The Accidental Winemaker
I never dreamed that I'd be a winemaker! Several years ago, we came to California with our small herd of horses to escape the Florida summers. While my wife was fully involved with the horses, I became interested in the vineyards around our ranch. Met some good people, got interested. And now, in 2020, we've bottled the first of grapes that I helped source and blend, wines that have my input with the assistance of master winemaker, Steve Clifton.
Hopefully, you will enjoy drinking these wines as much as I've enjoyed making them.
How did it get to be October? Only last blog it was the 2022 Holiday Season. Just yesterday. And it has been a big, busy year. Kent and Rona' wedding at the Florida farm. Christmas in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and New York. And then the big, sad news - we placed the CA ranch on the market to be closer to east coast family. Which meant that we had to figure out summer in Ocala. We figured out that summer in Ocala is brutal on the warmbloods. And the guys.
Rona's horses and ponies are all doing well and loving their riders and their jobs. Our ducks are doing well and love the Florida summer rains. Rona's also been rehabbing more baby squirrels (so cute). We were happy to host a number of Canadien riders for a "last gallop" before heading to the Pan Am Games in Chile, where they took home the Gold in Eventing. Earlier this year, we added our eigth horse, Clover, an ex-equitation horse learning to love his new job in eventing. He won his first Amoeba Level at Barnstaple South in Ocala this summer and more importantly had a great time.
Kent traveled to Fiji with our eldest grandson for a great two week trip of snorkeling, fishing, sailing, etc. Wonderful time had by all. We had multiple trips to NC and PA to visit with family. Same grandson's travel lacrosse team were Champions in a regional tournament in Charlotte in late October - we got to see three great games before heading north to surprise Rona's mother for her 89th birthday.
Fall brought our annual sponsorship of Plantation Fields horse trials in PA, the PA Hunt Cup, Duke Jump For The Children, and new ones - Barnstaple South shows and Horse Farms Forever, both in Ocala. We were happy to be able to attend a fantastic though soggy Plantation Fields weekened, Barnstaple shows, and the Horse Farms Forever Conversations about Conservation.
On to planning holiday travel and beyond...
Wedding bells that is. After quite a long time, we've actually done it and Rona is officially my wife...I know, most people think we had already done this years ago, but though I considered her my wife, it is now a legal truth as well.
Quietly, with just a few people, on the property in Ocala before we start our holiday travels and my 70th birthday celebration. I realized that I didn't want to reach 70 without being married to my best friend and person I'd shared so much of my life with, so we quickly arranged a good friend to perform the ceremony, decorated the barn a little more for Christmas, with a nice dinner at The Equestrian after...horses and ducks in attendance for the ceremony, of course!
On this Thanksgiving Day, we would like to give thanks to our family and friends, our employees, our US military and our first responders. We give thanks that we have our health, our happiness, and the ability to share with others during this holiday season and throughout the year.
I thank Rona for discovering and fixing the website glitch that prevented anyone from ordering any of our Red Wines...for who knows how long. I thank our customers for bearing with us during that time.
We really cannot believe that is again time for our trek eastward to Ocala, Florida. 7 horses, 5 people, 3 vehicles and 2 ducks.
I am excited that yesterday winemaker, Steve Clifton, and I tasted and blended to come up with new wines for the Spring to replenish dwindling supplies.
Rona is running a few specials - if you'd like information on corporate gifting, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org - we will produce custom cards and direct ship to your clients for the holidays. The other is a repeat of Holiday Package - order a duo of GSM + Semi or Claret + Rose and we'll add in a 50% discount.
Wow! Rona and I bought a boat in June to use as a waterfront "condo" in Santa Barbara. After working for three months and finally getting her ready, I decided "Pony Up" wasn't the right boat (it is possible that Rona disagrees) and now we are working on "Ramble", a Defever 44 trawler. So now boat number and horse number are equal in our family!
All that boat work, plus my neck surgery means that I've been woefully neglectful of things over here in "wine world". Luckily, Rona has been pursuing some leads and we are hoping to be opening up a new location in Solvang by the end of the year. We are planning to have an experienced manager in that location who has had a number of years working with a top winemaker in the area.
So, while we head back to Florida with the horses and ducks for the winter, wines will be bottled and ready to increase the inventory. We are looking forward to again having a physical location and one close to the ranch.
Wow, I can't believe it has been six months in Florida. Heading back to CA in June, horses and ducks in tow. We've had a wild winter; a 12w house project has taken the contractors 36w and we are just moving in with 10d to ship out!
Between that chaos and my "screw loose" discovery earlier this year, we've had quite a lot going on. Add some new grandbabies, a new daughter-in-law, and wow, time does fly.
And apparently, they are correct! I had a cervical fusion surgery back in 2013 and in the past few weeks (after an epic ski trip with high school friends), noticed some increased neck pain. Fast forward to this week when xrays show that one of the screws has backed out about 1/2". So, off to surgery in the next few weeks.
So, no more ski trips for 2022 and time to buckle down and get the new wines bottled and ready for summer in California.
We're still settling in to our winter digs in Ocala, FL and looking to return to CA by summer. Rona and the horses are enjoying lots of hills to ride on the property, I'm enjoying walking the same.
Folks are really loving the new Rosè which makes us super happy as we loved it when it was nothing more than grape juice! Hope to be offering tastings in Solvang by this summer.
Well, December was quite a busy month. Relocating the horses and ducks from CA to FL for the winter, moving ourselves, traveling to NC, PA, NY for the holidays and now January is almost over as well. We found that, surprisingly for a winter release, the Grenache Rose has been incredibly well received and we're looking forward to having our wines served at outlets here in Ocala. Rona's hosting our first little schooling horse show this coming week; we still have a lot of projects in the works but it should be fun.
We're hoping to be back in a physical presence in CA by our return this summer and may even do a retail outlet in FL as well.
Here's hoping that 2022 is an amazing year for everyone.