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Posts Tagged ‘dream big’

Dream Big ~ Oak Mountain Winery

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Check in every month where we feature a new interview with our Temecula Valley winemakers and winery owners. You’ll learn where they came from before settling in Temecula, CA – and what keeps them passionate about the sometimes not-so-glamorous art (and science) of making good wine in California.

Steve and Val hard hat-ting it!

Steve and Val hard hat-ting it!

Our ongoing series this month features Steve and Valerie Andrews of Oak Mountain Winery. Val’s dad and uncle were in the gourmet wine business back in the 60’s, way before it was popular. And all it took was a wine tasting trip with Val’s dad for Steve to get bit by the winemaking bug.

Why (on earth!) did you get into the wine business?
Well, we were already in love with the wine industry.  We lived on 10 acres, so we just  decided to plant it and try our hands at making some. Next thing we knew, we had three wine barrels of some pretty awesome wine and we just decided it was time to open a winery so we could actually sell all this liquid gold. That was the beginning of our home winery, Windy Ridge Cellars (now Temecula Hills Winery) in 2001.

And why Temecula?
Well, we lived here – and the climate is great for growing grapes. After several years of operating out of our home winery, we purchased the property where we now have Oak Mountain Winery.  We’ve been open since 2005.

So what’s it really like running a family owned and operated winery?
If you don’t love what you do you will never succeed in running a winery. We work seven days a week; 10-12 hours a day. But we DO love it!

What is it you MOST love?
We love the people we meet, the other winery owners and the lifestyle we live. We love the continuing education we receive at seminars – and what we learn from talking to other winemakers and owners. We love that there’s endless opportunities that the winery can offer to our guests. It allows us to be creative in our label designs, our tours and special deals, and our parties and events. We make each of them our own. For us it’s a shared interest we both love to explore.

So, on the opposite side of that, what keeps you awake at night?
There are challenges with running a small family business. The mix of all of our family’s personalities – working together every day – it’s a challenge for sure. But we like challenges! And, it makes us happy almost all of the time.

And the Caves! What does it mean to have (almost!) completed a project of this magnitude? I mean, really! How lucky are we???
The caves. A huge insightful undertaking! Two years in planning and nine months of digging. We’re still looking at about three more months to finish up all the little details. There is nothing like this in Southern California. When you get the chance to tour our caves, we promise you that you’ll feel like you’re on a mini vacation to Europe; like being sent back in time. We’re so excited and proud to have the first mined cave in Southern California. We just can’t wait for it to be finished!

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Big Dreamers: Nick & Cindy Palumbo, Palumbo Family Vineyard & Winery

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Welcome to our new blog series: “Big Dreamers.”

Here you’ll read about the inspiring true stories of our Temecula Valley winemakers and winery owners. You’ll learn where they’ve come from before settling in Temecula, CA – and what keeps them passionate about the sometimes not-so-glamorous art (and science) of making good wine.

Nick & Cindy Palumbo have owned and operated Palumbo Family Vineyards & Winery since 1998.

1.  What were you doing before owning and operating your winery?

NICK:  I have done A LOT! I was an ocean lifeguard, a rock star in NYC, a chef and now – winemaker.

CINDY:  I was an insurance agent for 15 years prior to the winery.

2.  What inspired you to want to buy a winery and what were the circumstances around choosing Temecula Valley, CA?

NICK: I was just coming back to SoCal after time in NY and lucked into this emerging Valley.  I saw potential for better wine and vineyard quality than what was here before, so I took charge.

CINDY:  I was already living in Temecula Valley and met Nick after he purchased the vineyards. A few years later I encouraged him to turn the garage into a winery, to quit selling his fruit to other winemakers and to open up his own shop.

3.  What were your expectations of the winemaker lifestyle at the beginning?  Were they way off or right on?

NICK:  I only expected to have to work really hard.  I wanted to prove it could be done through hard work and sacrifice. I certainly didn’t expect to make any money at it. I was right! I knew what I wanted – and the rewards for making quality wine would come if I just kept my head down and proved it though doing it.

CINDY:  I had zero expectations of the lifestyle – and that’s probably a good thing. It’s not nearly as glamorous as most people think – but I wouldn’t change it!

4.  People might think winemaking is glamorous.  Would you like to set them straight?

NICK:  If you’re an authentic winemaker, the glamorous parts come when no one is looking. It’s a lifestyle that you can’t pretend to live. Working hard, raising children and farming for quality is the reward… not what people see in the magazines.

CINDY:  There are definitely some glamorous sides to the wine industry. Nick is so down-to-earth and he takes winemaking so seriously that we don’t really experience that side of it in our lives. A true winemaker is focused on just that – making good wine.

5.  What is your least favorite thing about running a winery?  What is your most favorite – the reason you get up in the morning?

NICK: There really is no part of what I do that is worse or better. If you love what you do for a living, then it’s all good!

CINDY:   Least favorite thing about owning a winery is probably the fact that we can never get away from it. We live there, we sleep there, we work there, we are raising our family there; it’s always our focus. Sometimes I think it would be nice to just be able to work 9 to 5 and leave the office at the office. My favorite part about it is the lifestyle. We live in the middle of a vineyard, we raise our own animals, our (four) kids get to grow up see what we make with our hands. Winemaking in Temecula is truly a labor of love that we are allowed to include our whole family in.

To learn more about California’s Big Dreamers, click here!

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