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Scott Kelley
 
February 26, 2018 | Scott Kelley

Grape Harvester

 
Scott Kelley
Paraiso Springs Vineyards | Monterey 1991

Scott's Start in the Wine Business

When I graduated High school, I was seventeen years old and had no idea what I was going to study in college (or do with my life for that matter). I knew I liked chemistry and grew up around agriculture, other than that it was a mystery. I took a job that first summer working for my middle brother's soon to be father-in-law at a men's store. I had to wear a tie everyday and my first week was spent pressing & ironing clothes as they got ready for a big sale. Needless to say this was not my calling.

I called my oldest brother, who had just taken a job with a nearby vineyard management company, to mostly lament about my current job. He offered me a short term job of cleaning the grape press. At that point I would have taken a job cleaning sewers. So off I went to Soledad, Ca to scrub a grape press inside and out with a scotch pad. After that was done they told me to head over to the shop to see if they needed any help. I spent the rest of the summer changing oil on tractors, learning how to weld and fix grape harvesters. I was in heaven. But the real hook came when the owner found out I knew a bit about basic chemistry and asked me to sample vineyards to test for sugar and acidity. By the end of that first summer I was hooked. 

At the end of the summer the owners held a release party for a new winery they had started and I was invited. Meeting the winemaker and seeing the customers enjoy this magical product that came from grapes had a real impact. I asked the owner how does one become a winemaker? "You go to UCDavis" he said. There were a few other programs at the time but he was a little biased being a Davis grad himself. Both of my parents had graduated from Davis as had my maternal grandparents. Seemed like a good fit. So I enrolled at UC Davis to study Fermentation Science.

Every summer and winter break I spent back in Soledad working on grape harvesters and sampling grapes. It was a great way to learn that side of the industry and make a little money for college.  I owe my start in the wine business to that opportunity and will never forget that experience. 

 

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