Friday, September 28, 2012

To A Great Harvest...

With harvest well underway at Raymond Vineyards, Winemaker Stephanie Putnam and Winegrower Eric Pooler provide a brief update on what they believe will be a stunning vintage.

Monday, September 17, 2012

One, Just One, Green Grape

It was just one green grape. It was one green grape too many. It's always something.

It has been a picture perfect vintage here in the Napa Valley and at Cornerstone Cellars. A lovely spring, with warm, dry weather for flowering and fruit-set. A “three bears” sort of summer: not too cold, not too hot, just right. So why was it there? As you passed through the vineyards you could not miss it standing out like a sore green thumb in the middle of a bunch of gloriously deep purple cabernet sauvignon, there would be one, just one, green berry.

No big deal, right? How could just one unripe grape on some bunches make any difference when all the others were perfectly ripe? One green grape is a very big deal if you want to make wines that are special.

Also there was another issue. Everything else this vintage has been perfect. The gorgeous weather has produced fruit capable of making wines from this vintage something very special indeed. When Mother Nature gives you such a gift you must take advantage of it. There is a sense of duty, responsibility, to take this gift and do everything in your power to make not only great wines, but memorable ones.

What could we do? For us there was no choice. Out into the vineyards went our crews with one mission: to remove one-by-one those individual green grapes. Armed with scissors they went down the rows with the precision of a Bonsai gardener. Was this expensive? Certainly, but this is the price you pay to go beyond good, or very good, on to greatness in a wine. For us there was no choice.

We’re getting pickier and pickier every year as finicky is a virtue when it comes to winemaking. Not satisfied with just dropping any less than perfect fruit in the vineyard, we are going beyond just sorting out any bunches that don’t meet out standards and this vintage will be sorting individual berries on a special sorting table specially designed for nit-pickers like us. Note this is not a job we farm out, Jeff and I do all the sorting ourselves.

Like our neighbors here in the Napa Valley, here at Cornerstone Cellars we'll spare nothing, not only in this glorious vintage, but in each-and-every vintage to make wines that we love to drink and, most of all, that we are proud to share with you.

Craig Camp

A perfect bunch of Cabernet Sauvignon is framed by the breaking of dawn.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Sniffing Barrels

Sean McBride, winemaker for Crosby Roamann is doing exactly what it looks like...sniffing the barrels making sure everything smells beautiful and healthy--and it does, wonderful perfume and floral aromas.  The Sauvignon Blanc is half way through fermentation! 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Supervisors proclaim Latino Heritage Month in Napa County

The Napa County Board of Supervisors today proclaimed Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, 2012, to be Latino Heritage Month in Napa County, in recognition of the County’s diverse Latino population and in an effort to promote diversity and inclusion throughout the community.
         “Napa Valley has a wonderful, longstanding tradition of multicultural inclusion,” said District 1 Supervisor Brad Wagenknecht. “Latino Heritage Month presents all of us with a wonderful opportunity to enjoy and learn more about our diverse Latino cultures."
         The Napa Valley Latino Heritage Committee, which includes Latino and non-Latino volunteer community members who share a goal of promoting multiculturalism, diversity and inclusion, has compiled a calendar of events throughout the four-week observation, including  musical and dance performances at the Uptown Theatre and the Napa Valley Opera House, a book program at the Napa County libraries, and events sponsored by the Napa County Hispanic Network, the Napa County Hispanic Chamber, Latinos Unidos, the St. Helena Multi-Cultural Committee, Somos Napa, St. Helena Library, St. Helena Family Center and more.
         For a complete, bilingual list event calendar, please visit . Printed, bilingual calendars of events also will be available in libraries and at family resource centers.
            Napa County is home to a growing multi-ethnic and multicultural Latino population.
According to the 2010 census, Napa County’s Latino population has grown by 50 percent over
the past ten years and now represents more than 32 percent of Napa County residents (about
44,000 people), including people originating from México and countries in the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
            In 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson first recognized Hispanic Heritage week. President Reagan expanded the observation to one month, and each successive United States President has continued that tradition. In 2011, President Barack Obama declared Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 to be National Hispanic Heritage Month and called upon the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate respect, ceremonies and activities. Today’s Board action marks the first proclaimed Latino Heritage Month in Napa County.
         Debbie Alter-Starr, director of Somos Napa – We Are Napa and a member of the Latino Heritage Committee, said, “By helping found this first annual Napa County Latino Heritage Month, I hope to help children and their families in the Napa Valley experience the riches that cross-cultural friendships and multi-lingual lifestyles can bring.
         “The diverse Latino population of the Napa Valley makes an invaluable economic contribution to our community, as well as having profound positive, social influences through their strong commitment to family, faith, education, hard work, culture and service,” said Frances Ortiz-Chávez, Napa Valley Unified School District Board Trustee and center director Puertas Abiertas Community Resource Center.
         Jaime Peñaherrera, director of Diversity & Community Partnerships at Queen of the Valley Medical Center, commented, “Today, the Napa Valley is a truly transcultural community that enjoys contributions from families and individuals from almost every corner of the globe. While the festivities of Latino Heritage Month feature the cultures of México, Caribbean and Central and South America, they are open, appropriate and enjoyable for everyone.”
         For more information about Latino Heritage Month, contact Debbie Alter-Starr at (707) 480-7436 or