Many of us visit vineyards and wineries as a way to escape. We take in the sweeping, lush scenery and enjoy the aromatic, literally intoxicating fruits of the winemakers' labors. Often, we wax poetic about how serene it would be to have a vineyard of our own, but few of us ever have the means or the drive to actually do so. On a snowy evening in Minnesota, we sat down with Patti and Tom Shadick (pictured), two Minneapolis residents who own their very own vineyard in Sonoma.
Before you scoff at the notion that a married couple in the icy north could possibly have any real involvement in California grape growing, consider who these two are: two wildly successful entrepreneurs whose magnificent backyard garden transformations have been featured in the pages of many magazines, including Renovation Style and the cover of Better Homes & Gardens.
As we sat at their handsome dining room table, Tom told the story of how his Elk River, Minnesota school superintendent used to feed the schoolchildren with vegetables from a local peet bog, which he was allowed to help farm. "That's what brought us to this," he said, referencing a history in several industries including importing Wusthof knives, "I love digging in the dirt."
With that, we dove into chatting with the growers about the pleasures and pains of owning a vineyard over 2,000 miles away. The Shadicks poured us a glass of Deux Amis
, a Shadick Vineyard '06 Zinfandel, which has a charming eucalyptus nose. Eucalyptus trees from the next property hang over the Deux Amis area of the vineyard.
So, how do you operate a vineyard all the way from here in Minneapolis?
We have a vineyard management company that operates it for us.
So, we have no employees, which is ... (thumbs up). John Clendenon and Kathy, natives of the area in their mid-fifties, they have 85 employees. They have expertise in every end of the business, they own all the equipment, they take care of all the farm labor problems, everything.
We just have to write them a good sized check.
Every month we get a bill, and we send them a check.