Each day I spend in the field planting our new grapevines, I am thankful for the huge effort that preceded my work. These fields were full of rocks when the first settler started farming here. In areas outside the fields where I am perhaps the first to dig, I encounter many rocks, some of them massive. It's a tough undertaking. That's why I appreciate that the fields have been mostly cleared of rocks well below the surface. I'm in awe of the fact that the work that has been done was before the age of tractors. The evidence of the work is all around, as the rocks have been used to make walls and foundations all over the property.
That first farmer was a retired sea captain that bought the property in 1881. Captain Ferdinand Stolte wanted to leave behind the sea to farm and raise a family. Starting out, he didn't know anything about farming, but cleared the land, build a home and barn and planted. They raised fruit, mostly to dry and ship nationwide. They raised wine grapes for their own use, as many did. He eventually sold the farm in 1916 and moved to Alma, a town now gone, as it was submerged when Lake Lexington dam was built and the lake filled. In the photo is Captain Stolte and his daughter Emma Stolte, later Emma Stolte-Garrod who wrote a book called One Life, Mine about growing up on the farm.
Thanks, Captain for your hard work and inspiration!