Writing about what makes a person fabulous is incredibly easy, unless that person is you. Suddenly you are struck with writing something similar to a personal ad and my first few lines were something like “loves slugs, and ice cream, but not slug ice cream”. Perhaps my ad would go unanswered? But seriously, one of the hardest things about writing this story was realizing how difficult it must have been for my parents to watch a daughter whose sole goal in adulthood was to flee her childhood. I wish that I could instead write about them and the friends who have helped me along the way. I am sure it was not easy for them and they are truly fabulous. But here is my story.
I spent much of my adolescence roaming the fields around our farm in upstate New York, planning my escape. In retrospect, it was not that life was so bad. Shoveling up after cows was just such a far cry from the pages of the fashion magazines that I subscribed to. I wanted to live in a city, be sophisticated and look bored and mysterious. When I was accepted to Colgate University and awarded some scholarship money, I knew that my calculated efforts were paying off. With glee, I shed my McDonald’s after school polyester uniform, loaded up my mother’s car, and promised to never look back.
Even though the university was a short 45 minutes drive from the farm, I spent the holidays at school working. I could not see beyond the campus that held the promise of success, glamour and a glimpse of a world that was so completely foreign. My new friends willingly made me their project, giving me makeovers and things to wear. It was surreal. At some level though, I never quite left behind my love of the land and the outdoors. In the summer, while my friends took off to work as interns in NYC, I was holding a garage sale to raise money to move to New Mexico, where I lived and worked in a state park selling hot dogs and hiking. Not the fast track to corporate success, but I was happy. While I could now dress reasonably well and navigate a cocktail party, the core of who I was proved to be much more resilient…
I am grateful that the twists and turns of life have led me back to farming. Ironically, when I went to apply for a job as viticulturist at De Loach Vineyards, the biggest impediment seemed to be that I was dressed too well to possibly be a farmer! I had to convince the French owner of the company, Jean Charles, that I could be completely happy in grubby clothes, with dirt under my nails. My Colgate friends would have been so proud! I think I even said “I can be really dirty” and then turned eight shades of red as I back pedaled. Fortunately the opportunity was granted.
My work is now completely interwoven into my life. I help guide our farmers (that Truett-Hurst sources fruit from) towards organic and biodynamic farming practices, showing them the things that their piece of land is trying to tell them. A combination of awe, when a conventionally farmed vineyard suddenly comes to life when the chemicals are removed, and passion for making great wine have forged friendships that are real. The people I work with both at the wineries and in the fields have become a second family.
I have no illusions about being the most beautiful, intelligent, athletic, or interesting woman around — the competition is too fierce. Although more than one person might nominate me for being the most stubborn!
What makes me unique is a reverence for nature, a commitment to being true to myself, and the ability to open other people’s hearts to the lessons that can be learned from the earth. Each season, together, we learn new things about the complexity and beauty of life. These resonate within us, and, if we are lucky impart the finished wines with a fresh and elegant voice.
As partner, Ginny Lambrix oversees winemaking for the brands of Truett-Hurst Inc. which also consist of VML Winery , named after her (Virginia Marie Lambrix). Not only is Ginny one of a handful of women vineyard managers blazing trails in the wine industry, she has lead the way for establishing sustainable farming in grape-growing practices.