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Record Family Wines


Tricia Swartz
September 5, 2012 | Tricia Swartz

It's Almost Time!

Fall is right around the corner, which means harvest is too! We spent the long weekend up in Paso, here are a few pics of the vineyard. Canopies are well-developed, grapes are rapidly ripening, and some work was done on the 30 acres we are going to plant next Spring. Next vineyard update will be of harvest!

Syrah vines soaking in the last of the day’s sun.

Syrah grapes will be the first to be harvested.

Young Viognier vines. Just a few more years until we harvest these!

Merlot vines. We mark the vines we plan to hold back for Record Family Wines with white tape.

If you look close, you can see a “scarecrow” in the vines. Scaring the dangerous starlings from destroying the vulnerable grape clusters!

Ripe Merlot clusters. Just a few more weeks until the sugar content is high enough to harvest!

Randy clearing trees in preparation for the 30 acre planting next Spring.

Watching the sun go down on our last night of the long weekend!


How did you celebrate Labor Day Weekend?

Time Posted: Sep 5, 2012 at 8:52 PM
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.


Time Posted: Aug 30, 2012 at 8:50 PM
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
Tricia Swartz
July 24, 2012 | Tricia Swartz

Summer in the Vineyard

Last week, I spent about 48 hours in Paso attending a compliance training and meeting with a potential grape buyer. I made sure to get a few pictures of the vineyard before verasion (when the grapes turn from green to purple) hits. Here are some of my favorites!

Sunset in the vineyard. Gorgeous this time of year!

Grenache in the front, new plantings in the middle, Merlot in the back!

Close-up of a Grenache cluster.

Syrah cluster, looking good this year!

Merlot clusters.

Vines planted in the Spring. We will be able to harvest some fruit in… 2015. Not soon enough!


Time Posted: Jul 24, 2012 at 8:43 PM
Tricia Swartz
July 16, 2012 | Tricia Swartz

Red Wine Chocolate Cake

We served a red wine chocolate cake at our Second Annual Release Party and it was quite a hit! We would like to thank Wine Club Member (and relative) Keith Record for sharing this wonderful recipe. Here it is so you can recreate this wonderful dessert!

1 box dark chocolate cake mix
1 small package instant chocolate pudding
4 eggs
3/4 cup olive oil
1 cup Record Family Wines Randy’s Red
Allspice to taste
Randy’s addition: 1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

Combine all ingredients into a bowl.
Beat 4 minutes until smooth.
Pour into a greased bundt pan.
Bake 45 – 60 minutes at 350 degrees.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar when cool, before serving.


Time Posted: Jul 16, 2012 at 8:42 PM
Tricia Swartz
May 25, 2012 | Tricia Swartz

New Growth

The vines have obviously been loving this warm Spring weather! Here are a few pics of the vineyard from yesterday. Lots of lush green canopy ready to provide some shade for the developing clusters as summer unofficially arrives this Memorial Day weekend!

Clusters starting to form on the vines.

Overlooking the new plantings and Merlot.

New vines are looking strong!

Close up of a new vine.

Gorgeous Oak trees in the middle of the vineyard.

It’s amazing to watch the transformation that takes place in the vineyard! Just six weeks ago we were looking for any sign of bud break – now the vines are well on their way to producing the 2012 crop. A post on weather updates for this growing season will come soon!

Time Posted: May 25, 2012 at 8:40 PM
Tricia Swartz
May 2, 2012 | Tricia Swartz

Meet Our Winemaker!

If you are one of our Wine Club Members, in our April Newsletter, you had a chance to “meet our winemaker”, Eric Ogorsolka of Zenaida Cellars. Here is a little bit about Eric and why we like working with him so much!

We believe that great wines start in the vineyard. Without high quality grapes, it is impossible to achieve well-balanced, enjoyable wines. When we decided to start making wine from our fruit in 2009, we sought out someone who shares the same philosophy, and whose wines we love, to help make Record Family Wines become a reality.

Eric Ogorsolka is the owner and winemaker at Zenaida Cellars, one of our favorite wineries in Paso Robles. We had visited Zenaida on numerous occasions and knew that we wanted Eric crafting wine from our grapes. A native of the Central Coast, Eric attended Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. While he was in college, Eric’s family bought a piece of land in Paso Robles and he helped his Dad design and plant a vineyard. After graduating from Cal Poly with a degree in Enology and Systematic Biology, Eric attended UC Davis to gain more knowledge about winemaking.

After working for two well-known wineries, Eric celebrated his first release of Zenaida Wines with the 1998 vintage. At Zenaida Cellars, Eric focuses on making wonderful wines from the 22 acres of vines that are on the property. Rhone varietals make up a majority of what Eric grows and he creates some amazing blends out of the fruit!

For Record Family Wines, Eric takes a minimalist approach in the winery. He respects the fact that we really want the fruit to show through in the final product and does not manipulate the wines with complex practices in the winery. Currently in the cellar, Eric is working on our 2012 wines and a special limited release of a 2011 Reserve Merlot.

We check in every month to see what is going on with the wines, but leave the tough decision making to the expert! We are extremely pleased with the job Eric is doing for Record Family Wines and look forward to many more great vintages with Eric!

Next time you are in the Paso Robles region, be sure to check out the great wines at Zenaida Cellars, you won’t be disappointed!

Time Posted: May 2, 2012 at 8:37 PM
Tricia Swartz
March 22, 2012 | Tricia Swartz

Are you READY?

The Second Annual Release Celebration is fast approaching! Mark your calendars for Saturday, June 30th and plan on joining us at the vineyard to be the first to taste the 2010 wines.

Do you have your accommodations yet? We have secured a block of rooms at the La Quinta Inn & Suites and the Holiday Inn Express. Call today to make sure you get a room at a discounted rate!

La Quinta Inn & Suites Paso Robles
Please call the hotel directly to reserve a room.
Phone: 805.239.3004
Rate: Reference “Record Family Wines Event” for a deluxe room with one King bed or two Queen beds for $179.10 / night +tax

Holiday Inn Express Paso Robles 
Please call the hotel directly to reserve a room.
Phone: 805.238.6500 Rate: Reference “RFV” for a room with one King bed or two Queen beds for $169.99 / night +tax

If you plan on staying on the vineyard in your motorhome, please let us know by emailing so we can reserve a spot for you!

If you are making a long weekend out of your trip to Paso, here are five more wineries we recommend to visit while you are in town!

We look forward to celebrating with you in June!

Time Posted: Mar 22, 2012 at 8:30 PM
Tricia Swartz
January 31, 2012 | Tricia Swartz

The Importance of Weather

Last week, Mindy, Randy and I attended the largest wine industry conference in North America, the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium in Sacramento. It was three full days of interesting sessions, trade show browsing, Bachelor sightings, eating, drinking wine, and networking. I was exhausted when I returned home Thursday night!

Strategy session!

One of the major themes at the symposium this year is the issue of weather. More specifically, how the climate change is affecting vineyard practices and the resulting fruit and wine. Keep in mind that there are many factors that impact the fruit, in this post, I give a brief overview of some common issues that most people do not think about when shopping for and consuming a bottle of wine.

In recent years, it seems that every region has experienced climate change and growers  have had to alter vineyard practices to account for these changes. There are many ways in which the grapes and the resulting wines are impacted by these trends. One of the most obvious, and one that affects more than just grape growers, is the threat of drought. The amount of rainfall we get each year determines how much we will need to irrigate. When we don’t experience enough rainfall in the vineyard, we rely on the availability of water to keep the vines alive and thriving. Fortunately, we have a well on our vineyard. But, the supply of water is an issue that requires long-term planning, even for those that have access to water today.

Typically, after harvest, throughout the winter months, the vines are dormant and resting up for the next growing season. Cooler temperatures are required to keep the vines in the dormant stage. However, when we experience a warming trend, like we have this year, it impacts the vines by triggering an early “awakening”, making the vines more susceptible to frost which impacts the fruit set and ultimately the yield. There are things that can be done in the vineyard to delay the growing season, such as pruning late, but not every vineyard employs those vineyard practices.

Dormant vines before pruning.

While we have experienced this warming trend in months that are typically cooler, we have also experienced cooling trends during the summer months that are crucial for the development of fruit and can negatively impact the vines as well. One grower on the panel entitled “Quality Grapes and Wine in a Challenging Climate” pointed out that in 2003 there were 21 more days of necessary high temperatures to evenly and fully ripen his grapes than in 2009. That’s a big difference! When there are not enough hot days in the vineyard, harvest is pushed out further into the Fall which creates a whole host of other issues…

The grapes need to achieve a certain level of ripeness (sugar content) in order to be acceptable for harvest. When there is a cooling trend, it takes a longer amount of time to achieve this necessary level of ripeness. When that happens, vineyards can experience Fall rain that will delay harvest and create problems of disease in on the grape clusters. Warm weather and exposure to sunlight is needed to control the disease without chemicals, which, unfortunately, is not always an option.

Ripe, healthy grapes ready for harvest.

So what happens when we experience a “challenging” growing season in the vineyard? There are many steps that can be taken, both in the vineyard, and in the winery, after the fruit is harvested, to “fix” the problems the vines experienced. Many wineries (and therefore growers) are worried about the consistency of grapes and wine. Consumers expect a certain style each year from a particular label, which is to be expected. Every time I buy a Diet Coke, I expect it to taste the same. However, the challenge lies in the fact that Diet Coke plants (facilities, not the type that grow) do not experience the same challenges that the weather can have on grapes in a vineyard.

While the changing weather, or differences in weather year-to-year, can be “challenging” and create a lot of stress for those managing the vineyards, I would like to emphasis the fact that wine is an agricultural product. I encourage consumers to embrace the differences between vintages and realize that what you are experiencing is a larger story than what you see on the label. Think about the particular weather trends that occurred around you during the same year as the wine you are enjoying. Compare the same wine that is produced in different years (you can do this with Record Family Wines starting July 1st!) to get a sense of what you like in a particular vintage.

I understand how it can be comforting and safe to expect the same thing out of a particular wine each year as you do with other products you consume. But realize that it can be fun to experience these differences in style and that a “challenging” year weather-wise does not always mean a “bad” vintage. We still get quality grapes out of challenging years, even though it may take a little more work, and are excited to see how each growing cycle leaves a lasting imprint on the wines produced!

Do you prefer consistency in the wines you enjoy? Or are you open to embracing the difference between vintages?

Time Posted: Jan 31, 2012 at 8:28 PM