A whole hidden world was taking place everyday on the internet and I had been completely left out of it. There were not only food blogs, but wine blogs, lifestyle blogs, mommy blogs and even blogs about how to blog. I was instantly hooked.
All of this made me realize I too wanted to blog. I had something to say and wanted to share the magically mundane, repetitive, boring details of my life. I wanted my own place to inspire, share, complain and learn. I had no idea this hobby blog would turn into a full fledged business of its own. What an incredible gift it has been.
The Noble Pig is a place for me to write about food, family, my wine, lifestyle and travel (my interests are too far and wide to be limited to one thing). Welcome to my site and my life.
I didn’t always love to cook. In fact, as a teen I paid little attention to anything going on in the family kitchen. It wasn’t until my early twenties that I suddenly took a real interest in creating food from scratch. I learned to cook by following recipes. Once I mastered certain techniques, I felt comfortable putting my own spin on things and creating meals specifically to my tastes. I think my first cookbook was 365 Ways to Cook Chicken, remember that one?
About the same time I was learning to cook, I also caught the wine bug. My husband and I had taken many trips to the Napa Valley in Northern California. Needless to say I became fascinated with the science of winemaking. I was learning so much about wine on these trips and it’s all I thought about while back at home in Southern California. At that point in my life, winemaking seemed like an impossible dream, but one I thought about often.
Fast forward many years and two kids later, an opportunity arose for me to return to the classroom, this time studying Viticulture & Enology at the University of California, Davis. I honestly could not believe I was going to attend this prestigious program and delve into the nitty-gritty of making wine and growing grapes. Not a bad gig when it comes to going back to college.
Without even blinking, my husband and I packed up the kids and left our life on the coast for my university adventure in Northern California farmland. While I completed my studies at UC Davis, we searched the West Coast extensively for vineyard property. As challenging as it was going to be, I wanted to grow and make small lots of handcrafted Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir being one of the toughest grapes to grow and craft into wine, but I was definitely up for the difficult road ahead.
The Willamette Valley of Oregon was really the best place to do just that. And right before I completed my degree, we closed escrow on a beautiful piece of property in the McMinnville AVA, about 60 miles southwest of Portland, Oregon.
We purchased the vineyard land from a logging company who had recently logged the property. We were left with tree stumps and lots of debris and it was going to take some pretty extensive work and time to get the land into vineyard-plantable shape. While all of this was happening, I needed something to keep me busy, something more creative than just stump removal.
As I mentioned before, I had just discovered food blogs, this was way before social media in the sense we know it today. In fact, in the early days of blogging we had to visit each other’s sites and leave comments to let each other know we existed. We took pictures with point and shoot cameras (no lighting) and grew our communities slow and organically.
I wanted a food blog to get me through the long period of time it takes to grow grapes and make wine. However, I never imagined this blog would have taken off so quickly and grown to the epic proportions it has today. Again it has been a dream.
The fact it has become its own self-supporting business amazes me. It was only supposed to be a hobby! I was/am very lucky. And because of this platform, I was able to sell out my first vintage of wine to all my loyal readers, shortly after it was released (before I even had a tasting room). What a blessing.
This irresistible outlet of writing about food, lifestyle and travel balances my creative side of thinking, with my more scientific side used for making wine. For me, it’s the best of both worlds. With my extensive sensory training from my days in enology school, I have a unique sense of what flavors come together well. This helps so much in the kitchen when creating something innovative and new is on the line.
I have been humbled by having my writing and recipes featured in the Chicago Sun-Times, the Huffington Post and all kinds of other wonderful publications. Working with brands, writing on their blogs and developing recipes for their products has also been especially rewarding. Have I mentioned all the fun freelance projects I get to work on behind the scenes? AND, I get to do this in one of the most beautiful, picturesque parts of wine country, while I make and grow wine. Is this really my life?
If I’m being honest, it‘s not without the support of my family that I have been able to take this amazing journey. They have allowed me to follow my dreams and take risks with complete freedom and zeal. I wouldn’t have gotten here without them.
The Characters in My Life:
My husband is a retired OB/GYN physician. He is the enabler of all my creative passions and the resident guinea pig for all my recipe testing and the lucky first taster of all my wine. It is only through his unwavering support and belief in my abilities that I have been able to accomplish so much in my life. I would do this crazy life all over with him!
Benjamin Pollak is my oldest son (and my right-hand man). He’s currently seventeen and getting ready to spread his wings in college. I’m not sure what I’m going to do without him as he has been a constant in the winery, vineyard and a part of this blog since their inceptions.
His curiosity, willingness to learn new tasks, take on challenges and lead in all aspects of our family business has been a blessing. It has been a pleasure working side by side with this guy and watching him grow into a leading member of the Noble Pig team. And he’s done this while working so hard in school and maintaining high levels of involvement in many school activities (proud mom here ~ yes, I’m biased).
Here’s Benjamin doing his evening punchdowns during harvest. He was quite a pro by his third harvest as seen here.
If you’ve visited our winery tasting room, vineyard, received our newsletters, followed us on social media, you can guarantee you’ve run into Ben. If he’s not in the wine cellar filling barrels, running tests and/or a plethora of other cellar tasks, he’s in the vineyard checking on the vines and working with our crew. Here he is (above) sorting fruit as it came into the winery during harvest.
As mentioned, Ben handles many aspects of the social media required for this blog. Blogging is definitely not a one person task! He also helps me brainstorm new recipe ideas, while keeping up and informing me on all the latest food trends. His ambition and enthusiasm are hard to contain and I love that about him.
My son Jonathan Pollak is 15 years old (much older than this picture taken in our vineyard) and my number one guy when it comes to checking on vine health in the vineyard. He has become an expert in identifying vines that need extra care and attention. An absolute must in a vineyard situation.
This guy is also a genuine super-taster, I mean he has such an acute palate he can pick out two varying brands of apple juice when asked. I know he could be a winemaking star as his palate could evolve into a world-class, articulate, takes no nonsense, winemaking, superstar. A legend in his own right, picking out microscopic wine flaws in single tastes and identifying problems early. What a gift.
Again, I could not do everything I do without his help and constant feedback about how things are going in different aspects of our business. I cannot be everywhere!