When you think of fine wine, you probably think of Italy, France, Napa or Paso Robles.
But, does Tehachapi come to mind? There are some new vintners right here in Kern County who think it should.
Something special is happening just 50 miles outside of Bakersfield.
The wind stirs the vines, the door opens and as the words above it say 'Tuscany in Tehachapi.'
Then you meet the man behind the bar... "Bob the wine guy." But, Bob wasn't always "the wine guy." He wasn't even a wine guy. He was just a guy with a ranch on the outskirts of Tehachapi.
"My wife said to me after being retired for a year, 'Maybe we should do something, and I said what do you want to do?' And, she said, 'We should plant a vineyard, and I said ok.' And, that was the extent of the research and development, I swear to you, and it was an insane plan," said Bob Souza.
Insane because the Souzas knew nothing about growing wine grapes or growing anything for that matter. And, another problem -- as far as anyone can tell, there had never been a vineyard in Tehachapi.
But, they planted anyway in 2003, an Italian varietal called Primativo that typically grows in Tuscany.
"We're about the same latitude roughly, Tehachapi as Tuscany. So we think our plants think they're in Tuscany. When we're in the field we don't speak English, so they don't get wise. We only speak Italian to the plants, que bella, ciao bella," said Souza.
And, guests say they feel like they're in a far away place like Tuscany as well.
"It's tucked back in the hills. You have the perfect roll of the mountains. It does kind of trick into thinking you're in Italy," said one guest.
Chuck McCollough is one of many volunteers who helped the Souzas plant. After that, he bought some land down the road and planted his own grapes in 2008.
"We haven't bottled yet, but we're getting ready to. We have three varieties, Zinfandel, Syrah and Viogner. Our first harvest, we're going to see if we can blend into one really good blend," said McCollough.
Others are now following in McCollough's and Souza's footsteps.
"I always had a dream of a vineyard, and we had looked at this house many years ago. One day it came up for sale. I couldn't resist the temptation, and in my old age I got myself mortgaged," said Ilda Vaja.
Last year, along with their partner, Ilda Vaja and her husband planted Malbec, a grape commonly grown in the Vaja's home country of Argentina.
"I talk to the grapes when I walk and they say, good girl, good girl," said Vaja.
Not only are Tehachapi grapes doing well, they're winning awards. The first harvest ever bottled over at Souza family vineyards won a silver medal competing against 700 other wines in a San Francisco Chronicle competition.
If that wasn't proof enough that something special is happening here, last year they won gold.
When the Souzas first started bottling, vendors told him they didn't want to buy a wine with Tehachapi on the label, so he named it Quattro Staggioni, which stands for four summers. But, as soon he started winning some awards, Tehachapi's name went right back on that label."
"There's something going on that we just feel like we're part of," said Souza.
And, others want to be part of it too. Besides the Vajas, there are two other Tehachapi wineries in the works.
"The conditions here are perfect. The residual mystery is why didn't anyone ever do it here before?," said Souza.
The two open wineries currently are Triasic Legacy Vineyards and Souza Family Vineyards.
Just follow the signs that say 'wineries' off Cummings Valley Road, which is also State Route 202 in Tehachapi.