We Are Open!

It’s on!

All the forms are filed, all the permits are signed off, we are ready to host at our new location in Gilroy!      This past weekend was all about having fun with our friends in Tacoma, Washington.  We were hosted and treated to awesome VIP service at the Tacoma Dome to see Alice Cooper and Motley Crue.  During the day we goofed around Tacoma, visited nine micro-breweries, took in some local art and let our hair down while the last of the legal permits were being processed.   We flew home Saturday afternoon, unpacked and reconnected with our fuzzy butt family, had a quick swim, then settled in to the home routine.  On Sunday we went to the Annual Garlic Festival, because as you know we are now Gilroyans and I have to have an opinion on everything!  The Festival was awesome and I do highly recommend it, especially to anyone who hasn’t been in the last 15-20 years.  This was my first time attending so I have no previous experiences to compare it to but I’ve heard from plenty of other people (my age) that would rather have a root canal done than ever go back to the festival.  Let me tell you this; the parking and shuttle system was efficient, the ticketing process was smooth and efficient, the shade tents, mercantile, beer tents, wine pavilion, arts and crafts and even the portable restrooms were all set up in an accommodating and efficient manner.  I had a fabulous time.  We each had a couple of beers, we bought some neat trinkets, we ate a deliciously garlicky sausage with sauteed peppers, and got the heck out of there in time to watch the Giants and A’s game.

Anyway, a great way to spend a weekend of fun and entertainment to keep our minds off the pesky annoyances of dealing with various agencies and logistics of getting a tasting room up and functioning.  We are going Country Feng Shui for the “theme”, meaning, we’ll be natural with the area and landscape. No castles, no fountains, no pavilions, no italian marble, etc.  It’s all about being in the country, where the oak trees surround the area, you might see a cow or two, or resident turkeys and deer that wander our property and we’ve set up some picnic benches for you enjoy a meal or glass of wine.  It’s casual. We’re casual.  Enjoy.









Welcome to 1800 Day Road Gilroy.  I had to add this number sign facing the approach from Watsonville Road. Now that we’ll have people driving ‘the back way’ to see us you’ll need to know where to turn!









We are relatively new members of the Santa Clara Valley Wineries Association, I’m headed over to Morgan Hill Cellars later this week to get our official Member sign to hang up, and any other swag I think we might want or need.






The wine garden is ready! Country Feng Shui does include the propane tank and water tank I’m afraid. That’s part of living out in the sticks, oh wait, they call it ‘off the grid’, it’s all good and it’s a fun space to hang out.









This weekend “Coming Soon” turns into OPEN!

Friends, Family and a Pig Roast Party

Summer is officially in full swing for the Romero’s!  (you know, while we wait for concrete to dry and the real work begins!)

The pig party weather started off cold, windy, and gusty and I actually had a hard time getting the coals lit for the caja china.  Given the nature of our circumstances and the crazy dry country side I carefully selected the pig roasting area where I could keep an eye on it and have a hose handy.  Paul’s garden ended up being the ideal location and I chose it because the large live oak tree keeps that spot well shaded.  Turned out I didn’t need the shade, not with the extreme cloud cover we had, but the canopies came in extra handy when it started to sprinkle on us. Yes, rain! Not measurable, but enough to energize the party.  We invited our new neighbors and visiting friends and family from around the country.

with aj








Friend Allison was visiting from Portland.









Paul’s nephew was here from Tennessee, Dad and Sandy came down from Santa Clara and Mom A. joined us too.  Our neighbor teases Paul all the time about the tie dye shirts, says he needs something a little more country and less hippie.

with ron








The finished piggy came off after 5 1/2 hours in the box, Paul is visiting with Ron while it cools.  The pig came fresh from a ranch that is less than 5 miles from our home.  We didn’t pick her out from a living pen, she was already dressed when we picked her up.  Coming in at number 6 for the number of pigs I’ve roasted so far, she was the best tasting and overall best experience.  Partial credit is given to the new location and having enough space to spread out and have enough room to handle the roasting, cooking, serving.

with ET at Ridge





Friends from Tacoma came down for the weekend, they arrived the same day as our other friends from Virginia headed out.  We did some local sight seeing, had lunch in Mountain View and then wine tasting at Ridge.  It had been many years since the last time I was up there so it was a good experience to see how much it’s changed.  The view was so-so the day we went, but typical for this time of year.  After wine tasting, we arrived back in Gilroy in time for a dip in the pool.  From the water looking up the hill from us we watched a mother deer and her fawn make their way along the fence line eating the low hanging branches of trees and hopefully some of the poison oak.

at ridge








The billy goat beard started growing over winter break and seems like it will be a permanent addition for awhile.  I’m just glad to have a new ‘couple’ picture of us, we take too few during the year. Last but not least, the sunset from the other night after the storm passed through.  We have some of the most spectacular sky viewing out here.  We saw Jupiter and Venus in conjunction last night and the night before, so amazing and awe inspiring.

sky fire


Country Livin’

No, we don’t have goats, but our neighbors do and we are having too much fun visiting with them and getting to know country livin’.  We’re working on a chicken coop, fruit orchard, margarita grove, vineyard, tasting room, and overall general upkeep of our first experience with acreage.  I’ve had my hands full dealing with day to day activities and keeping things moving along at a steady clip with the tasting room construction, meeting and greeting new neighbors, learning how to garden for the first time and really, just trying to adjust to our new home.






Across the road from us I often see these guys in the morning.  The cows move around these hills and nearby properties for grazing and a couple of times this past month I’ve seen the cattle trucks come and go.  I figure this is what modern cattle drives look like anymore.  My plan was to follow these trucks and see which ranch they are servicing but that’s just silly.  Instead I loiter in my own front yard til I can snap a photo.

white truck





I figure what they did was truck the cows in, then two weeks later came and picked them up after grass finishing them.   I base this assumption on the fact that when I first saw these trucks go by, they returned within 30 minutes, my guess was they offloaded at that time.  When they came back through, I was anticipating a short wait to snap the pics but I waited a full hour in the driveway. When Paul got home he wanted to know why I was out front loitering.  They were traveling at a slower rate of speed and sounded heavier and not that I know anything about loading or unloading a cow, I just figure it has to take longer to get them in the truck.  If I’m wrong, please feel free to correct me, as I said, we’re new to this country livin’ thing.

red truck





And then lastly, I put in a photo of a cropped version of our plans sheet.  It shows the road, main house and ag. support structure (second garage/future tasting room).  The building was installed back in the 70’s and was used, from what the neighbors have told us and what makes sense for the property, as a roadside farm stand. The first owners to develop this parcel were Italians and they are the ones that planted the grapes on the property.  Apparently they had a sizable vineyard which has since been downsized to just a few plants.  They also grew many fruits and vegetables and did all of their own canning and processing, which partially explains the accessory building.  We converted their pantry into a walk in wine cellar and their gun closet into a humidor.  We inherited the original plans for the residence and they show a very specific cubby in the kitchen pantry that is labeled for card tables. Wouldn’t you know it, they exactly fit and so that’s where I put mine. Why not!









I don’t have a date yet for the tasting room Grand Opening, but we are “coming soon”, in fact the banner I ordered the other day should be here by now and I’ll need to get that hung up out front.  There are still a million and one things left to do to get ready but we’re not rushing it, that’s not the way we do it out here.


Front Yard & Garden Update

The garden had a little bit of frost/cold damage that got to the potato plants.  They are recovering now and everything else is doing great.  I also lost seedlings in the cold so will have to restart my tomato plants and herbs.    I harvested a leek and a few asparagus spears so far.  The lettuce and swiss chard is just about big enough to make a micro green salad or two for us also.

I put in a couple of strawberry plants and I’m making a second try at artichokes.  The first try I started in the clay soil and they did poorly.  This time around I’m starting them in the planter boxes and will move them to the ground when they get mature enough to deal with the heavy soil.  Since an artichoke is permanent I don’t want to leave it in a planter box.










I should have put these crash pictures up originally of the front yard but I think they were on my work phone and I didn’t have them to upload when I did the last blog.  The front originally had a group of very mature chestnut trees and oleanders along with other trees and shrubs.  There were also some pretty pitiful grape vines on a rickety old trellis.  I removed the vines and trellis right away.  Anyone who would have seen the condition of those vines and trellis would have thought there was no way we know what we’re doing.

This first picture shows the area that was damaged by the two crashes.  The first took out most of the oleanders and damaged the chestnuts.  I had just cut down the chestnuts when the second crash took out most of the rocks and the remaining plants on the south side of the strip.










This is the car in the driveway crashed into an olive that I’d cleaned up earlier.  It stopped about 100 feet from it’s original impact and flip over point.  One large boulder (about 150 pounds) ended up in the creek 200 feet from where it started.  You can trace the impacts as it skipped across the yard.








I wanted to get these up so I can put up some after pictures after all the work we’ve done to repair things up front.  There are new trees and shrubs and strategically located 6x6x6 posts, which will also form a fence and eventually gate.  We put in a lot of reflectors also to provide some visual warning as the plants mature.  I should be done with the first round of work this weekend and just have the fence and gate left to do.

Work Goes On

That’s it, the new tasting room.  Doesn’t look like much yet, and it won’t be much as we start out, but it’s in place and in the permit process.  Our plan is to roll the doors up and have people come right in to what will be card tables at first.  As we get going we’ll make improvements (like interior walls and a ceiling).  We’ve applied to have the outdoor area available also so we can set up some picnic benches for people to enjoy the outside.

We’re working on the parking situation this weekend.  There is room for about 20 cars right now in the drive through and up to 20 more along Madrid Road.  The problem is we’ve had two crashes through the front in the last month and I’ve had to remove and cut down all the trees that created a barrier between the road and the parking area.  I’m putting a new ‘Defense in Depth’ in the front with 500+ pound boulders, 6×6 posts, redwoods and a fence.

In the meantime the property is keeping us very busy.  Here’s last weeks activity.  This is the back of the property along Madrid where I can have overflow parking before 5 hours with the weedwhacker.










This is after I finished.  I wish I had taken more before and after photos.  I’ve already done a ton of clean up inside the tasting room, but didn’t take a single before picture to share.  Oh well


Settling In

No we haven’t totally dropped of the grid, so it’s time for a quick catch up.  We did get moved in to our new place in September and finished our move out of Chaine d’Or and in to our new place in Salinas in December.  All our production was at the new facility last harvest and we have a bunch of new wines and some old favorites we’re working on from 2014.  We’re very happy with the new facility and it was much easier on us with the additional help to handle set up and clean up.  The drive was also much shorter and easier and we put far less miles on the FJ this Fall.

We’ve been very busy of course with all the moving and settling in to our new home.  The building that will become the tasting room is all cleaned up and ready to go, we’re just waiting on the government now for permits.

I thought the best way to run through an update was with some pictures:

First the little kittens are growing like crazy and loving their new home.












We got the bar set up in the new house right away:












We’re still eating Primal:












And we did go to New Orleans on our annual trip:










Spending way too much time in the care of Fay at Coops:










When we got home there were never ending chores and clean up to do.  We hauled away 8 truck loads of yard debris, cut down treees, repaired things and just general new home stuff like stacking a cord of wood:










We had frequent  wildlife visitors with the turkey’s being the most common:










And they like the backyard too:










Stefania hasn’t shot anything yet but she’s ready just in case:












We put a new cellar in and we’re trying to decide what to plant which means lots of research:












Which means more Primal food lick smoked duck legs:

primal duck









With the New Year I’ve started a garden:










And have more seedlings ready to go in:










All this is enough to tucker out a kitty and keep us from writing regularly.  We may be on a monthly summary now, at least until we get the tasting room going.




Picking Grapes, Picking Up Grapes and Finally Moving

We’ve been very busy since our last update.  There were significant delays in getting everything closed on our new home and we ended up in a hotel for 5 days.  We finally got the keys on Tuesday afternoon and are getting things set up there.  Stefania and I are really glad to put the process behind us and in getting our home together.

Grapes don’t stop and wait though and we had to carry on with harvest.  It’s been warm and sunny this September and the vineyards are pushing ahead early like last year.  Last Saturday we harvested the Crimson Clover Vineyard’s Cabernet Sauvignon.  I had my regular job of hauling out bins and Stefania sorted everything as I dumped it into the 1/2 ton bins.












We used a small crew of our regulars and a couple of family members, my Mom and cousin Matt.  We had everything picked and were mobile to the winery by 11 AM.












Earlier in the week I had picked up 3000 pounds of Malbec.  We’ll use some for blending but also likely have a Malbec release in the future.  3000 pounds is my preferred amount to buy.  It produces about 4 barrels or 100 cases.  It also is the max payload for the U-haul trailers I rent.  The FJ Cruiser can actually tow much more but I’d need a trailer rated for more weight.  We thought of buying one in the past but we had no where to store it.  Now we will have space to store it so a purchase before next year is likely.


The first picture I took from the new house.  Wild Turkeys that come visit every day.  They come right up to the front and back doors.  Can’t wait to see the first time that happens with the cats looking out the door.














and…..Big News Part 3

The new place.  Nope we’re not moving to New Orleans, that was the first guess of a few people.  We found this nice ranch house just outside of Gilroy right on the Santa Clara Valley Wine Trail.

The ‘fast ball down the middle’ was being offered a property where we currently manage the vineyard.  We hadn’t thought about moving, or the South Valley as a location, and we had no idea if we could come close to affording it.  We dove right in though and started doing our research and putting together our list of things we needed and wanted in a house.  That first vineyard house didn’t work out but we decided after viewing a dozen or so properties to make it happen somewhere.

Stefania actually found it on line and it was in contract but we asked our agent if we could go see it because it looked like it was a benchmark for what we were after.  We loved it but houses in contract in Santa Clara County NEVER go to the back up offer so we didn’t get our hopes up.  A few weeks later though we got another fastball when the contract fell through.  The owners really wanted their next offer to come from ‘country people’ and not ‘city people’ who would understand all the complications of wells, wildlife, propane and country living.  Our agent told them “Are you kidding they are farmers and own a winery”.

I’ll put the address in our Fall offer letter for people on our mailing list, but here are some of the highlights:

The hillside, were we will plant the new Haut Tubee vineyard with Cabernet Sauvignon and Mourvedre.  We have just over 2 acres total and will plant about one.






The new back patio where friends and visitors can finish off those bottles of wine and dip into the scotch and cigar collection.  If you look closely you’ll see there’s a breezeway.  On the left is the main house, on the right is the wine cellar and guest suite.  The guest suite has a separate entrance and a full bath, bedroom and kitchen (as soon as we install the appliances).  We finally have a place for our out of town visitors.  The original owners did canning and built a full cool room that we’ll convert into a temperature controlled wine cellar.








The new kitchen.  This should make it much easier to pull together those dinners for 10-20 we seem to have all the time.









My plan is to get in the pool on the first day.  I’m going to wear my suit under my moving clothes 🙂







This second garage was used to sell fruits and vegetables grown on the property for many years.  I’m going to revive that garden as soon as I can.  This building though will become our new tasting room.  There’s enough room to park 20-30 cars at a time and have an office as well as tasting room.  It’s just a shell right now so we have to clean it up and put some walls in place.  Depending on how harvest goes and the permitting process we may try to open as soon as Nov 1 but early next year is more likely.

We are very excited and can’t wait to have our first visitors.  Our move date is Friday Sept. 5th.
tasting room

Big News Part 2

Over the past 10 years making wine the very best times have all been at our home and in our backyard. We’ve loved having friends and visitors come visit our little Haut Tubee Vineyard and see the actual hot tub it’s named after.  As many of you know our home is in the same neighborhood I grew up in.  My elementary school is just a block away and my Mom lives just two blocks from us.  The artwork on our label is the view from that neighborhood of the Santa Cruz Mountains, a view I’ve had most of my life.

Stefania and I love our home in San Jose and we’d never thought of moving.  We thought we’d live here the rest of our life.  People like to say sometimes life throws you curveballs.  I like to think sometimes life gives you fastballs right down the middle of the plate.  You’ve got to swing at those and swing for the fences.

In June we got one of those fastballs down the middle.  Something we were not expecting at all and had not really thought of.  It spurred us to action though and we put our Haut Tubee home up for sale.  You can see the real estate tour at 564canton.com  We got three good offers and went with the best one after a little back and forth.  Our last day on Canton should be September 9th if all goes well.












We are converting the wine cellar back to a bedroom right now and removing the front vineyard. There are a few other minor repairs to make and then we will be on our way too…..Part 3 coming up soon!

Ignore This Warning

We work in a small space, really small.  Every move inside the winery has to be planned out and I can only have a few barrels in process at any time.  It takes a lot of planning to pull things off especially during bottling.  One big problem is what to do with single barrels of a wine.  Normally barrels move around two at a time.  We have three single barrel racks and that’s the first option.

The second option is to have one full barrel and one empty on the same rack.  In our space though there’s usually only enough room to pick up a rack from one direction, so even though you can pick up a rack from either direction, in our space we end up with a front and back of the rack.  In that situation the full barrel has to be in the front or the rack will tip over when picked up.  I work hard and try to plan things well so that the full barrel is always on the front.

Sometimes though we end up with a full barrel on the back of a rack.  When that happens there’s only one option.  Someone has to go cowboy on the barrel.  We ended up with a few of those situations this past bottling and Stefania had to jump on the empty barrel to give enough counter weight to lift the rack.  I snapped this picture that I thought was funny given the ‘No Riding’ warning on Big Joe.