TEHACHAPI, Calif. (KERO) — It's been a tough year for businesses who have managed to stay open through the pandemic but some vineyard owners believe it’s a time to celebrate.
When you think of wine tasting many people assume you'd have to travel far to enjoy a glass of wine but what some may not know is Kern County has several vineyards here locally right in our own backyard.
Jim and Sally Arnold purchased the Triassic Vineyards back in 2013 with a lot of unknowns about the future.
“In our case, we have best of class. We have double golds. Silvers. And that's competing with all the big wineries in the country so we can hold our own here. It's a good day to toast to wine,” explained Jim Arnold. “People come here with low expectations because we are not known as a wine-growing region."
Prior to November, the Tehachapi area was not designed as a wine-growing region. But that has changed.
“Prior to our AVA all we could say on our bottle was California. What that means is grapes could be anywhere from San Diego to Eureka. So this is huge for us to now say our grapes were grown from Tehachapi Mountains.”
This now puts them on the map with many of the other popular vineyards.
Michele and Mike with Dorner Family Vineyards started planting their vines back in 2010 and became the first winemakers here locally.
"It's putting us on the map. It's giving us recognition," said Michele. "People now know that we are here. It's amazing how the soil up here produces such good quality grapes.”
However, one local winemaker does say it takes some patience to age like fine wine.
“I planted the grapes in 2009 and I started making wine in 2013," said Clifford Meredith, owner of Stray Leaves Vineyard. "And right now I'm working on a tasting room in downtown Tehachapi which will open later this year.”
And despite the setbacks from the pandemic, they’re all starting to rebound as they reopen and all seem to have one common message on National Wine Day:
“We remind people, you know, drink more wine,” said Mike Chen, owner of Tehachapi Winery.
23ABC talked with four of the six local vineyards, most of which are open Friday through Sunday.