On a recent trip to southern Utah, I found myself driving through an amazing canyon with scenery that looked like this at every turn.
This is the canyon with a couple of cave houses in it too – see a photo of the cave house and more of the canyon here.
So imagine my surprise when I come around a bend and see a whole section of the canyon floor that looks like this:
I stopped the car and stared in amazement at what looked an awful lot like a vineyard right in the middle of the southern Utah wilderness. I was so surprised. I hadn’t been there long when I heard an ATV coming up behind me. The driver stopped and I learned more about this amazing place.
Ok, the first isn’t really about him, it’s more about his parents. When he was growing up, his parents would take him to the four corners region of the world pretty regularly. Now unlike most parents who fill a trip with distractions for young passengers, Danny’s parents would stop and teach him about the land that they were traveling through. He told me they would show him Anasazi ruins, and they would hunt for, and find, arrowheads. I could tell that these experiences early in his life really captured his imagination and spirit. I have wondered in my travels if we, as a culture, aren’t too focused on the destination. There is so much to be gained from understanding the journey. It was cool that Danny’s parents took the time to share the journey.
Years later, Danny decided to go to college and get a degree in Film Production with the goal of becoming a producer. Right out of college he got a job as a Production Assistant living and working in Los Angeles. In only took six months for him to realize he was completely on the wrong path. He was miserable and wasn’t enjoying his life at all. His thoughts started turning more and more to the southern Utah area, and a patch of land he and his parents had purchased a few years before.
After traveling to Montezuma Canyon several times, he moved there permanently about a year ago. I admire someone who can look at their life, realize it’s not what they want it to be, make a new plan, and go for the change.
Now for the third thing I learned. The ranch, when it was purchased, had a large orchard on it. The orchard hadn’t been watered properly for many years, and a great number of the trees were dead. Other farms in the canyon raise wheat and hay. As Danny and his peers there at the ranch looked at the hand they had been dealt, they decided that grapes were the way to go. They are hearty, use far less water, and the price would make it easier to sustain the ranch as a money making venture.
Danny told me they had been working on the vineyard for a year, and it would be two more years before they had their first harvest! That was amazing to me. I could see the kind of time and hard work that it had taken to get the ranch to it’s current state (ever tried to remove a tree and it’s roots?), and how much more of that hard work was in store for the next two years. All of that without a harvest! I was impressed once again by the power of a focused will – how much the human spirit can work on the vision of what the future holds. I found the work ethic at the Montezuma Ranch to be an inspiration.
Oh, I almost forgot…
I asked Danny if he felt like he had wasted four years on a degree in Film Production when it looked like his life path was taking him in such a different direction. He told me that in his eyes the wine industry and the film making industry are a lot alike. He said “A good wine will never sell as well as a wine with a good story.” So his background in storytelling will serve him well in that capacity.
The other point he made is that going to college teaches you how to learn. He’s in an environment now where he has to learn and adapt quickly. From deer jumping fences to bears tearing up pear trees to learning the distribution for grapes and wine – he’ll draw on that ability to learn quickly a lot in the next few years.
Danny’s a good guy. I am so glad I happened to drive by while he was out watering. Ten minutes earlier or later and I might have missed him. I’m planning on stopping by when I’m in the area and checking in, heck, maybe I’ll run some pipe with him while I’m there.
Here’s to Danny, and his grand life adventure, and all that he will learn in his continuing education.