917 - Heritage of Our Heartland: Family Branches
Christmas Trees or Grape Vines? It’s a question that would change the future of three generations of the Bush family – and the future of El Dorado wine region. In the early 1970s, Christmas trees and grape vines were the two crops the El Dorado Department of Agriculture suggested Madrona founder Dick Bush consider growing on his newly acquired land in the Sierra foothills. The idea of Christmas Trees bored Dick, so he studied the land and felt in his gut that grape crops were ripe for the picking! Dick made a choice that would change the future of his family and the region by picking a future of grapes!
In 1973, he gathered his wife Leslie, their children, including young son Paul, who would grow up to be the winemaker today, as well as parents, and ‘about every kid in El Dorado County’ and planted 35 acres of vines. Dick picked the Madrona location to raise his 4 children and plant his vines because of the gorgeous 12 foot wide madrone tree in the middle of the property.
Today, Madroña Vineyards, a small El Dorado winery now owned by Paul Bush and his wife Maggie, grows 25 grape varieties on 70 acres – one of the most varied selections in the region.