Dawn Blacker met Alden Yates at Stanford University in 1949 and married in 1950. They had six children in ten years, with Mike being the second oldest. Alden's parents purchased the vineyard, historically know as Castle Rock Vineyard in 1949, now known as Yates Family Vineyard! For her birthday month, we thought it would be fun to ask her a few questions!
What is one of your first memories of coming to Yates Family Vineyard?
If you check the guest book, you’ll see I was the first “guest” to sign! Think it was January 1950. Sybil and Perry Yates had just purchased it after spending quite some time looking for a weekend retreat out of SF. Perry had grown up on a farm and loved the feeling of Castlerock. The vineyard appealed to him although he had no idea of what to do with it.
Do you have a favorite Yates Family Vineyard wine, if so, what is it?
We’ve had such fun with the wine. Mostly, the grapes were sold as we were not in the business. We made wine for fun on very primitive equipment. The quality varied but we could taste the grapes in them. We got better at it, thanks to our caretaker, Bill Beers (who was a gardener and jack of all trades). We made the wine, bottled it ourselves, and mostly, drank it ourselves . I think we got into our more serious mode when Mike came down from Paradise and he and Bill worked together. My favorite is probably the Merlot (Fleur de Veeder). All of our wines are wonderful but I like the big rich and smooth taste of Merlot. Of course, I’m partial to the Alden Perry Reserve as it is named after Mike’s Dad.
Now that you have had 90 years behind you, can you think back and remember your favorite age and why?
What was my favorite age? I’d say it was when we 8 were still altogether. So it was the 5 years in Menlo Park, 1963-68. Of course I was in my 30’s so that doesn’t hurt. Each decade had its ups and downs but most had some redeeming factor. The family vacations in my forties and fifties were great.
We know how much you love your sports, especially your Bay Area teams, do you have a favorite?
I was born in Palo Alto so have followed Stanford sports forever. Started going to football and basketball games when I was probably 5. So I’ve cheered the Cards (Indians) since then. I had season tickets to the 49ers at Candlestick for years so always cheer for them. I’m obviously partial to our bay area teams!
Anything else to add?
Castlerock has been a second home for all the Yates', except for Mike and Lynn, no one in the family has actually lived there. But, since Alden and I moved so often, it was always there for us to come home to!