Ewes grazing on mustard crop December 2015.
Russian River Terrace Vineyard
Old Vine Zinfandel foreground circa 1908
Dateline: January 5, 2016
Hello 2016, Good Riddance 2015
Most of us in the wine industry are eager to say good bye to 2015. It was nearly an odd numbered irrational year which was marked by severe drought, the earliest grape harvest in history, lower than normal grape production, an increase in Pierces Disease on grapevines and critical reviews by certain national media that hurt sales for many wineries on 2011 wines. The market was saturated with too much wine from 3 years of heavy production. Increased price cutting abounded and competition between a multitude of new wineries, secondary labels and special events was the norm. Wine Club signups were top priority and offerings of free shipping, complimentary bottles, and 50% discounts were being offered to gain new customers along with BBQs, wood fired pizza, live music and sit down dinners. Wineries likes to make wine, too much in fact……. now go out and sell it or give it away and in general this means hosting a special event to attract customers. Everyone likes to party and drink, especially at wineries where the setting can be unique and everyone is your friend whether you knew them before or not. The public is starting to complain about the many events promoted by wineries citing parking, noise, traffic and general disturbance to nearby residents as a concern. They have caught the ear of our County Planning Department and new winery applications are under heavy review as are stricter limitations on current winery events. Our policy has always been to produce and sell quality premium wines at a fair price and limit winery events to a sane level……..isn’t that what a winery is suppose to do or am I out of touch with the addiction of social networking and millenials looking for winery events to have fun????
We welcome and enter Vintage 2016 as an even numbered rational year. Even is good, just ask the Giants…they won the World Series in 2010, 2012, and 2014. The first day of the new year was a magnificent day, clear, bright and cold the way winter is suppose to be. Thousands abandon their bowl football games and were out in the beautiful weather jogging, riding, hiking and enjoying the splendors of northern California. We had accumulated 12 (even) inches of rain to date, the reservoirs were filling, streams were flowing, steelhead was being caught again in the Russian River and the Sierra snowpack was 136% (even) above normal.
Another good omen…..an email from a long time customer opened a bottle of our 1998 (even) Pinot Noir to tell me how delicious this wine was after 18 (even) years. This was my second Pinot produced, bottled 312 (even) cases on 1/5/2000 (even) . It won a Gold Medal in the 2000 (even) Sonoma County Harvest Fair and sold out quickly in 12 (even) months. So you might think I am an (even) superstitious guy……NO. Although my Italian grandmother told me not to walk under ladders or step on cracks, I approach every new year with enthusiasm and optimism whether it be odd or even and look forward to the challenges of running a winery & vineyard in 2016. Believe it or not!
What’s up at Forchini for 2016?
We start the year by paying close attention to our 9 pregnant ewes that will birth in January. For a Christmas present we bought them and erected a 12 x 16 x 8 ft steel framed manger to keep them and their newborns dry & warm from the predicted El Nino torrents that are to come. The sheep & goats now number over 20 and have been a valuable asset in maintaining our sustainable practices. We have removed 1.4 acres of organic farmed Chardonnay which gave fair production but is in decline from nematodes and not at full potential. We will replant to an improved resistant root stock with a higher density layout to reduce carbon foot print i.e. one tractor pass per row vs. two. In the planning stages is my rain water collection system that has been on hold due to other priorities. Preliminary calculations and survey show that by collecting the rain from the roofs of our 4 winery buildings plus the drainage from the pavement adjacent to the barrel room will give plenty of water to irrigate the rose garden & landscape around buildings plus 2 small vineyard blocks assuming 50% loss and 35 inches annual rainfall. The collection will be done by an all gravity system to storage tanks then pumped back for irrigation. We have to get going on this overdue project before the next severe drought.
We will be bottling again in April a limited production of what I believe will be an exceptional 2015 Chardonnay and Paradiso Rosato. Try steamed mussels or calamari with the Rosato and roast chicken rosemary & herbs with the Chardonnay. We don’t always produce these wines each year but they are starting to take notice and are wonderful pairings with the right occasion and food. Two new wine releases have been recently made; our 2012 Pinot Noir on 1/1/16 and the 2013 Papa Nonno on 12/23/15. The Pinot was awarded a Gold Medal in the 2015 Sonoma County Grand Harvest Awards prior to release and is Highly Recommended by the Beverage Test Institute in Chicago. Both wines are absolutely delicious. I like the word “delicious”…it eliminates the usage of all the attributes associated with wine i.e. flavors, structure, balance, finish, chemical parameters etc. and tells you all of the above have been met or it wouldn’t be “delicious”. Keep it simple…..who has time to read all the adjectives which may or not be true and only reflect subjective opinion. We still have ample inventory on our 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon and BeauSierra Bordeaux Blend. These wines have received many highly regarded awards (see Awards link/Home Page) and are well aged and drinking beautifully. 2012 vintages of these wines will not be released until the 2011 are depleted. To review what we will be doing this year in the way of our limited Special Events, please go to the link on our Home Page.
Wishing all our Club Members and customers a very healthy and prosperous New Year and hope in 2016 we might have the pleasure of your company during your visit to the winery.
Editor: Jim Forchini
Anita Forchini ready to serve pick up lunch Andrew Forchini, vineyard manager, takes a break
for the May 2015 Carla Club will call members with son Paolo to catch a steelhead. 1/2/16
What.......no BBQ oysters or tri tip? They would go on to land 2 more