Prune Back, for the Future / by Keith Saarloos

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Hello world. My name is Macy Kremzar and 5 months ago I became the newest addition to the Saarloos & Sons family/wrecking crew. Previously, I was in Chicago for 3 years completing my MA in Organizational & Multicultural Communication with every intention to continue on to my PhD in a few years. Thankfully I realized on a California vacation that my interest in wine is more than enjoying a glass with dinner; I needed to explore my passion to the fullest. 

Just to follow my dreams and take a chance on myself. 
Due to a knowledge of passion and a passion for knowledge. 
So I moved west.

Texan by the grace of God, my connection to the Saarloos family came through my alma mater... TCU and a new Horned Frog baseball coach, Kirk Saarloos. Through many e-mail exchanges with Kirk, Keith, and Larry... I finally pulled up to a small town of 1,000 to a family that welcomed me in without any hesitation. Keith, Brad, & I exchanged witty banter back and forth, but Larry needed to take me for a drive. Larry took me through the Windmill Ranch and El Camino Real in his well air conditioned truck (with Texas license plates I would love to add) and throughout the neighboring vineyards. Showing me the correct way to farm, care, and tend to the luscious grapevines, I quickly realized my crash course was exactly what I needed as an affirmation of confidence. I’m supposed to be here. This family is exactly why I drove 2,200 miles in a Uhaul.

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So I do what I can. I help out in the tasting room with Tyler & Katy, who have been such an amazing support system (much like this family) that I will always be grateful for. I joined in on the first day of Sauvignon Blanc harvest. Occasionally I will journey to Santa Maria for barrel tasting and research with Keith. I’ve jumped on a four wheeler to replace sprinkler heads in ECR for Larry. And now I’m blogging about our experiences as a harvesting, slanging, farming operation. I hope you like to hear what I have to say...

-MK-

PRUNING 101

There may not be grapes on the vine, but tender care is required daily to ensure the quality of our product. Cultivating the young vines, rehabilitating the damaged vines, and precise supervision of our healthy vines are all necessary actions in the early months of a calendar year for any farmer. One way we show our extreme dedication to our craft is through a process called pruning. Some may call it an obsession, we call it necessary. As the winter weather slowly leaves us and the warm spring breeze picks up through the Santa Ynez Valley, we must prepare ourselves for the fall harvest. 

Step 1a: Slicing through our vines with a power saw to take down the previous year’s growth. 

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Step 1b: If a vine has not grown to its full potential yet, we will not cut a neighboring vine’s final stem. We will lay this down and grow towards the other neighbor to make up for the missing plant.

Step 2: Removing the cut pieces and place them in the middle of our rows. You know that circle of life thing? Its sort of like that. Free fertilizer! You could even take these pieces and create your own vineyard!

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Step 3: Going back through each plant, one by one, and trimming down to the base. We will also make sure the vine is strapped in and ready to take on the weathering effects to come this year.

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Step 4: Appreciate the labor of those who have helped maintain our standard of farming to the highest level.

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Speaking of those who we appreciate, one group in particular has continuously done an outstanding job in taking the time to nurture our vineyard, much like they are doing in their own lives. Recovery Ranch graciously visits our vineyards, along with others in the area, to assist in the pruning process as a way to show their dedication to their program and mission.

Mission Statement:

Recovery Ranch is a structured sober living for men. Founded on the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and the principles of John Wooden, our main purpose is change. At the Ranch, we live as gentlemen and practice contrary action.  We understand that focusing on becoming the best we are capable of becoming, and leading with selflessness and recovery, are fundamental to having a beautiful life. This foundation for success is achieved through constant accountability. We are loving and compassionate, and we are brutally honest. We work hard, play hard, and show up for our lives today.

Not only is change important in our vineyards, but it is the foundation of which their program was built. The men who assist us are honorable and worthy of praise. We are lucky to have people with such a profound focus on life to share in the experience of nurturing our vineyard with us. Thank you, Recovery Ranch, for all the you do... both in the community and in your program.