In 1973, when Ramona Clayton was 19, she moved to Germany where she earned a PhD in molecular biology and worked with sterile medicines. But she also began making pottery—a hobby that would become her profession when she moved back to the United States in 2004. Rather than going through the licensing hassle necessary to work as a microbiologist in the States, she opened terramonary stoneware & porcelain, where, in addition to making stoneware and porcelain pieces to sell, she teaches others her craft. The studio's name—and Ramona's reason for returning to California—comes from her husband, Terry. Starting out as high-school sweethearts, they lost touch not long after graduation. After 22 years apart, Terry found her on the Internet, called her, and asked if she remembered him. She did. "He signed his love letters with 'Terramonary,' which is just an anagram of 'Terry' and 'Ramona'," she recalls. To Terry's delight, she thought it would be a catchy name for the business and even used her science know-how to break down the parts of the word into Latin and alchemic roots that symbolize the four elements. Ramona fires her long-lasting pieces in the kiln outside her studio, which sits on a concrete porch where she and her students also glaze their pieces. Inside, the wheels and workstations are in a separate area from her showroom, which brims with decorative pieces as well as plates, cups, and serving pieces that are safe for ovens, microwaves, dishwashers, and time machines. "My goal in life is to make pretty things useful—or useful things pretty," she says. "If it's too delicate or it's just decorative, people are afraid of it."
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For all its contributions to the wine industry, it's hard to believe that Core Wine Company is just a two-person operation. One half of that operation is David Corey, whose first position in the industry was as a pest-control advisor. He eventually moved from protecting the grapes to producing them himself, and in 2001, he founded Core alongside his wife, wine-pairing expert Becky.
Together, the Coreys have concocted several different labels, including Core, Kuyam, and Turchi. Each of those labels features a different background story, and each bears Becky's original artwork and loving fingerprints on its labels. The Coreys share their creations at their Old Town Orcutt shop, where they frequently host events, such as educational tastings of an extraordinarily wide range of wines on the second Wednesday of every month.
The first chapter of Brett Escalera’s and Tom Daughters’ foray into the wine industry begin in 1999 when they released their first varietal under the Consilience label—a 1997 Santa Barbara County Syrah. Eight years later, they partnered with Tom's brother Ken to found the sister label, Tre Anelli. Comparatively speaking, the two labels are very different, with Consilience drawing upon the intensity and depth of Rhone varietals and Tre Anelli emulating flavors from Italy and Spain. Both, however, are produced with grapes sourced from Santa Barbara County's top vineyards. At their shop, Brett, Tom, and Ken host daily tastings and dramatic recreations of famous spit-takes within their spacious, dog-friendly tasting room.
Iris Rideau was born in New Orleans, the city's famed food and drink forever defining her palate. As soon as she visited California, though, she fell in love with sunny beaches and rolling wine-country valleys. She ran several successful businesses there, helped champion the cause of affirmative action within the state, and in the '90s, headed to retirement on the 23-acre winery she'd spent her professional career slowly building. She called this haven Rideau Vineyard.
Iris, still passionate about the food of her childhood, felt that France's Rhône Valley wines best complemented the spicy Creole sauces she so loved. So, she dedicated her entire property to the production of those rare varietals, importing some second-generation Château de Beaucastel winery vines. She began growing Syrah, Mourvèdre, Roussanne, and Viognier grapes. As soon as her first bottles were ready, she invited her friends over for a series of Creole-inspired dinners that paired each dish with one of her wines. And of course, each evening was enhanced with the same traditional jazz music that seems to permeate the air in New Orleans. The experiences became wildly popular, and she expanded them to invite the public.
Even if they don't participate in the wine-and-food events, Rideau Vineyard's visitors can still sample Iris's award-winning wines in the unique tasting room—a two-story adobe built in 1884. It once served as a popular stagecoach stop and guest ranch on a famous route between Santa Ynez and Santa Barbara. Iris restored and renovated it, and the building now has historical landmark status from Santa Barbara County.
In honor of Women’s History Month, Groupon is celebrating an inspiring group of women: business leaders whose companies and brands enrich their communities. Thanks to the dedication and ingenuity of these leaders, local communities across the country are stronger and more diverse.
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