Kukkula Wines

Monday September 22, 2014

and time will fly!

By Kevin

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 12 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

By Paula

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.

local fun

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​.chese​brough​farm​.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​.cam​bri​as​care​crows​.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​.pasorob​les​down​town​.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​.cam​bri​achrist​mas​mar​ket​.com

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