wine

  • Note from Home: A View from 35 Years

    June 29, 2020 11:27

    Note from Home: A View from 35 Years

    Where were you in 1985? This year marks my 35th  at Pedroncelli Winery so June is a special month for me as it is the anniversary of the start of my career in the family business. 35 years ago…more than half my life and the other half was spent growing up here. I did move away to attend college in Marin County (go Penguins) but always came home to visit with family and it is how my path back home began.

    Post college, as I drove back and forth from the East Bay to Geyserville, I was missing Sonoma County quite a bit (by the way the place I lived in was right next to the Del Norte BART station and the track ran above the fence). After the invitation from my father Jim (actually a meeting in the case goods warehouse), I agreed to make the move back home and work for the family. Once home, I supplemented my liberal arts education with classes at the Santa Rosa Junior College where I learned from the greats-Richard Thomas (vineyard) and Bill Traverso (wine marketing) among others.

    As I eased into the business of wine I began in the Tasting Room working with cousin Richard. I eventually made my way into the office and began doing administrative work. Writing fact sheets and then the newsletter was a natural extension of my education as an English major. 2020 also marks the 30th anniversary of writing newsletters in various formats over the years. 10 years ago I switched from printing the newsletter to the electronic version. My blog posts on Vino in my Dino began 6 years ago. Those projects represent thousands of words about the winery, our history and family as well as musings and opinions over the years.

    In light of this year and all the COVID 19 sheltering in place, wearing of masks, and physically distancing ourselves helps me put some of these things in perspective: my grandparents started from scratch in 1927. Two years later the Great Depression began. They made it through and I have realized by talking to my late uncle John and dad Jim and hearing their stories of the early years made me realize it wasn’t a ‘fun’ time. I imagine it must have been hard for my grandparents to make a living and to feed the family. But because of the land they bought, they were able to have a farm, to sell grapes to support the family and learn a new way of life that would span 9 decades and four generations.

    In the time I have worked for the family business I have seen huge swings and changes in how wine is sold and talked about. The internet, of course, is the biggest change in how we communicate our story and messages-website, social media channels, email and newsletters. Marketing wine nationally and globally are now par for the course. My newsletters have always communicated what was going on and where we were headed.

    First edition of newsletterReflections on my first newsletter-dated Spring 1990, Vol.1 No.1 (by clicking here you'll go to our gallery for the rest.)

    The format here is the typical four-page newsletter with the information in order of importance-front page with news, the middle pages featuring varietals and new releases and the back panel reserved for the shorter messages of signing up to receive the newsletter and information on upcoming events-in this case it was for the Passport to Dry Creek Valley which many of you are familiar with as the trademark event of our area.

    As I read through it some things remain the same because of who we are-can’t change the beginnings or the middle. The history of the first and second generations are in place. You’ll see we made 12 wines at the time including Chenin Blanc, Gamay Beaujolais and Riesling. Today there are other varietals planted in their place (Syrah instead of Gamay, Cabernet Sauvignon instead of Riesling). Wisdom comes with farming a variety and finding out another one does even better in its’ place or is an answer to what our friends like to drink.  Palates were evolving from lighter sweeter wines to more complex wines. We were also known as a ‘best value’ winery. This stand the test of time-this week Dan Berger wrote about our wines and included here his thoughts on the value our wines represent.

    The next pages were a bit of a mish mash-I was learning the ropes obviously. Interestingly the new releases for that time of year include three wines we no longer produce-White Zinfandel, Dry Chenin Blanc and Gamay Beaujolais. I gave an update on the cellar as well as talked about how long we had grown and produced Cabernet Sauvignon-and how long to age it with the suggestion of buying a case of our 1981 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.

    What have I learned? To tell the story-even if it is from my perspective and to tell it in a way that reflects who I am and who we are. I enjoy being a storyteller what with our rich history, generations of farming wine grapes and making wine allows for many opportunities to see things from all angles. Those stories, like the newsletters, create a timeline of the Pedroncelli family and what we have accomplished over 9 decades-and 5 generations.

    How about you? I bet a lot of things have changed in that time. 35 years ago Back to the Future was the number one movie, the KC Royals won the World Series (remember baseball?) and the 49ers won the Superbowl. Memories of Live Aid, The Cosby Show and, fittingly, Aretha Franklin’s voice was named a natural resource of Michigan. Tell me-did you have a bottle of our Gamay or Chenin Blanc back then? Did you buy a case of the 1981 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and do you have any in your cellar? Did you visit the tasting room when it was in the case goods warehouse (which is where I began)? Or earlier did you meet my grandfather who welcomed people in to taste in the 1950s/1960s? I look forward to hearing your stories as always and won’t be resting on my laurels as I have even more to write about in the coming years.

  • Note from Home: Plan C

    May 27, 2020 10:57

    Note from Home: Plan C

    There’s Plan A and Plan B. Both of these have merit because the first plan is backed up by the second. A year ago I would never have thought we’d need a Plan C. Sheltering at home and limiting our forays into the community have been a part of our lives for weeks. Have you received your ‘getting out of jail free’ card? We haven’t just yet at home or at the tasting room but it is coming. The weather is warming up, outside venues like parks are opening up and we are making plans to throw open the doors with a few tweaks, of course, because of COVID-19 measures. So Plan C it is.

    This ‘new’ normal is going to govern our lives over the next year or so. There is no ‘boldly go’, more like  slow and steady wins the race. Until the virus abates, or a vaccine is discovered, we are going to socialize in a new way. We always took for granted the hugs and kisses, handshakes and pats on the back but the ‘new’ normal includes continued social distancing, wearing face masks, sanitizing like crazy-as if we haven’t already!

    The state and county are doing their best to phase back into things-phase 1 and 2 have been accomplished and now onto Phase 2B and beyond. In a way our “Get Out of Jail” card or Phase 3 will allow more freedom and allow more movement-and like the state of California says we are going to take it very slowly in order to protect all of us. Tasting room visits, once given the green light, will include some changes for the foreseeable future. We are working hard to put together a memorable and friendly visit.

    First and foremost is safety of all-staff and visitors. Secondly we still need to distance ourselves so reservations for any visits will be taken which is a first for us. We have been a tasting room with walk in ability since we opened. Thirdly I am now taking ‘eye enhancement’ classes so I can communicate above my mask. While we won’t be able to gather in large groups in the beginning we will certainly make you feel at home!

    When formulating Plan C I realized we already have some of this down. When we were sheltering in place we gained some experience in the retail world. We have now grocery shopped in a different way, bought things at stores or other essential places masked and protected, had a video doctor’s appointment or have perhaps done a curbside pick-up.

    Our Plan C will include a whole new wine tasting experience at Pedroncelli-maybe I should call it Plan P? First up, there will be some prep work ahead of your visit to make sure we know how many are in your party, what you’d like to do, what day and time you’d like to come by. We’ll use a touchless system to take your reservation. We’ll set a place for you, have our tasting list ready with some flight choices or have you choose your own flight. We’ll provide you with effortless service, regale you with the stories behind the Pedroncelli name or the wine you are trying, and we’ll enjoy each other’s company even though we are maintaining a safe distance.

    I had a dream the other night about our new tasting room experience post-COVID. I was back in an episode of MASH with the doctors as tasting attendants and I was sitting at a table full of test tube samples. Glad I woke up and it wasn’t true! Needless to say our new plans for you will include all the things for a great experience: tasty wines, a sense of humor and you!

     

  • Pandemic Pantry: Recipes from You

    May 27, 2020 06:14

    Pandemic Pantry: Recipes from You

    During the last 11 weeks we have been on a kitchen journey while staying at home. Most of us have discovered the joys of working with what we have on hand or finding new ways to cook chicken. Many famous chefs are making short videos as if you are cooking with them-Jacques Pepin is my favorite. Ordering online for groceries became a new norm for some, curbside pick up for others or we suited up and went to the store with list in hand-something about being masked made me forget half of the things I needed on my first couple of trips.

    Needless to say eating is one of those things we all have in common, right up there with enjoying wine. One of the joys of writing my newsletters and these posts is receiving messages back from you, my readers. And every once in a while I get recipes which is like opening up a surprise gift, I am an avowed collector if you didn’t know. In the last couple of months I have received notes about home cooking and what you were fixing that night along with which wine to go with the meal or what you were experiencing while trying to be creative. You sent me recipes or I found them on Facebook. Either way here are three from the last 2 months and thank you all for sharing your recipes!

    Pollo a la Romana: This recipe comes from our club members the Kings, Donn & Judith. I saw the photo of the finished dish on Facebook and requested it for this story. While this isn’t the typical recipe laid out it is the way I cook-improvisation!

    Seriously, you know how it goes; you start with a recipe, add and modify and adjust for quantity, and hope it comes out good. Pollo a la Roma is essentially an Italian chicken stew, reduced and thickened, and served with any pasta; orzo is good.

    I improvised on a recipe by using quartered artichoke hearts, a package of exotic mushrooms, a big yellow onion, bacon instead of prosciutto, red wine instead of white, and I used canned tomatoes from our garden from last season, and chicken tenderloins (whatever they are). I used at least 10 ounces of red wine to get the liquid volume that I wanted, along with the quart of cooked tomatoes. I used 2.7 lbs of tenderloins.

    Otherwise, you brown the chicken; set it aside; sauté the bacon, onion, red and yellow pepper. Then add in a quart or so of diced tomatoes. Add in your spices, and salt and pepper. We used Italian parsley, thyme and rosemary because we grow it. I think you could use any herbs that you want. One thing I do is- I don’t sauté garlic anymore. I add the fresh, chopped garlic into the tomato sauce, and let it stew. I feel that sautéing garlic is too hot for the garlic and you lose flavor.

    Then you add back the chicken, adjust the salt and flavors, simmer for at least an hour, and stew it down to your preferred consistency. Serve with pasta of your choice. Donn asked me to make certain to tell you the pictured wine was not used for cooking!  Of course, we drank the pictured wine (2016 Bushnell Vineyard Zinfandel) with our meal and thought it was spectacular. 

    Montse ReecePaella a la Montse: our winemaker and I were asked for recipes to pair with our wines for a New York retailer promotion for cooking at home. Knowing this is one of Montse’s favorite dishes as well as a taste of home (she is from Spain) I asked her to share it-along with her wine recommendation.

    My paella recipe (for a seafood paella):

    1 lb of clams

    1 lb of shrimp, peeled

    1 lb small scallops

    1 green bell pepper

    ½ onion

    1 can of small diced tomatoes

    4 garlic cloves minced

    Olive oil

    Saffon 1 pinch

    Pimenton or smoked paprika 1 teaspoon

    Spicy pimenton or cayenne (optional) ½ teaspoon

    Turmeric (optional) 1 pinch

    1 lemon

    Rice: bomba or medium size 2 cups

    Fish broth (4 cups)-recipe included below.

    Salt & pepper

    Note: It is important to use a Paella pan or a flat wide base pan, a cast iron pan is good too.

    You need to make the fish broth separately. This is a quick way to do it: In a pot add 4 ½ cups of water, salt, the clams (previously clean and scrubbed) and a pinch of saffron. Bring to a boil. Remove the clams when opened (discard the unopened clams) and set them aside. Remove broth from heat. Reserve.

    Heat olive oil (2 tablespoons) in Paella pan over medium high heat.  Add shrimp, salt, cook each side until pink. Remove them from pan and set aside. Add onion, cook 5 min or until translucent, add diced bell pepper and garlic. Cook for another 10 min. Add diced tomatoes and all spices. Mix well and cook for 5 minutes. That’s what we call the Sofrito. 

    Add rice and mix well with the Sofrito.  Add broth, shrimp, clams and scallops, (salt and pepper to taste).  Cook at medium heat for 5 minutes, then cover and cook to low heat until rice has absorbed all broth.  Remove when done and let it rest, covered for 5 minutes. Serve with a wedge of lemon. Enjoy with our white wines, rosé, Sangiovese or even our Pinot Noir.  Salut!

     

    Date Nut Cake

    Date Nut Cake: this was sent in by Bill Kammer. I made this right away knowing my family loves this kind of combination. He said, “We got the original recipe from a sweet lady of Swiss decent – we miss her as she passed away quite a while ago. Most of the parenthetical comments are our modifications. It will fool you into thinking it is a Chocolate cake, so I have it with a Pedroncelli Red."

    Step 1: 1 Cup Chopped Dates (the date pieces dusted with flour work best) 1 ½ Cups of Boiling Water & 1 tsp Baking Soda(get the water boiling before you chunk in the dates) Put the dates and soda in a bowl; then pour the boiling water over and let cool.

    Step 2: Cream: ½ Cup Shortening (we use Butter), 1 Cup Sugar and 2 Eggs then: Add to the cooled Date Mixture

    Step 3: Sift: 1 ½ Cups of Flour, ¼ tsp Salt, ¾ tsp Soda

    Step 4: Blend: The Mixture of Step 2 alternately with Step 4 ingredients Then: Pour into a Greased 9 X 13 Baking Pan

    Step 5: Mix: 1 Package of Bitter-Sweet Chocolate Chips, ¼ Cup of Sugar (Optional), ¾ Cup of Chopped nuts Pecans and/or Black Walnuts (we use almost 1 ½ Cups). Sprinkle this mixture over the batter so it stays on top.

    Step 6: Bake 350 degrees 40 – 45 Minutes.

    As Jacques Pepin likes to say ‘Happy Cooking’ and I like to say ‘Don’t forget the vino’.

  • Follow the Vineyard: Bloom

    May 21, 2020 08:24

    Follow the Vineyard: Bloom

    Following the progress at our estate vineyards helps keep things in perspective. While we all shelter in place (hopefully not for much longer) the vines are happily making their way toward vintage 2020. I visited with Mitch Blakeley, fourth generation family member, to check in and get his perspective about what it going on out in the vineyard.

    We farm 115 acres of vineyard between the Mother Clone, Home Ranch, Three Vineyards, Wisdom, Alto Vineyards, Bench Vineyards, East Side Vineyards and Bushnell Vineyard with 11 varietals planted between all of them. Some of these are small blocks while other encompass 30 or so acres between them. It all adds up to quite a bit of work for Lance Blakeley, Vineyard Manager, and Manuel Diaz, Vineyard Foreman along with Mitch who is not only in the vineyard he also led the certification process for sustainability in both the vineyard and winery.

    Here are some in depth details about what is going on right now as we follow the vineyard this month in the bloom phase. Bloom or flowering (I’ll use the terms interchangeably) takes place about 6 weeks after budbreak, the first growth in the vine since winter dormancy which typically takes place in March. The leaves and shoots lengthen during the next month or so and small ‘bunches’ form. Bloom is when the future bunch of grapes breaks into tiny flowers-the smell is heavenly!-with crop set following in the next few weeks.

    Follow the vineyard as I recap Mitch's comments on what is going on this month: The rain, while not as heavy compared to 2019’s six inches, actually mirrors almost to the day the time it rained the third week of May in last year. Over a week or so about an inch and a half of rain fell this year. What did this do to the vines? While April was warm and a few days in early May were over 90 degrees it became cold and rainy, slowing bloom time down. One of the benefits of receiving rains in the spring: it saves water. Mitch predicted they would be able to skip a full cycle of operating the drip irrigation system in the vineyards. Vines rely on interspersed drip irrigation during the dry months of summer and late rain helps delay the initial cycle of watering.

    Flowering in some of the varietals, like Cabernet Franc, went quickly and is almost complete. Slow bloomers like Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon were just beginning. Zinfandel was at about 40% and other grapes like Sangiovese and Petite Sirah were somewhere in between. Rain will sometimes knock off some of the flowering which in turn might lower the production of fruit. It remains to be seen if this has happened in our vineyards-crop set takes place in June so we will know more by the end of next month. 

    The vineyard crew continues with tractor work, weed maintenance and suckering, which is the most important during this time because a vine will push lots of growth in the spring. If not taken care of by stripping off the multiple offshoots this will overburden the vine and eventually would inhibit getting a ripe crop if allowed to continue. Suckering takes place over the whole vine along the arms and at the base. Some of the wood is softer in varietals like Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc-so they will be suckered next but right now the crew is working on the Zinfandel and Cabernet as the vine trunks and arms are harder wood and harder to sucker as things begin to dry out. We are expecting 90 degree weather the last week of May and this accelerates the conditions so the crew is busy now in these vineyards in order to get ahead.

    Thanks Mitch for the update. We've farmed for four generations and have seen many different scenarios throughout those years. This vintage will go in the books as one of the most unusual because of COVID19. As farmers we look forward to the next phase of growth because the vineyard naturally follows the tilt of the sun, the ebb and flow of weather and creates something new each year.

  • Note from Home: COVID Operations

    May 21, 2020 08:17

    Note from Home: COVID Operations

    *Cue Mission Impossible theme music: da da da, da da da, da da: We are on a mission today to discover COVID Operations in and around the winery and out in the market. We are all working under challenging guidelines while we try to operate as normally as possible. This brings out the creativity in all of us-especially here at Pedroncelli.

    Spring Ops: The vineyards continue their march toward harvest 2020 and May is the growth spurt the vines need to get going-the phrase April showers bring May flowers isn’t lost on the vines. Budbreak back in March progressed through warm days in April to push the growth forward and now we are seeing the clusters forming and this month they begin their flowering phase-the next step toward crop set. The vineyard crew is busy with their list of things to do while being aware of the current social distancing and sanitizing protocols.

    Bottle Ops: Bottling continues through this month as the wines are unaware of the current situation. Winemaker Montse Reece and cellarmaster Polo Cano prep the wines and make sure the bottling room is set up so the cellar crew can remain safe and apart. A cellar is one of the most sanitized areas at any time so rest assured our wines have always been and always will be produced in the safest of ways.

    Think Different: It matters when you are a mid-sized winery selling wine across many channels and some of them are compromised (restaurants for one). Jim, Ed and I are busy working with our wholesalers and exporters to fill in the gaps while we all stay at home. Virtual tastings with some of our retail accounts and their customers have become a regular occurrence rather than travel into the market. Zoom sessions with our national sales team-either one on one or in a group-are the norm for now. This doesn’t replace the personal touch and we are working on different ways to connect.

    At Your Service: Colin Sinclair, Club Ped’s manager, successfully worked with Ed to get the May club shipment out and we even packed this one in house and we made the decision not to include any printed materials-in order to be as 'touchless' as possible. Colin, Gary and Lizzy are connecting with our friends-you may have received a call or email from them. We have curbside service for our neighbors-something we have been doing since my grandparents opened the cellar door.

    Reach out and touch someone, virtually: Unless you are living under a rock without a computer you know the world of the internet has taken on a whole new mission: connecting us during this time of separation. Personally we’ve had cousin zooms, grand and great grand kid zooms with my parents, cocktail parties, birthday celebrations, COVID Coffee Chats and, as previously mentioned, virtual meet ups with wine stores and their customers in several states. Sharing our stories, reminiscing, making new friends and visiting old ones are done in a different way but ultimately we are reaching out and remaining safe in this way.

    Making these operations possible is what we are immersed in at the moment-and we are preparing for what will come once shelter in place is removed. What that will look like is currently being shaped by government but also with an eye to adapting to a new way of visiting with you. And you can bet, even though we have to maintain a safe distance, our hospitality will be as welcoming and engaging as it has been since my grandfather’s time. We may need to be physically distanced and our goal is to be socially connected with you.

  • Gather Round a Glass

    May 15, 2020 10:45

    Gather Round a Glass

    Welcome to the virtual world of wine chats. Chat rooms and virtual meetings were already in place before this-I wish I had stock in Zoom! Other platforms have their place but lately this is a way to have a direct conversation and talk to people face to face (virtually because we are sheltering in place and practicing our social distancing). Gathering around a glass of wine and your screen of choice while sitting at home-what could be more fun?

    Back in the days (seems like so long ago now) I traveled to national markets the wholesalers would set up what we call ‘work withs’, a way for me to meet with retail and restuarant accounts. Each day I’d work with one sales representative and they would take me to appointments they had set up prior to my arrival. I would get in a car each day with a new person-who up until this point were complete strangers. Almost sounds like the making of a thriller movie right? We’d chat a bit about what was coming up for the day-how many appointments, who I would meet as I presented the wines and what they were interested in for their customers, where the day would end. I’d update them on what was going on at the winery and vineyards at the moment or fill them in on the background of the wines we’d be pouring. After a few minutes, in order to learn more about the person I was riding with, I’d start to ask general questions-did you attend college? How did you get into wine? When was your first ‘ah ha’ moment and what wine started the journey they were on? Conversation typically flowed because, hey, we’re in a car driving 20 minutes or more to our first appointment and we learned a bit about each other. I rode with people who love some of the same things I do (besides wine) like Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, favorite authors or genres, chocolate, and travel. While we weren’t gathered around a glass of wine we certainly shared great conversations about many interests.

    So how about turning that experience into one I can have with you? We'll sip and savor the moment, we don’t need a car-we just need a communication platform. I do better when I can see people and share a conversation that way. Let’s gather, share some stories and find out what we have in common-wine being the first thing. There are many platforms on which we can have a chat-we’ll find one that works for both of us. We are at home, relaxed, maybe with a glass of wine in hand, ready to chat about your hobbies, your family, your pets, favorite movies or books. The world of topics is pretty vast.

    Who’s Zoomin Who?

    Zoom is the appointment oriented platform-we set up the time and day and send you the link. Skype is available anytime but it would be wise to schedule a time so we are at our computer and ready for you. Facebook Live schedules events at a certain time and allows you to type in questions to the speakers (it helps to have someone else there to read over the questions and call attention to those that didn’t get answered) and Instagram Live is a format where we talk to the audience about specific things and questions can be sent but it is mostly a one way conversation. Which one works for you? As we make our way toward new ways of reaching out, this is an alternative to a tasting room visit. So let's gather around a glass no matter where you are-it is the new wine adventure-one where you don't have to hop in a car or on a plane. We'll bring the adventure to you!

  • Pandemic Pantry: Julie and Julia

    April 30, 2020 13:29

    A picture is worth a thousand yums don’t you think? How many of us take photos of our beautifully plated dinners in a restaurant? Or at home we’ve made something special and want to show it off? There are many examples across social media when it comes to showing off our creations. I realized there were just a handful of photos included in my recipe section of the website-how interesting is that? So I made a goal starting during this pandemic and working from home to recreate a few recipes a week and photograph them in order to be included alongside the recipe. Kind of a riff off of the Julie/Julia movie.

    In fact some of you might remember how we have been connected to Julia Child over the years. The weekly magazine, Parade, featured photos of celebrities and their refrigerators. Julia is standing in front of her door-lo and behold our Chardonnay is there and the only wine in her fridge! We are also part of the National Museum of American History’s Food Transforming America where many of my family’s artifacts (including my grandmother’s polenta pot) are in the same exhibit near the recreation of Julia’s kitchen. And here we are replicating many of the recipes from the website just like the movie. For a refresher, this is what I wrote 4 years ago:  https://www.pedroncelli.com/vino-in-my-dino/post/womens-history-month-julia-child/


    Now onto the recipes!

    Braised PorkBraised Pork Shoulder with Butternut Squash and Prunes

    Notes: When I tried this I immediately regretted not doubling the recipe. Such a subtle sweetness that complements the braised pork. Paired very well with our Mother Clone Zinfandel, the fruity notes from the Zin making this a zen meal.


     

    Pork Tenderloin with Spicy Soy Glaze

    Notes: For a quicker turn around you can make the glaze ahead of time and marinate overnight, then just brown it in the pan and roast in oven-or grill it-either way this is a very tasty combination. It packs some heat and we liked it with our Sonoma Classico or you might even try our friends.red with it.

    Spicy Pork Tenderloin

     


     

    Braised Fennel and CeleryBraised Fennel & Celery

    Notes: This is a side dish which we paired with steak and roasted creamer potatoes. I suggest pairing the veggies with Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc but with the steak we paired up with our Three Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon and it worked. This would be a great side dish for simply prepared chicken or fish.


     

    Moroccan Chicken with Roasted Lemons and Green Olives

    Notes: This one was a delicious surprise-it was very easy with it all being made in one pan. Browning the lemon wedges and then roasting with the chicken-so tasty. Paired up with our Sauvignon Blanc it was the perfect ending to our busy shelter in place work at home week.Moroccan Chicken


    Sloppy TomsSloppy Toms

    Notes: A crowd pleaser and kid pleaser all in one-from our daughter’s cookbook 30 years ago and we have been making them ever since. You can use beef for Sloppy Joes but we like the taste of the ground turkey. Use your favorite form of bun and dig in along with a bottle of our friends.red or Sonoma Classico.


     

    While the Julie in the movie took a year to make all the recipes in Julia’s Art of French Cooking this might take a little longer. If you make one of the recipes, tell me how it turned out, which wine you paired it with and how you first came to know Pedroncelli. I'll make it worth your while... All you need to do is send to my email address julie@pedroncelli.com and as Julia would say Bon Apetit!

  • A Note from Home: Learning Curves

    April 24, 2020 10:53

    A Note from Home: Learning Curves

     

    It is day 43 of sheltering in place and the original predictions of this time ending May 3 in Sonoma County have been extended to June. Batten down the hatches for another month of staying home and keeping everyone safe. While we flatten the curve what are the learning curves we have faced? What have we learned about ourselves, our town, or our work habits? Getting better at time management or bread baking? How about our kids/grandkids, entertaining ourselves or our resilience in getting through these times?Home Alone Photo

    The other day we talked to some folks in Kansas & Missouri (via Zoom) about those changes and what they mean to our current lives. Among them were enjoying not having to be somewhere at an exact time, more freedom, more productivity, having the time to learn new things like managing your inbox or taking an additional online class to educate oneself, more creativity, challenges of having kids at home-keeping them focused and busy without too much screen time/device time. Limitations set before COVID have loosened up because screen time on devices has never looked so good to the parents working from home. Just think how much we’ll all look forward to school back in session along with a regular routine! 

    I received many responses in the last week with updates on home life and how you are doing-really. Here are other ways you are learning:

    John from Florida responded: “I just bought a new Fender Telecaster to add to the collection so that’s how I have been passing the hours and days of this awful hunker-down.   I download blues backing tracks and jam along to those.  Love playin the blues.”

    Kellie sent a thoughtful note:  “Well this past week I would say I had a "ho hum" attitude. Deep in my mind I couldn't find hope or anything positive to look forward to. My cooking spirit was flat lining. My clothes closet was getting stale. My hair felt limp and lack of luster. My habit of washing, drying, folding and putting away in the same day waned and the crocheting on the couch ceased. 

    I am realizing that I function much better if there are plans for the day, week and even months ahead. With this virus it has derailed some of my focus. And then I realized I have Grace and Grit. Hearty stock. Thrive and survive attitude. An optimist constitution. All these realizations emerged right after I got real with my thoughts and spoke them out loud to some of my family. 

    So you asked how am I really? In this moment on this Sunday morning sitting in my breakfast nook, I feel optimistic, light hearted, ready to take my dog on a walk on the golf course, then exercise on my stationary bike and then sit down and attend an online David Whyte poetry session titled "Courage in Poetry. "

    Zoom imageWe are all learning something new about ourselves and our situation. I’m learning to really like the Zoom meetings I am hosting and participating in these days. Since I am staying home from travel I find the time afforded me makes writing more of a habit. (I also enjoy not having to get up at 3:30am to get ready for a trip.) Also, learning how to prepare for the 'afterCOVID' life and the new normal we'll experience brings to mind other learning curves. Air travel following 9-11-it was forever changed and is now considered a part of the airport experience. Learning curves are everywhere in our lives-vaccinations developed, historic changes, even the small things like forming a habit.

    What are we learning? We can do it. We can get through it. Try something like a wave and a smile. And we’ll get through it together, six feet apart.

  • A Conversation on Sustainability

    April 21, 2020 09:47

    A Conversation on Sustainability

    April is Down to Earth Month and today is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day so no time like the present to talk sustainability. Our vineyards were certified sustainable on our 90th anniversary 3 years ago and the winery the following year. Let’s see how we are doing in the vineyard and winery by checking in with Mitch Blakeley, fourth generation family member, who led the certification process. He knows the vineyard and cellar very well as he has worked with his dad Lance, who is Vice President of Operations and Vineyard Manager, since he was in eighth grade.  Mitch and Sustainable Sign

    For starters, here is some background on the meaning of sustainability. The California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance was formed to help grape growers and wineries practice sustainable winegrowing by following these tenets: good for the environment, good for the community and good for grapes and wine. To start the certification process Mitch filled out a few hundred answers to questions ranging from energy efficiency to packaging, vineyard practices and water use among others. Once finished we are audited and, since everything was in good order, we were certified. One of the reasons I like the sustainability program is it encourages doing better as we go forward. Each year we pick a project and work at getting better or smarter in both the vineyard and winery. Each year the auditor reviews the progress and approves another year of certification.

    Why is the process so important to us? It put a pin in what we have been doing for 90 years-being good stewards of the land. Our responsibility is to the environment, to those who work for us as well as our community at large and the continuous improvement gives us higher quality in our wines. For the greater good don’t we all recyle, use alternatives to plastic, walk if we can avoid driving hence causing less pollution? It is a collective action both as an industry and as a family that spurs us on to do better.

    Mitch updated me on the latest audit and certification and the efforts we have made. “I’ll start with the winery. In the last few years we have made changes in better lighting efficiency, the barrel program, and water use. For last year’s project we focused on glass. Our glass was imported from China for many years. We made the decision to source as close as we could to the winery and chose a northern California company. To give you an idea of our scope, we produce 55,000 cases or 660,000 bottles.” (Editor’s note: We have also stayed away from the ‘heavy’ bottles knowing these add more to the carbon footprint.)

    “Last year our vineyard project focused on decreasing the use of pesticides in the vineyard. The most consistent pest we treat for every year are the sharpshooters-they are devastating to our vineyard. Using approved preventatives, we treat early and often to suppress whatever the vineyard may be exposed to and so far we have seen about the same level of success in the past few years by cutting rates and at longer intervals. This helps with operating costs and overall health for the vineyard. Our project this year is to replace our tractors with new models that are more fuel efficient as well as put out less emissions. We are going to apply for the Carl Moyer Grant from the state of California to help fund the replacement of the old tractors.” 

    I asked him if he has noticed any changes since becoming certified, “In my opinion I have seen an increase in quality in the vineyard which shows in the wines; in the vineyard it is the new plantings where we are changing the way we farm and they are showing very good quality; our Wisdom and Three Vineyards are recent projects and we have been more aggressive to stay on top of diseases. One of the new practices includes using rope to tie vines as compared to plastic ties; the rope or twine disintegrates over a couple of years. The plastic constrict the vine to the wire which we found created an open wound for disease to enter-with just this one small change it is helping overall quality and health of the vine.”

    Thank you Mitch-I enjoyed our conversation. If you have any questions or need more information about our program please let us know by sending an email to julie@pedroncelli.com  Until next Earth Day keep up the good work.

     

     

     

  • A Note from Home: How are you doing? Really.

    April 18, 2020 10:35

    A Note from Home: How are you doing? Really.

    Well, how are you doing a month into our sheltering in place? No, really. How are you doing? We'd love to hear. Over the past ninety three years we've come to know so many people in so many places. And we feel cut off. So, really: How are you?

    Are you pining for the ‘old’ days? What freedom (!) we had in February. We could go for lunch without giving a thought to spreading germs-now masking up and ordering curbside is the way to go; how about stopping to talk to a neighbor in the street-we are now keeping 6 feet or more away from each other; perhaps a drive to the coast or mountains for some fresh air and now, due to current orders, you are hitting the streets. I’ve started to categorize yards-they have olive trees, they have dogwood trees, they have the most beautiful hedges etc

    Obviously here in Wine Country spring has fully evolved into blooming trees, flowers, birds nesting and the grapevines leafing out (not to mention the pollen count is high).  Mother Nature continues on without realizing the streets are quieter, the air is cleaner, people are staying close to home, and a virus is being slowed down because we are following the order in place. We have a ways to go before we are set free from this cocoon, hibernation, lockdown, staycation or whatever you have come to call it.

    Perhaps new habits are being formed. I remember reading that it took about two months to form a new habit or break a bad one. I googled habits and came across a recent article by Tara Parker-Pope in the New York Times published mid February-which now seems like a century ago.  In it there are a lot of good ideas and information and it contained this tidbit about developing a habit: “The study, published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, showed that the amount of time it took for the task to become automatic — a habit — ranged from 18 to 254 days. The median time was 66 days!” We are 36 days into this and it is looking like at least 30 more-coincidence? I think not.
     
    My new habits are around working from home. I squeeze in a laundry load so I don’t have a mountain of work to do at the end of the week; I eat lunch on our deck and take in the green view of oak trees and new growth over the fence; I am making one or two recipes a week from my website listings because now we have time to photograph the dish and upload it-slow work but I will make my way through the hundreds listed as the year progresses thereby forming another habit. Discipline is another one-I gained the "COVID10" over the last month because I was snacking and eating things I don’t normally eat like sugar and carbs. April 13 dawned and I knew I needed to make changes-so back to low carbing and no snacking. How about you? Any new (good or bad) habits formed lately?

    Walking is a new normal for us-between 9 and 10 miles a day around town-I mentioned to Ed that this mileage is a one way trip to the winery-but I don’t think I’ll start walking to work after this is over-or will I? Besides flowers and yards another thing I’ve seen on our walks around Healdsburg are chalk drawings and inspiring quotes. This one greeted us today and I think gives us all hope for better days ahead. Until next time stay well while keeping six feet apart.

    Chalk drawing with Jasper