Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Napa Vintners Announce Partnership with UC Davis

We are proud to announce that the NVV is partnering with the University of California at Davis to host a unique, professional development course for winemakers and enologists to be held in the Napa Valley focusing on topics relevant to commercial winemaking.

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 for more information or to sign up for the class.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

No More Monkeying Around in the Cellar for Me at Peju Province Winery

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." ( 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

VIADER has been busy!

Forgive me bloggers, it has been over six months since my last confession...

I'll give you an update through photos.

Back in April, our winemaker Alan Viader was teaching his young son about pruning in the small section of Syrah & Shiraz that we have growing on our estate.

We also applied our annual allotment of fresh compost at the beginning of the year, using the mulch from our leftover grape skins & seeds from the 2010 harvest. Delia a.k.a. Mom, does not appreciate having the compost site right next to her home at the top of the vineyard, but Alan swears we don't have any other place to put it! NIMBY!

Springtime flew by, and we enjoyed warm evenings and beautiful sunsets, without the threat of frost up on the mountain. A typical saying is that if you make it to Mother's Day without a big frost, you're in the clear. Although we have great sun exposure and constant breezes, I try not to mention the "F-word" (frost) for fear of calling it over! Just like "R-word" (rain) around harvest time... Call me superstitious.

In the summer, we were all things "Auction Napa Valley," preparing our "Black Label" Barrel Lot and participating in multiple events. Alan took a little creative license to decorate our barrel for Friday's Marketplace event, which was a special blend full of "black" fruits. We had all hands on deck for the Marketplace event, with Alan and Cante, our hospitality director pouring at the barrel. Delia was out front pouring our current release of the VIADER "Black Label" and our signature VIADER Proprietary Cabernet Blend, and I was out promoting the E-Auction with my iPad and fellow "E-Squad" volunteers.

Despite the weather, we had a wonderful Auction Napa Valley and raised $7.3m for our community. Mom had a fun interview with her buddy Jean-Charles Boisset and Gavin Newsom under the tents at Meadowood on CRN Radio's "What's Cookin' with Mike Horn." I'm not sure how much of the conversation was actually centered around the wine auction, but I know it was interesting nonetheless!

Fast forward to Harvest 2011. Here are the highlights:

Happy Holidays everyone!


Janet Viader, Sales & Marketing at VIADER