Working in agriculture means learning to live with the unexpected. Two brothers originally from Cleveland, Andy and Nick Peay, 33 and 37, raised money from family and friends and bought 280 acres of raw land for their Peay Vineyards near the coast in western Sonoma County; they still talk about the EI Nino storm that hit right after they’d dug a massive reservoir, forcing them to race around the land in an after-midnight downpour, creating silt fences and spreading straw in order to block the erosion.
Not that Andy is complaining. He gets a kick out of the manual labor, the fresh air, the entrepreneurial independence, the reward of establishing a great family vintage. (Nick’s wife, Vanessa Wong, rounds out the team as chief winemaker.) “Our generation looked at our parents, who worked hard and didn’t necessarily love their jobs, and we said to ourselves, ‘We want to follow our passion,'” he says. “Everybody gets into this for a different reason. For us, it was: We want to make the best damn wine possible, because we love wine and we love food. Our politics or any of that stuff-that’s going to muck up the whole reason we’re doing this.”