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Harvest is pretty much behind us and my mind wanders.
I never fail to find an interesting tidbit browsing through Ernie’s wine books and the other day I was in the City doing that. I stumbled across several fables about the origin of wine and one caught my attention. This particular story had it that grapes stored in a jar “spoiled” and the result was labeled as poison. One of the women living in the group (the story said harem) was suffering from what we would now term a migraine and believing that she would only find relief from the migraine by taking her life, consumed the “poison” and promptly passed out. After sometime, she awoke and was surprised to find herself among the living and the migraine cured. Of course the group immediately set out to make more of the miracle product. Bonded winery #1, I am sure.
So there you have it, wine has been helping people feel better since the very beginning. I am doing my best to see that you all feel better!
At Berryessa Gap we are about 90% done with our harvest and the wines are already exciting me but we can talk about that later. For now, I want to make an observation and extend an invitation.
The observation is that wine is becoming a common agricultural product in our region. When we started we were pretty much the only show in town. Historically, wine was no stranger to the west side of Yolo County but it had been on vacation for a good number of years. Now, we commonly see grapes on the roadway making their way to our winery, Turkovich, Rominger-West, Putah Creek and many more. Watch out tomatoes!
The invitation is to join many of the area’s wineries for a weekend of wine tasting and special events. The region’s wineries have joined together to form “Roots to Wine” and we are organizing a Passport Weekend, October 8 and 9. You can find details at www.rootstowine.com but the idea is that as you travel from winery to winery you will find interesting food and activities to go with our great wines. Sort of a giant open house. Please come and join all of us. How can you miss and who would have thought!
I meant to write about the ripening berries but while I put that off the fruit actually ripened. All our white varieties are now in the winery and fermenting. “All” you say, “how many do you have”? Well this year we have a lot. Crazy? Well maybe, but we are taking the same approach we took to pick our red varieties. We are making more varieties of white wine than we will probably settle on in an effort to learn which do best in our region and hands. It will be an exciting adventure. Always good to open your eyes to new opportunities and excitement, you never know what treasures you will find.
I noticed the other day that berries on the red varieties had begun to change color (green to red) about one week earlier than last year. This is a significant event (veraison) that signifies the beginning of the ripening period. Sugar is now being rapidly loaded into the grapes. Time to start thinking about fermentations, what I did last time and what to do this time. Some things will change and they will be better. The thought of harvest and change is scary but it brings a feeling of renewal – hey nothing is screwed up yet! With careful attention, caution and caring nothing will be screwed up. That is what we hope to do. Harvest is coming.
Seems that the weather is no longer confusing and we are slogging our way to harvest. We are in a lull in the vineyard and most of the decisions of the spring are over and harvest looms. It would seem a great time to take a break. The Frenchies are (in fact they take a lot of breaks, full-time workers in France are guaranteed at least five weeks vacation) but most of us aren’t. Why? I think we pursue the dollar at the expense of enjoyment. Does us a lot of good? I’ll let you decide.
|Country||Life Expectancy at Birth||Wine Consumption||
|(Years)||(Liter per Capita)||(Days per year)|
|Source||United Nations||Wine Institute||CBS News|
Maybe we turn our backs to the good things of life too often – they don’t come too often.
I know this subject is redundant and I’m a little tired of it (yea I know then why write about it?) But it rained an inch last Tuesday and tomorrow it’s going to be a 100 degrees! I don't know what it all means but it sure is wacky.
We’re starting to make plans to bottle the 2009 red wines which means tasting all the lots to create the best wines from each variety. These varieties are contained in a assortment of barrel types and ages. We’re looking for the combination that produces the wine that best expresses the variety. Expect to see the first of these wines and maybe including a couple newcomers in the Spring of 2012!
Out of the freezer into the fire
On 4 June it rained a quarter of an inch on our blooming vines and was 65 degrees, now it’s almost 100! Most times when people ask “how is this weather affecting the grapes” I say “not much”, we always get where we need to be. I still know that, but things are a little strange this year. I expect the rain and cool weather to have reduced berry number and we will probably harvest the fruit a bit later.
But still, we will have to see. Let’s do that, let’s wait and see. The one thing we know is that we don’t have much of a choice. Enjoy the ride, it is too good not to.
Last week I stopped by the winery to pick up a few provisions and headed out of town. With spring turning to early summer it felt like a good time to go. I went to the coast joined by my son and father (dangerous trio!) The sun was shining at the beach, the barbeque was burning dinner and we were giving each other news and advice. All of this was, of course, supported by the provisions we picked up at the winery.
What I really mean is that the wine we brought was great and made a wonderful time even better. Never did we worry about what wine to open and I don’t remember the wine ever interrupting our conversation. Was the wine ever better? Probably not much.
Find yourself with someone you care about, open some Berryessa Gap and let me know if it was ever better.
In the vineyard now, the sun shines most of the time and sometimes it burns the skin we hid away all winter. The hills begin to brown, first on the more exposed slopes and eventually all across. In contrast to the dying grass the vine shoots can easily grow an inch a day. Everything is changing.
Feels pretty good!
On the vine shoots we can see the flower buds that will soon bloom and set the grapes that will become our 2011 wines. While we can’t really predict the crop from here we can’t help ourselves. Most shoots have two good sized clusters and everything looks clean.
Looks pretty good!
Shooting across Highway 505 and up 5 to Pedrozo Dairy & Cheese Company in Orland. The sun was shining bright and the grass was green, swaying and dotted with cows, sheep and goats. Snow was patchy and beautiful on the higher peaks of the coast range.
After a little searching we found Tim Pedrozo and his cheese maker (Brian). We were touring Tim’s farmstead cheese making facility and picking up cheese they had bathed in three of our wines. We shared stories of wine and cheese making and the excitement we all had for our products. We live in an amazing area of food producers.
After the cheese we went to meet the girls (cows). They were out munching green grass and ambled up to greet us. What a kick. What a fun day. Come on to the tasting room and pick up some of the cheese we brought back. Very good!