Making Decisions

Yesterday I met with the grape guru of Oregon, Stirling Fox. 

Is that about the coolest name you could possibly have?  (And yes, he is about the nicest guy in the world.)  Stirling came very highly recommended and really is the go to guy in this area for vineyard establishment and management.

Stirling is who I plan to use as my vineyard consultant/manager and is a wealth of information.  He spent hours answering my questions as we tried to do some forward thinking into the twenty year plan of my life and vineyard.

Of course, we came to many decisions and things I need to start working on.

One of the first requirements is clearing this land.  All my crazy looking oak trees are on their way out!  In order to clear this property I have to file a request with the Department of Forestry to remove this land from forest production, changing it over to agriculture.  Sounds like a big deal but it’s really not, just more paperwork.

I also have to file for water rights, a little more difficult of a process but again do-able and required in order to irrigate the vineyard from a vineyard well.

The pictures I’m showing you are also where we have decided to plant the vineyard first.  We have great west to southwest facing slopes, perfect fruit ripening conditions.

It would be nice to start with about 10-12 acres of Pinot Noir, a couple of Pinot Gris, a few of Riesling and a couple of Chardonnay.  However, if I told you the cost of establishing even that much of this site, you might choke on your morning coffee.  I hope I can still afford to drink coffee after all this. 

However, where there’s a will, there’s a way.  And somehow I’m going to get those grapes in the ground if I have to eat minute rice for the next ten years. 

As soon as the land is cleared we will be digging soil pits with a backhoe in order to understand what type of soil variation and uniformity we will have from vineyard block to block. 

A soil pit shows both vertical and horizontal variations in soil properties.  Things like soil structure, potential rooting depth and rock content. 

With such a large area, a thorough soil investigation, while costly, is warranted.  This will help ward off any disasters which could possibly lead to economic disasters if problems with the soil are not corrected before the vineyard is installed.

Once the land is cleared we will have to plant a cover crop of legumes (probably peas) in order to keep a desirable Nitrogen content in the soil.

Okay, so much to do, and there’s so much more, my head is spinning.

Wish me luck!  It’s going to take a village.

Post a Comment


  1. Paula 1

    Hey, you’re an Oregonian now! A modern day pioneer! Enjoy the journey and keep lots of blog notes … your children’s children’s children will want to know how it all started! :-)

  2. Cathy, we will gladly send you a monthly supply of coffee should that be necessary to get your vinyard and winery going ! We want you to be producing your liquid gold BEFORE we are in the old folks’ home cause we fully intend to visit and sample the tasty fruit of your labor ! KathyB.

  3. Deeba 3

    *PHEW* Uphill task but will lead to happy days when the wine starts flowing. All the best Cathy. How familiar nitrogen levels sound; have just finished doing soil & irrigation with the daughter!! That just goes to prove that knowledge of nitrogen might come handy one day!! LOL!!

  4. Laura 4

    I was gonna offer to send Coffee cause that is essential to life but Kathy beat me to it so I reckon I will offer up the RICE :D I can’t wait to see how all this progresses … what beautiful land you have there! and you are so right where there is a will there is a way!
    Hugs Laura

  5. Awesome! The land looks great. Two quick things:
    1) for each tree you take up, you should plant a new one some where else on the property :)
    2) I’ve got some great wine pairings for minute rice- in fact, any of those grapes you’re planning on planting would go great with a box of Uncle Ben’s!

    Love that you are pursuing your dream. I am very excited to follow this project and see how things turn out!

  6. Leslie 6

    Williw and Sterling??? I want to move there to meet Bud and Bubba!LOL
    Thanks for sharing your journey into the wine world with us!

  7. Liz C. 7

    OMG! I’m so excited for you all, but it does seem daunting to someone like me. I think your dreams and your vision. And hey, I’d live on rice to see my dream come true. I love it that you’re sharing your journey with those of us who will never venture there. As I’ve said from the beginning… If you build it, they (and I) will come.

  8. I can’t believe you’re going to have your own vineyard. I am so jealous I could cry in my soup. But I am so excited for you!

  9. Cathy, I am behind you all the way! It is great that you can follow your dreams! Good luck!!

  10. Kari 10

    I think what you are doing is awesome! And, the land is really beautiful. We are going to a local winery today for their one year anniversary celebration where they will be revealing three new wines. Good luck to you!

  11. Barbie with a T 11

    Sounds like a lot of hard work and a lot of expense, but it will be well worth it when you have an award winning production of wines. I thank you for letting us go through this with you. It is such a learning experience.

  12. Katie 12

    How scary and exciting! I am both jealous and terrified for you at the same time. I can’t wait to watch it become reality. You are very inspirational, Cathy.

  13. Suzette 13

    Wow! You just wear me out! I admire your courage and determination. Being a somewhat senior individual, I’m wondering if I’ll be able to sample your wine. How long does it take to get your first vintage?

  14. Bunny 14

    This is the beginning of your dream, be patient, invision those slopes filled with grapes to keep you going. We’re all here with you Cathy wanting you to succeed and praying you will. I will keep you supplied with sweets to have with that coffee Kathy is gonna send you!! We all want this so bad for you, go get’em girl!!

  15. Ann 15

    How wonderful to see your dream starting to become reality. Let us know when it’s time to send care packages so we can make sure you’re eating more than minute rice. :-)

  16. Daisy 16

    What an undertaking! This is so amazing… Will you be able to get any free labor from those hooligans of yours? I’m sure they could convince you they’re fast learners on the back-hoe…

  17. Kim 17

    Decisions, decisions……..As daunting a task as this sounds, Cathy. I hear exhilaration and joy in your talking of your vineyards. This cook gave up wine years ago, otherwise I would gladly provide you with food for a bottle of Pinot Gris……….Forget the trade, when you are tired of rice give me a holler and I will send you some good Southern food, just cause you are wonderful.

  18. Cathy,
    I think that is absolutely fascinating, both the before pictures and the planned project and all the detail that will go into creating a working vineyard. Growing grapes is a science as well as a passion, and it sounds like you and your land will be well-prepared. Not cutting corners makes all the difference, giving the soil the nutrients it needs, just the right amount of water, the right amount of sun, tending the plants as carefully as if they were babies… Time consuming, absorbing… Wow. What a fun endeavor you will have over the next ten years !

  19. While we have never started a vineyard, my husband and I have worked in just about every other aspect of agriculture. Well, my husband has. I have just been along for the dusty ride. We do farm about 2,000 acres each year and then raise 7,000 head of steers.
    So, if you need anything, holler at me. And then I will ask him whatever you need to know as far as equipment or whatever.
    You are going to do so good. I can’t wait to come visit your winery.

  20. I knew about the cover crop, but I thought some vineyards used mustard? I’m stunned that it might cost so much that you’d have to put the hooligans on minute rice. How long do you think from planting to first production? 3 years? 5?

  21. Marcy 21

    Wow, sure sounds like you have alot of work ahead of you, but you also sound excited about it! Can’t wait to see the final results down the road!

  22. I know I’ve said it before, but I really am in awe of you for doing this. You are making your dream come true, and that is the coolest thing ever.

    How long is this going to take because seriously? I’m coming to your vineyard when it’s all done. I want to see it all and drink your Pinot Noir. :)

  23. It might take a village, but it sure sounds like a dreamy venture. What a fun, FUN project you have on your hands! Best of luck with everything!

  24. Greg 24

    Good luck! You know you have a free pruning team if you need one… 101B!

  25. Gigi 25

    Wishing you worlds of luck and continued success!

  26. dlyn 26

    It is enough to keep you busy, that’s for sure – I love being able to see it all unfold. Can I assume you are building a house someplace here? Can we see where that might be?

  27. Good Luck!!
    Congrats on being one step further! I love Oregon, and would LOVE to be your tester for some Pinot! LOL!

  28. Oh I just love reading all about your dreams and plans and “To Do” lists. So exciting! I love good food, but a good story about building a dream trumps it every time. (I see a book as well as a vineyard in your future.) I’m so EXCITED for you!!! Thanks for all the educational tidbits regarding viticulture. Can’t wait for more … : )

    p.s. Buy brown rice in bulk — forget the minute junk. You can dine on pilaf and smile at the dwindling bank account while the life-dream account hits pay dirt. Since you already have someone offering to supply the coffee and the rice I’ll toss in bouquets of flowers for the table: sweet smelling roses on the table every day — that was my dream … and it came true! : )

  29. sassy 29

    Such a massive undertaking, mind boggling, frustrating at times, but oh my, such sweet success at the end.

    I can`t wait to hear more!

  30. This is SO exciting! Can’t wait to see your vineyards grow

  31. Laura 31

    Luck!!! I am so impressed with everything you are doing!

  32. Tracy 32

    I loved when you said “However, where there’s a will there’s a way. And somehow I’m going to get those grapes in the ground if I have to eat minute rice for the next ten years”. It is so energizing to witness someone else who is determined to make their dreams come true. And not give up just because you are a wife and mother already.

    I gave up on a couple of my dreams along the way, and while I love being a mother and wife, I need a career/business life too. (I am currently getting training)

    I wish you all the luck in the world. Thanks for sharing your life with us.

  33. Alisa 33

    I look forward to your gourmet Minute Rice recipes. As well as your continued updates on the winery!

  34. How exciting and beautiful! Thanks for sharing as you live out your dream :)

  35. tipper 35

    So interesting! And I know you can accomplish it all!

  36. I hope there is a Stirling Fox wine out there somewhere. If there isn’t there should be. Can’t wait to have some of yours!

  37. Mrs. L 37

    Don’t worry about the coffee, we’ll send you some.

  38. Ruthanne (in Seattle) 38

    how very exciting to watch the process unfold. I can’t wait to buy a bottle of wine from your vineyard!!

  39. I love when you write about the vineyard. It’s gonna be so awesome to look back on these posts and these pictures when you’re finally sipping your own label.

  40. TSannie 40

    Minute rice…pacifiers…life will get better!

    And I know your grapes will produce great wines!

  41. laura 41

    this is all very exciting.
    seriously i can visualize acres of thriving vines from the pictures you have shared.
    thank you taking us all along for the ride on this adventure of yours.

  42. mitchsmom 42

    How exciting! Good luck!

  43. Those are great pictures. It is interesting that even in growing grapes for wine making there is paperwork. This country runs on paperwork.
    I never thought of the cost of getting the vines but I suppose to get just the kinbd you want is pretty expensive.
    Good luck.

  44. Marjie 44

    Starting your 20 year plan? Does that make you feel a little overwhelmed? It must be a really great feeling to have a grand plan. With a lot of work, you’ll make a nice living without having to ever leave home. (Then your kids will laugh at you for having everything delivered, as my kids laugh at me for the same thing…). And when I tell my kids I’m never leaving this house until they carry me out in a mahogany box, they get a look of fear in their eyes. I could absolutely see saying the same thing from your vineyard and hillside! I hope you really, really love this journey – it looks magnificent!

  45. Hiring it doen will be costly, but if you and Wild Boar put your hands to the plows/backhoes it will be worth every drop of sweat.

  46. What a wonderful adventure! You’ll have such a fun time! I think Stirling Fox sounds like a splendid secret agent name. Then you could code name your targets after wine. Like: (radio crackle) Stirling Fox this is Noble Pig, over. (crackle) Noble Pig, this is Stirling Fox. Our Yellow Tail Wine (this would be a hooker–cheap wine, cheap name) is on the shelf, over.) See how much fun it could be?

    It’s been raining all day. I need to get out more.

  47. pam 47

    You know, I am living vicariously through you. It is so much better than my humbdrum teacher life.

  48. Wishing you lots of luck with your new adventure!! I’m sure it will be a lot of work–but it will be worth it!!

  49. Harmony 49

    Good luck…although I don’t think you need know what you are doing! Thanks for sharing this process with us, it is very interesting.

  50. We’re with you all the way!

  51. Egghead 51

    You are off to a great start. One day at a time…the best you can do.

  52. Erinn 52

    My handsome boyfriend and I have day dreams and fantasies of running a winery. I love living vicariously through you. You are really doing it.
    that is SO cool.

  53. holy kamoly-you might just be the most awesome fearless woman i know…GOOD LUCK!!! can we come and help?

  54. Kathi 54

    Good Luck to you! I love following your progress; living vicariously through you. “May the Lord bless you with Sunshine and Rainfall, according to your needs”.

  55. Neen 55

    GOOD LUCK! When are you going to plant the vines, and how long after that till the first bottle? I’m under the impression that it may be years for the first return on investment… is that accurate?

  56. Wow! Sounds amazing. I’m sure it’s going to be a labor of love, and down the road you’ll be able to sit back and smile.

  57. Dragon 57

    What a lot of work you have to get done. You seem to have a good handle on what you need to do so I only see sucess in your future. :)

  58. HoneyB 58

    Here is your lucky wish! I love reading about your steps your taking!

  59. This sounds like a lifelong dream coming true. I’m looking forward to seeing the progress. Good luck with this new venture!

  60. Shirley 60

    I love reading about your progress and what is yet to come.

    Hey, I made some killer crockpot jambalaya with Minute brown rice not that long ago. LOL, but true.


    Super exciting (and I suppose a bit nerve wracking)…

  62. Behind you 110% of the way!!! Go for it!
    i’ll send you cupcakes, if ya get hungry

  63. Kevin 63

    Starting your own winery sounds so exciting. I am enjoying reading about it and I look forward to more. You certainly have some nice scenery there.


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