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I love meeting winemakers and hearing their stories of how they fell onto the path of becoming a winemaker. Every person has a different journey as to what drew them into the wine industry. When I sat down with Megan McGrath Gates, winemaker at Lucas & Lewellen in the Santa Ynez Valley, she shared her story with me, which started with a childhood dream. But, even with a dream, she never imagined she would end up making wine. And yet she has. Megan's childhood dreams have become her reality as I wrote about recently in the Napa Valley Register and am sharing here.

When Megan McGrath Gates was a little girl, she would listen to the stories of her grandparents. A ninth-generation Californian, Gates was raised in Riverside. But, her ancestors were ranchers and she is a direct descendant of the historic Olivas family in Ventura, California.

Despite her ancestors, Gates was a typical suburban kid. Her dad is a lawyer and her mom is a teacher. She is one of six children and has a twin sister. With all of the romantic stories about her family, she dreamed about being a rancher and living a bucolic life.

As a kid, latkas, or potato pancakes, were something that I looked forward to every Hannukkah. What was not to love about the shallow-fried pancakes made from grated or ground potato with matzah meal or flour, egg, onion and seasoning? My grandma would make them for the holidays and I thought she made the best ones. When we weren't eating latkas during the Jewish holidays, I would order them whenever we went to a Jewish deli because I just loved potato pancakes with sour cream or applesauce. They were not my grandma's but they would still satisfy me. Now you no longer need to head to a Jewish deli to have potato pancakes because restaurants have integrated them into their menus for brunch, lunch and dinner. I recently visited three restaurants in Los Angeles that are very distinct. One is a neighborhood restaurant with a diverse menu, another is a wine bar and restaurant featuring Italian tapas and the third is a steak house. It would seem that none of these restaurants have anything in common but in fact, they all have a potato pancake on their menu. Each has put their own spin on the traditional potato pancake and made it work with their menu.
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