The Winemaking Bug
Chuck caught the “winemaking bug” on a wine tasting excursion while vacationing in Santa Ynez. To his surprise, Chuck found he was able to detect and label the aromas and flavors in the wine (he had always loved to cook and had even considered becoming a chef). So he turned to his wife, Kim, and said, “Maybe I should start a small winery after I retire?!” To which the winery attendant replied, “Why wait? Our winemaker left IBM to study Enology.” Though he didn’t know the meaning of “enology”, the seed to become a winemaker had been planted. Chuck and Kim talked about the prospect of starting their own winery on the ride home. Chuck could be the winemaker and Kim, with a degree in Spanish and an MBA in progress, could run the business….
Just six months later, Chuck had finished Chemistry 101 B (six years after completing Chemistry 101A) and transferred to Fresno State University to complete a degree in Enology which he now knew was the study of wine and winemaking. Chuck was offered and accepted the Assistant Winemaker position at Estrella winery in Paso Robles just prior to graduation. Estrella was renamed "Meridian" in 1988, and Chuck continued on as Assistant Winemaker. One of the few technically trained winemakers in the area, he was regularly asked for advice and began consulting for various small wineries in the area. These small side jobs soon turned into full time work, allowing Chuck to "jump ship" and start Harmony Cellars with Kim in 1989. Together they produced 2,000 cases of wine in a small rented space.