• Harvest 2018, So Far

    September 24, 2018 15:57

    Harvest 2018, So Far

    I saw an article this week that talked about Vintage 2018 being a late harvest this year predicting some wineries will be picking until November (!). The article said this was due to the cool weather we had in the last two weeks of August just as harvest was beginning and continued over the first three weeks of September. But for us in the upper part of Dry Creek Valley where we have been picking since August 30 it is warmer than say the Russian River Valley or the Sonoma Coast.

    A blanket statement or headline like this makes many people think we are all the same, that the vast Sonoma County vineyard acreage is in lockstep with one quote and one type of climate. So it follows that an article can't put all appellations into one basket. We have warmer days than some of our cooler cousins to the south and west of us. In fact it is the distinction of Dry Creek Valley itself, when it comes to climate, where we have those warm-to-hot days and cool, marine-fog infused evenings that make this area so special. We are reaping the benefits when it comes to quality in the grapes because those cool nights bring development of sugars, tannin and acidity. The last word, acidity, is what signals Montse Reece, our winemaker, to set things in motion to pick a particular block or vineyard. She relies on this above all others to bring in The grapes are ripe but not overripe which will give the varietal character without going full tilt into fruit bomb territory. The tannins are rounded and smooth leading to a solid structure.

    With all that said we are winding down harvest here and will finish at the end of the first week of October. We have had a warm final week of September (96 degrees on Wednesday) and it pushed many of our varietals to the perfect range. Cheers to our 91st harvest and looking forward to tasting the first wines of the vintage early next year!

  • Weathering storms & media reports

    January 20, 2016 18:06

    Climate and other aspects of weather remain the focus of my posts with El Niño in my sights today. When you are a weather watcher like me, with vineyards hanging in the balance during our four years of drought and as we hope and pray for more rain, the conflicting reports about whether El Niño weather is going to stay strong or fizzle out are frustrating. Just last week a headline declared the end of El Niño and this week the media is back at it, trumpeting the amount of rain dumped on Northern California, indicating the pattern is here to stay through March. Hmmm. Once I did a bit of digging around for more information it all made sense, thanks to two websites I visited: and (Golden Gate Weather Services). While there is definitely an El Niño pattern it may not be the strongest. And for heaven’s sake don’t call it a storm because the definition of El Niño is our overall climate is affected by the warming of the waters near the equator outside of Peru which in turn influences the storm patterns over our region. I also read where we have received the most rain in this month, which has 10 more days left to record the amount, than we have in the last 6 Januarys (!).

    The world of meteorology has changed quite a bit since the largest (97/98) and second largest (82/83) El Niños were recorded. Back then the media reported on the storms but nothing like the technology we have currently. Recalling predictions over the last couple of years they contain almost to-the-minute, accurate target areas, and length of storm information and are correct 99 out of 100 times. One thing is for certain though, this winter will not make up for the years of drought but it is more than a drop in the state’s bucket. I'll splash a drop of Zin in my Dino to El Niño!

    One of the things we do at our vineyard is spread straw to help with the erosion that comes with the storms.

    Spreading Straw

  • Micro Climates

    January 15, 2016 18:10

    Following the Wednesday post about climate, which here in Dry Creek Valley gives us great weather to grow everything from Chardonnay to Zinfandel, today’s topic is micro-climates found within each area of our vineyard.

    Climate brings to the weather plate the following: fog, sunshine and a number of degree days for the growing season (Dry Creek Valley being ranked a Region II which makes a warm but not hot growing area), and rain. Climate affects all areas of agriculture or even your own backyard.

    A micro climate encompasses a certain vineyard or even vineyard block. We have three specific ranches with a variety of varietals planted. While the climate influences what we plant, the micro climate of a hillside dictates to us (with 88 years of grape growing experience) that Zinfandel, for example, is a good fit because the conditions are just right. The combination of the sun, fog and soil makes the best Zinfandel in our opinion with support of the micro-climate.

    We have planted other wine grapes on different areas of our vineyards and have learned the conditions weren’t quite right. We planted Chardonnay in the northern warmer end of Dry Creek Valley and learned Cabernet Sauvignon was the better choice and now thrives there. We depend on our growers in the southern cooler end of the valley to grow our Chardonnay now. Micro-climates are varietals’ best friend bringing out the great qualities in our grapes. Cheers with a splash of Chardonnay in my Dino.

    The fog during the growing season is a key factor of climate and micro climate in our Sangiovese vineyard.

    Sangiovese in Vineyard

  • Climate Counts

    January 12, 2016 18:15

    This month’s posts are about weather and its place in the making of great wine. I sometimes talk about climates and micro-climates but what does this mean?

    Grapevines like to grow and they will grow pretty much anywhere except maybe the Sahara Desert. Who knows, maybe someone will come up with a plan in the future-Desert Red or White anyone? Climate is like Goldilocks and the Three Bears: this appellation is too hot for Zinfandel, this appellation is too cold but Dry Creek Valley is just right. When talking about climate we toss around terms like marine influence and degree days, sun and temperature. It all comes down to taking the temperature of a particular region that will give you the degree days (a method developed at UC Davis) and this information will give the grower an idea about how the climate of a particular place will be good for Zinfandel (warm) or Pinot Noir (cool).

    Let’s start with California where there are 136 official American Viticulture Areas also known as appellations. Wow this is quite a choice for planting wine grapes. To break it down to bite size: there are 18 appellations from Sonoma County and Dry Creek Valley, one of the 18, was subdivided more than a decade ago with the birth of the sub-appellation Rockpile. Each of these areas are important because there is something distinctive and unique in their climate as well as geography. Dry Creek Valley is classified as a Region II, which makes it a perfect spot for Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc but it is also great for Rhone and Italian varietals, Chardonnay and even Pinot Noir in the right micro-climate pocket. More on micro-climates in Friday's post. A toast with a splash of vino in my Dino to our fine climate!

    Sonoma County and the approved AVAs. Provided by Sonoma County Vintners.

    Sonoma County AVAs

  • Pinot Noir Rules!

    October 14, 2014 15:09

    23 years later science has taken more leaps and bounds, articles continue to discuss the health benefits of consuming wine. The other day my sister Lisa, who works here at Pedroncelli World Headquarters, told me she had read that Pinot Noir has the highest anti-oxidant levels than any other red wine. Hmmm—first of all, this is something that had escaped me and second of all, it is a very interesting premise. Why would one wine contain a higher level of resveratrol? It has to do with appellation according to the article. Terroir, French for the aspect of wine influenced by the vineyard’s own micro-climate (the combination of soils, climate and place), is the answer. It seems it is the ‘where’ of the Pinot Noir that is most important. Check out these links for a couple of views on both the immune system and the theory behind why Pinot Noir is ahead of the curve on resveratrol. I’ll enjoy some red wine in my Dino tonight.

    Click here for the Pinot Noir mention.

    Click here for immune system article.