experience for all who visit the Roche tasting room. Roche Winery continues to grow under the direction of Joseph and Genevieve’s son, Brendan Roche, as their new Sonoma Valley Winery is set to open to the public in Spring of 2018, and their production now exceeds 18,000 cases per year.
Genevieve Marie Donlon Roche, M.D.
October 2, 1939 – September 14, 2012
In 2012, Roche Winery lost its matriarch, friend, grandmother, and mother, when Genevieve Roche passed away. Today, Joseph and his family honor her love of pinot noir when each year they bottle the winery’s most exceptional pinot noir produced by the family, the extremely limited production Cuveé Genevieve.