Date: February 13, 2013
Question: What's that whole 250 year plan you keep talking about?
Below: The transcribed & edited response from Keith Saarloos.
Which took 20 minutes. Literally.
Everyone views time differently: some think in the present tense, some think of memories past, and some look to the future. Every day is a constant reminder that we are in this for our family. We are in a unique position. Thinking in longevity terms, you can remember as a kid thinking how old your parents are. But then when you turn 35, you don’t think its that old. We are not just third generation. We are just the third generation of fifty that are to come.
Wine is the only generational aspect similar to a family. You cannot learn about every piece of property in thirty years. You can learn about farming, but not your own land in that amount of time. Trees grow slow. The only way you can learn about your property is if you can actually slow yourself down or speed time up... That‘s really the only way you can see the transitions over time. We are obviously aware during the day
you see the changes throughout: the sun goes up, it warms up, the sun goes down. There is no difference from a year and a day. A year is just a series of days that make a heat graph.
There’s three things that are really important in wine making: location, farming, and harvesting (and then not screwing it up). If you are able to get an honest bottle of wine, meaning no other blends and farmed properly, then that wine is telling a story of that farming and wine making process.
The whole goal was to create a business or “plant trees” that we will not sit under the shade of. Our goal is not to buy land and have some stranger farm it for us. Our goal is not to have a tasting room filled with wine that wasn’t grown from our land. Our goal is not to put our grandfather on a bottle and then abandon him on a Costco shelf. We have soul. We have heart. We are attaching ourselves to the earth for the next 250 years.
“My grandfather,” Keith Saarloos says, “would love to be doing what I do. I feel very happy that our Honor + Prepare mentality that we have sort of established as a family is who we are.” We think about both past, present, and future constantly. We think about honoring those who have come before us, and preparing for those yet to come. We do that in our farming
everything we do in the vineyard each day has impact and ramification on wines that will be released in five years. That’s amazing. The wines we are sharing today in our tasting room are expressions of who we were three to five years ago.The wine we have in barrel is the little plus symbol (+) where it's not really past, but it is the past, and it's not really the future, but it is the future. It's a gestation period. Does that make sense?
The whole goal of “Honoring + Preparing” is to fill up the cups and pay homage to the people who have gotten you to where you are today. And because you are in the place you are today, you have to prepare for those who are coming behind you. Not only are we planning this for our business, it's a natural occurrence within our family. We have this business and believe in this way of life because we want something special. We’re tough on each other because we see the best in one another. The whole point of this is to keep it going. If we view this as our 015 year of farming, we have 235 years of things to do. Every decision we make is based upon someone 250 years into the future knowing what we’re doing.
Looking at our wines in depth, taking farming notes, recording videos, snapping pictures... We aren’t doing that for the now. We’re doing that so we have that. It is great to think that someone 200 years from now will have our records. In a farmer’s mentality, someone 200 years from now will be so grateful for climate videos and farming techniques and location suggestions. Everything we’re doing is establishing a rule book, a bench mark, on a way to live. A family focused attention to something nobody is making more of: ground. If our family stays tight and together, the generations to come will follow suit.
We can’t think of anything more generational in nature than farming and making wine. We use these wines as time capsules for generations way into the future to understand the importance of our family members. For example, our first wine was named after uncle John, Gilbert’s brother, who died 12 days after the invasion of Normandy in a town called Cherbourg. His goal was to save the world, and he died. He stayed as Gilbert’s hero forever. We don’t want to forget that hero: he’s a brother, a son, an uncle, an individual, part of us. Our family will always know his name. We have a unique opportunity to start a tradition. A meaningful way to remember someone in a world full of sh*t. We don’t want to buy a chair from Ikea, we want to carve a chair out of a tree that we grew.
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There are ways that all of our family members have been effected and are effecting us as a whole. We aren’t perfect. We argue and yell at each other. We’re normal. When we do fight, though, we fight about what’s best for everybody. It's not about what’s best for me or you or him or her. We just need one kid of ours in the future to care to continue on our legacy and we’ll be all right.
We want to create something that will be here for a very long time. This 250 year plan is meant to create a path that we’re trying to cut through the wilderness of “how to do this.” We acknowledge that we’re new at farming and wine making. We learn a lot through experience, not books. That experience is something that can be handed down. Wine is the most beautiful farming there is. You’re giving your farming a chance at immortality. We don’t want to live forever, we just want to build something that does. We don’t want to hand down a pocket watch or a car. We want to be able to hand our children and our children’s children a pretty damn good way to live. A tight family. A connection with the earth, a connection with time.
That’s the goal. Wine is our byproduct.