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Vino In My Dino

A Note From Home: Thoughts on our 91st Harvest

September 14, 2018 15:33

A Note From Home: Thoughts on our 91st Harvest

I returned to my desk from an early September East Coast jaunt to find the sun was already making its’ way to fall. I could feel the change of seasons as the sun warmed my back with the unmistakable and different intensity of heat. Even the way the afternoon sun’s rays were subtly different in their slant was a harbinger of change-and an earlier sunset also signals this time of year.

One thing that hasn’t changed is harvest. This time of year finds the cellar and vineyard crew knee deep in fermenting fruit. The grapes are right on time this year, our 91st grape harvest, with the growing season beginning in mid-March with bud break through bloom and crop set through veraison and ripening over the mostly even heat this summer. The cool down the last two weeks of August was great as it gave the grapes even weather and more time to develop. We picked Sauvignon Blanc off estate vineyards on August 30. Soon we were bringing in Zinfandel for both the Rosé and Red wine lots followed by Pinot Noir, Merlot and Chardonnay. Over the month or so left at this writing we’ll see more of the Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petite Sirah and our Portuguese varietals for our Four Grapes Port. All in all things have gone smoothly so far and vintage 2018 is set to bring in great quality and development in the grapes.

At the helm of the winemaking team is Montse Reece who has been here since the 2007 vintage when she was hired as assistant winemaker to my uncle John. Remember, we have only had three winemakers for the entire 91 years beginning with my grandfather Giovanni from 1934-1948 when he went back out into the vineyards to work the land and tend the vines. My uncle John made wine here for nearly 65 vintages and developed our ‘house style’ of wine which are varietally correct, great acid and balance as well as food friendly. When he passed away in 2015 Montse, who had worked with him for 7 vintages, became our third winemaker and one of very few California women winemakers. The other side of the business of harvest and where all wine is born is in the vineyard. Lance Blakeley, our Vineyard Manager, learned from John how best to plant and harvest our grapes. He’s also the guy who is in touch with our growers. About half of our production comes from our neighbors and every grape picked is within 14 miles of the winery-regionally focused I like to say.

This note from home comes with a nod to what my grandparents began and achieved followed by the great regard and appreciation of what the second generation did by splitting the ‘chores’ of wine and grape growing (John) and sales & marketing (Jim). My generation, the third, works to secure the family business for the fourth and fifth generations and on into the future.

A toast to Vintage 2018 and all the hard work of past and current family and staff-we are in it together and always look to the future.


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