Tag Archives: Elizabeth Smith

GoatHouse Brewing Co

November 2017  By Elizabeth Smith

One of my first weekend trips to Placer County, California, included a stop at GoatHouse Brewing, which recently celebrating four years in business.

A few visits later, after their Farm Yoga experience, I caught up with co-owner, Catherine Johnson, about what it’s like to live the dream: owning a craft brewery which produces its own hops and raises its own goats, far removed from her past life living in the San Francisco Bay Area.

FullSizeRender (3)How did GoatHouse Brewing come about? Why goats and beer?

Michael and I were in the Bay Area rat race and knew we wanted something different for our life and young family. We met and fell in love over beer, and Michael has brewed since before he was old enough to buy (now over 30 years)! We knew we wanted space and a great community to raise our family. Being connected to where our food (or beer in this case) comes from has always been important — food or beer just doesn’t magically appear in the grocery store. I make cheese, so goats were the obvious choice. Hops are needed as beer isn’t beer without hops, and thus, the dream began!

Why Placer County/Lincoln, California?

We looked all over the state of California and we fell in love with the schools, community, and competitive landscape around us. We wanted rural farmland, yet close enough to city comforts and school sports, etc. The farmland around us is rich with mandarins, lavender farms, wineries, and many other innovative uses.

Why did you decide to offer farm yoga with the goats? Has it been successful? In what ways?

Farm Yoga evolved because we have tons of goats and beer! A good friend was recently certified as a yoga instructor, we got to talking (and maybe having a cold one), and the idea took shape. Farm Yoga at GoatHouse has been very well received and hopefully people enjoy it as much as we do! Animals don’t fake affection — when they choose to spend time with you, enjoying a rub, nibbling on edge of shirt, enhancing a stretch, etc. — it is genuine.

FullSizeRenderApproximately much and how many different beers do you produce annually?

GoatHouse Brewing is a 3BBL nano-brewery. We grow 20 different varieties of hops. We brew small-batch seasonal beer as a farm brewery based in agriculture. We use 90% of the hops we grow onsite, bringing in only those that are proprietary and patented. We also use seasonal fruit from our orchard such as mandarins. Most years, we brew 40-50 different styles, with only one being on tap 100% of the time, Darkside, our stout, our favorite to drink and brew! The rest comes and goes with the season.

How do you come up with the names of your beers, such as Wet N’ EZ, Honey Baby, Jackin’ Jill, Amberillo, Philip D’Glass, and Dirtbag Red?

Songs, life, kids, inside jokes, nicknames, family, riffs on just about anything. Typically, it starts a bit inappropriate, some vetoing that goes on, then we lock in and go!

We are craft beer manufacturers and hop farmers, so at least two businesses rolled into one, but beer helps make the world go around!

Do you have children and are they involved in the business?

We have two kids, Nolan, 14 and Amelia, 11. They help with Farm Yoga and most of the critter care on the farm. Nolan is on a USA swim team and he’s thankfully strong to haul hay bales. Amelia has no fear and can wrangle a goat like no one’s business (might be from her competitive soccer playing skills). They also grow pumpkins and have a farm stand in the brewery where they pick fruit from the onsite orchard, or veggies from our large garden to sell. They save their money to buy new seeds for the next year or something special.

IMG_1452Tell me more about the goats. What kind of goats, etc.?  Do you produce (or sell) any goat products such as milk and cheese?

The goats are all dairy goats. The plan was to open a small-batch dairy, but currently the regulations are hundreds of thousands of dollars and price prohibitive, so we are not licensed, nor do we sell any milk products. All hope is not lost, but development is currently on pause. In the meantime, we eat a lot of cheese with our beer! Our daughter has three Nigerian dwarf goats from 4H and their milk is like heavy cream. Alpines and La Manchas make up the bulk of the herd and their milk is sweet and plentiful – no funky aftertaste. Despite their reputation, our goats are very picky eaters and VERY spoiled.

What are the challenges you face as a local craft brewer?

Being one of the only true farm-to-tap breweries in the State of California – where the farming and brewing happen on the same land – has been challenging as the government isn’t really set up for innovation or the unknown. Being tenacious and the first to market has been character building as my mother says! We are craft beer manufacturers and hop farmers, so at least two businesses rolled into one, but beer helps make the world go around!

 Do you sell your beers only at the brewery?

The majority, yes. Since we are based in agriculture, production is limited. The old farming model was that the farms brought food to the people. Today, people like to come to the farms to see where everything is produced. It’s a connection that has been lost in society that we are hoping to rebuild. People don’t know how hops grow, so it’s a bonus to share the knowledge while they are enjoying a beer on the farm.

What other events do you offer at the brewery?

We are starting to work on some beer pairing events with local farmers and a fantastic farm-to-table chef. More to come, so stay tuned!

Is GoatHouse Brewing everything you dreamed it would be?

GoatHouse Brewing is exactly and more than what we planned extensively for and dreamed of. Our unique business model, as the first in the state, has been very well received and our passion and love for what we do, we hope, shines through. With all the planning we did, the one thing that surprised us, and continues to surprise us, is the outpouring of love and support from our customers. It is truly staggering and we are honored to be part of so many celebrations: engagements on a regular day in the brewery, baby showers, and birthday parties for the young and old.


600 Wise Road, Lincoln CA | info@goathousebrewing.com | Goathousebrewing.com

Michael and Catherine Johnson  |  Tasting Room open Thurs, Fri, Sat & Sun

 


Elizabeth Smith HSElizabeth Smith is a French and Spanish professor turned wine professional. In 2013, her part-time role as executive assistant to a wine broker and importer became her stepping stone into the wine business. She moved to the Napa Valley from Virginia in January 2014 to begin her new full-time winery career. Elizabeth holds a doctoral degree in community college education from George Mason University as well as Wine & Spirit Education Trust’s advanced wine certification. She is currently the wine club and social media manager at Ehlers Estate and writes about wine tourism and wine for various online media outlets, usually while sipping wine with her cat, Einstein, by her side.
Follow Elizabeth at TravelingWineChick.com and AmericanWineryGuide.com

Taste Maryland!

August 2017 by Elizabeth Smith

When you think of Maryland, what comes to mind? Not having spent much time in Maryland until recently, I immediately thought of the Eastern Shore, crab cakes, and the Baltimore Orioles. It turns out that Maryland is much more than beaches, baseball, and seafood. It is a world-class winegrowing and winemaking region that dates back to 1648. Let’s take a virtual tour of four of my favorite Maryland wineries.

Old Westminster Vineyard & Winery
Old Westminster Vineyard & Winery is a family affair, with founders and parents, Jay & Virginia Baker, vigneron Drew Baker, and his sisters, winemaker Lisa Hinton and estate manager Ashli Johnson, at the helm of this relatively new foray into winemaking. The idea of turning the family farm into a vineyard and winery came to fruition during a trip to the Napa Valley in 2010. Starting with 7600 vines planted in 2011, Old Westminster now makes 30,000 cases of wine, with 50% of the grapes coming from their home vineyard and the other half carefully sourced from nearby vineyards such as Cool Ridge Vineyard, Links Bridge Vineyard, and Birchview Vineyard. Old Westminster has also just broken ground at a new vineyard site, Burnt Hill, whose rolling hills are begging to be planted. In November 2015, they opened their beautiful tasting room. Old Westminster’s mission is quite simple: To craft distinctive wines with a sense of place. Hinton’s winemaking style is more hands off than hands on, handcrafting wines with minimal intervention – native yeast fermentation and unfiltered – all showcasing each vineyard’s distinctive terroir. A few of my Old Westminster favorites include their 2016 Pét-Nat Albariño, 2016 Pét-Nat Barbera Rosé, 2016 Cool Ridge Vineyard Greenstone and Limestone Grüner Veltliner/Viognier blends, 2014 Anthem Bordeaux-style red blend, and the 2015 Cool Ridge Vineyard Outlier Petit Verdot-Cabernet Sauvignon blend. I must admit, though, I couldn’t get enough of the effervescent Pét-Nats, which delightfully tickled my tongue and my senses.

Black Ankle 2Black Ankle Vineyards
A dream of a career in the wine business often starts with that one wine moment. For Black Ankle co-founder Ed Boyce, it was a bottle of 1979 Mouton Rothschild. For Sarah O’Herron, it was a lifetime of wine enjoyment shared with family and friends. From these moments, the vision of Black Ankle Vineyards was conceived 17 years ago, and in 2002, Boyce and O’Herron purchased the land that would become their farm and estate vineyard. The inaugural vintage was 2006 and the first wines sold in 2008, the same year they opened their tasting room. Fast forward to today: Black Ankle is a premier Maryland producer of white, rosé, and red wines. Wines from their 80,000 grapevines are estate grown and sustainably produced. During my recent visit, I was introduced to Black Ankle with a mouth-watering glass of their Albariño and a tour of the property, then subsequently spoiled with a historic vertical tasting of their Crumbling Rock red blend, vintages 2006-2013 (except 2009), and Leaf-Stone Syrah 2007-2010-2011-2012-2013, paired with local cheeses by Shepherd’s Manor Creamery, Cherry Glen Creamery, Chapel’s Country Creamery, and Whispering Breeze Farm. I was truly honored to taste Black Ankle’s story, terroir, and winemaking philosophy in every sip, experiencing a Maryland wine moment of my own.

Big Cork Vineyards
If I were to describe Big Cork Vineyards in one phrase, it would be Go big or go home. Owner Randy Thompson assures guests that Big Cork is big on wine, fun, and life – a fantastic place to spend an afternoon with family, friends, and pets. A Virginia turned Maryland winemaker, Dave Collins, continues to be a big deal – a winemaking pioneer and leader – creating a tapestry of wines for everyday drinking and serious collectors. My visit to Big Cork included an introduction to the vineyards, as well as a special, and perhaps more serious tasting of Big Cork’s 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, 2015 Viognier, 2015 Meritage, 2013 Reserve Malbec, 2014 Nebbiolo, and Black Cap Port, all outstanding examples of Maryland wine. However, I decided to experience Big Cork like a local. I snuck away from my group into their tasting room filled with happy faces, and asked to taste a couple more of their wines, opting for the 2015 Malbec and 2016 Russian Kiss, then made my way to the patio to listen to the day’s music performers. As the singer performed “Landslide”, I was immediately smitten by the unique blend of Muscat and unnamed Russian grape varieties of the Russian Kiss. Aromatic floral notes and sweet tropical fruits enveloped my nose and palate and immediately transported me back to my childhood, when my friends and I would pick honeysuckle flowers and taste their nectar. The Russian Kiss wasn’t just any kiss, but a big kiss of flavor that I will never forget.

BoordyBoordy Vineyards
Boordy Vineyards is the grande dame of grape growing and winemaking in Maryland. Boordy’s Long Green farm, founded and owned by J. & P. Wagner from 1930-1980, is now owned and operated by the R.B. Deford family since 1980. Boordy has the distinction of being Maryland’s oldest winery, opening in 1945. Third-generation vintner Phineas Deford now leads Boordy in the 21st century and it was he himself that led my tour of Long Green farm, a wonderful juxtaposition of vibrant vineyards, historic buildings, and modern-day winemaking technology. My visit also included a tasting of some of Boordy’s small-production, terroir-driven, Landmark Series wines, whose grapes primarily come from their dry-farmed vineyards at Long Green Valley and South Mountain.  A couple of my favorites were the 2016 Albariño and the 2014 Cabernet Franc, both from their South Mountain Vineyard and Maryland Governor’s Cup medal winners. The Albariño is floral and fruity, clean and crisp, with stone and citrus fruits on the palate, the perfect accompaniment to Maryland’s seafood. The Cabernet Franc was darker and spicier than I expected from an East Coast wine. Black fruits and pepper dominated both the nose and palate and I imagined enjoying this wine with a hearty, meaty stew.

After spending three days in Maryland, I came away both impressed and ready to return to taste wines from Maryland’s other 37 wineries (and growing). When planning your visit, keep your mind, palate, and your heart open to the diversity and complexity that is Maryland wine. Taste Maryland and fall in love.


Elizabeth Smith HSElizabeth Smith is a French and Spanish professor turned wine professional. In 2013, her part-time role as executive assistant to a wine broker and importer became her stepping stone into the wine business. She moved to the Napa Valley from Virginia in January 2014 to begin her new full-time winery career. Elizabeth holds a doctoral degree in community college education from George Mason University as well as Wine & Spirit Education Trust’s advanced wine certification. She is currently the wine club and social media manager at Ehlers Estate and writes about wine tourism and wine for various online media outlets, usually while sipping wine with her cat, Einstein, by her side.
You can find and follow Elizabeth at TravelingWineChick.com and AmericanWineryGuide.com


 

A Moment with Viticulturist, Vintner, and Winemaker David Parrish

July 2017 by Elizabeth Smith

David Parrish TR (1)Do you know the name David Parrish? If not, you should. This third generation viticulturist, vintner, and winemaker of Parrish Family Vineyard in the Paso Robles AVA of California is truly a Renaissance man of the wine industry, having patented groundbreaking trellis designs in his early days as a student at UC-Davis and while holding key viticulturist roles during his career in the Napa Valley. He has been a wine grape grower since 1995 and a winemaker since 2004 when he founded his own winery. I had the honor of asking Parrish ten questions and in his own words, he describes what inspires him to do it all from vineyard to bottle. 

 

1. Do you remember which wine during that fateful sunset evening inspired you to pursue winemaking? How did it inspire you?

It was probably a Cabernet Sauvignon that had me daydreaming about sipping and swirling my own wine one day. Viticulture has been in my blood since the time my grandfather started growing grapes in Atascadero, before Prohibition and the Great Depression. Seventy years later, I decided to take my grandfather’s passion a step further opening my own winery. I had no idea the love affair it would become. I began producing our boutique wine in 2004 and opened a tasting room in 2011. Today, we are busy building a new winery and tasting room which will open in early 2018. It just keeps getting better.

2. What transpired during the time between your work with Napa producers to your new venture in Paso Robles? Did you work with producers in other areas of California, the United States, and/or internationally?

I graduated from U.C. Davis in 1974 and started a vineyard trellising company which I’m still involved with today. I was fortunate to meet a group of Napa growers who wanted to make Napa a world-class wine growing region and one of my professors, Dr. Kliewer, convinced me to accept their invite to work with them. I moved to Napa and started working with Robert Mondavi and Bob Steinhauer of Beringer Vineyards. After a few months, I was working with most of the wineries in the Napa area on their trellises. I currently hold two dozen patents for trellis design and have worked with partners all over the world.

But, my heart always wanted to come home to the Central Coast and grow my own grapes. I planted 40 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon on our Creston, California ranch in 1995 and in 2004 made the first vintage of Cabernet Sauvignon; in 2011 the tasting room opened in downtown Paso Robles. In 2013 and 2014 we planted 80 acres in our Templeton Vineyard and 30 acres in our Adelaida Vineyard; which will be the location of the new winery. We will always be a boutique, family-run winery and are thankful so many people have supported us and our wines which has allowed us to grow.

3. Why did you choose Paso Robles to make wine? Was there a reason besides living there?

Other than my grandfather’s roots, I wanted to return to the Central Coast because of the people. I spent a lot of time in Napa and know the beautiful fruit that can be developed there but, I wanted to work with family-owned wineries just like the one I wanted to build. I think there is something magical that happens when winemakers live on the land they love and are able to truly give it the daily attention and care it demands. I was glad that I was right about that instinct because the more our partner wineries develop, the more we all lean on and support each other. It’s uncommon and it’s characteristically Central Coast.

4. What is your favorite varietal grape to grow? Is it also your favorite to make? If not, please share why.

We grow great grapes, but my passion has always been Cabernet Sauvignon with its round, full-body and elegant finish. Recently, our Clone 6 Cabernet Sauvignon was rated 94 points by Wine Enthusiast. I call it a problem child with its wild temper that can be matured into a lovely and complex expression.

5. What grape is the most challenging to grow in Paso Robles? Why?

See above

6. What varietal wines do you currently make? Any new prospects on the horizon?

Estate Grenache Rosé, Sauvignon Blanc, a Chardonnay/Viognier blend, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, two Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah blends, Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and an Estate Clone 6 Cabernet Sauvignon

7. Do you have any formal winemaking education?

I graduated from U.C. Davis in 1974 with a degree majoring in biology with a chemistry/math minor and completed several courses in winemaking. I’ve found the best way to learn anything is to simply study and experience as much as you can.

8. Is your family also involved in the business?

This has always been a family business to us, dating back from my grandfather. Today, my wife, daughter and son-in-law are all involved in the day-to-day operations of the winery; even the dogs have a job.

9. What do you love about Paso Robles as a place to live, grow grapes, and make wine?

The best part about Paso Robles is the people. Hands down. I’m a member of the Paso Robles CAB Collective which is an organization that brings wineries together on behalf of the entire region. We work together to help promote each other and to solve any issues in our vineyards, with our grapes, basically anything that comes up. We rely on each other for the betterment of all. It’s an amazing thing.

10. Is winemaking everything you thought it would be? Why?

It’s so much harder and also so much more rewarding. I knew vines from my trellis work, but being a winemaker is a completely different experience. Caring for and knowing about the fruit is consuming. I’m lucky my family is also involved so we can share the highs and lows together. It takes a lot of work, but the rewards are so great. I can’t imagine doing anything else.


Elizabeth Smith HSElizabeth Smith is a French and Spanish professor turned wine professional. In 2013, her part-time role as executive assistant to a wine broker and importer became her stepping stone into the wine business. She moved to the Napa Valley from Virginia in January 2014 to begin her new full-time winery career. Elizabeth holds a doctoral degree in community college education from George Mason University as well as Wine & Spirit Education Trust’s advanced wine certification. She is currently the wine club and social media manager at Ehlers Estate and writes about wine tourism and wine for various online media outlets, usually while sipping wine with her cat, Einstein, by her side.
You can find and follow Elizabeth at TravelingWineChick.com and AmericanWineryGuide.com