Boutique winery, a family affair, tastes success

Woof’n Rose Winery and Vineyard owners Stephen and Marilyn Kahle, right, take a break from harvesting for a photo with two of their three sons and their families.  “It’s a family affair,” says Marilyn. Sentinel photo/Jessica King
Woof’n Rose Winery and Vineyard owners Stephen and Marilyn Kahle, right, take a break from harvesting for a photo with two of their three sons and their families. “It’s a family affair,” says Marilyn. Sentinel photo/Jessica King

By Jessica King

It’s wine month in the state of California, where the business of making and selling vino is thriving, especially in Ramona.

Among the 23 boutique wineries with tasting rooms in the Ramona valley is Woof’n Rose Winery and Vineyard, owned and operated by Marilyn and Stephen Kahle in the Highland Valley area.

“This is it … our little piece of heaven,” said Marilyn of their five acres of property — three of which are blanketed by grapevines.

Woof’n Rose, named in part for Marilyn’s lifelong love of dogs, produces 350 to 400 cases of wine annually, or up to 4,800 bottles a year.

The business opened as a winery in June 2007, almost a full year before San Diego County supervisors approved an ordinance allowing boutique wineries to open tasting rooms, adding to Woof’n Rose’s success.

Opponents of the ordinance have filed numerous legal challenges, citing mainly environmental impact concerns but have thus far been unsuccessful in quashing the tasting rooms.

“Some of the folks I think are against growth in Ramona, which I think is silly,” said Marilyn, a retired Ramona

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Ehren Kahle and his wife, Stephanie, pick red grapes to make Woof’n Rose wines. Sentinel photo/Jessica King

Unified School District secretary. “I mean I’d much rather see vineyards than more apartment complexes.”

Likewise, Stephen, a retired engineer, said boutique wineries only enhance the community.

“I can well understand people like their privacy and so there’s a fear that Ramona is going to be overrun with people visiting, which I don’t think will be the reality,” said Stephen. “I think if you think that, you haven’t really been to a tasting room to see how it goes.”

Since opening their tasting room in January 2011, the Kahles have welcomed guests from near and far. Their first guests were from South Carolina and several since have come from other countries, including Great

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Travis Kahle empties freshly harvested grapes into a crushing machine, one of many steps it takes to make wine. Sentinel photo/Jessica King

Britain, France, Germany, Switzerland, Japan and Canada.

The tasting groups are not what one might call intrusive, according to Marilyn. Woof’n Rose can accommodate a group of 20, maybe even 25, but rarely does so.

“Sometimes it’s two, sometimes it’s four or six, but typically no more than 12 at a time,” she said, noting all groups make appointments in advance so there are no surprises.

Woof’n Rose hosts tasters from nearby Orange and Los Angeles counties. The tasters often hear about Ramona from the more established Temecula wineries. In addition to referrals, the Temecula wineries help many of the Ramona boutiques get the necessary tools of the trade, from bottles to barrels for aging, said Marilyn.

Tasters also have flocked to Woof’n Rose after hearing about its awards. Probably the most notable is the gold medal and two bronze medals won at the 2012 Fingers Lake International Wine Competition in upstate New York.

To learn more about the winery or its tasting room, visit www.woofnrose.com.

   
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