Nevertheless, he persevered and even worked in the school winery to learn as much as he could.

“I knew after the first semester I wanted to own my own winery,” said George. His family has supported him from the beginning. “Making wine is not all that complicated, but it takes a lot of money to start a winery. We have started with a bare minimum, but some day I hope to establish a winery in Kings County or buy a winery elsewhere.”

Years ago there was an Italian Swiss Colony winery on Grangeville Avenue north of Hanford. “We could have a tasting room right here in Stratford. It would be on Highway 41. That’s the road everyone takes to go to the wine country in Paso Robles. Why not stop here first?” said George.

“Growing grapes and owning a winery is not any different than growing cotton and taking it to a cotton gin,” says Charlie. “They’re both farming businesses.”

Cotton and sugar beets have been good to the Meyer family. However, beets have disappeared from the valley and cotton acreage has dropped dramatically. These changes are what prompted the Meyer family to plant pomegranates and get into wine.

There is more marketing involved with wine, admits Charlie. “We do a lot of tastings to get the word out. We started with friends and farming neighbors who wanted to see us succeed. From there the word is getting out. One man who came to a tasting said we should have a tasting every month,” says Charlie.

Beverly and Charles are helping out all they can. “I guess you could call me a wine mother,” said Mrs. Meyer. “George is the visionary of the family, and you certainly need to be looking into the future if you are farming today.”

“I am helping out all I can,” says Charles. “I did not know a lot about wine before we started this, but I have learned a lot. I am our biggest salesman.”

George’s immediate goal is to produce 1,000 cases of wine. He also hopes to finish his enology degree from Fresno State. However, that may take longer than normal.

He received a grant from the Visalia Rotary to do a study tour of Australia’s agriculture during the spring semester.

“This will knock me out of the spring semester, and when I get back it will put me behind in getting the classes I need. It will probably take me a year and a half to two years to finish,” he says.

“By then we’ll be marketing more than 1,000 cases of wine, so I am not sure I will make time to finish,” he says.

hcline@farmpress.com