Good Morning everyone, do you think maybe spring has finally sprung in the garden? Let’s so hope. Today we have a special treat, Mike Knight and Rhea Cook are in the garden. Mike is the owner, and Rhea the Tasting Room Manager at Kiler Grove Winery and Tasting Room. And they’ve provided our delicious wines today. Help yourself to a glass and some fingers foods also. Take a seat and let us get started.
Before we begin, if you'd like a history of the winery please visit the Kiler Grove Winery web site. I've tried to keep my questions to topics, not found on the site.
We're going to begin with Mike Knight, the owner of Kiler Grove Winery. We'll find out about the business side, before we turn to the yummy tasting part.
Mary: Is the fact that the grapes grown in California and processed in Utah, cost prohibitive? With the high cost of gasoline, could you be producing the wine in California at a lower cost and higher profit?
Mike: Yes, it is expensive to send the grapes and wine up and down the highways, and risky too, but having been denied a tasting room (among other restrictions) for our winery the expense and risk of transportation become moot points as we wouldn’t have had a chance for success under those San Luis Obispo County restrictions that were attached to the approval of our permits.
Mary: Why Utah with all its peculiar liquor laws?
Mike: While Utah’s laws are goofy they are not prohibitive to the extend San Luis Obispo laws are.
Mary: You make six variety of wines is there any other variety in your future?
Mike: We are contemplating several additions to our line-up. I am very keen on the idea of a late harvest zinfandel. Zin makes a very good late harvest prospect on our vineyard as it is the earliest to ripen and could therefore run the course of the late summer and autumn giving us the chance to get some extra sugars plus some raisining in time to harvest before rains come. Also we have a north facing slope to our vineyard which has not been planted yet, but which may lend itself to another white grape such as Albarino, or Godello, or Fiano, or Falanghina, or…
Mary: Mmm, I like the sound of a late harvest zinfandel, I'm going to have to keep in touch. Obviously most wine makers produce wine because they love the art of wine making. Would you continue to produce a quality wine if it were not profitable?
Mike: Yes, but it would be in my garage. Cheers!
Mary: Your wines are so great, we'd find you! Anyone need a refill? Or some more food? Let’s take a small break before we continue. Rhea, are you ready now?
Mary: Rhea, can you tell us a bit about your background. Have you always lived in Utah? What are your hobbies outside of work—though I think your job sounds like a hobby.
Rhea: I've lived in Utah since the mid-70's, most of my life, so at this point I consider myself to be a native. And you're right...wine is my favorite hobby, as well as my work, so I'm very lucky to be able to do something I love for a living. In addition to wine, I enjoy traveling, reading, cooking with my friends and family, and spending time outdoors. I also love the arts, and attend performances of music, ballet, opera, and theater whenever I can.
Mary: This question is a little tricky to ask. At this point, I’d ask if you’d always worked in the wine industry, but we’re in Utah, is that even possible? I was shocked to find a winery here. So let’s word it this way, have you worked in other wineries before this? If so, where?
Rhea: My background has always been in health care; working in a winery is something I've always wanted to do, but never got an opportunity until now. Whenever I travel I visit wineries and tasting rooms when I can find them, and have tasted wines in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Hawaii, Arizona, Colorado, and New York, as well as California, and always knew being around wine and wine lovers would be a fascinating occupation.
Mary: Oh, we have so much in common! We visit wineries wherever we go. How did you find such a fun job? Did you know the owners prior? Or did you see a job posting a beat everyone else to the punch?
Rhea: Elva Knight, one of the owners, and I share a mutual friend, so I heard about the winery from her and she put in a good word for me.
Mary: Can you tell us a typical day at the winery? What are your duties?
Rhea: I'm usually only there when the tasting room is open, so on those days I arrive a few minutes early to get set up, which includes opening the wines and bringing then to the ideal serving temperatures, setting out glasses, snacks, water, etc. and stocking shelves. When customers arrive my focus is on welcoming them to the winery, educating them about our wines, answering any questions they may have, pouring small amounts of the wines for them to taste, and hopefully selling them wines from our small retail store to take home and enjoy. Other duties include keeping the facility clean and tidy, communicating with our customers by e-mail and other social media, and helping Mike in the production area in any way I can with blending, bottling, and labeling.
Mary: Do you have a funny story about working at Kiler Grove? If so, can you tell us?
Rhea: Maybe not a funny story...but the most FUN we have is definitely on bottling days. We usually do this on a Sunday afternoon, when we can call on some of our friends and customers who have volunteered to come in and help us. We set up the bottling line and everyone takes part. We have food, beverages, and tons of fun while getting a lot done in a short time. Recently we bottled about 1500 bottles of the 2009 Interpretation, our Rhone-style red wine.
Mary: I’m excited to host a Wine Tasting and Book signing (details below) at the winery. Rhea do you have many events at the winery? If so tell us a bit about them.
Rhea: We've had several memorable events so far. We don't have a lot of room, so attendance is limited to about fifty, but we had a wonderful grand opening party on March 2. More recently we've hosted members from Wasatch Mountain Food and Wine, Meet Up.Com, the NUTS (Northern Utah Tasting Society), and Grape Expectations. We've also had a few birthday parties and pre-dinner get-togethers.
Mary: Rhea I know you’ve read my Classic Murder: Mr. Romance, what do you think? Now remember what Thumper’s mother said, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Just kidding, honestly how did you like it? (I love putting people on the spot)
Rhea: I enjoyed it very much. I found the main characters, Adam and Katie, very fun and engaging, and loved the little twist at the end. Kiler Grove is very excited to be a part of your event....we're all looking forward to this weekend!
Mary: Thank you, I love hearing from readers!
Thank you, Mike and Rhea, for visiting my garden. I cannot wait until Friday!
By the way, you are all invited to the Wine Tasting and Book Signing extravaganza--yes anyone reading this!
Here are the details promised:
Where: Kiler Grove Winery and Tasting Room
53 W. Truman Avenue (2330 South)
Salt Lake City, UT
Mary will be signing her newest book release, Classic Murder: Mr. Romance. Guests will be encouraged to mingle while sampling wines from Kiler Grove Winegrowers and delicious hors d’oeuvres. (they are going to be yummy!)
Featuring Glass Directions and Art Studio
Owner/Artist—LeeAnn Honeyman Nay offering engraved stemware and other glass designs. On display or custom ordered during the event. For more information www.glassdirections.com
Books and Glassware: cash or check only
Win a Book Bag full of goodies:
A Bottle of Kiler Grove Wine, a pair of butterfly wine glasses designed by LeeAnn, a signed book of Mary's. A signed copy of Hearts through Time by Marie Higgins. A DVD of Arsenic and Old Lace, Healing Waters Blue Gardenia Bubble bath, Mint creme sticks Candle and holder, and Creme de Pirouline Artisan Rolled Wafers (Dark Chocolate)
Every person who purchases something at the event--whether it is wine, book or glassware--will get a ticket in the drawing for this bag full of goodies!
For more information about the event email firstname.lastname@example.org