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Archive for the ‘The History’ Category

By the time school was over for the year I had learned to walk and run really well, so my human, Frank, Jr., and I began training for the calf “Olympics.” 

He taught me how to follow him, to stop and stand with my legs even and then to start again with my right foreleg. 

It was all very complicated but after many, many hours of practice my human and I both became more comfortable with what we should do.

Oh, goodness, it’s supper time!  I’ll be back to tell you more in a few days!

Visit: www.RagappleLassie.com! 

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I loved growing up on the farm.  There was a big warm barn to sleep in at night and nice green pastures to play in during the day.  The sky was so blue, the grass so green and there was even a  mountain in the distance with a little nob on top.  There were lots of different smells and I loved them all.  I especially liked the smell of hay and feed and of the earth being turned in the fields by the big green tractor. 

I made friends with all the other farm animals.  There was the rooster that crowed every morning to wake up all the cows, horses, chickens, ducks, sheep and even a goat.  But I liked the little piglets best.  They were a lot smaller than me but were so cute and made a lot of noise grunting and squealing inside their pen. 

But most of all, I loved Frank, Jr., and he loved me, too!  Many times everyday he came to the pasture to pet me and feed me treats from his pockets.  He also told me all the things we were going to do together, like go to the calf shows all over North Carolina.  But first I needed to learn how to act when we went out in public.

Part Three…coming soon!

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It was a cold February day and I was a newborn calf on the Hobson Farm in Boonville.  A funny little boy named Frank, Jr., whose daddy owned the farm, watched with excitement as I stood up on my wobbly legs trying to show the other cows and calves that I could too walk!

As I wobbled around, Frank, Jr., turned to his daddy and said: “Please, please, please, may I have this baby calf for my very own.  I will look after her, I will feed her and I will teach her everything. Oh, please, please, please.”  So Frank’s daddy smiled and said yes I could be Frank, Jr.’s calf, as long as he looked after me properly.

 Frank, Jr., was so excited.  He jumped up and down, gave me a big hug and told me I was the prettiest, most wonderful calf in the whole world!!!  I felt very special with all this attention. And I was especially happy to have my very own  human friend!  Frank then told me that because I was a registered Holstein calf with distinguished parents, he would name me RagApple Lassie after my parents just like he was named Frank, Jr., after his parents.

Part Two…coming soon!

Visit: www.RagappleLassie.com! 

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sign

Choosing a name for the vineyard is a good example.  When Frank, Jr., was courting Lenna, he told her so much about RagApple Lassie, his Grand Champion Show Calf, that she instinctively knew the affection they shared.  So when choosing a name for their vineyard and winery, the opportunity to combine the farm heritage of Frank, Jr.’s life, with a name that was both unique and memorable, made “RagApple Lassie” the obvious choice and a marketer’s job easier!

So now the grown-up RagApple Lassie, is once again in the spotlight as the unique and sophisticated logo decorating the water and wine bottles of her namesake winery.  RagApple Lassie Chardonnay along with Cabernet Sauvignon and a classic sweet wine, Boonville Blanc is now available.  Merlot, Syrah, Viognier, Pinot Gris, Zinfandel and special premium Meritage Blends will join our cellar soon.

Check back soon as we post more interesting stories on the Winery and the Vineyards!

Visit: www.RagappleLassie.com! 

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As Frank. Jr., began all the preparations,– soil tests, soil amendment, choosing and ordering plants (which must be done one year in advance of planting), locating supplies for end posts, trellising poles, trellising wire, etc., etc., etc.,– other area farmers would stop by his store (S & H Farm Supply, which he and Alex Shugart opened in 1992)  to ask if he was “really going to plant a vineyard?” Without hesitation, Frank, Jr., would tell them, “yes”, and then share what he had learned that convinced him to become involved in this new venture.

After almost a year’s advance preparation, the first vines, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon were planted in April of 2000.  Almost immediately, the vineyard became a local “tourist attraction”,  with farmers and other interested people coming by almost daily to see how the vines were doing.  In fact, gravel had to be added to a pull-out point twice to accommodate the traffic!

Many were intrigued by the idea, but were concerned about learning a new business and the investment required.  Transitioning from tobacco to grapes is not such a stretch agriculturally as one might think, and now other local farmers will begin planting this spring.  Profit per acre from tobacco and grapes is similar.  Profit per acre from grapes made into wine is significantly higher.  So Frank, Jr., and Lenna’s decision to build a winery is a good fit for them.  Frank, Jr., is the quintessential farmer, Lenna is a marketing professional, and both are very comfortable in their respective roles.

Check back soon for part three of the History of RagApple Lassie Vineyards!

Visit: www.RagappleLassie.com! 

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Frank W. Hobson, Jr., has lived in Yadkin County, North Carolina, his entire life and is the third generation of Hobsons to farm the same land.  

Growing up, Frank, Jr., — and he is always referred to as Frank, Jr., as opposed to Frank (Sr.) his father, and Frank, III, his son, by everyone (including his Mom)– was a typical farm hand, helping with chores on the farm, playing with all the farm animals, grooming his own show calf, and honing lots of other skills that would come in handy in the future.

 One such skill was great agility, and one of the favorite family stories tells of his secret (meaning his mother had no idea he could climb so well) ability to climb a 100-foot oak tree in the yard of his home.  So when he wanted to escape — or just have fun — he would climb to the very top of the tree and listen and watch as his panicked mother ran about calling and hunting Frank, Jr.,  Legend has it that he succeeded getting away with this for two years before folks realized what he was doing!  His story is ” he liked to climb up high to watch the birds.”

As a teenager, Frank, Jr., was active in 4-H, participated in most of its programs for farm boys and excelled in high school athletics.  He earned letters in varsity baseball, football and basketball from Boonville High School, and was named to the coveted “All Northwest Basketball Team” in 1962.

After graduating from Oak Ridge Military Academy Junior College he returned to the farm, married “one” of his high school sweethearts, and began taking over the operations of the dairy farm from his father.  The Vietnam War interrupted life on the farm when, in 1970, the Army Reserve Unit in which Frank, Jr., was a member, was called for active duty and sent to Vietnam.

By the time he returned from Vietnam, Frank, Jr.’s father had closed the dairy and sold all the cows.  Frank, Jr., being perfectly happy not to get up each morning at 4:00 a.m. to milk cows, set his sights on becoming a successful tobacco farmer.

Frank, Jr.’s uncle, Joe Hobson, spent many hours teaching Frank, Jr., about the nuances of curing tobacco and how to “read its leaves” as it cured. To this day, Frank, Jr. declares, “Uncle Joe taught me all I know about curing tobacco!”  But in the years before he was old enough to care about tobacco curing, Uncle Joe taught Frank, Jr., how to whistle,  how to fish, and even made suggestions about how to kiss girls!

Following the public assault on tobacco products, allotments for farmers have been reduced by 53 percent.   As most farmers already owned the land they farmed, many began looking for alternative crops to help replace lost income and Frank, Jr., was no different.  He had farmed successfully his entire adult life and was not ready to retire.  In fact, his wife, Lenna, told him he could not retire!  By now, he had married “another” high school sweetheart (after his first wife died of cancer), and she wisely observed that he had no hobbies other than farming and traveling, so he had to keep farming, otherwise he would be miserable.

At the same time, the Shelton Vineyard and Winery was being built in neighboring Surry County, and, after visiting it several times, Frank, Jr., began to seriously research the possibly of planting a vineyard.  Initially, he was just interested in “growing grapes” for market.  With this aspect he was very comfortable because he knew he could grow quality “anything” and do so successfully.  But as his research continued, his excitement grew; Lenna, his wife, became involved, and they made the commitment to plant a vineyard and build a winery.

Check back soon for Part Two!

Visit: www.RagappleLassie.com! 

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