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"Clos Pepe: A Vigneron's Quest For Great Dirt" by Stephen P. Pepe is a compelling story about the author's journey from successful attorney, home winemaker and backyard vineyardist in Long Beach, Calif., to a true vigneron (French for one who cultivates a vineyard for making wine) in the then up-and-coming Santa Rita Hills wine region in Santa Barbara County. It's a journey of change and exploration at times light-hearted and ironic and at other times deliberative and frustrating with the culmination being the creation of one of the finest Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards and wine brands in California. "In 1994, after several years of learning the ropes with our starter vineyard in Long Beach, we purchased a real vineyard in the Santa Rita Hills," said Author Stephen P. Pepe, in the book's Preface. "Actually, what we bought was a 40-acre horse ranch in Lompoc, California, which we then converted to a vineyard by means of hard-labor sweat equity, ad hoc strategies applied to unanticipated problems and emergencies, and most importantly, our mutual determination to fulfill a dream." The cast of characters in Clos Pepe is a diverse one. The main players are Stephen Pepe, the storyteller, vigneron and an attorney by trade; Catherine Pepe, Stephen's wife, also an attorney; Catherine's son Wes Hagen, artist/scholar-in-residence, and Clos Pepe's vineyardist and winemaker; Wes's wife Chanda Hagen; and the original vineyard dog, Bud, the Dalmatian.
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Stephen P. Pepe was a partner in the international law firm of O'Melveny & Myers for 35 years before he changed careers and became a vigneron and founded Clos Pepe Vineyards in the Santa Rita Hills wine region of Santa Barbara County together with his wife Catherine Hagen Pepe. Pepe has served as the President of The College of Labor and Employment Lawyers. He has been a wine judge at the Los Angeles International Wine Competition for four decades. In addition to being one of the finest vineyards for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in California, in 2007 Clos Pepe Vineyards received the Santa Barbara County Green Award. The estate's Extra Virgin Olive Oil won a Gold Medal, Best of Class and Best of Show at the Los Angeles International Olive Oil Competition.Review:
"Stephen [Pepe] bares all in this slyly amusing story, exposing the many mistakes and miscalculations along the way that endears the reader to his remarkable, and in a number of instances, dumb luck success. Like the sharecroppers in John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, but blessed with much less impoverishment, the Pepes set out in search of land, risking the reality that the prospects ahead might not be what they had hoped for... Cozy up with a glass of Clos Pepe Pinot Noir and enjoy this fascinating story that will keep you smiling to the end. A great read for wine novices and wine connoisseurs alike." --Rusty Gaffney, Prince of Pinot
"In his new memoir, Steve Pepe tells a tale that is remarkably familiar. How many of us, while in the throes of a completely unrelated profession, haven't dreamt of claiming a bucolic plot of land as our own, planting vines in earnest and producing some of the most sought-after grapes and wines in the state? For Mr. Pepe, that dream became reality, and this is his story. For many years, Mr. Pepe wrote his friends tongue-and-cheek newsletters to keep them abreast of his freshman attempts at growing grapes (in his backyard) and making wine (in his garage). Mr. Pepe compiled them and, with a dash of embellishment (and the editorial help of New York author Susan Duff), turned them into a new book, "Clos Pepe: A Vigneron's Quest for Great Dirt" (Carneros Press, $25)... When I say that I found it to be refreshingly approachable... Indeed, the key to his book's appeal is the story itself, which nabs the reader with real-life, relatable anecdotes... The Clos Pepe story ("clos" references the stone walls that enclose individual vineyards in Burgundy) is where a dream, hard work and serendipity collide, and with delicious results... Mr. Pepe's is also a love story. His wife, Catherine, is a familiar entity to anyone who's entered into the contract of marriage, where a woman's level head and even keel are often necessary safeguards against a man's testosterone-driven bravado... This is also a story about family. A major player in the Clos Pepe story is Catherine's second-born son (from a previous marriage), Wes Hagen. The fan of all things beer and Grateful Dead was not the most likely candidate to run a successful vineyard... And Mr. Pepe's retelling of Wes' idyllic vineyard wedding (much to his mother's contentment) is a delight to read... Mr. Pepe tells his tale with whimsy..." --Gabe Saglie, Santa Barbara News-Press
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Book Description Carneros Press, 2009. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0970103050