We learn how water played a big part in the growth of Table Mountain Winery.
Welcome to The Best Five Minute Wine Podcast, I'm your host, Forrest Kelly. From the seed to the glass, wine has a past. Our aim at The Best Five Minute Wine Podcast is to look for adventure at wineries around the globe. After all, the grape minds think alike. Let's start the adventure. Our featured winery is in part two of our conversation with Table Mountain Winery in Huntley, Wyoming. Patrick explains what a lawyer is doing running a winery. Focused on agricultural law, natural resource law in Wyoming. We're pretty arid, so water laws a very important aspect to anybody in agriculture in Wyoming. Just once the entire west, just water rights protecting what we have. And I mean, that's the basic one. We have a lot of endangered species in Wyoming that producers have to work around and the ins and outs of trying to keep agriculture going and the regulations that come out of the industry that producers have to face and how to deal with those. Yeah, you are facing some different obstacles. I see where there are twenty four species in Wyoming that are endangered, including the black footed ferrets, the Canadian lynx, yellow billed cuckoo, some very familiar with what I see early on in the farm before wine became a crop, you had sugar beets, beans, alfalfa, corn. Throughout the decades, our farm is always in a diversified farm and we kind of change with the way the industry goes. And in the 2000s, the sugar beet industry was leaving our county and leaving our area. It wasn't you have to be pretty big scale this thing. And so, again, my thesis was just looking at ways to take small acreages, keep them in agriculture and maybe be able to do something different with them. And, you know, growing grapes is the most value added ag products you can get from, you know, from berried bottle and from the ground up. You're in control the grapes. And if you choose to go the winery route, it truly is a 100 percent value added ag product, which was something that our state was a little behind on. And we had some microbreweries, but we just didn't have an industry that really focused on that at the time. So you've got this plan put together and then what happened in 2004 kind of threw you curve. All these grapes on the ground. I think by 2004 we had five or six acres producing. We found a winery in a nearby town, Cheyenne, Wyoming, and they were producing wines with grapes from Colorado. And they said, we'll buy anything you grow. But we weren't too worried about the winery part because we had a market. And that spring when we were going to start to kind of have our first harvest, we called them and checked in on them and they said, oh, we're closing, we're disbanding of the company and we're no longer going to be a winery. So our kick start with our business plan that we had created really went into play immediately in the 10000 that we won, disappeared very quickly by the time we had our old farmhouse that we converted quickly and changed a few things around and were able to have a makeshift winery, probably home brewers had a better set up than we did when we first became a winery. But we we were able to get it done and and we had no idea of what would happen with harvest. We started kind of home winemaking on the side, but we we sure learned a lot just by the grapes coming in and having to figure out how to go from there, Having the experience of being a farmer with the sugar beets and alfalfa and the corn, etc. I'm sure that helped a little bit. But there had to be a learning curve in growing grapes. Grapes are very drought tolerant, if you will. I mean, we planted our grapes in the midst of one of the worst droughts that we ever had. We kind of joke for about three or four years. They haven't seen much water at all. We went to a few workshops and they said, you have to make the vines struggle. You can't over water, then hibernate in the winter. And this was all based on the Eastern Nebraska University, Nebraska. And we went to a few workshops in the summer and we were at one place and there was a huge lake there and they said, oh, we got six inches of rain last night. That's just not a lake. It's just a little pond. And we started laughing and we went home immediately and turned on the drip line. So the grapes, because we took the whole don't give them water and don't baited them. The heart and our brains haven't seen six inches of rain in the seven years that they were developing. And so we took a little different mindset about midstream when the vines were six to seven to make sure we were giving them adequate water. I do think the first year we were tougher than we should have been. That's what makes our planet so rough. We will be in the negative twenty below in December and then we'll be one hundred in July. So our grapes see the spectrum of ranging temperatures. Thank you for listening. I'm Forrest Kelly, this episode of The Best Five Minute Wine Podcast was produced by IHYSM, If you like the show. Please tell your friends and pets and subscribe until next time pour the wine and ponder your next adventure.