Mid-winter in Solvang and we have a high of 70°F with no clouds. This morning, we saw 32.9°F in the Valley View Cabernet vineyard with some white stuff on the ground. So far, we’ve had a total of 6 inches of rain. Normal for our area is 12-15 inches total. Rain is expected this coming Sunday. February has been slated to be our wet month. There’s nothing like a farmer starting off with a weather report! We’ve reached the point that to go forward we need an abundance of rain for the next sixty days. We have a good start. This morning I talked with Steve at Steele Wines, one of our long time grape purchasers near Clear Lake and they are at 22 inches of rain so far. They can almost dry farm for the rest of the year, and I’m sure they will.
We’ve been busy pruning in the vineyard. This week we will reach the halfway mark. It’s taking 30 men to prune and 9 ladies to tie. We missed our Prune a Row party with a bad forecast. It turned out to be not that bad of a day so on Sunday, I played host to six canceled pruners at the Valley View Vineyard. They enjoyed the view and I pruned a couple of vines to show them that we’re for real!
Enjoy your bonus bottle, a very nice Chardonnay with a strange label! I assure you that it came from our vineyard and winery. It was obviously meant for someone else but miscommunication can happen in any good relationship and in this case it benefits you. I won’t explain any more other than to say Happy Valentine’s Day. Their loss is your gain! It won a gold medal at the Lucas & Lewellen winery. You know, in Australia they judge their own wines.
2014 Muscat Canelli - Crisp and refreshing - like a bouqet of flowers in a bottle! A not-so-sweet sweet wine at 1.5% RS, considerably less than what we’ve done in the past but the trend has been for the last several years to reduce the residual sugar. Muscat continues to be very popular but at very low prices. Most of that Muscat is grown in the San Joaquin Valley where it is quite hot and grapes are plentiful. Our Muscat grapes sell for 2-3 times the price of those grapes. Reason? Our production is lower and, more importantly, our Muscat grows beside our Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio in a cool region for more flavor and better acidity making it unique. We have one of the best Muscat buyers in the country in V. Sattui Winery and Castello di Amarosa near St. Helena - it’s worth paying a visit when you’re in the Napa Valley. It’s home to Brooks Painter, one of California’s finest winemakers.
2012 Barbera - A difficult grape to get really ripe. It ripens late in the season and is very susceptible to rain damage. So many times it’s picked not by selection but by necessity. This one had the benefit of a perfect growing season, long and dry. As a result, the color is great. It’s big and jammy with alcohol at 14.5%. Vines were planted on their own roots and are over 35 years old. At that age, clusters tend to be smaller and grapes more intense. Aged in 30% new oak with French heads and American staves. Oak is very complementary to Barbera.
Wish you were all going to the Valentines dinner! It sold out early. That’s what happens when you’re under pressure!
You’ll just have to settle for your El Rancho Chardonnay. Keep your umbrellas ready...El Niño is here!