Wisdom Cabernet Sauvignon
August 7, 2020 14:55
Earlier this year I chose Cabernet Sauvignon as the varietal of the year and have posted a few thoughts on them (here). Yes it is the king of red wine grapes worldwide, it is made in almost every region and its’ distinctive traits come from the personality of the site: climate, soil, how it is planted, clonal selection. What makes this of all the red wines the ‘one to plant’?
In 1965 John and Jim Pedroncelli bought 5 acres of land just off of the corner of West Dry Creek Road and Yoakim Bridge Road. It was planted to prunes at the time-no old vine story here. Jim and John had purchased the winery from their parents in 1963 so I consider this their first venture following the ownership change. The varietal they chose? Cabernet Sauvignon. Up until now we had the acreage planted on the Home Ranch (Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Pinot Noir!, Chenin Blanc) and this was a momentous decision-it meant we were adding a wine that would one day become equal to production of our Zinfandel, and the now the most widely planted red wine grape in California.
Why did they plant this particular variety? There weren’t many vineyards along the valley floor at the time or anywhere for that matter-the area was just on the brink of a wine Renaissance in the 1970s. Like this land most of the valley floor had been turned over to prune and other orchards when Prohibition set in and the thriving vineyards were pulled up and other crops were set in their place. It was time to reclaim the soil for wine grapes!
Why Cabernet Sauvignon? Let’s look at how wine reentered the scene first of all. Following Prohibition, the Great Depression and World War II, which were all challenges to what was once a burgeoning wine industry in the area, we needed people to re-engage with wine. One of the outcomes of this war, which sent troops abroad, was the experience tasting European wines. They came back with a thirst for wines similar to what they had tasted there and Cabernet was among those.
In the first years of production, while waiting on the estate vineyard to mature and produce, John and Jim bought from Alexander Valley grape growers Robert Young and Harry Wetzel, both of whom had started growing Cabernet a few years earlier. Sometimes there was even a bit of Zinfandel blended in by John to stretch the production in those early vintages. Our first release of Cabernet Sauvignon was in 1966.
Today the entire production comes from estate vineyards which encompasses 32 acres-our Three Vineyards, Block 007 and Wisdom. The great growing conditions of northern Dry Creek Valley, with the right climate and gravelly soils, gave us the ability to grow and make great Cabernet. We replanted that first vineyard on West Dry Creek Road around 2005-it was 40 years old. Trying to maintain an old Cabernet vineyard was becoming far too difficult. I previously mentioned clonal selection and when the new vineyard was planted, now named Wisdom, John chose the Mendoza clone or Clone 4 to plant there. Four vintages of Wisdom prove he was right in selecting it-and this wine is the expression of the wisdom gained by planting one variety of grape in one place and showcases the distinctive fruit of this clone. The torch is now carried forward by winemaker Montse Reece who honors the memory of John with each vintage produced.
Time to time I have been fortunate to taste the wines from those early years. I also have received notes from friends who have pulled a bottle from their library and truly enjoyed the wine, sending glowing reports and photos-each one a time capsule of its own. They continue to tell the story of my family farming the king of red wine grapes for 55 years.
March 21, 2020 09:25
A Note from Home
So how are you doing? I hope this finds you coping with the new restrictions in our lives-! I know many, many things have been cancelled or rescheduled for another time. Are you catching up on personal correspondence? Tackling those household projects you’ve put off like painting the bathrooms or adding a she shed? Homeschooling your kids? I personally will be reading more, walking more with #JasperWineDog-who by the way loves us working from home-he thinks we are on vacation and totally ignores the virus thing. I’ll do more home cooking while also supporting our local restaurants for take-out and of course enjoy a glass of wine or two while kicking back in the evenings.
How are you? This simple phrase seems so much more important now as we are physically distanced from each other and our daily lives. I typically write this note from my office, my former bedroom in my childhood home, which overlooks our Mother Clone zinfandel vineyard. Today I am writing from my own home in Healdsburg with a view of spring burgeoning in the new leaves on the oak trees and birds singing just outside.
For me yesterday was a wonderful day because two things happened: I have a new grandson and my niece Sarah (Lisa & Lance’s daughter) was married-in Brazil of all places-they watched the ceremony at 6am that morning from their home. Galen Kurt Edwin Rule was born a few hours later. 3/20/20 will be remembered with joy amidst such a time and I look forward to hugging him once this is over-I am thankful for our ease of communication so I can see all the fingers and toes and make sure mom Adrienne is okay and dad Jason is holding the baby correctly.
While we hunker down with loved ones I know there are many challenges ahead. Those parents with kids home for the long term-I received an email yesterday from a mom who had our wine at their wedding and now, 9 years later, has kids home and needed a case of wine to smooth the rough edges! (pretty sure my own parents would have gone crazy with the four of us girls bouncing off the walls). Work and the interruption of regular life is a challenge and a change. If you are at home alone reach out to neighbors who might also feel alone-keeping your distance of course! You know Wilson had it right by visiting over the back fence. If we keep socially connected in our age of technology we’ll know we are not alone.
How are we doing at the winery? The Governor of California has put the whole state from tip to top in a Stay at Home order. Our trade group Wine Institute just confirmed that, while our tasting room remains closed, the new order allows winery and vineyard operations to continue under the Food and Agriculture Sector critical infrastructure plan. We can keep things going in the vineyard and cellar! Probably more important to you is that we are still processing and shipping orders. While we can’t offer tastings, we are working on how to do “take-out” at the winery. Stay tuned for developments. Meanwhile we wouldn’t want our friends and neighbors to run out of wine. If you’d like us to ship you some wine click here.
Until the next time, keep healthy, stay inside and reach out even if just an email or call! firstname.lastname@example.org or 707-857-3531.
Stay well and don’t forget the vino. Julie
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