Just some musings about this whole process from my (Brooke) persepctive. If you have any specific questions about our process into becoming Farm Winery owners in Arizona, email me at email@example.com and I will write about it!
This year’s harvest was absolutely amazing! We celebrated five years of making wine in our own facility, doubled production, and brought in the most beautiful fruit to date. Picking season was delayed by about two and a half weeks, and then it WAS ON! Fruit was ripening so fast I ran out of bins. I had friends call me to take fruit because they were full and I was running all over southern Arizona picking and hauling grapes. Then it was back to the winery to stomp and press. And then it was over, as quickly as it started!
Each season truly is so different, which is why vintage variation is very real. While we didn’t have a great Monsoon for Arizona, it was certainly nice on the vineyards. Our fruit had zero rot and it was a bumper crop year, where the vines pushed additional clusters. I also got to work with three new vineyards, along with the three we normally get fruit off of! The new vineyards were in Willcox, El Frida, and also Los Milic’s vineyard in Sonoita. I am so excited about experimenting with new grapes from different terriors/soils/microclimates. It allows me to make more complex and interesting wines.
In addition to pulling in new fruit, I also experimented with an orange style Picpoul, a dessert Malvasia, a rosé dessert wine, a few Pet-Nat style sparkling wines, along with the normal reds and orange style wines I tend to make. Harvest was intense, fun and full of excitement! Now I need a month-long nap!
I wanted to take a minute and thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support. Wishing you and your family all the joy and peace this holiday season.
Let me paint the two people who will read this blog post with a picture. The year is 2014. I have a 2 year old, 3 year old, 10 year old and 14 year old. I am a VP of Marketing at a mobile payment processing company that also has a couponing app. I have been working in technology since 2005 as a New Media Director for a renewable energy company, in marketing for an Digital Ad Agency, I was a Marketing Director at an internet radio company etc...you get the jist. Prior to that I was an volleyball player at Saint Mary's College of California (Go Gaels!) where my degree was in Maritime Archaeology (yes that is a real thing) where I spent my summers diving on ship wrecks in the Caribbean and Bermuda. I thought I would get my masters in Archaeology and live the life of academia, but I had the opportunity to continue playing volleyball and moved to Spain to pursue that dream.
Once my body had had enough, chronic stress fractures and hernias being the culprits, I came home and just really needed to work. Ape and Greg (my parents) said "Um no, we aren't going to pay for graduate school. Get a job." So I settled down and started working. Marketing & technology is where I fell. At first, I was all about being a working professional, but life at a computer is just simply not for me. All this back story is to show, I don't sit well, especially for hours and hours a day. It's not in my genetic makeup. I move.
So fast forward to 2014. I'm working 60 hours a week, I have nannies raising my kids (who were/are wonderful and I love so much) and I hated my life. One Sunday afternoon, my 2 year old was on my lap and reared up and popped me in the eye with the back of her head. I knew it was going to be bad...it was really GNARLY pretty quickly. I thought I broke my ocular bone. It hurt and it hurt and kept on hurting, for days. It just didn't seem like it was getting better. So I went to Urgent Care and the NP took one look at me and the odd rash that was forming on my head, cheek and neck and said I had shingles. Son of a b*%$#! I couldn't lay on that side of my head or brush my hair for MONTHS. That's what broke me. I quit my job. Told my husband I wanted to do something totally different.
We have a painting of a vineyard on our wall in our bedroom I look at every night and morning. It's a farmhouse on a hill with the beautiful rows of vines in the foreground. I looks like it's in Italy or Croatia, somewhere around the Adriatic. I brings me peace to stare at it. Plus we had always wanted to buy some acreage and live on a farm. Maybe I could take some classes on viticulture and we would move to Oregon or Washington and have a little vineyard and farm. So I started researching programs and learned we grow wine in Arizona! I took some classes online with UC Davis, but it wasn't hands-on enough for me, but the Arizona specific program was a 2 hour drive north in Clarkdale, AZ. After looking at the program I realized I could do all my classes on one day of the week along with my practicum hours. So that's what I did. Packed all my classes into one day/night and volunteered in vineyards & wineries around the Verde Valley in my off hours. It took me 3 years to graduate a 2 year program, but I graduated Magna Cum Laude. My mom said I needed to study wine in order to get grades like that. Ha! So when I think about where I am today, I blame shingles. Shingles broke me, made me reevaluate who I am, what I like to do, and forced me to make a hard left turn, when I could have stayed on a more "normal" road.