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Work continues to work on Monserate Winery

Jade Work will always remember the only time he got fired, especially because he got the boot on the very property he owns today and is transforming into Monserate Winery.

"I rolled a golf cart," said Work, who as a teenager performed many duties while working at Fallbrook Golf Club before his "having too much fun" driving a cart resulted in a wipeout and a pink slip.

"I worked in the kitchen, parked carts and painted the range balls – put the stripe on them," recalled Work.

Work could have no idea back then that he would one day buy the 116-acre property, which he did Nov. 15, 2016, a few months after the financially-failing golf course had closed. The property was falling into the hands of housing development-minded individuals when Work and his wife, Julie, saved the day with their successful purchase of the 18-hole layout for $4.1 million.

Work, who as owner and operator of Integrity Golf has directed construction of majestic golf courses throughout the U.S., had crews working on the old Fallbrook Golf Club property the day after escrow closed. The action has continued ever since, slowed only by county regulations and permitting processes.

"We've gotten a helluva lot of work done in the last year and a half," said Work, noting the huge cleanup of the property, the removal of non-native species, the installation of a new irrigation system, the drilling of two new wells and, of course, the planting of vines.

Forty-five acres of Italian wine grapes were planted on the "front nine" (the east side of Gird Road) of the former golf course in 2017 and another 45 acres are going in on the "back nine." Fifteen varieties of grapes are planted, including Falanghina, Montepulciano, Barbera, and Negroamaro.

Work said the Italian grapes were chosen based on the climate of the Gird Valley, stating, "these varieties should do very well here." He also likes the idea of Monserate being a "very specialized winery."

By having 90 acres of grapes, Work said there will be no need for outsourcing.

"We're going to grow all of our own grapes and harvest them ourselves," said Work. "We will be in complete control of hopefully producing something that's really, really spectacular."

Making something spectacular is what drives Work, who has said from the beginning that his goal is to build a "world-class" winery that is "just beyond beautiful."

Those plans include a restaurant built in old world Italian design that will offer indoor and outdoor dining. The restaurant building will be built where the old golf course restaurant/bar/pro shop and offices once stood and will include a separate wine tasting room (located where the old dining room was) that will offer indoor and outdoor wine tasting.

A big garden area with a "huge fountain in the center" will be located where the old putting green was positioned, providing a beautiful setting for people to sit, relax and enjoy a glass of wine.

A winemaking and barrel room will be built into the hillside of the old ninth green, and nearby will be a courtyard venue for corporate events, weddings or parties. The courtyard area will overlook a pond (which will replace the old equipment area) and feature a nice view of Oak trees.

There will be two other event venues – one on the old 17th green and the other on the old 11th green – that will include lakes with waterfall features, providing a perfect backdrop for a wedding or special event.

Work plans immaculate landscaping throughout the property and that includes some vines that will be head-pruned (creating canes that get big and fat) to provide a natural landscape barrier that will hide grove roads from view.

Work said his background in constructing golf courses has helped him with the Monserate Winery project.

"Whenever you design a golf course, you walk around before it's ever routed and you look for the most incredible (natural) features and you figure out how to work with it," said Work. "This property has legit natural beauty."

The million dollar question – make that, the multi-million dollar question – is when is Monserate Winery going to be completed and open to the public?

"I honestly don't know how to answer that because I don't know what the county is going to say next," said Work, who has repeatedly had to make revisions to his plans before turning in the major use permit modification.

As soon as all plans are approved (estimates are it will likely take a year), construction of facilities will begin. Work said he is hoping for a grand opening in late 2020.

Work is also working with the Fallbrook Land Conservancy on finalizing conservation easements, which will protect the property from sprawling development in perpetuity.

Saving the property is one of the reasons Work purchased it.

"When I come here, I'm ecstatically happy," said Work, who added that the land's beauty reassures him that all the effort is worth it.

"The 10 or 20 emails a day with all the different engineering groups and consultants trying to get the project to be in conformity of the rules of the county, sometimes that becomes overwhelming," said Work. "You know, it's like how do you eat an elephant – just take a bite, take a bite, take a bite."

For the investment he's made in Monserate Winery and Gird Valley, it would only be fair that when Work does open the winery he hears guests say, "I'll take a bottle, I'll take a bottle, I'll take a bottle."


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