Anyone that knows anything knows that figuring out a name can be one of the biggest hurdles to be jumped during the creation process. I imagine you have attempted naming something you have invented, be it a revolutionary would-be product or possibly a mixed drink you conjured up using a select mix of whatever you could find in the cabinet. Aside from naming a band and possibly a child, I would think naming a business is the next on the most difficult list. But we had it.
Next was the easy stuff: finding some land, learning about grapes, figuring out how to grow grapes, figuring out how to build a trellis, studying what exactly a trellis is, learning to protect grapes from disease and pests, learning to make wine from grapes, and finding time for all of these things. Ha! Child’s play- we had the name figured out…
Now we just had to find some suitable land because unfortunately, you can’t make wine from the grapes we were growing in our imagination and Asher’s original backyard plan just wasn’t big enough for us. We had a few options, but really only a few were realistic if we didn’t want to shell out a fortune during a time when land prices (even around Stover) are at historic levels. This reminds me of something a winery owner once shared with me, “if you want to make a small fortune with a winery, start with a large fortune”. This isn’t exactly the case for us (quite the opposite), so a little improvisation and some tinkering are generally called upon in the process. Two or three possibilities were the right price (thanks, dad). We just had to figure out which had the more optimal grape growing potential.
Asher took some samples of the soil from the prospective sites to the Morgan County MU Extension Office. To our surprise, they have specific forms for growing grapes. As we came to realize, MU actually has a plethora of resources and knowledgably folks ready to help, but more on that later. The tests came back, and with a little creative rationalizing, we decided on the plot of land with the most desirable attributes. Luckily, we knew a resident guru (thanks, dad) when the results of said tests came in. What the tests did not show, and what will be a future hurdle, is what to do about problem drainage spots or heavy clay. The land was not perfect, but we knew what we lacked in perfection we would make up with in an appropriate mix of topography (actually not bad), climate (could be better) and drainage (TBD). No one ever said it would be easy.
We were convinced the land would work, althought we were also heavily biased by the fact that it was the only real viable option. A professional second opinion seemed warranted prior to preparing the land and any kind of meaningful investment. For this, we again turned to the MU Extension Office. A few emails and one phone call later and we had a site visit scheduled to our little slice of paradise. We just crossed our fingers that he would agree.