• the ruiz pieces

Wine: A Love Story

Updated: Jul 26, 2020

Ask JD if he ever thought he’d be making wine. Before he met me nine years ago, I guarantee you, he probably didn’t know much about wine! Fast forward to today, he is not only our master vintner, creator of our wines, but he built our urban mini-vineyard, and, in my eyes, is quite the budding viticulturist and enologist (that’s a mouthful of words – basically he’s a grape growing, wine making wizard).

I’ve been around wine since I was born. My parents love it; my mom favors whites, my dad loves reds, especially Cabernet Sauvignon. And, yes, I knew a few of the names of different wines. Beyond that though, I had never really invested time in getting to know wine. After traveling to Italy to study abroad my senior year of college, I began a journey into wine that became a full blown affair. I started trying different wines wherever I went. When we started dating, JD became interested too. A wine festival in Downtown Houston was our final spark. We tried SO many wines that day (a few too many, if I’m totally honest!). At the Texas Star Winery booth, we tried prickly pear wine and hibiscus wine. Fascinated, JD and I could not stop talking about how much we loved the all the different types. We began to research what it took to make wine.

Starting our first batch of wine was a trip. I made space in a closet at our first home on Amaranth; with a new baby in the house, that was all the space I could muster! The brewing process took a bit of time to learn, and JD threw himself into the research. Using a kit he found at a local DIY shop for brews, our first wine, a California Malbec, came to life. I felt so much pride. Creating something ourselves that we loved was such a pleasure, and super fulfilling. From that point, we dreamed of planting our own vineyard.

JD had just finished constructing a gorgeous garden for me in the backyard, and I was so ready to put down roots (and vines!). We made the decision shortly after to move. Eeeek!

The home we chose had far less yard space. I could not even picture having a garden in the new space. It honestly broke my heart. However, if I’ve learned anything from making the most of what you are blessed with, I knew there was a way to help a garden come to life. JD took the lead again, and created not only a garden, but a mini vineyard as well. Joy of joys! In April, we ordered our FIRST VINES! Ecstatic beyond words to start this journey, we waited patiently (more like impatiently—I swear there are permanent nose marks on the front window from me pressing my face to the glass waiting for the post man) for our vines to show up. They were coming from California, so we knew it would take time. Buuuuuuut, the weeks passed, and our vine babies had not arrived. Plot twist! They had become lost in the mail. Mercy. I thought they were goners. I mean, live plants lost in the mail?! Geez.

B y every happy circumstance known to God and man, our vine babies miraculously landed on the doorstep one day in mid-April. The vines were in bad shape. Barely any green. Still, we put them in the ground. Hope sprang eternal! Our vine babies took to their new home with real vigor. As I write this in July, they are as tall as the fence surrounding our yard! Ten healthy vines. We had made our shared dream a reality.

Will we falter on this path? Oh yes. Will we fail? Definitely. We're already fighting pests, making up for poor soil nutrients, and protecting our poor baby vines from the extreme Texas summer heat. That’s the plight of a person who works the soil. It’s also the greatest joy I’ve ever known. In two years (that’s the average time it takes vines of the size and age we now have to reach maturity and fruit), we may have a healthy harvest of Sauvignon Blanc grapes. And I will be writing a story about our newest wine. No longer made from California grape juice, but completely, totally fermented from homegrown, Texas-raised grapes straight from our backyard. The one I thought was too small to do anything. Wow. All I can say at this point, with a huge smile on my face, is to think outside the box, never underestimate potential, and go chase your dreams. They are closer than you think!

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