It’s hard to believe another year has come to a close. 2013 has been an exciting and challenging year for us in the vineyard and beyond. We welcome all that 2014 brings and look forward to sharing many more vintages with our wonderful family and friends! We hope that 2014 is a happy, healthy, and successful year for all!
The grape vines are dormant and we will be patiently waiting for Spring to prune. In the meantime, we have planted a cover crop to add nutrients and help keep moisture in the soil. There are always improvements to be made in the vineyard during this time as well such as irrigation and trellis maintenance. Here are a few shots of the vines taken in mid-December.
[Merlot vine in December.]
Merlot vine in December.
[Losing leaves, going into dormancy.]
Losing leaves, going into dormancy.
[Cooler temperatures until Spring!]
Cooler temperatures until Spring!
Check back next week for slideshows of the Merlot vine throughout the year!
With the holidays quickly approaching, it seems there are endless parties to attend and guests to host. A nice bottle of wine can be a great addition to a potluck or a great gift for your boss. But, do you ever feel overwhelmed when needing to buy wine? So many choices: where to go, who to ask for advice, how much to spend, what to ultimately buy, etc.
Don’t be intimidated by the vast selection. Everyone has different taste, and there is no “perfect” wine for any occasion. Hopefully with a few basic tips, you will enjoy the process and look forward to discovering new wines in the future!
Where to go:
You can find great wine in many places, even at the grocery store. If picking up wine with your weekly groceries is most convenient for you, buy wine there! If you are looking for a wider selection, a brand with small production, or guidance on selecting wine for food pairings, I suggest you drop into a store that specializes in wine. BevMo is great, and with many locations, are often easily accessible, but I would really encourage you to seek out a local wine shop. Typically, the employees are passionate about the product and can provide you with several options across a wide price range to find the perfect fit!
[If only selecting a wine were this easy!]
If only selecting a wine was this easy!
How much to spend:
5 cent sales are tempting… but I find that these are usually full of wines that a particular store is trying to get rid of. Does that California Chardonnay look good? Take a closer look. If you have never heard of the producer before (so you aren’t sure if they make age worthy wines), and it is from 2005 – pass. Trust me. Spend a little more and get a nice, Chardonnay from the Sonoma Coast region from a recent vintage (2011, 2012). It will be money well spent!
With that being said, don’t feel like you have to overspend for a big name to insure you get a palatable wine either! There are so many wonderful red wines coming out of Paso Robles right now that you can get for less than $50, that there is no reason to spend double for a well-known Napa brand. You may impress your guests by serving a respected brand that has been around for decades, and there is nothing wrong with that (I wouldn’t turn it down!) But imagine their surprise when you blow them away with a delicious wine from a boutique winery that you just discovered!
Deciphering a label:
When considering wine for purchase, I like to get an idea of where the grapes are sourced from. This can usually give you an indication of the quality of the wine, no matter how cute the label. As in my previous example, I look for a more specific region (Sonoma Coast v. California). It is not always evident by the front (or back!) of a label who is behind the production of wine. What may seem like a boutique winery may in fact be produced by one of the largest wineries in the world. It may taste great, but if you are looking to support a smaller winery, take a closer look.
If a broad region is listed (California, Central Coast, North Coast) the grapes can come from a much larger area. When you see a more specific region (Rutherford, Santa Ynez Valley, Paso Robles) the grapes must come from that defined area. A general rule of thumb is that the more specific a region, the smaller production (and in many cases, higher quality) the wine will be. This is not ALWAYS the case, but one I consider when I am feeling overwhelmed with my choices!
For example, I am going to look for a Sauvignon Blanc coming from Marlborough or Napa before I purchase one just listing New Zealand or California on the label. I am going to choose a Pinot Noir from Edna Valley instead of Central Coast. And don’t be fooled by the brands that use regions in their name…
[Don't fall for cute critter labels!]
Don’t fall for cute critter labels!
Once you decide on a wine, it can be exciting to open it with family and friends to see if you chose well! While there may be other things that you consider when purchasing wine, these basic tips are just meant to ease the anxiety shoppers may associate with the task. There are so many wonderful wines out there, if you use these tips, I’m confident you will find a delicious wine that will impress your most discerning guests!
Now it’s your turn! What do you look for when shopping for wine?
It is hard to believe how quickly 2013 is coming to a close. It is evident when driving through the Paso Robles wine region that cooler temps have arrived, and the vines are DONE for the year. The colors are vibrant and varied, from bright yellows to deep reds, and even the beginning of brown are everywhere. It won’t be long before the leaves are crispy and falling off the vine altogether!
[The Merlot vine I have been following all year, on it's way to dormancy.]
The Merlot vine I have been following all year, on it’s way to dormancy.
[A cool Fall morning, it won't be long until there is frost between the vines thanks to the cooler temps.]
A cool Fall morning, it won’t be long until there is frost between the vines thanks to the cooler temps.
[The leaves are about to fall and soon there will just be the canes waiting to be pruned in the Spring.]
The leaves are about to fall and soon there will just be the canes waiting to be pruned in the Spring.
[We recently enjoyed a girl's weekend with some special family members. Paso is beautiful this time of year!]
We recently enjoyed a girl’s weekend with some special family members. Paso is beautiful this time of year!
We wrapped up harvest on October 1st this year and the leaves on the vines are starting to change color. There are beautiful shades of orange and red throughout the vineyard, depending on varietal. The Grenache grapes are still showing the most green, with the Merlot showing green and red, and the Syrah practically all orange. Fall really is a great time to tour a vineyard!
[Syrah to the left and Grenache to the right - great contrast!]
Syrah to the left and Grenache to the right – great contrast!
[Merlot block, hints of red throughout.]
Merlot block, hints of red throughout.
As the nights get cooler, we may experience some frost that will quickly change the leaves from the beautiful Fall hues to brown when they eventually all fall off and Winter approaches. In the meantime, here are some great pics if you are unable to get to the vineyard to experience the Fall season yourself!
[Merlot vine we have been following all year.]
Merlot vine we have been following all year.
[Merlot up close!]
Merlot up close!
It has been a busy month in the vineyard. We typically don’t start harvest until late September or early October, but this year we are going to be finishing up with the last of our Merlot on October 1st! I arrived in Paso just hours before a crew showed up to start harvesting Merlot, including the vine I have been following all year.
[A common siting around Paso, trucks hauling grapes.]
A common siting around Paso, trucks hauling grapes.
[A cluster just before the machine harvester got to it!]
A cluster just before the machine harvester got to it!
[The remains of a cluster after harvest.]
The remains of a cluster after harvest.
[You can really see the difference between our Grenache (left) and Syrah (right) this time of year!]
You can really see the difference between our Grenache (left) and Syrah (right) this time of year!
Another growing season coming to an end. We are looking forward to cooler temperatures and working on various vineyard improvements before next Spring!
Harvest is expected to start earlier than normal this year. We have started taking sugar samples to track the maturity and help us determine the optimal harvest date for each block of fruit.
As the grapes ripen, sugar content increases and acidity decreases. We strive to reach the perfect balance of sugar and acidity to make the best wines possible. One way of determining this balance is by measuring the sugar content of grapes (brix). We aim for 23 – 26 degrees brix at harvest. Last week, our Merlot blocks were at 19.5 and 20.5, our Grenache was at 21.3, and our Syrah was at 19.8 degrees brix. We are getting close!
Here are a few pictures of the Merlot vine I have been following this year:
And one gorgeous view of the vines as we approach harvest!
On a recent visit to Pithy Little Wine Company in Downtown Paso, Randy picked up a new cookbook. The New Wine Country Cookbook – Recipes from California’s Central Coastfeatures wonderful recipes with interesting wine pairings featuring local ingredients, people, and wine.
Fun fact: if you follow along with the adventures of the “Paso Wine Man”, you are aware of his passion for the Central Coast! This new cookbook was written by Brigit Binns, the wife of our beloved Paso Wine Man!
The Rhone Wine and Fig Braised Pork Chops are amazing paired with a bottle of 2010 Randy’s Red.
What are you pairing with the 2010 Randy’s Red?
Occasionally, we like to take a break from drinking our own wine and discover what our neighbors are pouring. The California Mid State Fair is in town and the Central Coast Wine Competition held a promotion for free fair tickets. All that was required was scanning a QR code at three Gold Medal winning winery tasting rooms. Fortunately, our neighbors all produce fabulous wine so finding Gold Medal winning tasting rooms in our area was easy!
We stopped by Villa San Juliette to pick up a lovely Albarino, discovered a wonderful Grenache Rosé at J. Lohr, and stocked up on one of our favorites from Silverhorse, a tasty Syrah. We can’t wait to enjoy these new releases on a warm summer evening! Be sure to visit theses award winning wineries next time you are in Paso!
What wines are you enjoying this summer?
If you joined us for our Third Annual Release Party, you know how warm it has been in Paso Robles this summer! For the most part, the vines have been thriving in the heat. The clusters are fully developed and the crop looks good!
[The canopy is shading the grapes from sunburn.]
The canopy is shading the grapes from sunburn.
[Healthy Merlot clusters.]
Healthy Merlot clusters.
[The first signs of verasion.]
The first signs of verasion.
[New Cabernet Sauvignon vines planted last week.]
New Cabernet Sauvignon vines planted last week.
Thirty acres of new vines were planted last week bringing our total acreage to 72. Blog post on the new development coming soon!
It has been hot and dry this year, we are definitely experiencing drought on the Central Coast. Despite the dry conditions, the vines look good, and we have experienced fruit set in June. Berries are forming in the clusters and we are expecting harvest to occur in just 3.5 short months!
[The canopy is thriving with warm weather conditions!]
The canopy is thriving with warm weather conditions!
[We have been irrigating more than usual this hot Spring.]
We have been irrigating more than usual this hot Spring.
[Fruit set looks good!]
Fruit set looks good!
We hope to see you at the end of the month at the Release Party! Get up close and personal with the vines on our vineyard tour!