Back in the 1970s, my grandfather planted about 29 Gewürztraminer vines that he had brought from Germany. He kept his craft to home winemaking, and, being just a youngster, I was only told that he made pretty good wine. With my retirement from a 28-year career in the U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal community coming into view, my wife and I saw our modest family vineyard as a wonderful possibility. In the summer of 1998, Cindy and I decided to take what my grandfather had started to the next level, and Tackitt Family Vineyards began.
That September we had our first crush, using only the most basic equipment: a press borrowed from our friend, Mike Curran, and a 55 gallon plastic drum that my grandparents had used for primary fermentation. With the invaluable help of my family, (but having no idea what we were doing), we started picking the grapes, destemming the clusters by hand, and crushing the grapes as we went. It was exhausting work that forced us to leave the large majority of the vineyard’s grapes hanging on the vines. That year we only produced about 30 gallons of juice. In 2001, with more vines in the vineyard, the addition of crucial equipment, and a lot of mentoring from Dr. Tom Morgan, (owner and winemaker of Casa de Caballos winery) we were able to pick over 1,000 pounds of grapes that yielded 81 gallons of juice and some pretty fine wine!
Since we started, we have dealt with the common dilemmas that face every winery: birds, mildew, insects, and human error. Being stationed in Guam for two years slowed our progress, but never dulled our enthusiasm. We always knew that creating wonderful wines is hard work, but every season we learn a little more. Every challenge adds to our experience and increasing knowledge of the art of winemaking, and we are well on our way toward producing some exceptional wines. As Tackitt Family Vineyards grows, we hope to share with you our love of wine and wines you will love!
Leon Tackitt, LT, USN, EOD (Retired)
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