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People of Passion

Lauren Aiello

Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it. - Buddha

In this issue:

PASSION interviews with Yoga in the Vineyard day retreat facilitators

By Lauren Aiello, Founder of Women, Wine & Yoga


What inspired you to follow your passion?


What do you love about the work you do?


What can we look forward to experiencing at
Yoga in the Vineyard? 

Yoga Instructor, Karen Wiggins 

 Winemaker, Mike Embly 

Meditation guide, Alexandria Romero

Chef Patrice Hadsell

Learn more about the founder of Women, Wine & Yoga
"Why Women, Wine & Yoga?"
- By Lauren Aiello


Interview with yoga instructor, Karen Wiggins:


Q: What inspired you to start practicing yoga?

A:  "I initially started practicing Iyengar based yoga at the rec center in college at UCSD, as a means of exercise and to maintain the level of strength and flexibility I had in high school. At that time, I enjoyed the physical challenge of yoga and attempting new creative poses. I continued to practice on and off over the years, but it wasn't until much later in life that I realized the deeper benefits of a regular yoga practice. After my twins were born, I desperately needed something more than just an exercise regime. At one of my lowest points when the babies were just weeks old, I remember my husband saying, "either go on medication or go to yoga." I chose yoga. In addition to regaining my muscle tone and flexibility through a regular Astanga yoga practice, I was able to reconnect with my sense of self and find stillness in my mind. Yoga offered exactly what I needed to replenish myself, to be a better mother to my babies and a better human being. I have maintained a regular practice ever since. My twins are now 13 years old, and I still need my yoga, just as much, if not more, than I did when they were tiny.  Over the years, I have practiced with some amazing inspiring teachers and have taken it upon myself to deepen my understanding of yoga. After completing my first yoga training, I was encouraged by my instructor to begin teaching yoga at her studio. I've been a classroom teacher for almost 20 years, so it was a natural progression for me want to share the practice of yoga with others. I continue to be both a student and teacher of yoga, it's become an integral part of my life journey."


Q: What do you love about being a yoga instructor? 

A:  "I love being able to share the amazing benefits of yoga with others! Most people, and I find women in particular, don't take enough time out of their day to be still, concentrate on their breath, and stay in the present moment. We feel guilty if we want to give ourselves a "time out" when there are so many other things that we are "supposed" to accomplish. I enjoy teaching people how to reconnect with their breath, to learn to celebrate and accept what their bodies can do, and uncover a sense of stillness and calm within themselves. My favorite part of the class is when I bring my students out of savasana and we close our practice with namaste. The softened faces, gentle smiles, and beaming energy emanating from each person makes it all incredibly worth while!"


Q: What can we look forward to experiencing at Yoga in the Vineyard? 

A:  "I am so very excited for this day! I will lead my students through a 60 minute all levels vinyasa flow class. I will offer specific instruction and modifications to make the class accessible to all students. We'll begin by sitting quietly and reconnecting with our breath, learning to breath deeply and fully as we move through our poses. As we become aware of our what our bodies and mind require, we'll set an intention for our practice.  Next, we'll systematically warm up the body with simple stretches. Eventually we'll move through a series of standing poses, linking the sequence together in a flow. Finally we'll bring it back down to the mat and wind down our practice with a sequence of seated postures. The class will end with a final peaceful savasana to integrate all the physical work of the class. In this manner, I will offer a well rounded balanced yoga practice to properly prepare us for the mindful day ahead." 

Interview with Hungry Hawk Vineyards winemaker, Mike Embly:


Q: What do you love about the work you do?  

A:  "All of it. You have to as a winemaker. Winemaking can be a tiresome and demanding job. You are working directly with Mother Nature, and often times you are on her time.  You have to love the 5AM morning picks during harvest, you have to be able to go with the flow when a heat spell or frost comes your way, you have to have patience to watch a grapevine grow, and you certainly have to have patience to age wine long enough before you can even share it with anyone. Although, at the end of the day, all of that is worth it for me – I love the connection to the land, I love getting creative with my winemaking, and I truly enjoy sharing my wine with others.  I also love that each year is different from one to the next. It is not a monotonous job and there is excitement around winemaking."


Q: What can we expect to learn with you at Yoga in the Vineyard? 

A:  "I look forward to hosting retreats for Women, Wine & Yoga because I love to show others how we make wine here. I will guide you on a tour of our vineyard, processing room, and barrel room, where we will learn how grapes are grown and how the wine is made. You will see how much time we spend in the vineyard tending to the grapes. You will see that we treat every one of our 15 varietals differently. And how differently we process and ferment the grape - this year we are making a 100% Cabernet Franc wine and we have 5 different fermentations going with 5 different yeast strains and vessels. Each will go through its own fermentation process, although with major differences in tastes and mouthfeels… At the end we will blend all 5 lots together. This is a fun wine making experiment for us to do and has become a popular wine for our customers as well. 

During the wine tasting portion, we will taste 5 different wines: 2015 Sauvignon Blanc, 2015 Chardorino, 2015 Alberino, 2014 Cabernet Franc and 2014 Syrah Noir. Which have all been paired with your meal. You will learn the fundamentals of wine tasting as we taste the wine together. Wine tasting is a multi-sensory experience which everyone has their own individual experience of as well. Wine tasting can really be a soulful experience. Just as this land can be very spiritual if you allow it, which is why we love hosting retreats for Women, Wine & Yoga. You can really take in the beauty and the quiet. And you can truly relax up here."


Q: How has the 2016 harvest been for you?

A:  "Pretty good! Things have been going quite normal. We did start harvest quite early this year (July 26th) compared to other years. The Pinot Gris came off first, then the Chardonnay, Viognier, Alberino, Temprinillo, more Pinot Gris, then Syrah Noir and Shiraz. But typical ebbs and flows with the weather... our Sangiovese did endure a little scorching in the June heat spike. Other than that, yields have been on par compared to years past. It has been steady growth for us – in 2013 we started out with 350 cases, and this year we expect to produce around 900-1000 cases.

We do source grapes from other vineyards besides our estate – we bring in 10 tons from the 5 acres we grow, and 4 tons from outside. We had brought in some Chardonnay and Malbec from Hillsprings Farm and Sangiovese from Fallbrook Winery. We are very excited as this is the first year we are doing a 100% Chardonnay with fruit from Warner Springs. These particular Chardonnay grapes will yield more tropical notes due to the warmer climate of the vineyard.  We did end up bringing in more help this year from interns from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and UC Davis studying Oenology and Viticulture, but the usual local kids, families, and friends came to help as well. My mom likes to cook us all breakfast after we pick and it becomes a family affair that is really enjoyable and fun for everyone."

Interview with meditation guide, Alexandria Romero:


Q: What inspired you to study meditation?

A:  "I began meditating as a part of my coursework in 2008 when I first began my Master’s program in Transpersonal Psychology (mind, body, spirit psychology), although my meditations deepened and became a lifeline in 2012 when my husband, Mitch, died. At the time, meditation helped me to stay present for our two year old daughter and healthy for my pregnancy. It also helped me find joy everyday even amidst the heaviness of grief, and helped me feel connected to my husband in a whole new way. Meditation has helped me to dip into my inner-stillness, which is where I find my creativity and passion for this work. I feel so inspired to share my personal experience with mediation, and continue to help others find that quiet space of stillness through the workshops, courses, and retreats I facilitate."


Q: What do you love about the work you do as a meditation guide?

A:  "It is a true honor to help facilitate people’s processes of deepening into the relationship with themselves. I love to see the spaciousness created when people learn how to be more present in their lives. I believe the stillness of our mind can truly transform our lives. I love to work with people to taylor and develop meditation practices and ultimately help people live a more joyful and authentic life."


Q: What can we look forward to experiencing at Yoga in the Vineyard? 

A:  "In this workshop, we will briefly cover the basics of meditation. We will then move into practicing 3 of my signature meditations, Awareness Meditation, Affirmations, and Gratitude and Blessings. Together we will learn how to cultivate a healthy relationship with your thoughts and emotions and discuss ways to establish a daily meditation practice at home. You will be guided through journaling prompts intended to reconnect you to your beautiful voice, and to help you reflect upon and integrate your meditation experience into your everyday lived experience."

Interview with Chef Patrice Hadsell, founder of That Meal Prep Chick:


Q: How was That Meal Prep Chick founded?

A:  "I had always been a foodie, a creative cook in the kitchen, and had a passion for sharing my food with others." Although, after having worked aimlessly in the dental industry for many years, I had taken a step back and made the decision to take charge of my true calling. I hadn't intended to create a meal prep business, although it quickly turned into that after a friend happened to need some extra help preparing meals. This ignited such an authentic passion in me and within 3 weeks I was up to 15 clients. It was time to take the leap to create what is now That Meal Prep Chick. I am a year and a half into my business as a full service meal prep company, with two locations, and have now expanded my services into catering. I work alongside a nutritionist and together we create balanced, nourishing, tasty meals for over 100 households throughout California. I could not be more ecstatic for what the future holds for this self proclaimed foodie turned business owner!" 

Q: What do you love about your work?

A:  "They say, 'food is symbolic of love when words are inadequate.' I truly love to feed people! My meals are full of love - it is my offering to the world. It warms me to know that others enjoy what my kitchen and I have prepared and that we are helping to contribute to a healthier lifestyle. I love to eat the meals I make, I love to prepare them, and I love to get creative in the kitchen. While my passion will always be cooking, what I find most enjoyable about the work I do has been the opportunity to show my 6 year old son that you can do anything you set your mind to. If you have the passion and determination, the opportunities are endless."

Q: What can we look forward to experiencing at Yoga in the Vineyard? 

A:  "As we dine together in the enchanted barrel room of the winery, we will embark on a culinary adventure of local, organic, seasonal fall foods prepared by That Meal Prep Chick, paired with the wines of Hungry Hawk. Mike and I will be collaborating on the food and wine pairings for each of the 5 courses: (sample) appetizer, soup, salad, main, and dessert. The menu will be created custom to any dietary restrictions, and leave you feeling nourished and satisfied!"


Learn more about the founder of Women, Wine & Yoga

"Why Women, Wine & Yoga?" - By Lauren Aiello

Click here


Want to learn more about the upcoming Yoga in the Vineyard Day Retreat?