From Celeste: On Sept. 27, 2009, Clay and I received a fax from a vineyard broker about a family farm that had just come on the market in Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley. We set out that Sunday morning anticipating a nice drive through wine country and the beginning of a long search to find our future vineyard.
We made an offer on that family farm the next day. It was accepted Wednesday.
On Sept. 27, 2013, four years to the day that we fell in love-at-first-sight with this property on Laguna Road, our Pinot Noir grapes were harvested for the very first time and delivered to the highly esteemed Kosta Browne Winery. After four years of anticipation and four weeks of nerves that birds, rain or heat would decimate our crop, we got little sleep the night before. We’d set our alarm for 5:30 a.m., but kept waking up and asking each other, “What time is it?” We finally gave up and got up at 5 a.m.
Friends and family joined us to await the picking crew; our niece Brandi, friends Jeff and Darren, and neighbor Liz were as excited as we were, watching the road like kids waiting for the start of a parade.
Finally, we saw the first car arrive. Then it all happened so quickly. The crew started working up the first row, dropping the first crop clusters into their picking bins, called bandejas. They carted full bandejas to the tractor and dumped them into the minibins. Music from a radio and their conversation drifted over the vineyard as they worked, their language as lyrical as the tunes. Within three hours, the entire vineyard was harvested.
During the harvest, our vineyard manager, Ulises Valdez, arrived to congratulate us on our first harvest, which we received with pleasure and gratitude for his part in what we have achieved in four short years.
From Clay: It is hard to imagine that four years ago today Celeste and I pushed our way through the overgrown brush on Laguna Road to take a last look at the property that would ultimately become our home, only to be met by a buck who gazed back at us from the top of the knoll.
We’ve done everything we can do to provide Kosta Browne with fruit that reflects the warmth of the sun, the chill of the fog, the beauty of this growing season and the passion and energy of all the people who put body and soul into our vineyard. It makes me feel good to know that our friends at Kosta Browne will put an equal amount of passion and soul into capturing all of this in the bottle.
In the meantime, Celeste and I get to relax a bit and reflect on where we are and how we got here. Special thanks are owed to Ulises Valdez and Kris Lowe, who treat the vines like their own children. Their patience, value and commitment is impossible to overstate. Recognition is also due to all of the farm workers whose skill and experience contribute to our success. I think too few people recognize their importance in putting food on our table or (in our case) wine in our glass. We are also grateful for our children, grandchildren, family and friends, whose presence and support enlivens us and makes our ranch a special place to live and work.
For a bit, my eyes can turn away from the vigilant watch of the vineyard. I will work on my own winemaking projects, fix all the things I broke during the year, make time to visit family, try to recall all the things I’ve learned this year and all the things I’ve vowed to do better next year, set up my recording studio and emerge next spring excited and energized to do it again.
I am sorry this growing season is over, but I can’t wait to see what next year brings.
Steps to Harvest
See the evolution of our first growing season in our Steps to Harvest package, where we track every step of the season from establishing our cover crop to harvesting the fruit for award-winning Kosta Browne Winery.