A Ranch In Wine Country: Dry Finish

When Teri Kerns and Micole Moore moved to Ramona, California in 2004, just north of San Diego, they knew they wanted to live an agricultural lifestyle, but were not sure what exactly what that would be.

“I knew I wanted to raise chickens and pumpkins, and of course, have a horse, all of which I’d been lucky enough to do as a child growing up near the Oregon coast,” said Teri. “I saw a notice for a meeting of the Ramona Valley Vineyard Association (RVVA) and went. What a warm and welcoming group.”

Soon after attending the RVVA meeting, the couple found themselves helping with the local grape harvest. And in January 2006, the couple celebrated with the group when Ramona was designated as its own American Viticultural Area (AVA). Located approximately 35 miles northeast of San Diego, California, the Ramona Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA) was approved in January 2006. The area is home to more than 50 commercial vineyards covering over 60 acres and 16 bonded wineries.

By 2008 Teri and Micole were making their own small batches of locally-sourced grape wines, attending classes, and started entering wine competitions. They began accumulating many amateur winemaking medals at competitions including the San Diego County Fair, Orange County Fair and California State Fair; also winning the prestigious Hellanback Summer Social first place award in 2010, and second place in 2011; a red wine competition for both professional and amateur winemakers, using local Ramona grapes from within the AVA. Then, in 2011, their 2009 Hatfield Creek Vineyards (less than
a mile from their home) Zinfandel won Best of Show Red in the 2011 WineMaker International Amateur Wine Competition. Their win was a turning point, they said.

“That was the moment we decided to go professional,” Teri said. “It was just the sign we needed to really start pursuing our dream of turning our hobby into a small home business.”

That year they started the process of establishing their property, Ramona Ranch, as a bonded commercial winery. They decided on the name because, of course, Ramona is where they live, and because they already had the makings of a ranch. The designs for their labels also feature a ranch/cowboy theme, which incorporate photos of the couple and their friends riding horses in and around the community of Ramona.

Teri and Micole have recently completed the installation of a second vineyard, planting Tannat and Symphony vines, and Micole is transitioning from a welder to full-time professional vineyard services. Teri is still working at her day job while working on the red tape of getting the winery legal, opening a tasting terrace and getting ready to begin selling wine. Teri is also the executive editor of the recently-launched online magazine following the emerging Ramona Valley wine community, Ramona Valley Wine Region magazine, which offers tips, techniques, stories and pictures from local winemakers and events. The magazine is free to read online at http://ramonavalleywineregion.com/

Keep your eyes out for wines from Ramona Ranch to be released soon. And if you’re in the Ramona, California area, check out the other wineries of the Ramona Valley AVA (www.ramonavalleyvineyards.org/). For more information about Teri and Micole’s Ramona Ranch wines or Ramona Valley Wine Region magazine, email Teri at [email protected].