With so much history, how do you keep from having a “that’s the way we’ve always done it” mindset?
My generation is fortunate that my father and uncle are always asking: is there a better, less impactful way to do something? We grew up with a family philosophy of “let’s try new things.” Some will be successful, some will not, but let’s learn from those mistakes. That said, “the way we’ve always done it” is still sometimes the right approach.
Do you recall any early lessons in sustainability, ways that your parents communicated this philosophy?
My family has always been avid backpackers, with an appreciation for the great outdoors. Hiking into the wilderness with everything we needed on our backs was the family vacation through the better part of my childhood. Those camping trips created a sense of being part of a greater whole and taught us how to engage with the natural world in ways that are beneficial.
How does the ranch today differ from the ranch of your childhood?
The most visceral difference is that the vineyards are wilder now. In my childhood, which was the era of transitioning from my grandfather’s techniques to my father’s and uncle’s, the ranch went from highly manicured, clean vineyards, with no weeds and every row tilled, to a process that embraces a more natural balance, with native grasses in every other row, bat boxes, owl boxes and hawk perches throughout the vineyards. There’s a consciousness about not only ensuring we have no negative impact but actively pursuing how to bolster these natural corridors.