: one of/from the mountains; highlander
"Serrano... Like the pepper?!"
"Kinda! Well....... not really, but maybe!"
The original Spanish translation & definition of Serrano is actually "one of/from the mountains," aka a highlander! In that sense, "serrano peppers" could very well mean peppers from the mountains... So that's where the "maybe" comes from!
It is the original definition that we use, and the reason that we chose SERRANO as our brand name, with the mountain logo. Read on.. I promise it will make sense!
It's a tale as old as time... Big city Florida girl goes to college, meets a small town Georgia boy, they fall in love, decide to leave the South and move to California to start a winery... We're almost a country song at this point...
Our story really starts in 2012 when we met at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. The small campus is tucked away just off the Cumberland plateau, and we students affectionately refer to the school as "The Mountain."
Our beginning on the Mountain was followed by graduation and a move out to Paso Robles, California. I had spent many of my childhood summers visiting this area where my mother had vineyards. With great aspirations of becoming the newest generation of winemakers, we took on the first of the many mountainous challenges in the wine industry: starting our own business.
We started as cellar rats at a custom crush facility, but quickly wanted to branch out on our own and build our own legacy. We aspired to make wines that appealed to the younger generation of millennials, while also captivating established wine drinkers; creating a wine brand of premier wines without the pretention and intimidation that can sometimes be present in the wine industry.
For the next few years, we completely immersed ourselves in the wine world. We traveled to France and Italy and met with winemakers across the region, we read hundreds of books, we watched documentaries, we tasted every wine that we came in contact with to expand our palate and refine our own winemaking style. We hustled, and we started to see growth! Within our first 2 vintages, we received the highest point score on a white wine of the entire selection throughout the country (94 points on our Viognier!), from Jeb Dunnuck, the protege of Robert Parker and currently one of the most well-respected wine critics in the world. I'll admit, while scores generally mean very little to us in terms of success, as we know wine is a very personal experience and everyone loves something different, it was so exciting to receive that distinction and respect in the industry because of it. Finally, we weren't just some kids trying to stumble their way through entrepreneurship, Serrano Wine was a credible brand!
We followed that by opening a tasting room in downtown Paso Robles, where we chose to create a blended atmosphere, somewhere comfortable & fun, yet a place where you could also learn something new and interesting about wine, while tasting with the winemaker! Who said you couldn't watch football and learn about the eschala growing method of our Viognier, only seen in a couple places in the world? We wanted to push the boundary of what a tasting room "should" be, and build a space that was authentically us, Sarah and Brice, and through that, truly the embodiment of Serrano.
After 7 years in Paso Robles, we started to feel the itch, almost a call to another place, somewhere to continue building our legacy! We just didn't know exactly what that place would be. As young winemakers, we knew we had so much more of our story to write, but Paso Robles was pretty well established, and we wanted to be in an up and coming wine region where we could be part of the growth, a place where we could contribute and have some sort of positive impact... well first we ran through the list of wine regions (other than California) in the US I had heard of: Washington, Oregon, New York, Virginia, and Texas. Automatically we crossed WA, OR, & NY off the list... I was born and raised in Florida and I was not made for any colder weather! That left Virginia and Texas. We knew basically nothing of either, but there was just something about Texas that was appealing... I mean, it's TEXAS! We were curious, so we decided to take a little secret 3 day trip to Hill Country and see what it was about. Well, we were immediately met with warm hospitality, a booming wine scene, and an strong sense of comfort. This was where we wanted to expand Serrano.
We wanted to move quickly so as to not miss the window of opportunity (and affordability), so we purchased 10 acres of empty land in Hye, TX, right in the middle of the 290 Wine Trail, a 30 mile stretch of highway between Johnson City and Fredericksburg, the epicenter of Texas wine country. One day, in who knows how many years, we will get the opportunity to build our dream winery & tasting room, plant a vineyard, and carve out our own little slice of heaven.
Every day we face challenges, "mountains" in our lives. To truly be "one [born] from the mountains," one must be willing to climb those mountains, face fears, and risk everything to get to the top. We strive every day to keep pushing upward, to earn that title that we bestowed upon our brand.
Sarah, Brice, Sam & Willow