>Everyone knows that a picture speaks a thousand words, but in Monterey County, there are now eight pictures – each extending 12 feet tall – to tell of the region’s winemaking and grape-growing legacy. Spanning thirty miles through the third most agriculturally productive county in California, eight wooden murals have recently been installed under the auspices of the Monterey County Vintners and Growers Association to highlight the region’s wine culture and direct guests to the local tasting rooms. The eight murals follow the first viticulture mural created five years ago, capturing the image of Monterey County viticulture pioneer, Al Scheid of Scheid Vineyards. View a Map of the Murals or check out the Press Release Jeff Meier, J Lohr Vineyards & Wines
When winemaker Jeff Meier first fell in love with the wine country, he wasn’t nearly old enough to drink. Even so, his parents trotted him around Northern California on their wine tasting tours, where he took in the sites and smells of the vineyards as his parents tasted. When he came of age, Jeff set his sights on a career in the wine world, and in 1984 landed his first harvest gig at J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, one of the early pioneers of the Arroyo Seco AVA. Now, at J. Lohr, he’s the director of winemaking and winery executive vice president/chief operating officer. After 27 years, Jeff’s passion and raw talent have been refined by experience, resulting in one of the most acclaimed and respected winemaking careers in Monterey County. Driving north along the 101 near Greenfield, this mural reflects Jeff in his passion of making wine.
In a pale green shirt offsetting the bronze face acquired from walking the vineyard rows, he’s there, wine thief in hand, pensively drawing a barrel sample as he stares deep into the bottom of his glass. The mural, capturing him mid-craft, is a strong image of Jeff: we recognize the posture, the intense focus and the steady hand. But what the mural doesn’t reveal is the uncanny aptitude for bringing out the best qualities in wines, the prodigious palate or the seemingly effortless ability to craft consistent flavor profiles in a portfolio of wines that numbers over a million cases annually. It doesn’t show us the humble shrug he offers in response to the hundreds of awards his wines receive each year. And it doesn’t reveal the kindness, good humor and warmth he exudes every day, a residual glow from that childhood soaked in California sunshine.
Whatever we take from it, the mural is a testament to Jeff Meier’s natural gifts, work ethic and commitment to producing wines of excellent quality, and to the integral role he’s played in the history of Monterey County winemaking.
Karl Wente, Wente Vineyards
Fifth Generation Winegrower and Winemaker Karl D. Wente is responsible for all winemaking and vineyard operations at Wente Vineyards. Karl maintains a very traditional hands-on approach in both vineyard and winemaking given his education in both fields as well as homage to previous generations of Wente family winemakers. In the vineyards he nurtures over 33 different grape varieties from nearly 3,000 acres of sustainably certified family owned vineyards in the Livermore Valley and Arroyo Seco AVAs, while in the winery he takes great pride in making balanced and thoughtful wines.
Karl also has a passion for music, playing guitar, composing and performing with his band ‘The Front Porch’. In 2007, he spear-headed the launch of “Discover The Wine, Discover The Music”, an innovative partnership with emerging independent musicians around the country. The program releases one “vintage” per year, pairing each of the six hand-picked artists with a Wente Vineyards wine, and invites all members of the community to download songs and share their perfect pairings.
Cheryl Indelicato, DFV
Every visitor who is welcomed to San Bernabe Vineyard in Monterey County has an unforgettable experience because of Cheryl Indelicato. Warm, personable and polished, Cheryl sets the stage for guests to relax, take in a majestic view of the surrounding vineyards and enjoy world class meals prepared on site from the bounty of her organic garden and local Monterey fare.
As part of one of California’s oldest winemaking families, Cheryl has been in the wine industry since she was a little girl, doing odd jobs at the winery and in the vineyards with her siblings and cousins. Today, that group of hard working kids represents the current leadership of DFV Wines: the third generation of the family owned and operated vineyards and wineries. Originally built on the hard work of patriarch Gasparé Indelicato, the company went from farming grapes to making its first vintage of wine in 1935 after Prohibition ended. In 2010, the Indelicatos celebrated their 75th year of family winemaking.
To say Cheryl is passionate would be an understatement. As Past President of Monterey County Vintners & Growers Association, Monterey Bay Board of Director of the Wine Institute, and Director of Hospitality, San Bernabe Vineyard, her fervor for the culinary arts, wine and the intersection of the two is quite apparent. She has a unique way of effortless, yet impeccable entertaining.
“When guests visit San Bernabe Vineyards, my goal is to provide an upscale culinary experience, while making each guest feels relaxed and at home, like a part of our family,” Cheryl says.
Touring Monterey Wine Country
Some would say that the Central Coast is the most diversely beautiful geographic regions on the planet. Approximately 8.5 million tourists come to Monterey County each year to enjoy the beauty, climate, attractions, and of course, the famous Monterey County Wines.
One day is not enough to enjoy the three unique wine trail itineraries that the Monterey County Vintners and Growers Association has developed and promotes. From the Coastal Connoisseur Itinerary along the Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea Coastline, to the Country Charm Trip to Carmel Valley, to the Vineyard Ventures Exploration along River Road, the “Touring” mural depicts the enjoyment and wonder visitors and locals alike experience when visiting Monterey County.
The man and woman that are represented in this mural are actually long-time residents of the area, and local wine lovers indeed. They enjoy exploring the various wine trails and participating in the local wine events and activities that are readily available within Monterey Wine Country.
Grape Grower Mural – A Tribute to Those Who Nurture the Land
In Monterey County, the 2009 agricultural production was a staggering $4.03 billion. A recent study for the County of Monterey showed that a $2.0 billion crop production sales value expands to about $5.2 billion direct, indirect and induced economic activity. The wine grape industry in Monterey County is a significant component of the agriculture industry in the region, and has experience tremendous growth in the last few decades. That growth can be attributed to the dedication and hard work of numerous local farmers and ranchers, who themselves in most cases have been part of the fabric of California agriculture for generations.
Viticulture is a critical component to year-round employment for many dedicated farm workers in the region who call Monterey County “home”. Harvest typically runs from August – November. Therefore, many vineyard employees supplement the remaining eight months by picking other crops, and vice versa.
One of the many things that make farming and agriculture unique in Monterey County, aside from the idealistic climate, is the hands-on work performed by local growers. Side-by-side with the vineyard managers of the area is where you will find the grower or rancher.
Honoring the grape grower in this fashion speaks to the importance they play not only in the wine industry but to the local economy and community as well.
Raising a Toast to Monterey Wine Country
With the growth of the wine grape industry, it was only natural for the expansion into tasting rooms and other wine oriented lifestyle venues.
There are over 35 tasting rooms in Monterey Wine Country Research by Benson Marketing Group clearly indicates the importance of the tasting room experience. An amazing 80 to 95% of direct-to-consumer sales occur in tasting rooms, this includes carry-away purchases plus wine club subscriptions that are sold on-site. With nearly 35 to 40% of direct-to-consumer revenue comes from wine clubs, a key to the business model for many small family-owned tasting rooms with limited distribution outside of California is getting consumers physically into the tasting room – over 90% of wine club memberships are sold in tasting rooms!
Lauren and John, depicted in this mural at a tasting room, are raising a toast to the wines that are coming from the emerging wine region of Monterey Wine Country. Like others in their generation, the social experience of tasting and learning about wines is a key interest. The personable experience that one has while visiting tasting rooms in Monterey is clearly reflected in their relaxed and carefree expressions.
This mural works to encourage visitors to try some of our diverse tasting experience and to enjoy the fullness of Monterey County wine tasting.
Of the 8 murals, this is by far the most dramatic mural promoting wine tasting along the highway US 101 in Monterey County. Known affectionately as the “Modern Mural”, the depiction reflects the social aspect of wine tasting in groups, or with family and friends.
The millennial generation reflected in the foreground may be attending one of many wine tasting events held each year throughout Monterey Count, or sipping a glass of Monterey County wine at a private event.
This mural is catered to those 30-somethings who enjoy good times, friendships, and the social aspects of wine.
The beauty of the vineyards, the rolling hills, and the incoming fog coming over the vineyards in the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA of Monterey County is captured in this mural.
From the Bay to the north to the southern county line, Monterey Wine Country boasts nine different, unique American Viticultural Areas (AVAs). AVAs are one-of-a-kind winegrowing districts that showcase their own special combination of geography, soil, and climate. The Federal government has granted these appellations the right to put their locale on the wine label – providing a sense of place, a reflection of that particular region’s character and quality.
Over 42 varietals are grown in Monterey Wine Country. The Thermal Rainbow™, referencing the viticulture impact of the forty degree temperature swing from north to south on a summer day, dictates the proper varietal planting choices for each sub appellation. Varietals in this mural would be reflective of the cool climate region in the Santa Lucia Highlands area – most likely Chardonnay or Pinot Noir, which are also the two largest varietal plantings in Monterey County.
Alfred G Scheid Mural
Alfred G. Scheid, known to all as ‘Al’, the founder of Scheid Vineyards nearly 40 years ago, is captured on this mural. When Al founded the company, grape growing in Monterey County was in its infancy. Agriculture has never been for the faint of heart, but Al knew a little something about overcoming adversity and following your hunches. The mural of Al is a tribute to an industry pioneer and one of the founding fathers of wine grape growing on our beloved Central Coast.
By Al’s side is Rodolfo Trujillo Sr. Thousands of workers over the years have had a hand in planting, nurturing and harvesting the vineyards at Scheid. Rodolfo was the quintessential tractor man, a Tractor Whisperer, if you will, or an original “vineyard cowboy”. Rodolfo Sr. spent the majority of his farming career at Scheid Vineyards, 30 years to be exact, retiring in 2008 as one of our senior statesmen.
And what about the third figure? Standing beside Al and Rodolfo Sr. is an unnamed vineyard worker, holding a small bin of just-picked grapes atop her head. As you drive along Highway 101, she seems to be rising up out of the vineyard, her figure emerging from the vines. This depiction pays tribute to the many valued employees who have contributed to Scheid’s history.