Back in the early days when we were just getting our business off the ground, we were among the earliest pioneers in developing a wine industry in Placer County. At that time, people were starting to see the potential for winemaking in the region, and a few were already in business, with more planting vineyards and others refining their skills as home winemakers.
But it was Mt. Vernon Winery, owned by Jim, Lynda and Ryan Taylor, that took the plunge by opening the first winery with a tasting room in Placer County. . .since before Prohibition, if any actually even existed then. The tasting room opened just outside of Auburn on Mt. Vernon Rd. in July 2002, a month before Care Vino.
I formed a quick friendship with Jim as we both tried to get our respective businesses off the ground. We cooperated closely, and there is no question that of all the wineries in the Sierra foothills, we’ve sold more Mt. Vernon wine than any other label.
Our businesses had much in common other than just wine. Both were bootstrapped, family operations . . .Jim’s son Ryan, now the winemaker for Mt. Vernon, was instrumental in helping build the infrastructure, as was my son, Drew, who now runs our business. We had to figure out how to sell wine, attract customers, deal with government regulations and cash-flow issues. Basically, we had to figure out how to survive until we got traction.
In the early days we spent a lot of time together, especially on Thursdays for lunch at the winery with other gear heads. Everyone would bring a bottle of wine and we have lunch and kibitz for an hour or so and then get back to work. It was great therapy, even though we didn’t accomplish much during the post-lunch afternoons.
It was a pretty cool match-up of two fathers and sons working together, learning together and, romancing wine together. Though because our businesses have changed so much over the intervening years, we don’t see as much of Jim and Ryan as we used to, nothing can diminish a true bromance.
To celebrate our friendship, we’re hosting Mt. Vernon Winery for a tasting at Carpe Vino on Thursday evening starting at 6:30 p.m. Jim and Ryan will be pouring a selection of their current vintages. Cost is $10 per person; free for wine club members.