Yesterday, I visited Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens in anticipation of the program I am doing there next Sunday, March 15. For the Ides of March, I am leading a stroll through the brewery’s wonderful gardens.
I remember the first time I visited Stone. It was September of 2005 when CEO Greg Koch toured me through the not-yet-open brewery.
I was totally taken by the amazing facility. A plane Jane tilt-up building was being transformed transformed into a beautiful, striking structure, adorned with local rocks, boulders from on-site, worn brick from a historic building in downtown San Diego, and slabs of granite leftover from a quarry not far away that makes tombstones. Countering the gray and black, and white textures were vast surfaces of coppery rusted steel. But that would not be finished for a while. Click here for a photo log of brewery and garden construction
Inside the brewing facility were two story tall stainless steel silos –
or so they looked to me – where the brewmasters soon would be doing their magic.
The bistro itself was a vast space with soaring ceilings, bamboo planted water features, a long bar (of course), and a huge, outward slanting wall of glass with roll up glass doors that when open, erased the line between inside and outside.
At that point, however, I had to wonder why anyone would want to go outside. Greg pointed past the construction zone he called a dining patio to a HUGE hole in the ground. It looked like the entry of Journey to the Center of the Earth.
The hole, Greg explained, was the detention basin for the entire commercial development around Stone Brewing. If or when, there would be a 100 year flood, all the water in the surrounding properties would rush into the big hole where it would enter an enormous culvert and diverted to who knows where.
What I saw as a hole, however, Greg saw as a garden. He talked about making it the brewery’s backyard by filling it with fruit trees and natives. He envisioned boulders and seating areas in a garden where patrons would learn where their food came from.
Who was doing the design, I asked. Well, Greg said, he’d talked to some landscape architects and some other folks, but he was thinking he’d just do it himself.
Honestly, I thought he was nuts. But then again, I it was the first time I’d met Greg Koch.
Today, the hole in the ground is indeed a lovely garden filled with fruit
trees, natives, bamboo, and other plants that together, create the brewery’s backyard. There are lawns surrounded by groves of fruit
trees, natives, and bamboo. A stream running through the center is filled with cattails and other aquatic plants. It flows into what looks like the most wonderful swimming hole, thanks to strategically placed boulders and cascading waterfalls. Of course, it isn’t a swimming hole. It is the big hole that I once imagined leading to the inner world.
This coming Sunday, I have the honor of leading folks on a stroll
through the garden, pointing out its
amazing and fantastic features. The fruit trees are coming into bloom, the natives are thriving, the pine forest (not native but pretty darned impressive) of formerly distressed trees, the fantastic agave hill, and
It is a lesson in success that comes from not listening to the experts (though there are some features of the garden that I know Greg will eventually live to regret, like planting running bamboo without a root barrier), a lesson in sustainability, and a lesson in following one’s heart.
Come join me in Stone’s garden at 1 pm on March 15. Come early and eat lunch, have a beer (but not too many), and then mosey on over to the patio bar where we will be gathering.