It is no secret that I fantasize about some day living life on a farm filled with animals and crops. If you tune into Martha Stewart from time-to-time she features people who have done just that – gone from a high-paced corporate life to a seemingly simpler farming lifestyle. (Though we all know that farming is not simple work.)
A few years back I had the opportunity to visit my friend Lawrence Hornbake’s parent’s alpaca farm in Gettysburg and experience firsthand what these people are all about. The Hornbake’s have one of the most interesting life stories around – he started out to be a monk and she a nun, both changed paths, met one another, worked in corporate America, started a few businesses on the side and now are full-time alpaca farmers. Check out their great set-up here.
I admire their ability to morph their passions into their careers and think of them often. Yesterday, I got a taste of that same phenomenon again – right here in San Diego County.
We recently made some new friends, Dennis and Julie Grimes, who started Eagle’s Nest Winery in Ramona. Julie is a college professor and Dennis is an engineer – both are military veterans. They both grew tired of living on top of their neighbors in metropolitan San Diego, and decided to embrace a longer commute to work in exchange for space and living out their passion.
They invited us up to their beautiful home and winery, which is where the wine is grown, processed and bottled. Yesterday we decide to go visit. When we arrived,we were greeted by Julie and their rescue Doberman pincer, Duke. They welcomed us as if we were royalty and graciously showed us around the property, explaining each step of the wine-making process.
I’ve tasted a lot of wine in my day, but never have I received such a thorough education and knowledge of each step – particularly by the people who own the winery and actually make the wine. Each sample they gave us came straight from the barrel, had a story behind it and was made with lots of TLC. It goes without saying that they were all delicious and very drinkable, with premium taste at very average prices. All of the love and work put into each wine has paid off as Eagle’s Nest wines are starting to rack up awards for their excellence.
My favorite part of the winery were the four-legged creatures that live there. Aside from Duke, there are three darling mini-Shelties and three Babydoll sheep. Each animal plays an integral part in the winery. Duke is the main greeter, the Shelties add the colorful commentary and the sheep keep the weeds trimmed and the ground naturally fertilized. The winery is a big place and the Grimes’ do not use pesticides or chemicals, so the sheep are employed as full-time groundskeepers.
In return for their hard work, each animal has its picture on a label of one of Eagle’s Nest’s wines. Our favorites were the one with Duke, one with the sheep and one with the Shelties.
I left a piece of my heart with the Grimes family yesterday. They invited us back again a we very well may take them up on it. Eagle’s Nest is a working winery without a formal tasting room for the public. They are always happy to make new friends so if you want to check it out, give them a call to set something up. If you can’t make the trek any time soon, then you can always buy the wine online here.
If you are on Twitter and want to chat directly with Julie and Dennis, follow them @eaglesnestwine.
Buy local. Help your neighbors. Support small business.