Hickman Family Vineyards has only been open a little over a year, but a lot of work has gone into getting the business up and running, including 10 years just to develop the land on their property in Bangor. The winery is small and generates about a thousand cases per year. Owner Tod Hickman says keeping the business small allows them to focus on the quality of their product.
"Our biggest advantage is we do everything by hand. Not a lot of pumping, not a lot of mechanical processes. The process is very similar to how it was done for thousands of years," he says.
Employees may not be stomping grapes like people used to hundreds of years ago, but they take part in every step of the process, from harvesting to bottling. People who visit Hickman Family Vineyards on the Sierra Oro Farm Trail this year will get to see first-hand some of the crucial techniques of wine making.
"This coming weekend we will have a press going where you'll actually see the wine coming out of the press and that'll be the last stage before it actually goes into the barrel," says Hickman.
Hickman says doing almost everything by hand isn't the only advantage they have over some bigger manufacturers. The environment in which they grow their grapes also plays a big part.
"It all begins in the vineyard, so the quality of the grape. The conditions are a lot harsher for the grape up here, which the grape likes as far as quality product goes," he says.
Despite being a small business, Hickman isn't really worried about competition. He says he actually hopes the amount of north state wineries continues to grow.