• Hip Hip Rosé!

    June 22, 2021 11:20

    Hip Hip Rosé!
    I picked up a t-shirt a few years ago and, because it had Hip Hip Rosé screened on it, was a natural choice. Since we have been making Rosé for 67 years I'll wear it as we celebrate National Rosé Day on the 12th and again on International Rosé Day on June 25th. Twice in one month-and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to share our 7 decade history of this wine. 

    1950s Rose label 2It goes back to the early 1950s actually when my uncle John was starting out as winemaker. We had made Zinfandel for many years as a red wine and blend. Working with his father he did what comes naturally. He decided making it out of Zinfandel was a natural extension of our estate fruit. At first it was known as Vin Rosé but soon became known as Zinfandel Rosé honoring the grape. My dad Jim remembers the first vintage of Zin Rosé because he worked the 1954 harvest before leaving to join the Army. They released it in 1955 and the rest is Rosé-story.

    I remember running across some paperwork about production of our varieties in the early 1970s and saw that we made 10,000 cases! You do have to remember we were one of a handful of wineries during this time-the winery renaissance of the 1980s was just around the corner. The style of our Rosé was also sweeter-which matched well with what people wanted out of this type in those days.

    At one point our rosé style diverged and we made both a Zinfandel Rosé and a White Zinfandel. Popularity of the lighter and sweeter styled rosé spanned the vintages of 1984 through 2000. All along we had a small but mighty base of fans for the OG Rosé. Taste changed and by 2005 the popularity of Rosé in general would soar and we were back in business. We haven’t looked back.

    If you talk to winemaker Montse she’ll tell you it is the most challenging wine to make out of all of our wines-and we make 21 in total. The style has changed from John’s time however. In those early vintages it was made in the saignee method-where the winemaker draws off the juice from fully ripened Zinfandel and separates it into its’ own tank. The color was a deep salmon red, full bodied, full flavored and a bit higher alcohol than the current release. 

    Montse now seeks to pick early, also known as an intentional rosé. 2019 Rose Fermenting 3This means harvesting about two weeks ahead of when we would pick for red Zinfandel. By doing this the wine has lower alcohol, is lighter in color and brings crisp acidity for balance with the fruit. Once the grapes are brought in, the skins are separated to achieve a paler shade of rosé. The beauty of this photo  shows the fermenting pink stuff perfectly. Montse records each vintage this way.

    It is a family favorite when we gather and is almost always the answer when I am wondering what to pair with dinner. Speaking of pairings, this wine is made for your glass, a meal or just an afternoon on the deck. My dad came up with the Zin Cooler years ago-adding a touch of orange-flavored mineral water. Later on we developed a few cocktail recipes including the Negroncelli

    Tweet food crab cakesRosé and food-the match made in heaven. There is a whole world of possibilities. Just off the top I can think of oysters, burgers, prosciutto wrapped melon, roasted chicken, Thanksgiving dinner (goes with everything except the pumpkin pie), Orzo Pasta Salad, Watermelon Salad or click here for these and more recipes


  • Follow the Vineyard: Vintage 2020

    September 2, 2020 16:18

    Follow the Vineyard: Vintage 2020

    Our Sauvignon Blanc harvest kicked things off for us on August 24-seen above are the grapes as they arrived at the crushpad. Vintage 2020 begins!

    This post is a bit of a mix between talking to Mitch about following the vineyards on their road to harvest along with an update on our first week of harvest all the while with the Walbridge fire as background. The vineyards are ripe and ready to pick, the harvest waits for no one.

    August brought some challenges for sure. The dog days of summer heat ripened vineyards a bit faster than previously estimated. The early varieties like our Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley were ready to pick, moved along after a relatively cool and uneventful July. The first day of harvest brought fruit in on time for a normal beginning of the vintage. To give you a reference point, the average first day of harvest over the last 10 years fell between the third and fourth week of August. I managed to catch up with Mitch, as I mentioned, to check in on August 21st, right before the big day. He was taking bunch samples of the Bushnell Vineyard Zinfandel for our Rosé. It was a beautiful warm day in Dry Creek Valley while I talked to Mitch, he in the vineyard and me from a smokey parking lot in Soledad California-where I stopped to take notes along my way home from taking care of my grandson Galen. 

    Mitch shared the following: "The vineyards are holding up just fine through the heat. The vines didn't shut down because the vineyard crew made sure the vineyards were given a drink of water now and then through controlled drip irrigation. There was some evidence of shriveling in the Zinfandel bunches but overall not too much was lost. We'll move from picking Sauvignon Blanc early in the week to the Rosé and Pinot Noir. We'll finish the week by beginning to pick our Zinfandel and Merlot blocks. All the work we have been doing through the summer like dropping fruit where needed, getting water to where it was needed, readying equipment and doing the final bottling in order to make room in the cellar for the new vintage all came together right on time."

    He continued, addressing the smoke from the Walbridge fire. Editor's note: This fire began on August 17 due west of the winery and vineyards by several miles. As of September 1st it was under 74% containment and no longer was a threat to Dry Creek Valley. Mitch talked about the change in the weather with the arrival of the cooling marine layer which helped the fire fighters to contain the fire as well as bringing development to the grapes-acids and sugars balance out much better with warm days and cool nights. The smoke itself was to the west actually blowing south into the Bay Area and remained west and high above the valley floor. We'll see how things go as the vineyards are tested and we take things on a case by case basis. One other challenge to this year's harvest is COVID-and we have instituted and followed the guidelines set forth by the state and county when it comes to the safety of our vineyard crew. While it will slow things down we'll still get the grapes to the crushpad."

    There you have it, Vintage 2020 has begun. The excitement of our 93rd vintage has been tempered somewhat but we are hopeful as we look forward to the last load of grapes to come in and call it a year-what a year it has been.