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Record Family Wines


Tricia Swartz
August 30, 2012 | Tricia Swartz

A "New" Vineyard Update

In 2011, we decided to pull out 9 acres of Syrah that was in decline and underperforming. We took the opportunity to plant a few different varietals in its place: 2 acres of Viognier, 2 acres of Mourvedre, and 6 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon. If you have been to the vineyard in the last year, you have been able to see the new plantings.

Aerial shot of new blocks. 2: Cabernet Sauvignon, 3: Mourvedre, 4: Viognier

If you happen to notice the new vines added up to 10 acres, it’s not a typo! We planted over 1 acre of bare ground that the previous owners intended to build a house on one day. The new vines were planted this past Spring and we expect will come into production (on a very small-scale) by 2015.

More recently, we have been working on preparing 30 additional acres of bare ground, to plant Cabernet Sauvignon, to the west of the existing vines. We first started discussing this expansion as a family in 2010. After much debate, we placed an order for vines in January of 2012. What timing we had!

Site of new development.


The California wine industry (really the global wine industry) is on the verge of a major shift in supply and demand. Wineries and growers alike have expected this shift for many years now. However, continuous years of above average crops and a bad economy prolonged the inevitable, but we are now about to experience a lack of supply at every level of the distribution channel. There may be an abundance of great wine at cheap prices in retail shops today, but, if wineries scrambling to acquire the amount of grapes they need to meet demand is any indication, this will not be a buyers market much longer.

There is a rush to plant new vines in California and the truth is, there are not enough to go around. Nurseries have to predict what growers and wineries will need, and for the past few years, it hasn’t been much. With the impending shortage on the horizon, orders for new vines have skyrocketed and not all orders are being fulfilled. We are fortunate that we placed our order soon enough to secure healthy vines from a reputable nursery.

So what are we doing to prepare for the planting of 30 acres in 2013? The piece of land we will be developing has been planted to grain in the past, but never vines. This means we are starting from scratch. We will be building a reservoir and drilling a well. We will be building crossings over the creek bed and surveying to help determine block orientation. We will be prepping the soil and installing a trellis system. We (and the capable companies we have hired!) have started some of these tasks and are waiting on permits to complete others. While Spring 2013 may seem far off to some, it feels like it is right around the corner for us!

We are thrilled about the expansion and can’t wait to share pictures of the process! Hopefully, if all goes as planned, next Summer I will be posting pictures of the finished product. Something along these lines…

Cabernet Sauvignon vines planted in Spring 2012.


Tricia Swartz
August 20, 2012 | Tricia Swartz

Spice Up Your Life!

I hate to complain from San Diego because I know it could be worse (and is just about everywhere else…), but this weather has been brutal! The last thing I want to do when I get done with work is to heat up the house even more by cooking dinner in the kitchen. So, it’s time to fire up the grill! We have been doing a lot of grilling this summer, but this recipe, adapted from Weber’s Big Book of Grilling, is one of our favorites!

Serve with a fresh salad (try Michelle’s amazing Caesar salad from the April 2012 Wine Club Newsletter) or grilled summer veggies, and you have a great dinner. Don’t forget about the wine. I prefer to serve this meal with a bold red so the 2010 Randy’s Red is the perfect match!

Mixed Peppercorns

Ingredients for 4 Rib-Eye Steaks:
Spice Rub
1 tablespoon mixed peppercorns
1 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/4 teaspoon granulated onion

1/2 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Rib-Eyes with spice rub

Spice Rub
Grind the peppercorns in a spice grinder / coffee grinder (I used our Magic Bullet!). Place all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Coat the steaks with the spice rub on both sides and spray (or brush) with olive oil about 20 minutes before grilling.

Combine all ingredients with 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan and whisk together. Simmer over low heat for about 12 minutes until sugar is dissolved and flavors are blended.

Grill steak over direct heat until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees (8 to 10 minutes) for medium rare.


Serve the spicy steak with a side of the tangy sauce, veggie, and a bottle of Randy’s Red for the perfect summer dinner!


Time Posted: Aug 20, 2012 at 8:48 PM
Tricia Swartz
August 9, 2012 | Tricia Swartz

Thoughts on Corkage Fees

Have you ever brought a bottle of wine to a restaurant with the intention of consuming it with your meal? If not, have you ever wanted to? If so, how was your experience? Did you pay a corkage fee? Were you treated any differently? I tend to over-analyze pretty much everything I do, and these are just a few of the thoughts / worries that come to my mind when I plan on bringing a special bottle to dinner in a restaurant. Assuming I’m not the only one with these thoughts (I’m not, right??) I would like to provide some simple explanations and guidelines to follow if you ever find yourself in my shoes!

First of all, what is a “corkage fee”? Basically, it is the price you pay to bring in your own wine to drink with your meal at a restaurant. Individual restaurant policies vary widely. From nothing, to $x / bottle with a bottle maximum, to not allowed! In some states, it is against the law to bring your own alcohol to a dining establishment. In California, you are allowed to as long as the restaurant will let you.

I understand the premise behind having a corkage fee. Restaurants rely on sales of alcohol to make money. Servers rely on tips from alcohol sales. Charging a corkage fee covers the “service” aspect of serving wine in a restaurant. Someone has to wash and shine those glasses! Most of the time, servers and sommeliers treat a bottle you bring in as one you would chose from the list: chill it upon your request, open, decant, pour, etc. I feel a nominal fee for this service is deserved.

Keeping this in mind, here are a few guidelines I try to follow when bringing wine to a restaurant:

– I will try to find a wine list on the website of the restaurant we will be dining at. Don’t take a bottle with you that is on their list. Most restaurants will not let you open something that they already carry.

– I call ahead to find out what the corkage policy is if it is not listed on their website. It would be embarrassing (to me at least) if I show up with a bottle and find out that it is frowned upon, or not allowed.

– I do not bring wine to save money on dining out. I make sure it is a special bottle that has some meaning to the group that is dining. If there are more than two of us (or if the two of us are taking a cab home!) , I will usually order a cocktail, wine by the glass, or an additional bottle off of the list.

– I always ask the server / sommelier if they would like to have a taste of what we brought. I know from conducting many staff trainings that most servers are really into wine and love an opportunity to taste something that is not on the list and that they may not have had a chance to try before.

– When tipping, I take into account that I brought my own wine. If the service was good, add on a few bucks to make up for the fact that you did not purchase wine from the list.

So, next time you want to dine out AND enjoy a special wine from your collection, keep these tips in mind to have a comfortable and fun experience!

Is there anything you keep in mind that I should add to my list when brining wine to a restaurant?

Time Posted: Aug 9, 2012 at 8:45 PM