Celebrate the True Meaning of Labor Day

The True Meaning of Labor Day

Labor day was established in 1894, back when a 70-hour work week was typical. Business owners and workers realized the need for more rest and time away from work. The holiday was established to honor and celebrate workers and the contributions they have made to our country. As time has gone on, an unbalanced work-week has crept back in, largely due to technology that allows most of us to keep working anywhere, anytime.

At Folded Hills we love to get our hands dirty and work hard. But balance is vital, and sometimes you just need to step away and unplug. Below, meet three members of our team, learn what they’re up to this time of year, and how they decompress outside of work.

Do you need to be reminded to step away from work? See below for a giveaway that will inspire you to unplug.

Zack Noletta Saylor Folded Hills Ranch Manager (1)
Zack Saylor Santa Barbara Rodeo (1)
Meet Zack Saylor, Ranch Manager

What is happening at the Ranch right now? 
This is the busiest time of year. We just finished the height of polo season leading up to the Pacific Coast Open. High goal teams use the fields at Folded Hills to practice before their weekend matches.

In the backcountry, the black Angus cows are being rotated to the corral pasture so we can keep a close eye on them as they start to have their calves. In the vineyard, bird netting is going on the grapes which are ripening and about ready for harvest. With this heat, it looks like we’ll have our first harvest for rosé tomorrow. We’re watching closely and irrigating as needed.

So between checking water troughs, cows for calving, moving cows, mowing the polo field, keeping the ranch in tip top shape for events, Juan and I very busy. We are never bored here which we like. I could not do it without help from my right-hand man Juan.

How do you stay organized?
I have a routine to start my day. Every morning I have a cup of coffee or two and a thermos to go. Then, we’ll feed all the animals (donkeys, Clydesdales, llamas, chickens, pigs) and check that they’re all in good health. Juan usually collects the eggs every morning to take to the Farmstead for delivery every Friday. Then, depending on what day it is, we have a schedule of tasks we like to keep.

How do you unplug and relax outside of work?
Back when I was in college, I spent time as a professional bull rider and working in rodeos. I still love getting some roping practice in or jumping in with some buddies and going to a rodeo to watch or compete. In the evenings I love helping my lovely wife Noletta exercise our horses. Sometimes I’ll get away and go play golf with friends.  But, when you are outside doing what you love at a ranch like this, it isn’t hard to stay balanced.

Ruben Solorzano Folded Hills Vineyard
Ruben Solorzano at Stolpman Vineyards
Meet Ruben Solorzano, Vineyard Manager

What is work like in the vineyards right now?
Crazy! I manage many vineyards in Santa Ynez. Harvest started two weeks ago. A typical day starts at midnight. We start picking fruit and we finish at ten in the morning. Then, we start checking the next vineyards and seeing how the grapes look. Do they need to be watered, and when will we pick? How is the health of the vines? We look at the sugar levels, we walk the vineyards and we taste the fruit. We taste the seeds and berries to know if they are ripe. We meet with the winemakers and make a plan for all the blocks. I try to get to bed by 5 p.m. and sleep before the next harvest starts again at midnight.

What is your daily routine like? How do you stay organized?
These 2 months are crazy. I just stay focused. Coffee is a big part of my life! Our team helps me stay organized. We have a calendar at the office and each vineyard has a folder and harvest plan. Communication is everything. I will get 100 text messages and 100 emails each day. I have to pass the right info on my team to make sure we are working together. The team knows how many crews are working in which vineyards. A very important part is scheduling the trucks to be ready when the grapes are picked. The grapes have to stay cool, so the trucks need to come right away. Grapes sitting around at the ranch is not ok. This is so important.

What do you do to unplug?
The next 8 weeks are busy but I will try to finish on Saturday by 12. I stay home, close the doors and just want to be in the dark and out of the sun. Sunday, I have breakfast with my family, but by noon I am working again. After harvest is over, I take a little vacation with my family for a few days. Then, in December, it’s time for the big vacation! Our whole family spends three weeks in Mexico. I used to get really excited to party and drink and see all my friends and just party the whole time. But in the last four years or so, I changed. Now, I just want to relax. I really look forward to slowing down and just being with my family. We spend time in Jalisco. We have good food, wine, and tequila of course! We have a little ranch there. Then we will spend 3 or 4 days in Puerto Vallarta at the beach. It’s what I look forward to all year.

Jack Bodine Folded Hills Farmstead
Jack Bodine surfing gaviota
Meet Jack Bodine, Farmer 

What is happening at the Farm this time of year?
I’m focused on the transition from summer to fall on the farm which consists of final efforts in summer crop extension. As the raspberries and a handful of the strongest strawberry plants continue to produce, I give them nitrogen rich organic inputs prepared as a “compost tea” and applied at the soil level. I stay on top of dead heading our focal flower varietals like Cosmos, Scabiosa, and Strawflower, so they produce continued blooms. The heartier statice varietal seems to be content with only water, sunlight, and minimal attention.

Compared to other areas, September and October in Santa Barbara County can feel like an extension of summer weather with warm temperatures in our little valley. This “Indian Summer” can mean summer plantings continue to thrive well into October. Our tomatoes include Sun Gold cherry tomatoes coming on now, followed closely by San Marzano, and a handful of heirloom types like Cherokee Purple.

One of my favorite crops to watch this time of year is pumpkins – their rapid growth provides a hint of the fall season despite the temperatures which seem to be stuck in July. Other responsibilities are summer pruning, turning over fields/tilling, compost application, and sowing winter cover crops. The peach, apricot, and apple trees need to be shaped before winter dormancy in a way that maximizes airflow, and sunlight infiltration in the canopy thus helping to mitigate pest and disease pressure over the course of the next season.

It is one of the busiest times, but it is also one of the most exciting times to be on the farm. Surrounded by abundant life, delicious flavors, and striking colors I feel like there is nowhere else I’d rather be.

What do you do to relax and stay balanced?  
I stay balanced by either starting or ending my day in the ocean – in the morning when the surf is good, or after work for a dip and romp in the sand with my dog Squid. That time in the water allows for decompression, and offers moments for critical thinking or just letting the mind wander. A day in which the hands work the soil and the body floats in the ocean is a well-balanced day in my book.  Much of my time during the work-week is spent alone, so visiting friends and family buoy me. Sometimes they help out at the Farmstead, or in the fields, or both!

Sharing the farm with the local community and my personal community blurs a line between work and life that some would prefer to keep separate, but I find it both practically helpful, and emotionally supportive.  Along with surfing, and spending time with family, I find yoga to be helpful for maintaining a clear head and keeping my body as functional as possible. If I am too physically exhausted for surfing or yoga, something as simple as a good record, and a glass of wine can go a long way to help me relax.

Folded Hills Employees and Family
How Will You Celebrate? 

Labor Day began because Americans recognized the need to take time away from work and celebrate their accomplishments. Why not celebrate that important notion on Monday?

Give yourself permission to simply enjoy life and everything that you have worked for. Spend time with family. Cook a delicious meal without rushing. Go for a walk out in nature. Enjoy the luxury and privilege of being offline. Whatever it is, plan for it now and commit to saying “no” to other less important things that may creep up. We wish everyone a safe, happy and healthy Labor Day.

The Folded Hills Team

Labor Day Giveaway
Folded Hills August Escape Forest Bound Bag
Labor Day Giveaway 

In celebration of Labor Day, we are encouraging our friends to relax and “escape” with this fun giveaway. Congrats to Dena from Portland, Oregon for winning this Forest Bound “escape” tote, a copy of “The New California Wine” book, and some extra Folded Hills goodies we are throwing in.

Stay tuned for more giveaways in the future, posted to our social media pages.

If you enjoyed reading this article please add your name to our mailing list HERE. You will be the first to know when new and limited release wines are available, along with fun updates of what’s happening on the ranch.

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