We mentioned yesterday that, as a special Mother’s Day surprise, we asked the daughters of Donum founder and winegrower AnneMoller-Racke to sound off on what it was like growing up in the vineyards of Carneros and Sonoma, their shared, yet different, passion for the California landscape, and, of course, their mother's influence in their lives.
Dorothe Moller Racke traveled from Germany’s Middle Rhine to Carneros when she was just 12-months old. Today, the 32-year old wine industry veteran runs the sales and marketing program for a unique winery and organic estate known as Stone Edge Farm. Hannah Gropman, now a teenager, was born and is still being raised in California wine country. Although she’s never been into the “down and dirty” side of growing and making wine, she has a maturity, both in her palate and in her actions, that belies her 15-year age. Their personalities are as vast as the age gap that sets them apart, but they do share a passion for the science and art of the wine industry, thanks in large part to their mother, winegrower Anne Moller Racke.
In Dorothe’s words:
1. The lowdown. Most of us have idealized visions of toddlers running between the rows of Pinot Noir, with flying braids and dirt-stained apron dresses. What was it really like growing up the daughters of a winegrower? Growing up with a winegrower on 1000 acres of vineyards in your backyard was unique. When you are a child you take certain things for granted. I remember looking out of my window at night and not being able to see anything for miles. I could see twinkling lights way off in the distance across San Pablo bay and thinking I am going to live there. It was a bit isolated where we lived. After having gone away to college and spent years in San Francisco I have retreated back to Carneros. I realize that this is such a magical place. The vast open vistas that one looks out at are breathtaking and serene. I enjoy the peacefulness and it reminds me of when I was a child roaming around.
2. What are some of the best lessons you learned alongside your mom in the vineyard? The best lesson I learned from my mom was to have respect for the land. She also taught me about Terroir, which is the essence of wine. How site dictates quality and that everything starts in the vineyard. To make great wine you have to have good grapes and then get out of the way.
3. Have these lessons and this influence shaped your own passions and/or career choices? How? Growing up with my parents both working in the wine industry has been a privilege. Being exposed to great people, food and culture made this a natural choice. For me it is a lifestyle choice
4. Ok, give us the dirt. What is Anne like outside the vineyard? Outside the vineyard my mom is extremely fashionable and glamorous. She would never admit this but I always laugh because I will catch her wearing beautiful diamonds when she is gardening. It is somewhat of a contradiction but that is exactly what makes it so charming and makes her so unique. You may not believe she is a farmer at a glance, but that is why they say don’t judge a book by its cover.
5. If you could tell your mom anything on this Mother’s Day, what would it be? I would like to wish my mom a very Happy Mothers Day and tell her that she is my best friend. I am so grateful to have such a close relationship and will always cherish her.
In Hannah’s eyes:
1. The lowdown. Most of us have idealized visions of toddlers running between the rows of Pinot Noir, with flying braids and dirt-stained apron dresses. What was it really like growing up the daughters of a winegrower? As a young child I never had a vast interest in roaming the vineyards but more for taking sample sips of the wine. I’d be given a child-size wine glass that my mom would poor a small splash of pinot inside. I’d compare the different tastes and pick my favorite. Sometimes I’d go along for the ride in the orange tractor through the vineyards and test the grapes. But, my passion was always directed more towards food and wine so getting down and dirty wasn’t what I enjoyed as much.
2. What are some of the best lessons you learned alongside your mom in the vineyard? I’ve always seem to have had a mature palate that was challenged with sophisticated foods. Funny that my favorite tastes were of French champagne and Chateau d'Yquem. I would also enjoy foods such as capers, olives and Brie for my snack. These foods were normal for me, but not your average snack for my friends. I’ve been blessed into a family with amazing food and wine so I never suffered in that category.
3. Have these lessons and this influence shaped your own passions and/or career choices? How? My mom always thought I’d make a good saleswoman in the wine industry like my sister. I enjoy arguing and proving my point because kids are always right and the parents are always wrong, right? I don’t see myself being involved in the wine industry when I get older but neither did my mom or my sister…so maybe I will.
4. Ok, give us the dirt. What is Anne like outside the vineyard? Outside of the vineyards my mom is just like the other moms; she’s always there for me from sports, to school and other commitments. The difference with my mom is the traveling and events that she does. During harvest, when she’s stressed, I try to be extra good and lay off on the questions and favors. She’s always asking me to try out new wines and compare just like when I was little, so I’m becoming a pro at testing and spitting the wine.
5. If you could tell your mom anything on this Mother’s Day, what would it be? I’d like to recognize her for her amazing accomplishments from becoming such a well-known winegrower to making it to the food and wine hall of fame. She achieved everything she’s done on her own and that is huge; she is one of the strongest people I know and I have so much respect for that. She’s intelligent and an amazing role model. I look up to her and hope to be like her when I become an adult. Love you mom, Happy Mother’s Day!We hope all of our Donum friends have a wonderful Mother's Day weekend. Check back tomorrow for a recipe from Celadon Chef Greg Cole. It's an easy, elegant dish, complemented by our 2009 Donum Estate Chardonnay. We just announced the last call for the 2009 vintage Chardonnay. If you haven't had the chance to enjoy this textured white wine, just a few cases remain. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or click here to scoop up the final bottles.