For Mother’s Day I would like to share a moment between my mother and myself. On an evening this past week we sat outside to watch the day come to a close. In usual fashion we had a bottle of wine open, and a little cheese to tie us over till dinner. My father sits back with his cigar, mother bustles around watering her plants before taking her seat. These are my favorite times on the farm. After a long day of vine field work, production, meetings, interviews and endless phone calls we always find ourselves back on the front porch. Wine in hand, reflecting on the day. This time I asked my mother if I may ask a few questions while recording her. She agreed. It went something like this…

Mom: I know I’m such a pain [Reaching for my wine glass to take a sip. Her’s was not yet poured]

Me: [with a sigh] Its alright you’re cute…that was larger than a “sip”!

Mom: It was just one sip! [Teasingly hands the glass back to me]

Me: Ok so here we go, just like a chat… What was Grandma like? What was she like as a mother, a young women? What where her stories, how did she inspire you? Things like that..

[My grandmother passed away in the late 70s. My mother’s memories have become mine over time.]

Mom: Grandma Tennant was…she never met a stranger. She was always so friendly, talked to everybody. She was very inquisitive, she loved to find out new things. Um… I remember on our trip out to the West Coast to take them..

Me: Who is “them”?

Mom: My dad, mom and baby sister. They we’re headed to the Philippines for his assignment..

Me: In the Navy?

Mom:…no, at this time he was with the Veterans Administration. They had a VA office Manila because there were many in the Philippines who fought for us during WWII. On the trip out West she was always so interested in new things. She was just very inquisitive. She never met a stranger, and she never met a food she didn’t try at least once.

Me: Like what?

Mom: She ate these rotten 1000 year old eggs! Which I wouldn’t eat! [laughing into her freshly poured wine glass]

Me: They’re not THAT bad..

Mom: Well..

Me: Did she have the um…?

Mom: The Balut?! Yes!

Me: The boiled bird embryo?!!! Did she ever say what it tasted like?

Mom: Umm..

[We both scrunched our faces trying to imagine an odd flavor]

Me: If you say scrambled eggs I’m never eating breakfast again!

Mom: [Laughing] I don’t remember what she said it tasted like! I just remember she said it was “interesting”.

Me: Thats like saying someone’s boyfriend is “Unique” after meeting them the first time.

Mom: Right! Yeah, so that was something. I don’t know if she would do it again but she did try it.

[We pause a moment. Sip some wine. The dog, Chianti, is barking next to us asking for a bit of cheese. Looking pensive mom continued..]

Mom: She was raised very poor, but she would say they didn’t know they we’re poor. It was during the depression. They lived on a farm in rural Pennsylvania. Her mother made new clothes from nothing, for all three sisters. They all went to school, they always had food. So they didn’t know they we’re poor. Her mother took care of the family so they did not want for anything.

[Moment of pause]

Me: What was that saying you said Grandma would always would say?

Mom: Oh! Yes! Umm… “Its no sin to be poor, its just damn inconvenient”. [Laughing together] And her other one was “Unfortunately, we have a champagne taste and a beer pocket book”

Me: That sounds about right!

Mom: And she certainly had champagne taste! [Chucking with her thoughts] When she was in Manila she got to live like queen. They lived in the embassy compound there. Which was amazing for her, this little country girl from the back woods of Pennsylvania.

[Pause for wine.]

Mom: She had a sense of adventure. You have to remember, this was 1944. She had met my father when in high school. He went off to war in the Navy. They had written back and forth, very much in love. So when he got wounded and was sent to California to recover they wished to get married. One of the nurses there, Mrs. Wente, helped father write his letters to mother.

Me:  [Excitedly] Of Wente Vineyards?!

Mom:Yes!

Me: How fitting you now own one [vineyard]!

Mom: [Laughing and raising her glass slightly to cheers] So mother was only about 20 years old at that time, and she had never been out of Greene County, PA. She got on a train and went across the nation to marry this sailor! Mrs. Wente was so taken by the love story that she provided the wedding. So, mother had a great sense of adventure. Which I have and you have as well.

[Mom takes a moment for thought. Dad sneaks a piece of cheese to the dog. I refill everyone’s glass]

Me: You told me she would always say education would be your…. ummm how did she word it? I forget.

Mom: Yes. Your most prized possession.

Me: And that is what you taught me as well. No matter what happens, even if I lose everything no one can take my education from me.

Mom: Exactly. No matter what happened to you in your life [gesturing wide to show a sense of everything]. If you lost everything finically, you would always have your education. She was a great believer in it’s power. From the very beginning, for as long as I can remember she would say “You will go to college”. There is a story she would tell over and over again [beginning to giggle at the thought]… When I fell in love with my first boyfriend, in second grade…

Me: [Chuckles into wine glass]

Mom:….in second grade, I said that I couldn’t marry Bobby because Bobby wasn’t going to college and I would have to go to! She wanted a solid education for all four of us sisters. So we could have something we could rely on for ourselves.

Me: She wanted you to be independent women.

Mom: Exactly! Back then, in the 1950s, women largely depended on their husbands financially. She didn’t want that for us four girls. No matter what happened she wanted us to be able to stand on our own two feet.

[Another pause for wine. I let a cat back inside the house after a loud protest of being out to begin with. We settled back down in our chairs. A nice breeze starts to pick up.]

Me: So when I came along, what did you take from Grandma in terms of how to be a good mother?

Mom: I would say… her values. She always… [weighted pause] she always said she was not the perfect mother. Um… [weighted pause] but she always did the best she could. So you know, the thing is you just have to relax. What I took away from my mother was do the best you can because children are very resilient. If you instill in them with solid family values…they will be fine.

Mom: She also thought things like birthdays were very important. [Smiling brightly from a memory that surfaced]

Me: Milestones were to be celebrated?

Mom: Yes! Always! Never a birthday we didn’t have a big cake. Two or three layers with 7 minute frosting. Do you know how hard it is to make home made 7 minute fronting?!?

Me: Longer than 7 minutes?

Mom: Yes! At least 7 minutes in the mixer alone. That is a long time for a 10 year old!

Me: Treacherous!

Mom: Yes! She would frost the cake with this beautiful 7 minute frosting all over the place. Then sprinkle coconut on top. I remember one birthday… there is a picture somewhere… of me getting my birthday cake in bed because I had the measles! But I got my cake!

[Laughing together. The cat wants back outside, wish granted]

Me: What was it like to become a mother?

Mom: [Softly] It was very natural. Like you were always supposed to be there. There was a time right after you we’re born. Your father went home because he was exhausted and they let me sleep because I was exhausted as well. They had you in the nursery. The nurse came in to wake me saying  “Mrs. Sokol, Mrs. Sokol may we bring your baby to you? She wont stop crying!” [Laughing at the memory]

Me: I was demanding even then!

Mom: [Continued laughter] Yes, very much so! So they brought you in, crying and hollering. I cuddled you up to my chest and you immediately quieted down. The nurse looked astonished.
She said “How many babies have you had??!!”
I replied “This is my first”.
“You just know what to do” she exclaimed!
We took you home, and had champagne. We have that picture somewhere too.

Mom: So, back to the original question. I don’t know if it is anything that my mother taught me as much as just the way she lived her life. 

We continued to talk as the late afternoon turned to dusk. I listened to my mother’s experience of raising me. Advice for mothers based of her findings. I heard stories of my childhood from her perspective. Some new to me and some quite embarrassing!

I realized, after bit of time, I was being lulled by the sound of her voice. As if I was once again a small child asking for stories at bedtime. I wanted to sit and listen to her speak until the stars were brightly lit. But alas, the wine was empty and dinner was ready.

2017-05-13 (4)Grandmother, second from left. Great Grandmother, third from left. On their farm in rural Pennsylvania.

 

2017-05-13 (5)Grandmother and Grandad, 1950

2017-05-13 (3)My beautiful mother, Patricia. 1984

2017-05-13Mother’s Day with the two of us, 1995.

Screen Shot 2017-05-04 at 2.09.27 PMPresent Day. 2017

As someone in her late twenties I am often asked “What is it like to work with your parents?” When your mother and father become not only your partners in business but also your peers, there is a bit of an adjustment.

Together, we developed the 3 Rules to Peace. Guidelines to thrive together in home and business. Not every day is smooth sailing, we all have responsibilities which can become overwhelming and frustrating. The KEY is to remember that teamwork equals Success.

COUNT TO 3 – We are human. It’s only natural that sometimes we can get frustrated. We can get upset. However, the last thing you want to do is to say something you’ll regret. My mother and I are both very strong willed women. It can be challenging working together when we have a difference of opinion. Count to 3. Deep breath in, then out. Work together and find a solution. Use the people around you as a resource, not a scratching post. More is accomplished and the dinner table less awkward.

REMEMBER THE FISH AND THE TREE – We all know the tale; one should not ask a fish to climb a tree as a measurement of his abilities. The main reason for our success in working together are the individual talents each holds. My father, is the wine maker. My mother, the business mastermind. Myself, marketing/social media. Each has their unique speciality and we rely on those specific talents to make the workflow smooth. I would not ask my father to navigate Hootsuite or the back end of our website as he would not ask me to calculate the chemistry formulae for the next fermentation. We cultivate the talents of each person and thrive in their success.

DRINK THE WINE – Or in other words “Enjoy the Fruits of your Labor”. The hard work and long hours are rewarded when your goal develops into reality. Enjoy it! Take a moment, stand back and feel proud together. Remember all those times you counted to 3? This was why. Touch your glasses and beam in accomplishment…Na zdravie! Then get right back to work!

We always get the question, why a Falcon?
Screen Shot 2017-03-08 at 10.01.36 AMSokol literally translates to Falcon. The name originates from Eastern Europe and can be found in Russia, Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia etc. This was an occupational name for those who were falconers. Sokol is our last name. In case you could not tell, we are pretty proud!  We named the family business after the family. The logo plays tribute to our history and heritage.
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So, now you know why a bird. But how did we get the one you see today?
 cropped-sokol-favicon-1.jpg
In 2010, when we decided to start this grand adventure, David asked his daughter Katherine to try and sketch potential logo ideas. He wanted simple, sleek and recognizable. Katherine, in New York City at the time, was sitting in a coffee shop, on a rainy weekday when David called to ask for draft ideas. She began doodling on a few napkins. Now lets be clear, Katherine was a dancer not a artist! Caught by surprise, she sent a quick picture to her parents. “Something similar to this?” she asked. “Don’t change a thing.” David answered.  Our logo you see today was the image on the coffee stained napkin.

The process of conception to completion of our designs for the inaugural Sokol Vineyards label was a year long project. Our finished product would not have been possible without the incredible Genn Mistkowski, owner of Paper Flower Studios. Genn is a local Graphic Designer, Illustrator and Brand Developer. She was able to bring our ideas to life, beautifully. The results are true works of art.

We wanted our label to be unique. To be a conversation piece on your dinner table. While researching the current and past trends of label design (by research we also mean taking long walks down the the grocery store wine aisle), we observed a vast array of designs. Some interesting, some boring, others weird, while a few were down right clever. As a family we decided we would set the goal of “standing out”. We wished our bottles to be small works of art. Ones you would hesitate to recycle the next day once finishing the delectable wine inside.

Screen Shot 2017-03-02 at 10.46.50 AMEnter Genn Mistkowski. We presented her the four wines we are opening with, two white, and two red. We ultimately decided to create two series; the Falcon Series and the Spring Series or Katya as it was ultimately named. The Falcon Series would include our two reds and one white, while Katya would be the remaining white. The wine chosen for Katya was so unique in its own right we wished to display this accordingly, allowing it to stand alone.

Screen Shot 2017-03-02 at 9.44.18 AMInspired, we let Genn take the lead. She was able to translate what was in our vision to the designs we display for you today. When viewed in person there are a few more textural details to complete the vision. To experience those you will have to come to the Sokol Vineyards tasting room in Downtown Ocala this Spring! And of course, have a glass of wine!Screen Shot 2017-03-02 at 9.39.20 AM

We are thrilled with this inaugural collection. We are looking to build a reputation for an artistic vision and a legacy of local artists. Celebrating community, fine craftsmanship and extraordinary talent. Cheers to that! Or, Na zdravie!

How did we choose the names of the wine you ask? Let me take a moment to explain.

We wished to stay within the theme of our Slavic heritage. Its our thing, we are very proud!

Katya – American White Blend. Old childhood nickname of Katherine, daughter of wine maker and owner David Sokol.

Alexandra – American White Blend, Falcon Series. Named for Katherine’s middle name.

Nikolai – American Red Blend, Falcon Series. Named for the family’s youngest grandson.

Mikhail – American Red Blend, Falcon Series. Named for famous Russian ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov. Katherine is a retired dancer, she picked this one!

Screen Shot 2017-03-02 at 10.38.29 AM

With our Grand Opening just around the corner, we thought is best to share the story of how this adventure began!

cathy kat and mom_Fotor On a chilly October evening 2010, we had a bright idea.

It was my junior year at FSU, I was home visiting for the weekend.  Mom, Dad and I gathered around the fire in our little farm house on the far edge of Ocala. My parents had just reached their retirement, the opportunity for the next chapter had arrived. We toyed with all sorts of ideas. Travel to exotic places. The red Corvette mother always wanted. Perhaps a beach house on the Gulf. Like the wine we were drinking, the ideas kept flowing. Never the type of people to slow down, the conversation quickly shifted towards a new challenge. To my parents, the thought of stopping to relax seemed almost dull. “We need, we want, to DO something.”

So in front of that fire, together, we had a bright idea. A vineyard! Why not? It had always been a dream, why not start now? We poured more wine and continued to plan.

Fast forward 7 yearkyle and dad_Fotors and here we are. Weeks away from opening our doors. A bit wiser, only slightly older, and having the time of our lives. The family has come together to build a legacy. We are here to share our love of wine with our community, our home.