BACK ROADS & BACK STORIES WITH RAY ISLE - THE LAND OF PROMISE
THE BEGINING: A VINEYARD
Charles and Diana began search for their property in 1999. They had looked at over 100 sites in Napa and Sonoma, when they came across a beautiful 50-acre ranch, overlooking the town of Petaluma. The ranch on two rolling hills had the right soil profile and fresh water from a well. Most importantly, the hills faced southwest, which would get the desired sun exposure, fog and the wind from Pacific Ocean. All these characteristics are ideal for cool climate style Pinot Noir grapes.
When Diana saw the ranch, she told Charles:
"This is it! This is the land we have been praying about!"
Charles and Diana acquired the property on the eve of the Millennium and named the vineyard Terra de Promissio—“Land of Promise”
"We chose the name Terra de Promissio because as farmers, the land is about the "promise". The promise that every new season brings the possibility and the hope of a bountiful harvest. And as we were both born, lived and worked overseas, it is also the promise of America and the American Dream. We greatly appreciate what this country represents. America is truly the Land of Promise and we are grateful for the freedom, liberty and opportunities that United States offers to all of us."
Charles and Diana oversaw the planting of 33,000 vines in 2002. That summer, they bought a used trailer and brought Diana’s Dad and sister Alina from Russia to help manage the vineyard. Diana's Mom helped with the new baby who was also born in 2002. Terra de Promissio had its first harvest in 2005 and sold fruit to 3 wineries. In 2007, after renting a house in Petaluma, they converted a barn into a home and moved to the vineyard full-time. In 2012 and 2013, they planted an additional 18,000 vines to bring the total planted acreage of Terra de Promissio to 50 acres. In 2017, the vineyard had its 13th harvest and sold fruit to 15 wineries including Land of Promise. Since day one, every row and block is custom farmed per each winemakers specific instructions.
A NEW CHAPTER BEGINS
Terra de Promissio has been dedicated to growing Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir grapes for multiple premium wineries such as Castello di Amorosa, Domaine Della, Dutcher Crossing, Hanzell, Kistler, Kosta Browne, Notre Vin, Senses, Soliste, Spell Estate, Whetstone and Williams Selyem.
Over the years, we have made a few barrels to serve to family and friends visiting us at the vineyard. After many requests from these same family and friends, we finally made our own wine in 2013 and named it Land of Promise.
Land of Promise is a story of our family pursuing the American dream, with hard work and sacrifices made along the way to create something special for our children and the generations that will follow them. Our ultimate goal is to create a wine, which expresses the unique terroir of our vineyard, Terra de Promissio, the commitment and passion of three generations who farm it, and the promise of this land.
CHARLES and DIANA KARREN
Charles Karren was born in London and is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. Diana Karren was born in the former Soviet Union and is a graduate of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Although neither of them had any formal training in managing a vineyard, they were blessed to have great role models as both sets of parents grew grapes as hobbies. Charles' parents--Howard and Margaret grew grapes on Sonoma Mountain in Glen Ellen and Diana's parents--Vadim and Sanya in the former Soviet Union.
Together, Charles, Diana, their two children, Christian and Grace, and Diana’s parents, Vadim and Sanya, live in a converted barn at Terra de Promissio. Percy also lives in the barn and you can read more of his story below.
Alina Zarr, Diana's sister officially joined Land of Promise in the Fall of 2015, but in actuality, she has been with the vineyard from the beginning. In the Spring of 2002, Charles and Diana had commenced planting the ranch and ran out of money. In desperation, they asked Diana's parents and Alina for help running the vineyard. After growing up in the former Soviet Union, Alina had won a scholarship to attend St. Catherine's School in Richmond, Virgina. After the school year had ended, she at 15 years of age moved to Petaluma and lived in a used trailer on the vineyard. Alina and her Father irrigated the vineyard, trained the vines, placed grow tubes (Alina stapled 33,000 grow tubes), trapped gophers, built a 6,000 foot deer fence and did anything they could to keep these young vines growing. It was this hard work, sacrifice and attention to detail by family members that led to the foundation that makes Terra de Promissio so special. After Alina graduated from St. Catherine's in 2003, she attended the University of Texas at Austin. After graduation, she moved to Washington DC and worked for Petaluma's Congresswoman. She went on to work for a wine industry international trade organization that was run by now Sonoma County Supervisor James Gore. She then went to work for the public policy arm of the accounting firm of Grant Thornton. While in Washington, Alina has been part of the Winegrape Growers of America and the Wine America where she helped push important grape-grower and wine industry issues before Members of Congress and the Senate. Like in 2002, when her family needed her most, Alina came home to Petaluma to help launch and manage Land of Promise.
PERCY - "THE BEST VINEYARD DOG IN THE WORLD!"
We did not adopt Percy, Percy adopted us. It was August 1, 2011, when we first spotted this dog on Ely Road near Petaluma. Living on the vineyard, one must always be cautious about unknown animals, especially stray dogs. It was clear that this dog had been abandoned and we would later learn, abused as well. Sonoma County and the City of Petaluma spent the next two weeks trying to trap this dog. Then, on August 11th, this dog looking tired, thirsty and hungry came thru our open gate and approached our barn. Diana's Mom put out a bowl of water and Russian leftovers. He ate it all and slept in her vegetable garden that night. As we did not want him to get cold at night, we put out some blankets and a tent over the area, where he was sleeping. He slept there for a week.
Our then 8-year-old Christian named him Percy, but the dog was still very reluctant to allow any human approach him. He was very scared. We bought a leash and a collar and Christian said: "Mom & Dad, I can get close to him and put the collar on him. He likes me, I can tell." We reluctantly agreed. Christian's plan worked. As he got close to Percy, the dog rolled over to have his tummy rubbed. Christian petted him and put the collar and leash on. We then took Percy to the vet to get checked out and get all his shots.
He came home from the vet and has been with us ever since. Percy even has his own dedicated area with a large window to watch over the vineyard. He is our eyes and ears at Terra de Promissio, and his favorite thing to do is to accompany us and the winemakers as we work the vineyard. Nothing makes him happier than to walk among the vines and chase rabbits. And he is Christian's and Grace's best friend as well. We are truly blessed to have him as part of the family. To us, Percy is the best vineyard dog in the world!