What do grapes, bees, vegetables, pups, parties, yoga, roses and sleep deprivation have in common? They are all part of day-to-day living on the property of a winery.
And here’s a behind-the-scenes look of that life. We’re spotlighting new Bricoleur Vineyards, a stunning 40-acre estate in Sonoma County, Calif., owned by co-founder and CEO Mark Hanson and family. Harvest season is in full swing and there’s an energetic buzz in the air! Read on for a 7-step snapshot of what it’s like to own a winery.
1. RISE AND SHINE
San Francisco Bay Area natives Mark, his co-founder, wife Elizabeth, and daughter Sarah Hanson Citron all play roles in running business and managing the winery staff. While the gardener is tending the impressive rose garden (a must-see) and the amazing vegetable garden, Tom Pierson, the assistant wine maker and vegetable garden designer, might be out monitoring the estate grapes to determine if they are ready for harvest.
2. IT’S CRUSH TIME
When the grapes are ready to be harvested from the Bricoleur estate in Windsor, Demostene Vineyard and Kick Ranch, a sprawling locally famous compound of vineyards, the fast and furious grape picking begins. Typically, this is in the wee hours of the night or before dawn. At Bricoleur, the assistant wine maker and head winemaker, Cary Gott, work together overseeing every step of the growing and wine making process from picking ripe grapes to bottling. It’s an intense job: the winery produces sauvignon blanc, two rosés, pinot noir, chardonnay, un-oaked chardonnay, viognier and zinfandel.
3. AT THE CRUSHPAD
Fresh grapes are hauled to the winemaking facility to be sorted, de-stemmed and crushed. After pressing the grapes, fermentation comes into play. Once fermentation is complete, clarification begins. The wine is then racked into another vessel (oak barrels or stainless tanks) and prepared for bottling or future aging. Next comes the aging, and then bottling on a mechanical bottle line. Finally, wines are sealed with either a cork or screw cap.
4. THE NEW WINERY
The breathtaking Bricoleur property with a historic refurbished milk barn, ponds, olive trees and rows of thriving vineyards, featured an equestrian center in its former life and one of its original buildings is being rebuilt into a new winery production facility. A new—huge—modern-barn style tasting room is near completion, which will also serve as an event space.
5. MINDING YOUR OWN BEESWAX
While on the property, you might notice a beekeeper tending to the local hives for the astounding Bricoleur wildflower honey, which is easy to get hooked on.
6. PARTY ON
If she’s not pouring Bricoleur at an event or hosting tasters at the winery, vice president of marketing Sarah Hanson Citron might be meeting with a caterer or a business leader planning an event at the winery. They’ve thrown myriad dinners, tastings, and wine and food events including a recent vintner dinner for the annual Sonoma County Wine Auction.
7. YOGA, ANYONE?
A unique winery offering is Vino & Vinyasa in the charming stone pavilion on a hilly bluff overlooking the property. If you want a little more California sunshine, there’s a bocce court where you can toss a few. Hmmm, you’ll need a glass of Bricoleur wine with that—and you’re in the right place.
Cover photograph courtesy Bricoleur Vineyards
Robin Barr Sussman (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a freelance culinary and travel writer who studied at the Culinary Institute of America Greystone, Calif. As a chef for Sonoma County wineries, her specialty was food and wine pairing. Sussman is a columnist for Houston Modern Luxury Magazine, Prime Living and Houston House & Home. Her work also appears in Texas Monthly, Fodor’s and Private Clubs Magazine.