And The 2023 Season Begins…

It’s hard to believe that we are entering our 6th year caring for our small vineyard. We’ve learned a lot over the years and feel so much more confident in what we are doing now. Part of that confidence also comes from learning when to know that it’s time to hire the right people to help you manage the vineyard, and that is exactly what we have done in the last couple of years.

Our crew just trimmed our vineyard and left the old canes in a pile at the end of each row. Since we still do a lot of the work around the ranch ourselves, we used the tractor to move the bundles to our burn pile {which will be another day’s chore} and cleared it all out.

The vineyard is primed and ready for the buds to reveal themselves {around mid-March}. It’s always fun checking the vines for first buds, a feeling of renewal and hope.

Pickup Party…Of A Different Kind

Within our first year of moving to Paso Robles, we discovered that San Luis Obisbo (SLO) County does not have allocated funds for litter collection and removal. SLO County depends on volunteers’ generosity to help clean the county streets, so to help get the community involved, the county’s Public Works Department (PWD) offers an Adopt-A-Road program that allows the public to directly contribute to roadside maintenance through litter collection and removal.

We decided that this was something we wanted to do. The process was as simple as filling out an application, choosing the portion of the road we wanted to maintain, and the county provided us with neon safety vests and trash bags.

We chose a road near our home that is about a 3-mile stretch. We felt that this would be manageable for us to handle. It takes us about 3 hours to cover the entire road, and we’re always amazed that we will collect 10+ bags of trash each time. We maintain the road on a quarterly or as-needed basis throughout the year. We feel this is a nominal commitment to help maintain the aesthetic benefits of cleaner and more beautiful roadsides in our community.

The ease of this program is that the volunteers can determine which available road they want to adopt and how much of the road they want to maintain. The county does not stipulate how often a volunteer needs to maintain the road, so volunteers have the freedom to pick up trash on their own timeline. As mentioned, the county supplies safety vests and trash bags, and a recognition sign will be posted on the section of the adopted road (there is a nominal fee for business signs). Once the trash is picked up, it is left in a specified location, and with a simple phone call or email to the PWD, they will arrange for pick up.

Participating in the Adopt-A-Road program is a great way to promote civic responsibility and community pride. If you want more information on this program, call 805.781.5252 or visit the site online (here).

Joy Ride

Every once in a while, we choose to take a play day…no work, only fun. This was a play day.

We are members of the Porsche Club of America, California Central Coast Region, and a couple times a year, we will join the club for a joy ride. On this particular event, the club met in the small town of Santa Margarita, and the drive would end for lunch in New Cuyama – a tiny, historic town we had wanted to explore.

The drive was delightful, and the Cuyama Buckhorn did not disappoint. The property was initially built in 1952 as the community hub for the valley of Cuyama, and after 60 years, the historic roadside hotel has transformed into a sophisticated boutique resort.

We ended the day by stopping at Edna Valley Vineyards to enjoy a nice glass of wine and the beautiful vineyard views from this winery.

Now, this is how we saw our retirement going! Enjoy the day with us through the video.

Family Makes A House A Home

It has been a whirlwind three months since we moved to the ranch. We have been working feverishly in trying to get our house renovated so that we can accept visitors. As with most renovations, delays occur and the timing gets pushed back which has been slightly frustrating but understandable.

There was the one visit from my best girlfriends about a month ago, who in their good spirit, slept on the floor, sofa and make-shift guest room…only something you would allow your best friends to do. The house was nowhere near being in shape but having my friends visit brought a spirit to the house, we were together having fun and memories were starting to be made…we will someday look back and laugh at the accommodations they endured.

Continue reading “Family Makes A House A Home”

Burn Day

We experienced our first “burn day” on the ranch. In our previous suburban life a burn day meant that you could use your fireplace, now it has a whole new meaning.

After spending almost two months trimming trees, pruning the vineyard and olives trees and attempting to massacre the Juniper bushes, there are piles of brush and debris scattered about the 10 acre property. It becomes clear that we can not ignore it any longer.

A burn permit is obtained, the location – a safe distance from the house – is secured and safety precautions are put in place such as a ready-and-waiting water hose.

With much trepidation, the brush pile is lit and off she goes…in no time, huge orange flames begin their graceful dance in the air and it is mesmerizing. Unfortunately, there is no time for admiration…for the next three hours, we collect all the brush and debris and feed the belly of the beast. It feels good to finally have a purpose for the ranch “toys” we have purchased such as the Polaris Ranger. It becomes clear that items such as this are a necessity for this lifestyle.

A sense of accomplishment comes over us when we see that the majority of the tons of brush around the property has been depleted to a small pile of ashes.

As the fire dissipates…we rake down ashes to speed up the cooling process but we have to keep stepping away as the extreme heat stings our faces and makes our eyes water. At the end of the day, the smell of smoke is embedded in our clothes, hair and even nostrils but it does not really bother us because we feel strong in having met the day’s challenge.

Our first burn day comes to an end and we feel empowered. There is something to be said for a hard day’s work and the sense of accomplishment that comes with going outside of your comfort zone. With that, we are ready for and look forward to our next challenge.

A Change of Season

It’s Spring. A cool breeze blows through the olive tree branches as I prune them. I stop and let the breeze brush across my face as I listen to the faint voices and laughter from a field crew working in the vineyard next door, their joy makes me smile. I feel content.

This lifestyle is new to me. My husband and I have recently retired from our respective jobs in the busy San Francisco Bay Area. We are fortunate, we were able to retire fairly young, in our mid-fifties. After searching for several years for the perfect retirement location, we end up in California’s Central Coast ~ Paso Robles, or as my husband likes to refer to it by its official name, El Paso de Robles. This area is growing into a beautiful wine country region and we’re happy to have settled here while it is still accessible and affordable.

This location is a perfect compromise between what we both wanted. For me: the California lifestyle, still close to the beach, and located in between the Bay Area and Los Angeles where we have both family and friends. For him: 10 acres of land where he can spread his wings and putter around all day long.

We’re two months into this journey and so far we are thrilled. The move to this area has exceeded our expectations. We have met many nice people and feel very welcomed into a community where we had no ties.

The 10-acre ranch will keep us busy for quite awhile as we go through some renovations inside the home and clear brush and landscape around the property…but what else do we have to do, right? Nothing but time.

Today, I pruned some of the 50 olive trees we have on the property, as I have already finished pruning the 1-acre Petit Sirah vineyard a few weeks ago. We don’t really know what we’re doing but we’re having fun learning the process. So we settle into a change of season, both literally and figuratively as we shift ourselves into a new lifestyle and journey in life.