Our Canadian grandchildren always visit in the summer and help around the vineyard, but this year our oldest grandson, Caston, 14 years old from Calgary, Alberta, joined us for a strenuous ten days at harvest. He was a lot of help, but I think we wore him out. He must have had a magic touch; this harvest would end up being one of our most import harvests to-date.

After a year and a half of filing forms and going to hearings, we finally started construction of our own winery at the vineyard. It was barely finished by harvest, but we got to do our own crush. It was a bit chaotic, using equipment that we had never used before, while learning by trial and error. We were fortunate to have the guidance of Bob Foley, Pride Vineyards' winemaker; we are humbled at how easy he makes it seem as we bumble through. What a year to have a first crush! The grapes could not figure out the weather and we had to pick thirteen times to get

This year was the El Niño effect. We fought the weather and dropped, literally, tons of fruit until harvest so the grapes would ripen. The upside is that we hired our first full-time helper - Vidal. What a luxury to have an extra pair of hands out in the vineyard! Our first Syrah was released and did very well; we produced 150 cases and we should produce a similar amount for years to come as we have no more room to plant.

The 1994 Paloma Merlot, our first wine, was released – all 575 cases of it. The wine is a blend of 88% percent estate grown Merlot and 12% estate grown Cabernet Sauvignon. It was a hit with the wine critics and, more importantly, with the public. After three years of making non-commercial Syrah for ourselves, we made our first resale vintage.

In March, we moved into our home and acquired a new friend, Aussie, the vineyard dog. She is an Australian Terrier who loves to hunt; this trait will put her on a collision course with our local rattlesnake population. The Prides released their 1991 Merlot, which was made from our Merlot grapes, as well as a small amount of their Cabernet Sauvignon grapes – it was a smash hit! We agreed to sell our grapes to the Prides starting the next year, 1994. Their wine maker, Bob Foley, will also make us our first vintage of Paloma Merlot from a small amount of the grapes. Each year, we will

In May, we finally started building a house at the vineyard. Jim closed his office in Midland, Texas and moved to California full-time. Andy Isdahl, a skilled builder and our close friend, built the house with the help of his assistants – us, and our son Sheldon during the summer. It took us nine months to complete the house, while taking care of the vineyard at the same time.

Last year we cleared some fir trees that were shading an area of the Merlot; we decided to plant a small block of Syrah on the cleared area as an experiment. Carolyn and Jim Pride, with their wine maker Bob Foley, bought some bulk Merlot wine made from our grapes that we had sold to another winery. Bob finished the wine and blended it with Pride’s Cabernet Sauvignon. This purchase will be a major event for us, but we won’t know it for two more years.

Before this year, we had a contract with our friends across the road, the Schweigers, who would send their foreman and crawler over to do work around the vineyard. We would have to stop traffic and lay heavy boards across the road so he could drive from their vineyard to ours. This year, we bought a Fiat Crawler so we could do the spraying and other work ourselves. Jim told the salesman that if he could teach Barbara to drive the tractor, we would take it.

We had been coming to St. Helena from Midland, Texas (our home at the time) since 1983, staying and working on the property from a few days to a few weeks at a time. This year we decided that the vineyard needed full-time supervision, so we rented an apartment in St. Helena and Barbara started working on the vineyard from January through harvest. Jim continued his business as a petroleum geologist in Midland, Texas and came to St. Helena to help as time permitted. This year we also cleared the last five acres of vineyard and burned the brush and logs during the winter. The most gratifying event