Wednesday, December 21, 2011
The Wine Flavor class is structured with tastings coupled with discussion, taught by UC Davis faculty. The inaugural class will be held on January 13, 2012 from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm at The Culinary Institute of America, Greystone in St. Helena. The cost is $150 per person (including lunch) for NVV members and $225 per person for non-NVV members. Topics will include the recognition of common microbial off characters including sulfur taints, ML/bacterial taints, fermentation-derived taints and spoilage organisms, among others. Please contact Connor Best at the NVV at 707-968-4225 or email email@example.com for more information or to sign up for the class.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
Today, I write to you from my brightly lit desk in the very tame upstairs offices. Actually, ironically, I just heard a cacophony of high-pitched hollers from the other end of the offices. Sounds like a big sale came in, woo-hoo! The holidays are an exciting time for Patti, Jess & Christina who take care of phone sales. Anyway, it is the first Friday in two months that I've had to iron before clothing myself presentably, and that I've come to work to spend the day wielding the almighty mouse and keyboard. Slightly different strengths required than those for wielding the heavy hoses and 20-gallon buckets of juice in the cellar. I am in the office today because finally the seasonal work requiring so many extra hands has come to an end. There is still much going on for the full time cellar workers, but they've got that under control. We drained our very last tank yesterday to press and barrel down today- Cabernet Sauvignon from one of the later-ripening blocks on our Persephone Vineyard. Almost all of the leaves have fallen off the vines, which are now dormant and will remain so until spring when the weather warms, rousing the vines out of their winter stillness to begin again to do what they are meant to- to photosynthesize, to pull nutrients out of the ground to create leaves and eventually to flower and to bear fruit.
'Dormancy', as defined by Wikipedia, is "a period in an organism's life cycle when growth, development, and (in animals) physical activity are temporarily stopped. This minimizes metabolic activity and therefore helps an organism to conserve energy." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dormancy) My organism can relate to that.
|Dormant Vines on Peju's Rutherford Estate|
Next week Winemaker Sara, Assistant Winemaker Joe, and Production Planner Sheri will begin tasting through the 2011 whites to see how the now two-and-a-half-month-old wine is tasting, and to start thinking about how they'll want to blend it in a month or two. Blending involves systematic tasting through barrel-aged versus tank-aged lots, lots in French versus American and new versus neutral oak, and then blending varietals with any combination of these variations. Love how winemaking involves doing science with your taste buds.
Most of the work that's going on in the cellar these days is to take care of the older vintages of reds that were laying low in their barrels while Harvest's new crop, like a needy newborn sibling, took all of the attention. Mostly, it's the topping I mentioned in a a recent blog post that the crew is busy with now. On a monthly rotation, the crew will bring all of the hundreds of barrels in our Estate cellar out to the crush pad to make sure the headspace in each barrel is at a minimum, lest the wine breathe too much oxygen and lose its youthful vigor.
|Naked Vines Soak Up Some Winter Sun|
And as the vineyard rests for winter, the sales team springs to action for the most wonderful time of year for us humans! It is certainly true that some of the best gifts in life are free. But wine is always a great gift too. Cheers!
Brittany Starr for Peju Province Winery
|View from Peju, December 6, 2011|
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
The NVV worked directly with Thailand's Department of Intellectual Property on the registration which reads, "The combination of Napa Valley's unique geography, climate, geology, and the winemaking traditions as well as the human skills of the Napa Valley vintners give Napa Valley wine its distinctive taste and unique characters."
"This is a terrific accomplishment for our trade group in protecting our appellation's name from fraudulent use in yet another high-profile, emerging wine market," said NVV Executive Director Linda Reiff. "We have been able to achieve this and other GI recognitions by working directly with these government agencies, such as our successes in the EU and India, which is important to building our export channels for Napa Valley wines."
"It's necessary to know that consumers of Napa Valley wine in Thailand will be able to trust that if it reads 'Napa Valley' on the label, that the wine in the bottle is indeed from California's Napa Valley," said Pat Stotesbery of Ladera Vineyards who chairs the Napa Name Protection Committee for the association.
Read the full press release.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
With All Our Grapes Safely in Tank and Barrel, We Begin Our Descent Into Winter Calm at Peju Province Winery...
Stay tuned because there is work left to do and words left to write for Harvest 2011!
The Napa Valley has been named the official wine region of the 34th America's Cup. In partnership with The Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) and The Napa Valley Destination Council (NVDC), America's Cup events in the United States through 2013 will exclusively feature Napa Valley wines, while the Napa Valley will be the only wine region featured as a getaway destination for attendees of the San Francisco-based America's Cup events.
"The America's Cup is a fantastic way to showcase the wines of Napa Valley. This high-profile, world-renowned sporting event's stature perfectly aligns with the high quality and world renown of Napa Valley, America's premier wine region. We are delighted to bring our wines to the table in celebration of this great partnership," said Napa Valley Vintners Executive Director Linda Reiff.
"Many of the America's Cup enthusiasts love the same things that the Napa Valley is known for--great wine, food, arts and wellness activities. We are very excited to have the opportunity to invite them to experience our beautiful region while they are in the Bay Area, and we look forward to sharing the best we have to offer," said Clay Gregory, NVDC CEO and President.
The Napa Valley is home to the founders of America's fine wine industry--legendary entrepreneurs who showed the world that the art of winemaking had crossed continents--and the region is prized for its natural beauty, 14-Michelin Star culinary scene, world-class hotel accommodations, robust arts community, and one-of-a-kind wellness experiences including the region's famed spas, mud baths and healing geo-thermal hot springs.
Over the next two years, Napa Valley wines will be poured and tourism to the region will be promoted, beginning with the America's Cup World Series event in San Diego this November 12-20, as well as at the AC World Series Newport and San Francisco events in 2012, and in San Francisco during the 2013 Louis Vuitton Cup--the America's Cup Challenger Series--and America's Cup Finals.
"We are very pleased to partner with the Napa Valley on our America's Cup events in the United States, as it is one of the world's premier wine growing regions," said Craig Thompson, CEO of the America’s Cup Event Authority. "The 34th America's Cup is focused on creating a one-of-a-kind experience for every fan, so we look forward to showcasing the bounty that the Napa Valley has to offer to our guests."
Click here for the press announcement on the America's Cup Website.
Watch a video on the America's Cup Preview in San Diego, currently underway through November 20th.
Harvesting started in a panic as many winemakers, this one included, realized the scope of the challenge that the mold pressure presented; a block with trace amounts of botrytis could become completely enveloped in twenty four hours. The thin skin, tight cluster varieties were the first to succumb to the fungus. Petit Sirah and Petit Verdot were particularly hard hit and were triage priority when making pick calls. The Round Pond Estate however, has the fortunate ability to harvest any block any day that’s needed or desired—a resource that proved particularly crucial this year. Throwing courtesy and convention aside, I called many picks the same day I walked out into the fields and realized that another block absolutely must come in. For that I would like to extend many thanks to the vineyard team for their flexibility, and my cellar crew for their tenacity.
Following the rains, we had a string of warm, windless days that were perfect for fungus growth. On the valley floor, the sun heated the saturated soil, which raised the relative humidity in the fields. Those vines trellised in curtain forming fashion trapped the evaporating water and created a sauna-like environment, which further exasperated the tendency for mold to spread. When temperatures fell at night, the surface of the grapes cooled and the trapped moisture below the canopy condensed on the fruit so that by daybreak, the clusters were dripping with dew. Vines trellised in a vertical fashion did not suffer the “sauna effect” and fared better against the mold. Also of note, the more gravely sections of vineyard blocks dried out more quickly, and were subsequently less susceptible to mold pressure.
Winemaking, like any science, is an exercise in observation. Walking the vineyards, it was critical to understand why some blocks were more affected by botrytis than others in order to make decisions on optimizing fruit quality and harvesting efficiency. Having learned from our early picks, it was apparent that the benefit of a few extra days of ripening was negated by the sensory influence the mold had on the wines. As such, I tended to pick at the first signs of mold development, which I believe preserved the fruit character in the grapes and has given us the foundation for producing wonderfully elegant and seductively aromatic wines.
November 1st marked the last day of harvest on the Estate and in that twenty-two day period, the production crew broke records three consecutive times for number of tons processed in a day, and the amount of fruit received at the winery in a week’s span. These statistics do not come as a surprise to me; all vintages at the Estate are fast and furious but late ones, like this year, especially so. Harvest at Round Pond is most certainly a sprint and not a marathon.
Thanks to all of the staff in other departments who came to lend a hand on the sorting line, delivered food and libations, or simply gave a kind word of encouragement. Those sentiments never go unnoticed and are certainly appreciated. I look forward to sharing our collective efforts with everyone in the years to come, and feel the climatic challenges of this vintage will prove to be a historic bellwether for the exceptional consistency of quality achievable on this Estate.
Round Pond Estate
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Challenging year in the vineyard reaps rewards in the cellar
"Although it may be stretching to compare our harvest with one of the greatest ever games in the history of baseball...but like the 2011 World Series, we had our ups and downs, and finally pulled it out. This was one of our most exciting harvests ever!" said Cain Vineyards' Winemaker and General Manager Chris Howell. And once again the excitement of the finale of the American baseball season seems to parallel that of the vintage at harvest from America's premier winegrowing region, the legendary Napa Valley. Today the Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) non-profit trade association of more than 420 wineries representing 98% of the appellation's wine production offers its annual report on harvest.
"2011 was a challenging and as well as what I am calling 'an educational vintage,' the third in a row," said Oakville Ranch Winery General Manager Paula Kornell who was born and raised in the Napa Valley wine industry. "What we found this vintage were flavors that developed at lower brix, giving us an opportunity to make truly elegant wines at lower alcohol levels."
"Harvest 2011--from tears to glory!" is how renowned vintner Tim Mondavi, owner of Continuum capsulized the year and winemakers appellation-wide are in agreement.
What began with a wet winter and spring continued with rainfall into mid-June that delayed bloom and disrupted fruit set resulting in shatter in parts of the region set the stage for a long, cooler-than-average growing season with a later-than-average harvest beset with autumn rain storms. The precipitation measuring season ending on June 30 found the region more than a third above normal in rainfall. While this is good news for water resources, the cloud cover and cool temperatures delayed vine development by several weeks at the onset of the growing season.
This timetable continued through the somewhat cool summer season where harvest for the first varieties for sparkling wines found the latest harvest start in anyone's memory, beginning August 29. Few high heat events occurred at any point this year, but growers managed more open vine canopies to ensure sunlight, warmth and good air circulation around the grape clusters. The shatter resulting from the rain events in June was variable by vineyard location hitting some locations harder with projected crop diminished by more than 30% while leaving other sites nearly untouched with near-normal crop.
New Media Resources Tell Story of Year in Real Time
New this year, wine lovers around the world were able to follow the Napa Valley harvest like never before. Twitter was a-buzz at #NVHarvest with thousands of tweets from the vineyards and cellars. Read the ongoing Twitter feed at the www.napavintners.com/harvest.
Napa Valley filmmaker Bret Lyman chronicled the vintage in a series of harvest videos beginning in August with the start of harvest for sparkling wines to the white varieties, Merlot and then Cabernet Sauvignon. Check out today's release of the final chapter of the harvest videos below.
The region's winemakers and vineyard managers participated in a week-long "Harvest Live" streaming video the week of October 17 with six days of morning and afternoon live chat painting the picture in clear detail of what was happening in the vineyard and in the winery in real time. Check out U-Stream to watch the archived programs hosted by Christophe Smith of Titus Vineyards along with his esteemed guests.
And, more than ever before the vintners themselves blogged all season on their experiences in written, photo and video posts on the NVV's official blog "Unfiltered."
Click to read the full release
Click to view the all 2011 harvest videos
Friday, November 4, 2011
Greetings from the top of Spring Mountain!
As we close yet another harvest from Vineyard 7 & 8, I look back on what was a true test of patience. A season filled with extra efforts in the vineyards working on crop and canpy management, a couple early October rain storms, but finished up with a period of beautiful weather.
Over the last couple of weeks the sun returned, and the dry northwest winds returned, allowing us the ability to harvest what looks to be another very successful vintage.
Cabernet from our Estate vineyards and the fruit we harvest from select neighboring vineyards on Spring Mountain came in with more moderate sugar levels, beautiful acids and wonderfully refined tannins.
Fermentation is just beginning to take shape in the tank room, and hats change from the management of the fruit in the vineyards to pumpovers and punchdowns, monitoring of tanks and prepping barrels for later in the month when the wines will go to rest.
Congrats to all fellow vintners for yet another wonderful harvest in the Napa Valley!
Wesley Steffens, Vineyard 7 & 8
Winery Manager & Assistant Winemaker
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
The first days of the Newton Chardonnay harvest are stressful.
We pick it, we press it, we choose the best French barrels and… nothing happens. For days, the juice is quiet, viscous, cloyingly sweet.
Nothing… No matter how much I stare inside the barrels or glue my ear to the bung holes until the side of my face shows a ring of toasted oak smoke.
It’s only when I start getting that recurring dream of hot tubs filled with bubbling grape juice, around the 6th or 7th day, that our tricky indigenous yeasts deign offer some hope. Suddenly, the whole cellar is filled with the gurgling sound of the starting fermentation and I breathe a sigh of relief.
That makes Julian laugh.
Julian Cendejas (pictured at right) has worked at Newton since 1989. Over his more than 20 harvests, he’s learned to be patient and that the fermentation will start. Some years it’s fast -just a couple of days- some years it takes up to 10 or 12 days. Once a lot of Chardonnay is fermenting, the whole cellar follows.
Julian always knows when this will happen: I have a theory that he’s somehow communicating with the yeasts that come from our vineyard. He’ll say “Tomorrow, this lot will start”. I’ll look in the barrel he is showing me, shaking my head: “Naaah, there is not even any froth.” The next day, he’ll be right.
Now, all the 2011 Chardonnay is fermenting, some lots well on their way to dryness. It was a cool growing season and even if the sugars remained lower than in the past years, the flavors are exotic and complex. There are apricot and grilled pineapple notes but no hint of the quince paste that characterizes over-ripe vintages. The musqué lots are delicately floral without being too wisteria or lilac-like.
Associate Winemaker, Newton Vineyard
Monday, October 31, 2011
As of today, we've brought in 76% of our total crop. Sara aims to harvest all remaining fruit by this Friday. It's all fermenting, pressing & barreling down from there!
Sheri, our Production Planner, gave me some "fun facts" today. (Visit the 'Meet the Team' page on our blog for photos and titles of everyone on the Production team.)
These are the dates on which we had brought in the last of our fruit over the past four years:
October 11, 2007
October 28, 2008
October 25, 2009
November 1, 2010
And if all goes to plan, it will be November 4 in 2011. Not bad considering we started harvest 4 weeks later this year than in 2009. And by 'not bad' I mean 'this was one logistical nightmare' with the same number of tanks as in years past and around the same amount of fruit coming in, only this year in a much more condensed period of time. Sara and Joe had to use acute foresight to plan their tank assignments and rotations, making sure to align when to bring the fruit in (dependent on nature) with how much fruit had been predicted to come in (a tough (inexact) science) with what kind of tank space would be available at that time. Who knew such a big part of wine-making could be about the logistics of coordinating ripening with fermentations with tank space.
At the Family Meal today, Sara gave us a harvest-time update:
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
2011 has truly been a winemaker’s harvest. From dealing with the late season rains and lack of ripening hours to trying to figure out how to make the best out of difficult conditions, rest has been elusive and the hours long. Watch Stephanie Putnam, our winemaker, and Eric Pooler, our vineyard manager, discuss how they’ve been able to make the best out of a challenging harvest.
Monday, October 24, 2011
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Such is life in Yountville during harvest. There is this incredible mixture of nature and urban sophistication, which only intertwines so completely in the Napa Valley. The reason I could not remember the day was simple: during harvest all days are the same. There are no regular patterns, hours or life. It's exhausting, stressful and the best thing that happens to you every year.
So what does this vintage mean to us? It means another debate with Mother Nature, much like the coyotes outside my window had last night. As winemakers we all bark at the weather, but in reality we live within it and in the end treasure what we have been given each and every year. Like a parent we don't have a favorite child, but revel in their differences and the memories of their unique strong and weak points. The critics will give this harvest a rating, but numbers have no soul and harvests, like all things in nature, do.
So what should you expect from a wine or from a vintage? I think you should expect personality. Those who rank vintages by number in the modern era miss the fundamental character of wine and truly do not understand wine itself. The question should never be what is the greatest vintage of this wine can I have with my dinner tonight, but should be what vintage will taste the best with my dinner tonight. The disaster vintages of days past are no more due to the dramatic advances in enology and viticulture over the last decades. On top of it we live in the Napa Valley where, let's face it, the weather is never really that bad. The ranges of vintages today runs more from producing earlier or later maturing wines and from bigger or more elegant styles. It's a fact of the matter in the Napa Valley an overly hot vintage has a more negative impact on wine quality than ones that are overly cool.
It often strikes me that critics want all vintages to be the same. I cannot think of anything more boring: or unnatural. Tomorrow morning at 4 a.m. we start picking our Talcott Vineyard Cabernet Franc in St. Helena. It will make a wine different from last year and from the one it will make the next. I would not have it any other way.
Craig Camp - Cornerstone Cellars
Saturday, October 15, 2011
The Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) non-profit trade association is excited to bring you "Harvest Live 2011," the Napa Valley's first week-long, live harvest webcast that will allow viewers to interact in real time with winemakers, vineyard managers and special wine industry co-hosts to hear and see all that's news with this year's crush in America’s premier wine region.
"These innovative, interactive webcasts will be breaking new ground in social media wine education," said Linda Reiff, NVV executive director. "It will be a terrific opportunity to have a conversation with these renowned vintners in real time, all week long."
"Harvest Live provides an opportunity for anyone, anywhere, to experience a Napa Valley harvest--even on their phone via the Ustream mobile application," explained Christophe Smith of Titus Vineyards. "This is a chance for wine lovers to connect with the Napa Valley beyond what they have tasted in the bottle and have a behind the scenes look into the 2011 vintage. We look forward to a great exchange between wine enthusiasts and those of us in the winemaking business during this most exciting and important time of year."
Produced by Christophe Smith along with David Gowdy of Dirt on the Vine, Randy Hall of VOM Productions and the NVV, Harvest Live offers participants a behind the scenes view into the Napa Valley harvest that even many locals don't get a chance to see. During the morning broadcasts viewers will be taken outside into the vineyard to learn about picking decisions and what's current in the field, then during the afternoon journey into the cellars to follow those grapes through the winemaking process. Capitalizing on the real-time webcast, viewers will have the ability to ask questions of winemakers and hosts via the Ustream webcast and receive answers instantly. For Twitter and Facebook users, questions will be monitored and answered via the #HL11 hashtag.
The interactive, one-hour webcasts will occur daily October 17th through 22nd at 9am PDT and 2:30pm PDT, and will be hosted at a different winery each day, showcasing varied winemaking techniques as well as multiple American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) throughout the Napa Valley AVA.
The winery participants by day are as follows:
Monday, October 17: Robert Mondavi Winery with Keith Horn, director of vineyards and Genevieve Janssens, director of winemaking
Tuesday, October 18: Staglin Family Vineyards with Garen Staglin, owner, along with Fredrik Johansson, winemaker and Chris Platt, assistant winemaker
Wednesday, October 19: William Hill Estate Winery with Raif Holdenried, winemaker
Thursday, October 20: Round Pond Estate with Chris Pedemonte, vineyard manager and Brian Brown, winemaker
Friday, October 21: Titus Vineyards with brothers Eric and Phillip Titus
Saturday, October 22: Chappellet Vineyard & Winery with Phillip Titus, winemaker
To access the interactive webcast, visit the NVV's Harvest 2011 website at www.napavintners.com/harvest . A detailed schedule including on-camera talent and topics can be viewed online in advance of broadcast, and sessions will be archived here as well so viewers can watch and hear all the sessions.
To read and watch all the Napa Valley Harvest 2011 videos, blog posts and photo galleries, and to take the fun and interesting quiz, find out about tasting events in celebration of October's Harvest Napa Valley month, please visit www.napavintners.com/harvest
Thursday, October 13, 2011
|Peju Sycamores with Sunshine|
|Clouds for a Daydream|
|We are indeed.|
by Britt Starr for Peju Province Winery
see this post in context: www.pejuwinery.blogspot.com
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
As I sit at my desk patiently waiting for a high pressure system to brush aside the upper level trough that has brought us this less than welcome wet weather, our Estate and Reserve Sauvignon Blancs are quietly and coolly fermenting in tank, drum and barrel. The white wines of 2011 are looking marvelous as they progress through primary fermentation. Being an optimist to the core I am hoping that the quality of the Sauvignon Blancs are tea leaves for the rest of fruit that has yet to come in.
The phrase “when will we start bringing in the Reds,” has recently been replaced with “will we ever bring in the Reds?” To that, my coy response has been, “We’ve already harvested some red fruit.” And indeed we have, albeit not for red wine production. We have picked part of the Sangiovese and Nebbiolo crops to produce Rose. While the Sangiovese was predetermined to be a Rosato, the Nebb’s fate was a bit more ad hoc.
Because the weather has been so inclement, rot has started to form in tight cluster varieties such as Nebbiolo. Faced with the prospect of losing the fruit to mold and being forced to cull it onto the ground, where it would then release more spores into surrounding vineyards, I thought it best to bring the fruit into the winery and press it in the same fashion I did the Sangio. This has the dual benefit of preventing cross contamination in the vineyard and allows us to experiment with the Rosato di Nebbiolo. I am excited about the prospects of producing another refreshing wine to serve on the terrace, and as they say, when life gives you lemons you should make Rose…
Back to the Reds, yes, we will bring them all in. At this point we are watching the forecast fastidiously and walking our vineyard blocks compulsively. From a management stand point we have applied all the protective sprays applicable at this phase in the season; we have leafed out the fruiting zone to promote airflow; we have even gone to the point of using leaf blowers like large hairdryers to dry out more susceptible varieties like Petit Sirah.
I mentioned in earlier updates that the Winegrowing team learned much from the previous two cool vintages. One of those lessons was “don’t put your eggs in one basket.” As such, we have diversified the blocks from where we pull fruit. Should one block ripen quicker than another, we can capitalize on this phenomenon. This is indeed what we are seeing and as we enter into the final phase of the growing season we will segregate each pick according to its potential to produce Reserve, Estate, and Napa Valley styled wines.
I suspect that we will be bringing in fruit towards the end of the week and certainly the week after. I will update you again in the near future with developments as they occur.
Si Se Puede,