I want our winery to be a retreat for people wanting to get away from the busyness of their own lives. I want to offer a different way of living. Food grown and animals raised on our property instead of put into a grocery cart. Wine grown on our land and made by our own hands instead of bought at Bevmo. I want to foster connection to a sense of place.
This vision was built over twenty five years. Growing up in middle-class America with regular exposure rural African culture, I saw vast differences in consumption and gratefulness between the two places. This built a passion for sustainability and understanding where my food comes from, and a desire to bring that to our American lifestyle.
I lived off fresh fruit and fish when living in Hawaii, and ate kabobs cooked on an open fire in Kyrgyzstan. This taught me locally grown is best.
I spent a summer in Bolgheri, a little town in Italy, working at a farm that grew everything they had to eat. Meals were fresh and seasonal, and community was built amongst strangers over food preparation and farming. I learned that inclusiveness and hospitality allow for learning to take place.
I’ve spent my past few years working at small family wineries, connecting with and teaching people about wine. How you can smell differences in soil from coastal vineyards and those at higher elevation; cool weather versus warm; French versus American oak. I’ve learned to translate difficult ideas into words that get people excited about what they’re experiencing.
My hope is to build a home, garden, and vineyard with my wife Ivey where people can come for a weekend and have space to learn. I want to encourage guests to ask questions, gather eggs, try vegetables they’ve never had, and leave with a holistic sense of community. While I hope that foodies, chefs, and winemakers will come enjoy our space and teach us what they know, I hope that average middle-age accountants, school teachers, and honeymooners come too. I want them to experience digging up root vegetables, washing and preparing them, and cooking them in a hot cast iron over an open fire. I want them to feel overwhelmed and ignited by a wine they tried right out of barrel, knowing that the grapes they sorted that morning will yield the same result with time.
I know that in order to make this dream happen-- having a space where guests can stay on our property, spend a weekend learning our lifestyle, and leave full of inspiration and knowledge-- we will have to start small. Maybe a small tasting room, where my wife and I pour the wine we’ve spent years making. We’ll pour wine, yes, but also teach them about the soil where we grow the grapes and walk them through the barrels where we age the wine. We’ll offer a bit of salumi with one wine, fresh bread with another, and maybe a parmigiano reggiano with a bit of our honey drizzled on top. We’ll offer an experience that tells our story.
As we grow, I hope that food and wine and the lifestyle piece meld. We’ll build simple, small cabins on our land. We’ll offer gardening lessons, guided wine tasting, and a chance to be a part of our seasonal activities, whether that’s cheesemaking or grape sorting. We’ll prepare a simple and seasonal meal in the evenings, served outside with a roaring fire and yard games. We’ll meet in the communal kitchen. An outdoor room with a 14 foot table, big fan for the summer, and a big fire place for the winter. We’ll craft a big island in the center of the room, with plenty of cutting boards and knives to go around. Someone can prep vegetables, others can prepare meat or fish, and someone else can tend to the fire. We’ll have wine in our cups, and a sunburn from working outside all day. Ivey will set the tables with her colorful cloth napkins, and fresh flowers from her garden, and I will help assemble the meal. We’ll eat, settle by the fire, and wander back to our cabins tired and tipsy. Ivey and I will tag-team the clean-up, probably wonder why we didn’t hire more help, and be thankful for another chance to show people the life we lead.
We’ll send our new friends home with a basket of vegetables, wine, and a few recipes to try at home. We’ll encourage them to start small and keep in touch. They’ll open our bottles of wine at home, and relive their time on our property. I hope that they go home and find a local organic farm to source their vegetables, and a local butcher to buy their meat from. I hope that we’re able to encourage families to spend more time together growing their garden, cooking and eating, and less time on their phones.
I think that vision and passion are what make up the best ideas. I’m ready to work hard, learn everything I can at school and my job, and then go all-in with a dream that I think could change my industry and break down the barriers to enjoyment of fine wine and locally grown food.