Sierra at 5 years at our old 1996 basket press Sierra at 23.........my how you've grown up!
Dateline: August 18, 2014
A Big Welcome For Our New Employee
We are pleased to have my granddaughter Sierra Forchini Blair working full time at the winery. Sierra started in July a will have the title of Assistant Winemaker/Business Operations with responsibilities in production, marketing, wine clubs, promotion, and social media. Sierra has a BS in Enology from UC Davis and has done 2 internships with Quintessa Winery in Napa County and a large coop winery in Blenheim, New Zealand. Prior to that she has helped part time at our winery in various assignments. For a time she lived on the ranch in her early years and has had a first hand exposure to wine grape growing, the winery and of course a little wine diluted with water at family meals. We are glad she wanted to be a part of the family business and know that she will make great contributions to our winery.
Sierra at 7 wishing cheers to Special Event guests
2014 Vintage Harvest Update
Here we are about to begin our 43rd grape harvest. It is hard to believe that in 1971 I used up all my company paid 2 week vacation to harvest my first grape crop. As a rookie, I really didn’t have a clue as to how this was going to happen. The former owner who was suppose to help me the first year had gone sour on me and wasn’t going to be of any help. I wouldn’t have made it had it not been for the kind assistance of a close by older grower who I didn’t even know. He somehow heard of my dilemma, felt sorry for me and offered to help. He not only took me under his wing and recruited a large family to do the harvest but also advised me on how the former owner accomplished the task. To do this we needed to prune back the canes to make avenues among the 8 ft. spaced 100 year old vines. We made avenues every 20 rows so that the pickers would go in 10 vines and pick towards the avenue. Wood picking lugs were placed on the edge of the avenue where the picker would take an empty lug to be filled with grapes. When the lug was full with approximately 50 lbs. of grapes, the picker would place an assigned chalk number on the side of the lug and stack on the edge of the avenue. We would then enter the avenue with a narrow gauge John Deer MC crawler pulling a narrow flat bed trailer, collect the lugs and tally the numbers. The pickers were paid by the lug which in those days was about 50 cents a lug or $20/ton. The trailer was then moved adjacent to a 1949 GMC flatbed and 2 men would dump 200 grape lugs to fill a 5 ton gondola for transport to the winery. Back breaking work, you bet but that’s how it was done in those early days. Today of course more modern ways have progressed to harvest grapes. Mechanical harvesters are used to pick over 35% of the vineyards in Sonoma County where feasible and hand picking is more efficient paying a picking crew a combined price of up to $150/ton to fill ½ ton plastic bins or narrow 2 ton in the row gondolas that are hydraulically lifted for loading to trucks or crushers.
With the severe drought in California this year it was predicted to be an early harvest. It did in fact start early in late July with the harvest for low sugar sparkling wine production. Sugar development has since slowed down a bit due to unseasonable lower temperatures in August combined with a lot of fog and damp mornings. We are currently around 21-22 degrees brix on Pinot Noir and waiting for a little more sweetness however the acids and PH are looking good. We expect to be picking soon and look forward to getting this harvest behind us as the vines are stressed from both this year’s drought and last year’s low rainfall. In spite of the low rain, a good crop is evident on Pinot Noir, Cabernet, and Chardonnay however we expect the production ftrom the older non-irrigated Zin vines to be lower .
. Hand picking and loading on our first harvest in 1971
We have released 2 new wines on August 1st.....our 2012 Old Vine Zinfandel at 14.8% is simply delicious with balanced bright rich flavors of mixed berry , spice and herbs. It is very similar in style to our 011 Zin which sold out so quickly that we never entered it in competition. Also released on 8/1 was our 2011 BeauSierra Bordeaux Blend that won 3 gold medals before it hit the shelf. Our 2011 Papa Nonno scored 95 points in the Red Blend category of the North Coast Wine Challenge competing against wineries in Sonoma, Napa, Lake & Mendocino countites. Only 9 cases of this wonderful wine are left so hurry if you would like a bottle or two. We still have good supply on our 2010 Pinot & Cabernet. Both of these noble wines have had extensive aging as they are both 4 years old. and have won many gold medals including a Best of Class and Double Gold. These will be great wines for the upcoming Holidays and a steal at $34/bottle.We plan to make our Paradiso Rosato wine again this year as Rose wines are gaining in popularity and our 2013 is nearly sold out with only 4 cases remaining. Also, if I can can find some neutral white burgundy french oak barrels, we will make more Chardonnay as we didn't make it last year and the 2012 is near depleted. I can't think of a better wine to serve with seafood or roast chicken than our crisp barrel fermented partial ML Chardonnay.
Please stop by if you are out our way during harvest. You might be able to see some winery operations in progress and/or pickers harvesting the fruit of the vines. Fall Harvest is usually a great time of the year with crisp clear days, cool nites and the wonderful colors of the vineyards.
Hope you have all had a great summer. Cheers!
Editor - Jim Forchini