News from the Vine - July 2017
This newsletter marks the 13th year of me having a wine club which means this is my 78th letter. Do I feel old, heck yea! But I also feel very lucky. It is a great privilege to write this letter to you. The wine club that you are part of has become the backbone of my whole existence in this dynamic and intensive industry. I vividly remember writing the first letter to around 20 members that I wrote in my little wharf tasting room. Those were challenging yet wonderful times. I don't think it is any secret that without a wine club small wineries such as my own would not be able to exist. The wholesale model, even with the highest prices allowable, makes a winery minimal to zero profit. So I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your patronage!
The talk on the hill seems to always be about how the abundant rainfall affects the vines. Well, simply put there is a lot of water available for the plants to draw off of so the use of irrigation can be reduced. In some of the vineyards the vigor of the plant is a little too extreme and we will take to the vines with hedgers soon, to stop the apical growth of the plant so that the energy can be focused in on the growth of the fruit. Whether we have drought or abundant rainfall, we have the ability (with irrigation) to focus the fruit into supreme quality. The only time we hold tight with white knuckles is when the flowers are setting. We are past that, and it appears we have a healthy set.
I will be firing up the new bottling line and we will begin to bottle the 2014 Merlot Zayante Vineyard. This was a big harvest for Zayante and we have around 720 cases to do. I think with the new line the 3 of us can do this in 2 days. Then it is on to the best wine I have made to date, our 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Beauregard Ranch. Both of these wines will be stacked up in the cellar and not released for a minimum of one year. It is a big investment on my part to purchase grapes and pay for all the production expenses: new French oak, bottles, corks, labels and bottling expenses and then plan to sit on the inventory for another year. I do this because this is the right way to do it. My sole goal is to make the best wine I can. I am at a point in my career where the most important thing is to make wines that will rival those of the old country (France). The wines I craft are intended to age for 20-30 years though they are wonderful now. Once the Bordeaux varieties are bottled, I will move on to Zinfandel and Syrah, and then start to prepare for August bottling of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. My goal is to finish before we start to pick our grapes for sparkling wine. The window to complete this job is plentiful as of now, but when working with machinery we never know if we will have a break down that can cost us precious time. I have been doing lots of preventative maintenance on the equipment, and now it is time to let it all rip.
I have also been making preparations for the upcoming vintage. Our estate wine are all decided on and will continue the consistency that we have appreciated over the years. On the flip side, my tour with Regan Vineyards has come to an end and I will no longer be making the Orange Wine or the Pinot Gris. As much as I love working with the Bargetto family, I have decided that the terroir of Beauregard will become more focused on Bonny Doon. Additionally, the fate of Zayante Vineyard is up in the air. The vineyard and home site of my dear friends Greg and Kathleen is in escrow with a cash offer and they are rather certain the deal will close. As a result, the fruit that I have been buying for the past 18 years may or may not be available to me this year. I have made many wonderful wines from those old dry farmed vines and the working relationship with Zayante Vineyards has been wonderful. I wish the new owners (whoever they are) the most success. I have Zayante wines in barrel through 2017 so it will be roughly 5 years until I am sold out of this inventory.
So, my harvest plans this year have by circumstance pushed me towards a direction that I should be going (thank you fate). 2017 could very well be our first vintage using only estate fruit. This prospect excites me in all honestly. I always see Ben Lomond Mountain in the same light as Ridge, Mt. Eden, Hirsch, and Calera in the sense that they have pinpointed a terroir that they identify with and stick to it with dedication. I believe that these changes will elevate the quality of our product in the short term because I will be able to be more focused on being true to Ben Lomond Mountain.
By the next time I write you a letter, I will have fermentations rolling like crazy. Summer vacation will be over for my kids and the vintage of 2017 will be upon us. I am very excited for this vintage. I plan to continue to make very focused wines that identify their origin and my origin of Bonny Doon, California.
Once again, thank you for your patronage and allowing me to live the dream.