Wednesday, November 14, 2007

How we found our name

9/15/07

There are a few things about the wine business that aren’t as enchanting as we all like to think. For starters, the money involved in getting a winery off the ground. Most wine-lovers have heard the phrase “it takes a large fortune to make a small fortune in the wine industry.” Well, we don’t have a fortune, of any kind. So I guess it’s a good thing that our main motivation for building this winery isn’t money (although we all agree that a little more of it would be nice).

My great-grandfather and grandfather moved to Anderson Valley in the early 1940s, during the lumber boom. Times were good in Boonville, and they bought property right outside of town and founded the Charles Lumber Company. In my parents’ home on the property (once my grandparents’ home), they still have black-and-white photographs that show my grandfather and great-grandfather standing next to logs larger than a house, grinning at the work well done. As my father tells it, small mill houses dotted our property, and it was a rough, rowdy time when people’s main occupations were fighting and working.

Charles Lumber Company did well until the lumber boom started to fail. As businesses began to falter and logs went unsold, times were tough for everyone, and the decision was made to shut the mill down and sell it off, piece by piece. Not long after, my grandfather had a heart attack and died. My father was 12.

The good times were over, and, in their place, my family cherished what little we had left: our land. It’s where we lived, where we grew up, and where we returned to. We explored every inch of it as kids, and learned to love the smell of hot dirt and dry grass in the summer, and the winter frost that covered the fields and made the grass crackle beneath our feet. This was my brothers’ and I’s inheritance – what our family left for us. And it was the fear of losing it that made us take a long, hard look at building a winery.

With little industry in a remote valley like ours, my two brothers and I could hardly hope to return here to make a living on top of paying upkeep and property taxes on land we would never sell. Even though the original mill property is now planted to grapes, the income from 15 acres is not enough to support us all. The other option – paying someone to tend the vines and property from afar – would also prove too expensive. And so, this year, I turned to the wine industry that I love to bring me back home again.

My mother, my father, myself, and my fiance (who also worked in the wine industry and must have had no idea what moving to Boonville would actually be like), decided to start a winery. Instead of heading to the bank to ask for a few million dollars to throw up the entire facility in a year, we decided instead to start small and grow slowly, on our terms, until the winery could become the lifeblood that sustains our family as well as the earth beneath us. In 2006, we produced just more than 400 cases of estate Pinot Noir. In 2007, we increased our Pinot production slightly and add a few hundred cases of Sauvignon Blanc. We will continue to do this until we hit our ultimate production goals – who knows how many years it will take, but we must sell out every vintage to survive until that day.

And with these decisions, we now needed a name. We wanted it to mean something, to give a glimpse into who we are and why we’re making wine. Unfortunately, it didn’t occur to us that everything that sounded like a nice winery name was trademarked. And by a corporation large enough to drag us into court for years, even if our name just sounded similar. So, after many glasses of wine (and I mean MANY), and many failed attempts (does anyone read Pomo Indian?) later, we found something that worked: Foursight Wines. It means four generations, looking to the future.

1 comment:

Laura said...

Its a very special accomplishment to continue the family legacy into a new generation - it is so unfamiliar to the United States at this time and its great to hear about your challenges and successes of sustaining your family's history within Anderson Valley!