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Dorner Family Vineyard and Winery to open

Exciting things are happening over at Dorner Family Vineyard! With three more medals under our belt, permits in hand for the tasting room, winery and rental cottages, and the wedding calendar filling up, the outlook couldn’t be brighter.

Mike Dorner, vinter and owner of Dorner Family Vineyard and Winery, along with Cliff Merdith from Stray Leaves Vineyard in Tehachapi, recently attended the 2015 Winemaker’s International Wine Conference held in Portland, Oregon. The three day event, held from May 28 to 30, gave Cliff and Mike the opportunity to better their knowledge of growing vines and producing wine. With Mike transitioning from home winemaker to professional winemaker, the conference was the perfect opportunity to advance his winemaking skills and gain insight into the day to day operations of owning a winery. Over the course of the conference, Mike was awarded a Gold Medal for his 2014 Riesling and one Bronze each for his 2013 Zinfandel and 2014 Sauvignon Blanc. The Gold Medal affirmed Mike’s winemaking ability and the quality of Tehachapi soil and climate for growing grapes. With our ABC (Alcohol and Beverage Control) and TTB (Tobacco and Trade Bureau) approvals pending, wine sales will begin in the near future.

After nine months of engineering delays, permits were finally issued on June 8, 2015 for Dorner Family Vineyard’s wine tasting room, winery and rental cottages.

Although Tehachapi has several vineyards and wine tasting rooms, with award winning wines, Dorner Family Vineyard will be the first winery in Tehachapi. This means that 100 percent of our private reserve wines will be grown, vinted and bottled on the premises.

“Most individuals do not fully understand what is involved in the winemaking process, and honestly I did not either when I first began,” Mike said, “It is a very scientific based process, where even one misstep along the way can cost you a year’s harvest. I have definitely learned a lot since I began making wine in 2011. I’ve made my share of mistakes, but I feel confident going forward that I am on the right track. Michele and I both feel that our wine tasting room will be known for it’s Riesling wine. The feedback thus far from the community has been outstanding. Even those who are not wine drinkers absolutely love our German Style Riesling wine.”

Michele continued, “I love the idea that Mike will have his own winery where he can produce his outstanding wines. He loves the entire process, from growing the grapes to bottling the wine, so for him to have a dedicated winery is thrilling for me.”

With the engineering delays in the rear view mirror, and permits issued, we are ready to begin the bidding phase for the tasting room. While the tasting room and winery are being built, Mike and Michele will begin construction on the four rental cottages that overlook the upper vineyard. Each 536-sqft cottage will consist of a separate bedroom, full bath, kitchen, living room and dining room.

“This is the part I am most excited about”, Michele stated, “We have designed these to be a little home-away-from-home. With a queen bed and additional sleeping for two, each cottage can accommodate four adults. Off the master bedroom will be a small private Tuscan-style garden patio where you can sit in your PJs and enjoy your morning coffee. Additionally, each patio will have its own small water feature.”

‘I love the sound of the various water features we have throughout our wedding venue, so I wanted to be sure to incorporate one into each patio. I feel these cottages will be a very important addition to our wedding venue and tasting room. Brides and their families can stay on the property for the duration of their wedding package, and couples from outside the area can stay at an actual working vineyard and winery. With a pellet stove and air conditioning, these cottages will be a lovely retreat year round.”

With the Wedding Venue aspect of the vineyard solidly in place, everything is coming together nicely. We have been quite humbled by the interest in our wedding venue. After urging from Margaret at Mill Street Kitchen, we opened as a wedding venue in May 2014. We never would have thought that brides and grooms would want to get married in our backyard! After spending decades designing and tending our gardens, we are extremely happy that brides want to hold their most special of days here. “As I look back now, I have to laugh at myself,” Michele said, “I was so excited, and actually quite shocked and surprised, when in late 2013 we had booked our first four weddings! I couldn’t believe that four brides wanted to be married in our backyard!”

Now, with events booked nearly every weekend through October 2016, I am no longer shocked, but very excited when a bride books her event here. I love working alongside the brides and grooms to make their dream wedding come true. It is an honor and a privilege to be entrusted with their wedding day and I take their trust very seriously. With the addition of the tasting room, winery and commercial kitchen, exciting new amenities become available to the wedding parties. Caterers will have access to the commercial kitchen for rehearsal and reception dinner prep, and the intimate patio areas off the tasting room will be wonderful locations for the wedding party to gather and celebrate.

With construction expected to last 18 months or so, we are hoping for the grand opening to be held in late 2016 to Spring 2017. In the meantime, look for periodic updates in the newspapers and on Facebook as to our progress. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Bob and Patty Souza for their mentoring and encouragement, and Kim and Keith Nash for their patience and guidance. Also we thank Margaret Veszpeller for her outstanding vision, and our brides for putting their faith in us. A big thank you also goes out to the Tehachapi community as well as the Tehachapi EDC and Tourism board for their encouragement and excitement regarding our huge endeavor. Without you we would not be on the path we are on. We thank each and every one of you!