Published: 1 years 201 days ago
Growing Region: Calaveras County
What happens when a mechanical engineer with a passion for gardening inherits a parcel of land in the Sierra foothills? Magic—when the engineer-cum-farmer is Lori Kautz.
Lori’s entrepreneurial zeal was ignited when she seized an opportunity to plant her own vineyard in the late 1990s. Today she reigns over a bucolic domain of cabernet sauvignon, sauvignon blanc and mission vines in Calaveras County.
To hear Lori describe the setting, it’s heaven on earth. “The vineyard is in a beautiful location. It’s irrigated by spring water. There’s always a gentle breeze that blows across the fruit. It just feels good out there; there’s good energy.”
Although Lori came to grape growing with no formal education in the profession, she is a lifelong gardener. “Since the age of 10 or 11 I’ve had a garden at home,” she explains. “Wherever I moved I always tried to find a garden spot that I could cultivate. I’ve just always enjoyed plants. I really like putting my hands in the soil.”
She’s in bliss in the springtime, her favorite season in the vineyard. “I love bud break, to see everything starting to emerge and turn from brown to green. I love the smell of driving through the rows when the clusters are in bloom.”
Lori limits her use of pesticides by employing integrated pest management practices in the vineyard. She’s also not afraid to break a sweat to get the job done. “A lot of times we do things the old-fashioned way—with a shovel and a hoe and a rake—to try to keep our usage of chemicals down.”
Knowing that great wines start with her efforts, Lori defines success this way: “Providing a product that allows the winemakers to make award-winning wines.”
Community involvement: Angels Camp Museum, Calaveras Winegrape Alliance
Favorite varietal to drink: Cabernets
Biggest fan: Daughter Kaylee. “She loves grapes.”
Secret to growing great winegrapes: “Lots of footprints in the vineyard.”