Becoming a Vintner

We just wanted to grow a few fruit trees and some vegetables…something to keep my soon-to-be retired husband busy.  We needed something healthy and active to do; a chance to dig in the dirt, breathe the fresh air and maybe end up with some fruit!

To grow fruit trees, we needed land & water…so we bought 3 (what we thought was manageable) acres and dug a small well.  We had to fence our 3 acres right away to keep animals big and small out, before we could plant anything.  We realized we needed a place to sleep and a place to store our tools, so a small farmhouse and storage sheds were added.  Now, several hundred thousand dollars later, (I’m not kidding!), we are finally growing fruit, nuts & vegetables.

Over the years, my husband and a small, wonderful crew of helpers, has turned our acreage into a little paradise…Over time we have added fruits, nuts and herbs; many things died but some thrived and we learned. The Antelope Valley (Palmdale/Lancaster) is high-desert and gets very hot in the Summer and cold in the Winter, so only certain crops do well.  Pomegranates, almonds, pistachios, peaches, plums, tomatoes, peppers and olives thrive in this area….and as we soon found out, red Cabernet Sauvignon grapes!

That’s when the idea of adding a vineyard to our orchard came to us. We began growing different types of wine grapes to see which grew best.   We are now on our 12th vintage…the wine gets better as the vines (and the wine maker) mature.  Slowly, we have added mechanization to ease our labor. Our “Crusher/de-stemmer” crushes the grapes and removes the stems. (Believe me, the foot stomping thing doesn’t work as well as you would is very slippery.)  We have a small Wine Press (to press out all the juice), a hand Bottler and Corker, which inserts the cork, and a labeler that holds the wine during label application.  And finally, we have a ‘foiler” (it heat shrinks the colored foil tops that seal the corks.  (We used to do it with a hairdryer, so are very happy with this improvement).

It has been an expensive journey with lots of learning and mistakes. (Mistakes are called “vinegar” in the wine business).  But the entire process has been rewarding in so many ways. We enjoy the local wild life.  Many migrational birds now call our vineyard home and return annually to have their young. We have seen rabbits and coyotes and once a mountain lion.  This is their land, so we always share our crops with them.

We are considered a small, “boutique” winery in the Antelope Valley, which now is its own official “Appelation.”   Our annual output is now about 15 cases, which is 180 bottles of wine. We sell our fruit and vegetables on-site when “in season” and are working towards selling our wine commercially. Keeping the production small allows us to relax and enjoy the process.  We won’t get rich this way, but we are having a great time.

Thank you for taking the time to read about our little operation. We would love to hear from you or answer any questions you might have…please feel free to correspond.

Max & Toni                                                                                                                Bavejdon Vineyards & Orchards                                                                                 Antelope Valley, California                                                                                                                                                                       310-547-0396