December 21, 2018 10:03
Lists, they are a ‘thing’ at years’ end and the New Year. Some people check it twice, some make resolutions. I’ve put together a few of my favorite blog posts, views and news from 2018.
10- Harvest 2018 was a good, juicy and large one! As the red wines from this vintage are tucked away in the barrel room and the white wines begin their march to the bottling line we have high hopes for such a great vintage coming to you soon.
9-90 Points and more! As I was reviewing our reviews, ha ha, I found that three times in the last year three of our wines were featured in the three different issues of the Wine Spectator-unprecedented! And more points were awarded to our Zinfandels than ever before. We were thrilled and gratified with these and for our other wines doing so well. A huge note of thanks to our hardworking cellar and vineyard crews!
8-Milestones: reaching for 100 by taking each day at a time. We head into 2019 with our 92nd anniversary ahead. Four generations have farmed, made wine, and thrived on this little corner of Dry Creek Valley and each day is a step toward reaching our 100th anniversary-one day, one season, one year at a time.
7-"Sell more wine." When Ed first came to work he tacked up a paper on the corkboard above his desk-13 years later it still resonates each time I visit his office.
6-Montse Reece crushes her 12th vintage at Pedroncelli. She began as assistant winemaker in 2007 working with John Pedroncelli. She became winemaker, only the third in our 90 year history, and continues to strive for our house style while imprinting her own sensibility on each of our wines.
5 is the number of Taste Ups we did with our wine and travel bloggers across the U.S. Some great mentions and articles were written about our wines and way of life.
4-Word from the road-postcards to my grandsons. Ed recently visited Joe and family and his wife Ashley brought out the basket with all the postcards I had sent Jordan and Weston over the last couple of years. It is my way of staying in touch when I am out of the area. They are always on my mind!
3-Scents & Memories: wine intertwined with me from childhood. I admit this blog post was a fun one because each morning, Monday through Friday, I get out of my car and inhale the most wonderful scents each season brings.
2-Gratitude Vine: Our guests have had a wonderful time adding to the old vine trunk displayed in our tasting room. We'll take down the 2018 tags and our visitors will add to the 2019 version.
1-Zin is the word. I am declaring 2019 the year of the Zin. Our style reflects the best of this grape in a trio of vineyards: Mother Clone, Bushnell and Courage/Faloni Vineyard. We have broken our own records with the quality and excitement around this true California grape. See #9 for more proof!
From my family to yours we wish you all the best in 2019-I know I'm excited to see what's around the corner!
December 21, 2018 09:51
50 years is a long time to store wine-and we have a few bottles tucked away in our cellar from our earliest vintage dated wines which began in 1965. Even 15 years is considered a long time since most people who buy wine consume it within a few weeks of purchase. We have the convenience, longevity and a warehouse where we can take a save a few cases from each vintage and store them away for education and enjoyment years later.
Wine blogger Gabe Sasso visited the Dry Creek Valley in December. His focus this trip was on Petite Sirah. He wanted to know more about Pedroncelli’s long relationship with this singular grape. We pulled together some information and Ed put together a vertical of the wines ranging from the first year made (1997) to a barrel sample of the 2017. Not every year but a nice range with an average of 15 years old. We used Petite Sirah previous to 1997 as a blending grape with Zinfandel and other wines.
During our pre-meeting chat I mentioned if we really wanted to throw in a ringer we should include one of our pre-1975 Pinot Noirs. Wine Geek Fact: the ruling came down from the government that the varietal shown on the label should be 75% of what is in the bottle. Before this the varietal on the label could be made up of other grapes and in larger percentages. In the instance of the 1969 Pinot Noir we poured it was about 50-50 Pinot Noir and Petite Sirah.
We had been growing Pinot Noir on the home ranch but it wasn’t the right spot. Just as we were pulling up Pinot Noir and replanting with Zinfandel a fellow named Frank Johnson was pulling out orchards and planting Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in the very south area of what is now defined as Dry Creek Valley (DCV was named an American Viticultural Area in 1983) but from his vineyard you are a rock’s throw to the Russian River Valley. We began buying fruit from him in the early 1980s. Today we still bring in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from this vineyard.
Petite Sirah has been woven into our story since the early days. Most vineyards were field blends and along with the varietals of the day like Zinfandel they also included Carignane, Alicante Bouschet and even Golden Chasselas and Riesling. All of these were picked and fermented together. It wasn’t until later on, well after Prohibition, that the varietal itself was on the label. This hearty grape is known for giving what I call backbone to the wine-and depth of color too.
A few years ago wine writer Dan Berger advocated that this grape would make wines which age longer than Cabernet Sauvignon! I agree it is one for the cellar. So we found ourselves tasting 50 to 15 year old Petite Sirah with life still in them-fruit, acid, structure and the tannins just beginning to soften in the youngsters. A wonderful opportunity to revisit these old and not-so-old vintages. Cheers with a splash of Petite Sirah in my Dino!
January 21, 2015 17:40
First I’ll define the word ullage. We use it in the wine industry to describe the loss of wine due to evaporation while the wine ages in barrel or bottle. For example, when someone writes to me about their 1974 Cabernet and they want to know how it’s doing, one of the first questions I ask is to describe the fill line on the bottle. We call that ullage-the level at which the wine is located in the neck of the bottle indicates loss of wine over time and determines whether the wine is spoiled or not. It is the same in a barrel except instead of an ounce of wine lost it is more like 1-2 gallons every 3 months-when the cellar crew tops each barrel and continues the aging process. However even at this cost (in wine) the act of barrel aging does concentrate by the slow vaporizing of water and alcohol. Why do you think a barrel room smells so good? It’s all about wine vapor. And in either case, if too much air gets in, spoilage will occur at an even greater cost-that of the entire contents turning into vinegar. Another form of loss is in the lees. You’ve heard of the term ‘dregs’ and this is what you get at the bottom of the barrel-dead yeast cells, a byproduct of aging. These dregs are not used and are, after the wine is removed, washed away-as in the photo below. Oak (and cork) is permeable and ultimately, even though a little air is a good thing, the benefits outweigh the loss of product. Hmmm, I’m ready for a glass of red-preferably a nicely aged one!
Cleaning barrels-the purple sludge is AKA dead yeast cells.
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