The Accidental Winemaker

How one midlife woman reinvented herself as a vineyard owner and winemaker.

By Sharon Boorstin
Photograph: Photo: Shay Peretz

These days Hall is focusing on direct Internet and phone sales. "For a facility that produces a limited amount of wine — we released 1,800 bottles of Pinot Noir and 246 splits of Ancient Vine Angelica last year — it’s the only way to make a living," she says. Hall is also looking forward to seeing her kids for the upcoming bottling season; Niko is now a graduate student at the University of California, and Maggie attends New York University. "They used to complain about picking grapes at four a.m. or spending hours corking bottles," Hall says. "Now they’re proud to be part of a family operation." As if on cue, she points to a letter she just received from Wine Enthusiast: Gypsy Canyon’s 2005 Pinot Noir and Ancient Vine Angelica have both earned a coveted 92 rating. And she’s just getting started. This year, Hall wants to plant another three acres of Pinot on a hillside that overlooks her now-thriving Mission vineyard.

Running the Numbers:

18 work hours per day during the harvest

$20,000 cost per acre to plant grapes

$20,000 for a small used tractor

$3,500 earned per ton of grapes

$75 for a bottle of Gypsy Canyon Pinot Noir

75% profit made by Hall on a bottle of wine sold in a store

5 pairs of Chanel sunglasses Hall has lost while riding her tractor

 

Originally published in MORE magazine, April 2007.

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