New Pinot block after sheep have eaten the                   Old Vine  Zinfandel after pruning 
  cover crop     Russian River  Winter 2015                           Dry Creek   Winter 2015

Dateline:    January 10, 2015

Time Passes By Like A Blink Of An Eye  It seems like the calendar clock never slows down and in a blink of an eye we are off and running again, ready or not, for another new vintage year.  

Before we can start thinking about all the joys of grape growing, winemaking and the wonderful upcoming food & wine events for 2015, we have unfortunately a few federal, state & local government obligations that need to be addressed such as reports on wages, withholding, payroll taxes & deposits, property assessments, inventories, new plantings, bearing vrs non bearing acreage, production & crush reports, income, expenses, and depreciation………all part of doing business whether you are a winegrower or a storekeeper.  We try to put this responsibility out of our minds during the Holidays but we know as a business owner there is no escape. With fortitude and resolve, we begin this annual task of compliance. Although we are given more time to complete these tasks, it is akin to a dreaded heavy  weekend school homework assignment with a Monday due date.

It is a good thing all this activity takes place in the somber din of winter as the vines are dormant waiting to be pruned, the wines are sleeping in their barrels, nice and snug, only requiring a brief monthly disturbance for topping off barrels.  As you look out the window you see the buds are still tight so you know you beat the calendar.  With onward optimism and forever enthusiasm we look forward to the starting the annual ritual of growing grapes, producing wine and never ending projects for Vintage Year 2015.

California Drought Remains A Major Concern   By some miracle we received 20 inches of rain in December 2014 which was a record.  Reservoirs started to fill, streams were flowing again, snow started to blanket the Sierras and ducks were on the fly. This brief interlude of happiness has been followed by high pressure and no rain since 12/24 causing once again concern for drought and water conservation. The snowpack is 40% of normal, state & local governments are drawing plans for water conservation and control and metering of private wells.  We can’t help but feel guilty for basking in such warm weather while other parts of the country are battling polar arctic.  We have started thinking and doing preliminary planning on a rainwater collection system using the roofs of our 4 winery buildings and road and parking area adjacent to winery.  The potential to collect enough reclaimed water to irrigate winery landscape is amazing  assuming 30” annual rainfall with a 50% runoff loss.  Hopefully we can implement this system within 2 years to go along with our solar electric generation, our sustainable sheep & goats, and our commitment to pomace composting and recycling.

First New Year Crop   The first production of 2015 will be a new grandson due anyday now to our Vineyard Manager Andrew Forchini giving him 3 fine boys.  After that,  we look forward to the birthing of what we hope might be 7-14 new baby lambs.  Our involvement with sheep & goats for vineyard sustainability gets bigger every year.  They have done a wonderful job of controlling the cover crop in our new Pinot block at Russian River Terrace Vineyard which gives the appearance of being machined mowed by a professional golf corse maintenance crew.  Meanwhile the goats are happy campers in Dry Creek feeding on riparian brush and grasses for fire control.

Vineyard News  This year we are adding a total of over 1700 vines of different varietals in various areas adjacent to existing blocks to increase future production.  In the past we have been cautious of over planting in areas that might adversely impact tractor operations but now we believe we can add more plants matched to our equipment and procedures without compromising operations. Our wine grapes remain in strong demand as we sold to 15 different wineries last year after reserving the grapes needed for our estate wine production. The market for grapes appears good again this year as the economy is slowly recovering.

Winery News  Market reports indicate premium wines sales of Cabernet, Pinot, Blended Reds, Roses & Chardonnay continue to rise in the marketplace from the previous year while Zinfandel remains somewhat even.  Our 2012 Zinfandel  is selling extremely well and we have had to closely monitor its sales to insure supply through August this year.  Scheduled as a construction project this winter will be to enclose the fermentation building ceiling  trusses to provide a better environment for temperature control & sanitation.  After 16 years of working with our former labelling machine and capsule spinner which served us admirably, a new machine from Italy has been ordered where in addition to labelling and spinning will automatically place capsules on the bottle where in  in the past we had to place capsules by hand. This new machine will increase both bottling speed and reliability and be here in early April in time to bottle our 2014 Chardonnay and Paradiso Rose.    Sierra, my granddaughter and assistant winemaker has done a wonderful job since coming on board in July last year.  In consideration of her dedication to winemaking, we are granting her a leave of absence for 3-4 months  to do an internship in the Margaret River area of Australia.  No we are not going to start making kangaroo style wines.  My mantra has always been never stop learning and this experience will broaden her knowledge in winemaking and add to her  portfolio of  previous internships in Napa Valley and New Zealand.  She will return in May full of new stories and in time for bottling the 2013 estate wines. The dry red wines produced last harvest are doing well, look promising and should be excellent although because we age 18-22 months in the barrel they will not be available until 2016.  Patience is a virtue.

Special Events  Our Tasting Room remains open FRI-SU from 11-4:30 pm throughout winter and by appointment M-TH.  We will be open for Barrel Tasting this year in March BUT only for Club Members and Past Futures buyers and their guests.  Those  Club Members and prior customers unable to attend this tasting will be able to purchase Futures through the end of March and an email of wines being offered and pricing will be sent.  Once again our winery will participate in Passport To Dry Creek Valley in April.  This event is the highlite of the year and hope you took advantage of the VIP early ticket sales as this event sells out quickly.   For more information on these events see our Special Events link on this website.

Wishing   2015 will be a healthy and rewarding year for everyone.  We look forward to your visit this year if you are out our way so please stop by and have glass or two.  We'll be looking for you!

Editor:  J. Forchini