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when I am working
in the fields,
I reach down
and get a handful
of good clean dirt.

It feels warm
in the palm of my hand.

I let it dribble
through my fingers
and I feel as if
I had just
shaken hands
with all my ancestors.

Azores Immigrant Song
Tony Jerome, C. 1900

Ranch & Vines

Our family settled Napa, Sonoma and Solano Counties in the early 1870’s. John M. Rodgers purchased the Napa homestead and Oak Knoll District (OKD) Ranch in 1941. He planted and sold crops such as tomatoes, corn and alfalfa, as well as raised dairy cattle. While continuing to run businesses in Napa and Vallejo he started the operating of the Rockin-R-dairy on the OKD ranch.

The dairy under other management ran on the ranch until 1968 or 1969, when it was closed to make way for the planting of a vineyard. As the dairy cows moved out Frank, Avril Smith and their sons, Smitty, John and Steve, would go on to operate or help in the operation of a beef cattle business, on the homestead, which would eventually become the Smith Ranch.

Smitty went on to be a local cattle rancher until his passing in 2010.

As the OKD vineyard grew the cattle on the property diminished and the vineyard became a much more integral part of the family business.