So, as I was helping my wife, Sharon, load up her Pot Bellied Pig, Bella Bella Baiocchi, in the car for the long drive to make her starring role in the new movie “Skeeter and Fetch,” it hit me… How did we get here?
Twenty years ago, I started down the slippery slope that a friend and fellow winemaker calls, the first sip. I was 26 years old; another friend (and fellow skydiver) was more refined than I was, bartering his talents for wine from a few Sommeliers who wanted to learn how to skydive.
This experience led me to cut my palate, as they say, on some of the best wines from around the world: Bordeaux, Burgundy, Tuscany and Napa. Time and life move along, and as they do, so too do maturity and refinement, with wine and with us. Passion for wine has driven this maturity in me.
Twelve years ago, I met my wife. We started on a new road together, a great road of ups and downs, twists and turns that led us to El Dorado County.
Sharon is an accountant, and as smart as they come. She owns a successful business, has clients that adore her and trust her implicitly. I trust her implicitly as well, because “book smarts” waved good-bye to me long ago…
Our love for each other and my passion to grow premium wine grapes with which to make world class wines brought us here, to this little piece of dirt—our piece of dirt—in the Fair Play AVA, where great Rhone wines can be made and compete on a global stage.
After several months of driving around countless viticultural regions in California, looking at many criteria and even more properties, saying no, no, no, we were frustrated. Then one weekend, with our lists and high hopes for Fair Play, that we would love everything about it, we were hopeful that we would find the right site to plant our vineyard, within our price range. The weekend came and almost went; our hopes had been dashed again, our morale was low, and we were tired and on the road out when we saw the sign. “Hey, that’s not on our list,” I said, “Let’s go look at it!” With reservation, Sharon agreed.
There it was! That’s it! The property had an offer, but not on the list. We stayed over another night, met with the realtor and bada-bing, bada-bang, we moved to Fair Play in June of 2005. We started developing our vineyard site and planted our vines in 2006.
While the vines were growing and reaching up to that first wire to hang on to for the rest of their lives, I was fortunate enough to be mentored by many people in the local wine industry. Bradley Brown at Big Basin Vineyards and Marco Cappelli at Miraflores took me under their wings and trained me. During this time, I was taking winemaking classes at Davis. Let me tell ya, going back to school was more fun than I anticipated, maybe because this time I wanted to learn…