: What is your favorite aspect of this business and why?
: It's hard to put my finger on my one favorite aspect of this business, but certainly what gives me the most pleasure is the farming part of the vineyard operation. The satisfaction of preparing new ground, analyzing the lay of the land for vineyard orientation, planting, staking, trellising, and then seeing it come into production is difficult to put into words. It is a combination of initial enthusiasm and then a quiet contentment as the vineyard develops and starts producing its first crop and we get an indication of the quality of future vintages.
Another satisfying aspect is a rather simple one: just driving a tractor, whether mowing or disking, it is a pleasure to be alone on the tractor -- no phone calls or interruptions to distract you. It is a time to reflect and to inspect every vine as you pass by, noting any imperfections that need to be corrected, or if suckering, leaf thinning, or other care is needed. And it is still enjoyable to run the old D2 Caterpillar with the clank, clank, clank of its tracks and rollers, the smell of diesel smoke, the choreography of foot brake and lever clutch, and its sure-footed traction across the hillside, pulling a disk that gently turns under the moist soil with its new growth of spring grass. There is something primordial and grounding in this spring ritual that goes back to the inception of agriculture and the growing of crops. It has a satisfying and calming effect on the soul.
But, if I want to enjoy the comfort of modernity and drive the new 80hp Kubota closed cab tractor with air conditioning and surround sound stereo, I have to wait for a Sunday when Chuy, the vineyard foreman, is off duty, for he does not have the same fondness for the D2 as I do.
So I guess the conclusion is that I'm a farmer at heart and enjoy most of the agricultural aspects of our business. The winemaking, while interesting and challenging, I now leave to Justin and our assistant winemaker Byron. When we were smaller, producing 10,000 cases or less, I was intimately involved. But now, at 34,000 cases, it takes a large crew to manage the complexities of crushing the 30 varieties of grapes that we harvest from our eight vineyards. I'm more than happy to just be in charge of harvesting and bringing in the crop. I just haul in the fruit and tell Justin: "Here are top quality grapes that I've spent all year bringing to the peak of perfection, now just don't screw them up!".
And lastly, another satisfying facet of the business is to drop in the tasting room and see it full of customers enjoying the fruits of our labors, and perhaps to meet an old customer I haven't seen for years, and to talk about the early days of the winery. Especially gratifying is to see parents with their kids who enjoy playing in the sandbox or wading in the creek, because I know that in a number of years they will be our future customers. It is amazing how many new customers I meet who say they remember visiting the winery as kids while their parents tasted wine. It’s a renewable resource!