I'm just a guy from Ann Arbor, Michigan, who owns a vineyard in Paso Robles, California. WHAT?! Well, back in late 2004, I was driving around California after a work function out there and had just seen the movie, "Sideways." For some reason (Theory: I had just turned 40!), I started thinking about what to do in retirement. And it hit me...
California... sun... mountains... great wines... BUY A VINEYARD!
I know, real original. But, there actually was some logical thought process behind it...
I had lived in Michigan my entire life. I thought spending my golden years somewhere different,
truly different, would be interesting and California is definitely different than Michigan!
Over my career, I've started several businesses. A vineyard is just another business, right? (More
on that later.) To my way of thinking though, a vineyard could be the type of business that a retired
businessman could run... allowing me to keep my head in the game, but at a different level of intensity.
All of this presumed, of course, that I could find someone to actually run the vineyard. I will be the first to admit that I didn't know bupkus about wine growing but I have never let details get in the way!
After a fair amount of research and searching, and lowering my sights a bit (quality producing vineyards are hard to find, not to mention expensive!). I found a great parcel of land in Paso Robles which is situated about halfway between San Francisco to the north and Los Angeles to the south. 37 acres to be exact. From all accounts, well situated and well soiled for wine growing. The sellers were motivated. Everything looked great. EXCEPT for one minor issue... it was a WALNUT ORCHARD. Again, I didn't let details get in the way and I snapped up the property as quickly as possible.
So, now I had the land, albeit a walnut orchard. Let's talk about the next.