Welcome to The Best Five Minute Wine Podcast, I'm your host, Forrest Kelly. From the seed to the glass, wine has a past. Our aim at The Best Five Minute Wine Podcast is to look for adventure at wineries around the globe. After all, grape minds think alike. Let's start the adventure. Our featured winery is: OK, in this episode, and I'm just going to give you some random questions, Dean. I can imagine having a farm and vineyard located in Virginia. It's very scenic. So what do we see when we come into the parking lot of Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyards?
You're looking out over the valley, OK It is up on the high side of the valley facing west, and that there are four mountain ranges. When you come out of the valley, it ends up being where the Blue Ridge Mountains are. So you got four beautiful mountain ranges sort of float in your view and the future and you think they will never be developed close in because John Grisham, the author, owns a big chunk of the ones right in front of us. And the rest of it is part of our Bondurant farm, which is a conservation easement ownership group. So it is all rural. We won't have any homes or anything built in our viewshed. And you're looking out over our six acres of vines, down across a wildflower meadow, and over to some closer woods where we've been able to go in and pull out all the invasive species. And there is a program this last year that was granted to plant native trees. So we were able to go in and replace it with some native oaks and other trees. So it's just a very pristine rural view, very calm.
Well, your wife, Lynn, has an exceptional design and event expertise and founded EASTON Events, so merging those two worlds together into the creation of Capitol Hill Farm and vineyards. Was that a difficult transition?
After I left, Orient-Express Lynn's business on the Easton Events side was just taking off. She had been doing events just here in Virginia but was beginning to do more nationally. And one of the points she mentioned to me was that she had a lot of clients who really wanted to come to this particularly beautiful part of rural Virginia and to host an outdoor wedding. But there really weren't enough places to do it. And that was when the lights sort of went off my mind. I thought I always sort of love the winery and the vineyard business from having been involved with it in Italy primarily, and so wanting to do it. And it provided us a means of both collaborating and working together. And without Lynn, we wouldn't have been able to get those the initial clients to come in to help underwrite the overall investment. So doing weddings and private events helps underwrite the broader picture of the wine business. So that was kind of what our collaboration was. And her office is still here with us out here. And she also has an office in Charleston, South Carolina as well. So it's been it's been a great partnership because not only are we partners in life, it's now seven grandchildren. But we also have been able to work successfully together with Lynn taking lead on some of the design side and some of the concept development side and my kind of make it happen on a day-to-day basis.
We both wanted this important point. We both wanted to create a winery which had a very experiential focus if you will. And what I mean by that is we have, in addition to just doing wine tastings and focusing on just the wine as a singular aspect of it. We do cooking classes, we do horticultural gardening classes, we do some classes. Which are your traditional Sunni view of what we're doing with our wines? Of course. And then seasonally, we do each fall harvest full moon dinner where we bring our primarily our wine club members out and we take over the lawn and we are doing outdoor tables and you're able to go down and actually see some grapes being harvested and go down the garden and you pull up some of beets out of the ground and become part of the dinner. And then the chef is out there with one of our farm partners doing some grilling. So you're able to experience what it would be like to be able to live in a fully self-sustained farm environment, if you will, and have that authentic rural American experience. We're expanding. And now to include a new greenhouse, expanding the gardens. And we've got about a dozen farm gardeners where we are the largest client for people who are building up everything from making cheese to growing cattle. And really, it's an integral part of what we do.
Thank you for listening. I'm Forrest Kelly this episode of The Best Five Minute Wine Podcast was produced by IHYSM if you like the show, please tell your friends and pets and subscribe. Until next time pour the wine and ponder your next adventure.
Welcome to The Best Five Minute Wine Podcast, I'm your host, Forrest Kelly. From the seed to the glass wine has a past. Our aim at The Best Five Minute Wine Podcast is to look for adventure at wineries around the globe. After all, GRAPE minds think alike. Let's start the adventure. Our featured winery is: We head to my hometown. It's where I grew up and at 10 years of age, delivering the Lewiston Morning Tribune newspaper spent many of Saturday mornings canvassing the neighborhood looking for lawn mowing and car washing jobs so that I could head to Lewis-Clark State College play pinball all day long. I also learned to hunt and fish accumulated hundreds of miles in the Army Corps of Engineer levee system. I also began my radio career here as a senior in high school and started working full-time at KOZE FM and AM. We head to the panhandle of Idaho to the city of Lewiston.
My name is Coco Umiker and I am a winemaker and co-owner of Clearwater Canyon Cellars.
Ok, Coco, you've really built Clearwater Canyon Cellars into something impressive and we'll get to that later. But where did this begin?
Well, it really started with my love of science and strangely, it stretches all the way back to when I was a little kid. But I was 11 years old. I had cancer. And that ended up, you know, I being in hospitals a lot and around medical people. And so when I took off for college, I'm much better now. I'm good. Got through it in good shape. But when I went off to college, I thought, you know what? I'm going to be a pediatric oncologist and the undergrad premed program at the University of Idaho. They encourage students to do a double major in microbiology, molecular biology, and biochemistry. I got into it and I loved it.
Wow. That's very ambitious, microbiology, OK? I could see how that could dovetail into winemaking is Louis Pasteur. You're kind of originated that and then molecular biology, seeing how the biological activity in and between cells and then biochemistry, the processes with living organisms, I could see where that would be kind of all-consuming with your time and your thoughts and your studies. But I'm guessing that's not the course that you ended up taking
Partway through. I just realized that I wanted to do something more creative. I wanted to be outside. I wanted to be able to come back to my family farm in Lewiston and do something with that place. I never lived in Lewiston, I lived in Boise. I spent all my summers up in the Lewis and farm with my grandparents. And so I stayed in that degree and was just this hardcore science nerd. So University of Idaho and Washington State University are about eight miles apart in Washington State University is the leader in the northwest in terms of wine programs. And so it was very wonderful for me because I was able to actually cross some classes. And in the program over there, I was so sold. I mean, I just when I found and discovered fermentation and wine and all of that, I was like I knew that's what I wanted to do. I actually planted so my boyfriend at the time and I ended up becoming my husband he I second to last year of my undergrad. So I was two thousand three, asked my grandfather if we could plant a quarter acre of vines on the family farm down here, and he let us do it. And then in two thousand four, we started a winery in a garage.
So in two thousand four, you start the winery with your boyfriend at the time, Karl, who turns out to be your husband later to start the winery, because you've got all of these angel investors lined up and you've got all this money and you think it's a great idea. Let's start a winery. Right?
We had three other partners in the beginning of Clearwater Canyon because we were young and we had no money. At that point, Karl had paid off his student loans. You got a sweet deal. He actually grew up in Arkansas and his dad was a professor at the University of Arkansas in the music department. So he got a really great education for a little cheaper because he had a father that was faculty they gave, you know, children faculty a better deal. And so that was fantastic. So he was able to get a chemistry degree from the University of Arkansas and came out here to Idaho on a research assistantship to study soil science and earn his master's degree. And that's what I did at WSU. I was on a research assistantship. You're both able to kind of work on projects that in his case that the farming industry was really interested in. He did soils work and I was studying Brettanomyces, which was a hot topic in the wine world at the time.
In part two of our interview with Coco Umiker of Clearwater Canyon Cellars, we explore what she loves. Oh, my God. Yeah. I mean, I love.
Thank you for listening. I'm Forrest Kelly this episode of The Best Five Minute Wine Podcast was produced by IHYSM. If you like the show, please tell your friends and pets and subscribe until next time pour the wine, and ponder your next adventure.