A feeling of familiarity washed over me this year at harvest time. Now in our fifth harvest, everyone knows the rhythm and routine of the activities. The guys are in the vineyard first as I rise early to brew coffee and wake the kids. We all head out through a layer of early morning fog to greet the tractor and bins just starting to be filled with fruit. The kids join in with the picking crew and I start my routine of dumping bins. I check on all the workers, find the fullest picking bin, and exchange it for an empty so the crew can keep picking without interruption. This also provides Bret with an even flow of fruit to sort and check. Moving through the vineyard, carefully gathering and switching full bins for empties, one by one I lift and dump the fruit.
It was time to net the vineyard to protect our fruit from the birds, cue creepy Alfred Hitchcock music. Being successful at farming means controlling unwanted access to your crop.
You don’t want to work all year just to have someone or something (wildlife) sneak in when you aren’t looking and take it all. The net which is rolled out from big spools creates a barrier between these non paying customers and our grapes.
The SRV gang headed south to Arroyo Grande with some family and friends to support a new very cool wine bar.
Gather wine bar is a cozy place that serves all their wines by the glass.
One really unique aspect of this wine bar is the owner’s desire to focus on local wines! That is just one of my favorite things about Kari and her new wine bar. Kari left her day job in software to pursue her dream of owning a wine bar and has not looked back. I find some similarities between Kari and the SRV gang and although we still have our day jobs, we have all jumped in to a new adventure of following a dream.
On Gather’s website Kari states ” Showcasing Central Coast wines is not just something we think everyone should do in the San Luis Obispo area, we think the wines are the best there are.” Gather has a great atmosphere with comfy couches and a laid back feel. She serves some very yummy small plates; including pizza, olive tapenade, and some wonderful cheeses. However if you are in the mood for a burrito from the restaurant down the street, Kari will encourage you to bring it in and enjoy it with a glass of wine. She will let you bring in just about any food and is happy to show you her neighbor’s menus so you can order in. She simply stated; ”I am not in the buisness of selling food, my buisness is to sell wine!” Gather has a nice presence on facebook, so the social networking people can plug in and free wifi is available in the bar. Gather has been doing very well since opening it’s doors in March 2009.
One last note about this special spot is that Sunset Ridge is on the menu. That is right, you can enjoy our 2006 Petite Sirah by the glass, while it lasts!
Tomorrow we head up to San Francisco for bottling day. Life on a vineyard brings many ups and downs throughout the year. The life cycle of farming does not come without risks. There are frosts to worry about in early spring and new shoots to train. Once the vines are producing fruit you have to contend with all the critters that also want to eat grapes. With the beginning of fall we are all waiting and watching for the anticipated harvest. We check the grapes and check the sugars waiting for the perfect balance of sugars and ripeness to pick the fruit.
Wine making has some similar cycles that start with harvest /crush and finally ends with bottling. One of my favorite days is the day our wine travels from the barrel to the bottle. We at SRV refer to it as “Bottling Day”. We will taste the wine, inspect the process and savour every moment as we watch all our hard work get bottled up!
I am playing Photo Story Friday.
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek
- I turned in to see a narrow driveway lined with fenced cubicles draped in blue tarps. Each large square fenced cubicle housed a business. Many of the businesses seemed to be related to wine. After locating Fine Wines and entering the blue tarped cubicle, to my surprise, I found a free standing building inside the space. Once inside, the industrial feel of the pier faded away and I was standing in a tastefully decorated office space.
While inside I looked out the window that opened up to the bay. A large metal door stood open to expose the pier across the water. The view revealed old abandoned railroad tracks that had been used to load cargo directly from ship to rails many years ago. Glancing back towards the city, the view highlighted a very famous landmark Coit Tower. This was such a surprise to discover this site so rich in history, a side of San Francisco I had never seen or experienced. Our meeting began and they were very positive about my wine. I asked permission to blog about their unique location, they granted my request and I hope I will be returning in the years to come.
I am playing photostory friday, for more photostory posts click here.
The Hotel Cheval has added us to their wine list. We were so excited that we decided to head out to their wine bar called “The Pony Club” and check it out. We took pictures and reminisced about our journey. We celebrated our accomplishments and talked about our plans for the future over some wine. They allow their guests to build a custom flight of any three wines from the “By the Glass” list. So we ordered a Viognier, a Pinot Noir and ended with our 2006 Petite Sirah.
The Hotel Cheval is, in my opinion, Paso Robles’ finest boutique luxury hotel, located in the heart of Downtown. The Hotel Cheval offers well-traveled guests an experience unlike any other in the area. Located just off the Lobby, The Pony Club bar is small but inviting. The Parisian inspired horseshoe-shaped zinc bar, with high open beamed wood ceilings, is the perfect spot to meet friends and taste some of Paso Robles’ finest wines.
“Chester,” and the Hotel’s Carriage, await guests on weekends to take you to any downtown location you desire.
Several months ago, I ventured out to town to see Bottle Shock the movie. It is based on the true and historic story of when, in 1976, California wines were submitted in a blind tasting against noted French wines … and won!
I enjoyed watching the story unfold about the various struggles between a father and son, the pursuit of a dream, and the hard work that goes into farming. This story really demonstrates the growing pains of a young wine business.
There were more than a few great lines. Several of them reminded me of why I love this life we’ve chosen, and why I embrace the struggle of farming a vineyard. Farming is a great analogy for life. My experience of “living on some land” has given me a great appreciation for this fact. Farming is a daily reminder that many things in life are out of our control. First-hand experience has increased my understanding of why Jesus often used a vineyard as a parable in his teachings. I try to remind my children that they have more control over their reaction to life’s events than the events themselves.
My favorite line from the movie is the title of this post. In farming, you work all year for the harvest and when it’s done, you start all over again. Sending my kids to school feels much the same; with a new year comes new expectations, new teachers and new schedules. Life often comes at us in cycles. Like housework, homework and cooking, there is always a do-it-again around every corner.
So, I give this film a tip of the wine glass and a recommendation to see it if you have the chance. I think many will enjoy this slice-of-life story that gives a nod to the American dream and American spirit of hard work. Bottle Shock is now available at your local blockbuster or netflix.
Disclaimer: As a California vineyard owner I am definitely a biased reviewer!
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 NIV
We debuted our 2006 Vintage at level 4 restaurant in Paso Robles. It was a cold Friday night in December and we were warmed by family, fans, and friends. They joined us to celebrate the release of our newest vintage. Luis Ortega was there to provide live acoustic guitar music. We had a great night, and level four was excited to add our 2006 Petite to the wine list.