What’s your story?

My story? The abridged version.

I am the 9th child and youngest of Marion (Cole) and Vallie Stone from Lawler, Iowa. I started, own and manage CRU9; a California winery. Iowa is always home with my Scarecrow, 3 Flying Monkeys, and several furry family members. Periodically, I hop on a bird to California for CRU9 work. I love Iowa, the seasons, even winter; California and the vines are a close second though. You are wondering if I have a Wizard of Oz/Wicked fetish… Yes I do! I used to watch it with my Mom when I was little and was delightfully frightened of the Wicked Witch of the West. I’m not frightened anymore, I like people with a past… she’s fabulous.

How does an Iowa farm girl get involved with the fine wine business?

It’s fairly surreal to me. Years ago (I’m not going to say how many), had anyone said to me in college, while I was still trying to figure out what my super powers were, that I’d be going back and forth to California all by myself to run my own winery, I would have thought them a complete nutter. At 18 years old, I had not even flown on an airplane yet and the entirety of my wine experience could be chalked up to Lancers, Blue Nun, and Boone’s Farm. How things do change! Get your ruby slippers on Dorothy, we are not on the yellow brick road anymore.

I got married at 21. How I met Mike is quite a story for another time. Regardless, he’s a crazy smart engineer and one of the best people I’ve ever known. Everyone should have a Mike.

I’m a Cat. A University of Northern Iowa Panther.

I came out with an accounting degree…barely. By the way, for those of you not familiar with Iowa, most Iowans are one of the three: a Cat, Cyclone, or a Hawk. To my professors and myself, it was quite apparent accounting was NOT my path. I went back to school and studied horticulture and landscaping. Went to work for a landscape company in Cedar Rapids, shortly thereafter had our first baby, Harry. We moved back north to where our families were from. As was par for the course in my family, I started my own business, a landscape contracting firm and tree farm. I decided to do this while pregnant with our second son. Although I do not recommend that combination, I learned many life lessons. I think it’s why son two, Leo, came out knowing how to drive a tractor and how I started to discover my super powers and my kryptonite.

What we refer to as The Shed Years: Mike and me, our 3 little guys, and a dog living in a shed on our land… good times.

No sarcasm (maybe a little). Simpler times. No cell phones, no internet, we even went without TV for a year. Crazy, right?!  During The Shed Years, son three came along, Oskar! And my first trip to Northern California wine country happened. Dorothy landed in Oz and never forgot. I’m the kind of person who wants to know the “nuts and bolts” of things. Understanding the nuances of wine meant understanding how climate, soil and “place” impact wine quality. The French would call this terroir. There were many more trips to California and working through many bottles of wine, developing my palate.

My first entre into the wine business was through the retail and distribution side.

Yes, I have several businesses under my belt. All I still own or help manage. This gave me insight into the three tier system and the unique nature of how wine is sold in the USA. It also enabled me to discover and get to know many small high end producers, piquing my interest in winemaking.

From my office in the city, to the fields, and the vineyards, as ever…CRU9 pairs well anywhere. This blend of real world education culminated into the release of:

Start talking. I want to hear your story over a bottle of cru9.