Thursday, September 4, 2008

Wine Blog: Crush 2008

Wine Blog: 2008 Crush
11:22 AM on Aug. 14, 2008
One of the most interesting things to me is that you can appreciate wine from so many different perpsectives. As a consumer, producer, grower, winemaker, each has a unique take on wine and what it means. As we approach the 2008 harvest or "Crush" as it is referred to, I thought I would share my thoughts feelings and observations as a boutique winemaker in the Northern California wine country. As we go thru crush from now till about November, I'd like to share the work, intensity, craziness, pitfalls, and all the effort that goes into bringing fruit from the fields and turning it into wine. As we go, feel free to write back, laugh with (or at) what takes place and ask any sort of question..

Today, a bit of background.. I am a small (300 cases) producer working with my own Estate Zinfandel as well as Chardonnay, Syrah, Cab & Sauvignon Blanc. I work thru a winery located in the Livemore Valley just east of San Francisco. We are just south of Napa & Sonoma. Wine making has been taking place in Livermore for over a century.
I had been interested in wine for many years. Yet I always gravitated to the vineyards. While everyone else was in the winery tasting wines and admiring artwork or some such thing, I was out in the vineyard, looking at drip irrigation systems or trellis design. I owned a steep hillside property behind my home, and after a lot of thought, and research I decided to make the leap. In 2004, I planted an acre of Zin with a bit of Pinot Noir ( Why Pinot? you ask? Because I could!) The property was so steep everything had to be done by hand. I can assure you, that you get good at something once you've done it a few hundred times!
After planting, I had a couple of years to wait till I would have a meaningful harvest. At first I had no interest in winemaking. How ever I thought I would like to know more about the other side of the equation if you will.
I began taking classes at UC Davis, reading everything I could get my hands on. I went out and met with vineyard owners and winemakers. I began making wine in '04 with a Cab and became hooked. As I learned more about the wine business I realized that it was similar to many things in my own preofessional background. The idea of starting my own wine business grew and after writing a business plan and submitting it to two people I respect and knew were not enamoured by the romance of the wine business ,I asked them to review this and stop me before I did anything stupid..... I got a ringing endorsement from both of them and have been developing my small wine label since.
Two people that were very influencial on me were Jack Cakebread of Cakebread Cellars and Nancy Tentua of Tentua Vineyards. Both of them shared their own stories of getting started, and provided encouragement and advice.
I am now in my second year of bringing my wines to others. Last year, I served as a winemaking intern in Sonoma and was able to work with 4 different winemakers, all with different styles and approaches to making wine.
In 2008, it will be exciting to see what the vineyards bring us. In most cases making wine is this simple. Great wine is make in the vineyard. As winemaker, your job is to not screw up what nature gave you. This year, nature gave us frost, early heat, dry conditions and wildfires. It will be interesting to see what we make of this vintage...

Next blog..... "Laying the Game Plan"...........

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