Monday September 22, 2014
and time will fly!
The dream started probably sometime around the time we built our first home in Topanga, California, in the Santa Monica Mountains. That was 1990. Around then I became somewhat infatuated with wine. I was already really interested in farming (more like big gardens at that time), and the 2 1⁄2 acres we purchased provided the room to dip my toes in the water. Little did I realize where this would lead!
Shortly after we had completed our Topanga home, our architect suggested that the unfinished basement would be a great place to make some wine together. Having already toyed with the fantasy of one day pursuing winemaking, that conversation created the spark that got the fire going.
Most of you know by now that we did make wine for a few years, which led to planting vines (mostly Syrah) on our property. This in turn resulted in us getting bonded as a winery to sell our product, which led to ridiculous press over minute quantities of wine.
By the turn of the millennium, the stock markets were collapsing and I was starting to feel an unbearable sense of suffocation in the big city. I was looking for an out. Paula opened the door to explore Paso. If that wasn’t enough, my good friend, client (in my money world), and mentor, Lothar (Lothario’s namesake) insinuated himself into the crazy fantasy, and bridged us to get the project started. We’ve never looked back!
In December 2004, we left L.A., after purchasing our 80 acre walnut orchard in Adelaida. We immersed ourselves in planting our vineyard and building our home and winery. This December, we will have been in the Central Coast for 10 years. Our kids were 10, 8, and 3 when we moved. Today, Anna and Adam are in college, both out of state. Karl is now in 8th grade and five years from leaving for college.
Our walnut farm, today, consists of 29 acres of dry-farmed vines, 8 acres of olives, our home, and a winery facility. We also farm another 20 acres of vines that we planted on a property in the neighborhood, owned by our good friends, Ron and Cami Turovsky. Case production is hovering under 2000 cases a year, but will soon more than double as the newer vines start producing. In the next couple of years we’ll start the final phase of our vineyard with the removal of another 15 acres of walnuts. This will result in around 64 acres across the two properties producing our estate wines.
Paula and I, naturally, have been reflecting a lot in the last few months about the last ten years, taking inventory, and dreaming about the next ten years. What will our lives be like? What will kukkula be like? How does the reality compare to the dream we had when we started this project?
There have certainly been a lot of challenges. Money, of course (or lack thereof!), is always on our minds. Overall, the project has cost more than expected. Timelines, especially planting timelines, have lengthened. We haven’t pursued opportunities to their fullest extent with our olives or walnuts, yet may well in the next several years. Overall, though, the reality of where we are today, is not too dissimilar from what we visualized ten years ago. “All good things take time”, they say. Certainly apropos in the vineyard/winery world!
It’s interesting, how, on one hand, time seems to crawl. When we were in the midst of construction, or planting the vineyard, it seemed an eternity till the buildings were constructed, or we had our first harvest. Yet, the ten years have seemingly flown by as if it were a snap of the finger!
The dream has become a reality! Frequently, I find myself (when riding on my crawler early in the morning, or experiencing the excitement of harvest mornings, or gazing out our kitchen window overlooking Adelaida at dinner time, or just sitting on a hillside at sunset with a glass of kukkula wine) feeling this sense of utter disbelief, awe, and unbelievable privilege to be living here, experiencing this life!
So, even though I know the next ten years will be filled with moments of anxiety, exhaustion, and frustration, I’m convinced that those seemingly endless periods will be shadowed by a sense of exhilaration, pride, contentment, and hopefulness. And time will fly! What a cool journey!
all things not wine: ultimate aprons and local fun
the ultimate apron
My niece, Emily, is the seamstress in our family. You may be familiar with the gift bags and cards she sews and sells in our tasting room. We love their unique look which matches kukkula’s modern aesthetic. Because I haven’t been able to find customized aprons that meet my exacting standards, I asked Emily to combine all of my favorite features into one apron this summer. She came up with a great design and has made several of them for sale in the tasting room. You can come in and see me wearing mine in the kukkula kitchen, or see our first satisfied customer below. They are priced at $40 each. They are all handmade, each is unique, and they make great gifts.
And while you’re thinking about gifts, keep kukkula wine in mind for your holiday giving. A bottle of your choice of kukkula wine, a 250ml olive oil and a wine jelly fit nicely into a 2‑bottle gift box/shipper, (better yet, two bottles of wine, olive oil and jelly in a 3‑bottle shipper). We can ship almost anywhere in the US. Call us to get a quote or place an order.
Last newsletter I made some recommendations on local restaurants and lodging. This time, I wanted to recommend some local seasonal events that you should include in your plans if you travel to (or live in) the area:
Pumpkins at Chesebrough Farm - We love this real pumpkin patch in nearby Templeton (only a couple of miles off of the 101 and Vineyard Drive). They make a scarred squash with the kukkula logo for us each year and offer a huge variety of pumpkins, squash and gourds. The Farm is only open for the month of October, so if you are here at the right time, be sure to plan a visit. www.chesebroughfarm.com
Scarecrows in Cambria - The entire town of Cambria fills with fanciful scarecrows during the month of October (though they spill a bit into September and November). You can’t miss the hundreds of scarecrows in the downtown area if you drive or walk through. www.cambriascarecrows.com
Vine Street Victorian Christmas — This one night event is on December 13th this year. One block off of Spring Street in Paso Robles, Vine Street is transformed to a huge block party with decorations, food, entertainment and fun. Don’t miss Scrooge’s house if you go! www.pasoroblesdowntown.org
Cambria Christmas Market — At Cambria Pines Lodge, Wed-Sun nights December 1 – 22. The market is OK, but the lights are spectacular! We went for the first time last year and will definitely go back. www.cambriachristmasmarket.com