For the past two weeks, we have been suffering from mid-winter heat. Bud break has begun, at least a month early. Not all varieties are opened but the best news is that the latest forecast says that this coming Sunday should bring a prolonged rainy period, which we can definitely use.
We expect to be finished pruning by the end of this week and will be tying by mid next week, just in time to avoid knocking the buds off when we tie to the trellis system. Budding out this early will cause us to have a prolonged frost season. More rain would help protect the crop. At high moisture levels, frost damage is less severe. It still makes for a long time to be on call for frost protection.
2014 Chenin Blanc: For us, Chenin Blanc is primarily a Tasting Room wine, where it sells well. We make only 200-300 cases each year. Our 2015 crop was very small and we are skipping the vintage. What few grapes we have will probably show up in someone else’s Sauvignon Blanc. Our 2014 has the lowest residual sugar of any of our past wines. At .3 residual sugar, this one is similar in sweetness to most Chardonnays in todays market. You will find this one to be stronger in character with just enough sugar to improve the nose and show no signs of sweetness. This one will be a good experience, very similar to what you would enjoy in the Loire Valley. The book tells us to serve with oysters. Good luck with that. I suggest that you sip it with a friend.
2010 Merlot: This will be a one time experience as it seems a large buyer liked it. We only kept enough for the Wine Club. This wine is 100% Merlot. In Bordeaux last spring, we found most Merlot blended with varying amounts of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot, something we have considered doing ourselves. The 2010 also shows quite a bit of tannin and I’m going to blame that on the weather at harvest. We had to pick it a little early, which would still be very mature in Bordeaux but not quite so ripe in California. This is a very nice wine with firm tannins. Great with pork chops and your wife’s meatloaf!
2012 Syrah: We promise next time to get the label right. It says Los Alamos Vineyard but it really should say Valley View Vineyard in Santa Ynez. It doesn’t mention the 4% Viognier with which it was co-fermented. This wine shows the influence of new barrels that we purchased in 2012. The grapes were picked October 15th of 2012 at 26 Brix sugar, very ripe and showing dimples, what the Australians refer to as “slightly shriveled”. This is one that needs to be added to your cellar. Full bodied in character, striking in color color, with a hint of fragrance from the Viognier. This one is special.
We’re looking forward to the real spring. In April we have the Vintners Festival with a Winemaker Dinner to be announced, and Wine & Cheese Pairings at both Tasting Rooms. I hope you enjoy living under your umbrella for the next few weeks.