Zina Hyde Cunningham Winery is the culmination of four generations of winemaking experience. In 1849, 17 year-old Zina Hyde moved from his home in Maine across the country to California in hopes of striking it rich in the gold mines. With minimal luck on the dredge, Zina eventually purchased a small piece of property in San Francisco where he built a home for his family and a small blacksmith shop. But Zina wasn’t meant for city life, and in 1859 he moved his family to a 160-acre ranch in what is now the town of Windsor. He farmed Zinfandel and Alicante grapes. By 1862, Zina Hyde was a winemaker. He purchased another ranch in Kenwood. In 1865, drawn by the majestic beauty of Mendocino County, he started planting in Ukiah. The business was growing and family life was treating Zina well. His son, William, followed Zina’s big footsteps and eventually took over the family winery.
William had inherited his father’s work ethic and continued to farm grapes on the family vineyards, producing impeccable wines. He built a well-deserved reputation for the Cunningham family. With his son Lloyd by his side, he worked day in and day out. Though Lloyd had the skill and work ethic of his father and grandfather, he did not have their luck. The family winery was under his control in 1919 when the United States ratified the eighteenth amendment to the Constitution, which banned the manufacturing, sale and transport of intoxicating liquors. Even though wine had been produced and consumed for thousands of years, it was not exempt from prohibition. Being a law-abiding citizen, Lloyd quietly shut the doors on the winery his father and grandfather had worked so hard starting. A small loophole in the Volstead act made it legal for Lloyd to continue producing up to 200 gallons of wine per year for personal consumption, which he did as he passed on the family tradition to his son Bill. But it doesn’t take too many grapes to make 200 gallons of wine. Rather than fighting the bureaucracy or looking for loopholes for “religious and medicinal” wines, Lloyd began converting the family vineyards to orchards. He planted walnuts, prunes, apples and pears where his grandfather had planted grapes. Some of the land was sold to build homes for California’s growing population. Though Prohibition only lasted a short 13 years, in Lloyd’s eyes, it was the end of an era for the Cunningham family. The winery and vineyards were gone. Though he still farmed, he wanted something different for his son Bill.
Bill was always a smart boy. Everyday after school, he would work side by side with his father in the family orchards,
but that never interfered with his schooling. He learned the family tradition of making fine wines from his father, but with
the family winery gone, decided education was his main focus. After finishing school, Bill went on to become a teacher.
The Cunningham trademark of hard work and perseverance paid off, eventually landing Bill a job as an assistant to the
Governor of California for the Board of Education. Wine was in Bill’s blood, and he dreamt of reopening the old family
winery. As the years passed and Bill approached retirement, he decided to make that dream a reality. With a little
encouragement from his cousin, Steve Ledson who had opened his own winery in Kenwood in 1999, Bill started planning
the new Cunningham family winery. Just as his great-grandfather had been drawn to the beauty of Mendocino County,
so was Bill. He decided on Boonville in the lovely Anderson Valley and set out on finding the best vineyards around to
source grapes from. In 2004, Bill was finally doing what his great-grandfather had done nearly 150 years ago, making wine.