Dateline: January 9, 2017
Another New Year is upon us..........no worry vs. worry??
As we leave behind the hussle/bussle Holiday Season of shopping, parties, dinners, and spousal family commitments, we welcome the beginning of the New Year because what follows is a winter period of slower activity, solitude and tranquility for most winegrowers. Under a calm grey sky you can enjoy a priceless therapeutic walk through the vineyards and give thanks to a cathedral of vines for a job well done. You’ll be witness to the ten ewes from our small husbandry fat and feasting in the vineyard on the lush green cover crops nourishing their bodies for the newborn arrivals in January and the migrating robins flushing from the vines after feeding on grub to refuel for their ongoing journey. The old vine Zinfandels are another year older and you talk to them softly as you pass by to see how they look and feel. The vineyard is now in dormancy and resting quietly for the new vintage they will be asked to produce. The frantic work pace of the prior harvest and wine production is put aside and activities can be normalized to a slower level. Pruning can be stretched over a period of 4 months....no worry. Vineyard development is on hold, the soils are saturated and planting will be late Spring ....no worry. Canopy management and foilar sprays/dusts won't begin until May....no worry. The wines are slumbering in their barrels requiring only monthly topping for ullage ....no worry. 2016 wines won't need to be racked again until March....no worry. Bottling of the 2015 wines won't start until May...no worry. Special winery events won't commence until March... no worry. As winegrowers we look forward to this period of reduced activity which allows us to spend more time on personal pleasures however is it really all no worry ???? Not exactly. During this quiet slumber period tasting room traffic slows to a crawl as customers stay inside during bad weather and sales decline.....worry. Outside direct sales drop as customers consume wines bought or received during the Holidays....worry. Bad weather postpones orders because of shipping problems....worry. Wholesale marketing drops off as the restaurants business slows down....worry. Wine shops reduce large inventory bought the prior year......worry. How long do we wait and worry for inventories to deplete and buying returns??? As a winegrower you learn to enjoy the no worry part of this season counterbalanced by the worry. The reality is that worry is bad for your health and gets you nowhere so it is better to be full of hope and optimism rather than worry as we commence upon the New Year.
On the winery side we look forward to new direct and wholesale customers we might develop, an increase in Club membership, the new wines that will be released, the wine competitions and media that will judge their quality, and an increase in sales amidst tough competition from a multitude of premium wineries and cheap foreign imports. On the vineyard side we look forward to favorable weather, a normal crop, good demand and contracts for our wine grapes and continued invaluable support from our vineyard workers and supply vendors. On the personal side, we wish good health, happiness and prosperity for all our families, friends, customers and employees. Happy New Year 2017 to everyone, let's hope it is a good one....no worry!
Mother Nature has been gracious enough to give us over 22 inches of rain as we begin 2017. This is a fabulous start, ahead of last year's normal rainfall and far ahead of the previous 4 years of drought. The rain has been coupled with a period of extended cold weather with temperatures in the range of 25-30F. This is good as cold weather puts the vines in deep hibernation reserving their energy for a strong Spring push. The rain and cold makes pruning slow as frozen hands and muddy boots reduced the normal pace but we survive the elements and push on. Our vineyard manager, son Andrew, is excited to be the new owner of a 100hp John Deere cab over tractor purchased as a rental return with low hours. Our vineyard development continues with the replant of a 1985 1/4 acre older Pinot Noir block to newer French clones. On a former 1 1/2 acre block of Chardonnay we plan to install a narrow spaced trellis this year, allow the ground to lie fallow to deplete nematodes then replant in 2018. Our rain water collect system development continues. The infrastructure of collection piping has been completed and has passed preliminary tests. Five 1000 gal tanks have been received but the pad for their placement has not been done because of wet ground conditions. This project takes a back seat to our vineyard work and by the time we complete the project rains will be over and we probably won't get to use it until 2018. Our wine grape production last year was a record and we are hoping for another good year as demand for grapes appear to be strong again in 2017.
Our 2015 Chardonnay has sold out but the 2016 Chardonnay is showing well in the barrel, it might possibly be our best to date, and will be bottled in May this year. We don't produce a lot of Chardonnay nor enter it in competition. Our style of barrel ferment in neutral oak with partial ML provides a crisp and fruity unique style that pairs wonderfully with seafood or poultry and our red customers are starting to take notice. The 2015 wines are coming along nicely and will continue to be aged 18-22 months in the barrel prior to bottling. We will start bottling the 2016 Pinot in May and finish with the Cabernet in August. We still have a small inventory of wonderful delicious 2012 Pinot, Cabernet and BeauSierra available. These wines are all on sale, well aged and drinking great so this is a good time to buy before it's too late. We are excited about the 2013 Pinot, Cab and BeauSerra which will soon be released upon depletion of the 2012s. They are deep rich in fruit, well balanced, will please your palate and have all been awarded medals in pre-release wine competitions. Our current 2013 Papa Nonno continues to be a perennial favorite with customers and has won 2 Gold Medals. The current 2014 Old Vine Zinfandel is a bolder heavier fruit forward style than our normal production. It is higher in alcohol at 15.2% with mid/off dry residual sugar giving a slightly higher sweetness on the finish. Although this style is different than what we normally produce, it captures the affection of wine judges and has won 2 Gold and 1 Silver medal in the 3 competitions entered to date. The 2015 & 2016 vintage Zinfandels are more in keeping with our former style which we prefer. 2014 Pinot, Cab, Papa, BeauSierra were bottled last year and will be released upon depletion of prior vintages.
The year is new but the work is not new. Engineers define work as force times distance. If you're 185 lbs. and climb a 16 ft ladder to the top of a tank that's work and if you want to factor in how fast you climbed to the top, then you're talking horsepower. 550 ft.lbs./sec equals 1 horsepower so in my case if I climb the 16 ft ladder in 10 seconds, that's a little over 1/2 hp. I think I'm good for that even though Going Forward I’m running at 75% efficiency. Believe it or Not!
We hope to see you at the winery soon, bring a lunch, enjoy tasting our wines and relax by enjoying the beautiful surroundings of our vineyards and the Dry Creek landscape.
Editor: Jim Forchini