The women of Charles R Vineyards have found a unique way to celebrate Women’s History Month by sharing stories – called HERstories – of inspiring women and their favorite recipes.
Five ladies manage the Livermore winery, and each one took a turn this month sharing the story of a woman who inspired them, or their own history, in the wine business.
“It was an idea we had, and it just started and kind of grew,” said Bonnie Bartlett, who owns the winery. “It was a great idea, and people are liking it. I did my own story about how I ended up in Livermore doing what we are doing.”
Bartlett and her husband have lived on their property in southeastern Livermore since 1978. They began their wine business in 2002, building it from the ground up. She said the community she and her husband have grown in Livermore has been strong and supportive.
“I feel a real commitment to the people who are here and the people who visit us,” she said. “You get to know them. The wine business is a really friendly business, so you connect and meet all these people, and they become more than guests at the tasting room; they become friends. And even the staff, they are all wonderful.”
Along with her story, Bartlett shared one of her family’s favorite recipes, Nina’s French Toast, noting it was a perfect centerpiece for Easter brunch.
The HERstories and recipes are all posted on the winery’s website or Instagram account. Nancy Mueller, the winery’s marketeer, shared the story of her great-grandmother, Ida Jessen Holm, and a recipe for cream puffs. Holm was the daughter of Danish immigrants and grew up near what is now known as Sycamore Grove. She led the hard life of a pioneer and grew up to become a fixture in the community.
“Ida was in charge of the Red Cross fundraising lunch held during Livermore’s first rodeo in 1918,” Mueller wrote in the HERstory. “The Livermore Herald stated, ‘Mrs. Carl Holm was in charge, and she handled her large force of helpers admirably. The lunch netted the handsome sum of $288.’”
Jane Robles – a well-known figure in the Livermore wine country since 1973 – shared HERstory on Instagram, with a fun throwback photo of her working in the 1970s. Robles works in the office at Charles R Vineyards but has been part of many wineries in the area. Connie Vandevanter, who serves as the tasting room manager, will have HERstory posted later this month, as will Charles R’s winemaker, Lisa Lee.
“Each person’s story has had a little different focus, and my story that I will share will be about my grandmother,” Lee said. “She immigrated to the U.S. from Italy in 1941, and she literally was the epitome of the American dream . . . she built a family and ran a business until she was 85 years old and was just a strong pillar of her community and my family. Her story really speaks to what women’s history month is really all about.”
Charles R Vineyards is located at 8195 Crane Ridge Road in Livermore. To view a HERstory or recipe, or get more information about the winery, visit charlesrwinery.com/, follow them on Instagram @charlesrvineyards or call 925-337-3081.