As we approach August, we’re not only full of anticipation for the upcoming grape harvest but also excited to enjoy the bounty of the garden. Fresh fruits and vegetables abound with warm days and cool evenings in Northern California and this year offers no exception. The garden my wife and I tend at our home in Santa Rosa is coming along nicely and includes some of the basics, some delicate fruit selections and a transplant from the East Coast.
The basics include what could become an instant summer salad with basil tomatoes (add Mozzarella and our Calstar 2008 Sauvignon Blanc and you’re done!) as well as onions and peppers (who needs Philly, just a nice BBQ and our 2006 Alta Zin). A more interesting, and perhaps risky vegetable is asparagus, which is doing well for being in its second year, and we hope to have a nice crop next year (with a little luck).
Our fruits include persimmon and lemon trees, both doing well but an apple a day may not be in our future, as the apple and the peach trees are not fairing as well. The delicate includes the raspberry plants that we received from the Londer family (of the same family that we source our Londer Estate Pinot Noir) which are taking (second time’s a charm) having planted them in the spot that previously housed four Merlot vines. We will reap the delicious results of this change but I will miss the vines as they did provide nice smoker material.
Transplanting can be difficult, both for people, and for trees (seeds) but time and luck can prove successful. The maple seeds I brought back from a visit back East (Maryland) bore one seedling that is doing well and there is nothing better than being a transplant with reminder of home.
Rounding out this week and prepping for the 2009 vintage included confirmation of grape sourcing, and have lined up the following:
-10T Pinot Noir, Sangiacomo Roberts Road Vineyard
-4T Pinot Noir, Marshall Vineyard
-1T Pinot Noir, Vining Vineyard
-3T Sauvignon Blanc, Hopkins Ranch
-3T Chardonnay, Sangiacomo Roberts Road Vineyard
-5T (Pending) Zinfandel, Stokes and Cardannini Vineyards and Manchester Ridge Chardonnay
I am excited about Harvest, both personal and of the vine.
The last week has been about wrapping up some of the odds & ends of summer before Harvest 2009 begins. The week was filled with fining trials, negotiating contracts and shipping wine (the fun part!).
Fining trials are experiments on small portions of a blend to determine the best way of optimizing the blend’s flavors. This is the last creative part of winemaking, and enjoyable, though quite time consuming to set up and taste through each blend.
Grape sourcing negotiations are more a matter of meeting growers and looking at the vineyards than 'lawyer-speak' contractual administration. I’ve worked with most of the growers with whom I source fruit either for my project or clients projects, so negotiations are mainly to assure optimum fruit quality. Ensuring the level of quality that I require will likely involve doing a lot of the necessary work myself including fruit load adjustment in the vineyard. Fortunately, I work closely with my growers and collaboratively work to achiever this quality. I've acquired extensive knowledge through this collaboration over the years and this offers great satisfaction.
Shipping wine to the East Coast (we always prefer pallets, naturally) and working on a contract for distribution to Colorado is the fun part of these odds & ends of the season. Soon, I hope to bring Calstar wines to some excellent wine retailers and restaurants throughout Colorado. Stay tuned for updates!
Wrapping up the 2008 vintage and preparing for 2009 is an interesting combination of creativity, sales and planning which can be fun, scary, frustrating and, let's face it boring at time. But, these are the 'Odds & Ends'.
The summer months of July and August are about prepping wines for bottling, finalizing sources for grapes and working sales.
This year, addressing smoke taint, a reality for Northern California wines given excessive draught throughout the region, in the Anderson Valley wines has made bottle prep much harder and more time consuming. The upside to this bottling season is the non-smoke tainted lots are showing really well and this is exciting. One wine that is particularly exciting for me is the small lot Sangiacomo Pinot Noir, my first release from the well-known Sangiacomo family vineyards.
Bottle prep is the final creative step in a vintage where I consider flavors that I like and what should be altered for each blend. The bottling process is a matter of making sure all supplies are ready and that the equipment is operating properly. A matter of dotting I's and crossing T's, not necessarily creative, but very important.
The 2009 vintage is exciting, as I will be adding 5 new sources to my portfolio. Pinot Noir from Marshall, Vining and Saginani Vineyards; Chardonnay from Sangiacomo, and Manchester Ridge Vineyards as well as adding to the Pinot Noir sourced Sangiacomo's Roberts Road Vineyard.
Sales are going well despite the economy, particularly in Maryland, where the 2008 Sauvignon Blanc was particularly well received.
Summer in the Cellar.