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Images of the Harvest

These images show both hand and machine picking. Because of the unusually large harvest and the quick ripening grapes we felt the need to use one or two nights of machine picking. It so happens, on this one night, the pickers kicked a.. and beat the machine. The picking machine, or harvester, has the same […]
Categories: North America

Frozen in Carbon: From Han Solo to Beaujolais to the Willamette Valley


Han Solo, Darth Vadar & Pinot Noir - and you thought this comparison couldn't be made :)

Here is fun press coverage for our Whole Cluster Pinot Noir on the NW Wine Anthem:
http://www.nwwineanthem.com/2014/06/frozen-in-carbon-from-han-solo-to.html
Categories: North America

Pierre Vincent, IWC Red Winemaker of the Year 2014 at the IWC

Le Domaine de la Vougeraie - Burgundy - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 09:55

Last night in London, at the International Wine Challenge* gala dinner, Pierre Vincent from the Domaine de la Vougeraie won the Trophy for Red Winemaker of the Year 2014.

In June, the Corton-Charlemagne 2011 from the Domaine de la Vougeraie, made by Pierre Vincent, scooped four IWC gold medals for Best French White Wine, Best Corton-Charlemagne, Best Chardonnay and Best White Burgundy.

On 16 July, a second tasting of all the gold medal winners picked out the international trophie winners including the Domaine de la Vougeraie.

The IWC Red Winemaker of the Year trophy was once again awarded to Pierre Vincent, who had previously won the honor in 2010.

For the past few years, the Domaine de la Vougeraie has often been lauded by the IWC. Last year, the Vougeot Premier Cru Le Clos Blanc de Vougeot 2010 Monopole won three trophies: the International Chardonnay Trophy, the White Burgundy Trophy and the French White Trophy. In 2012, the Domaine’s Charmes-Chambertin Les Mazoyères won the Charmes Chambertin Trophy, the Red Burgundy Trophy and the International Pinot Noir Trophy. In previous years, this distinction was attributed to the Clos Vougeot 2006 and the Bonnes Mares 2008, which allowed them both to scoop the IWC Organic Trophy.

*The International Wine Challenge is one of the most prestigious wine competitions in the world with more than 14,000 wines from 50 countries being tasted by 300 professional tasters who are mainly Masters of Wine.

http://www.internationalwinechallenge.com/trophy-results-2014.html

ANOTHER INTERNATIONAL TROPHY FOR THE VOUGERAIE AT THE DECANTER WORLD WINE AWARDS!

At the end of June, the Domaine de la Vougeraie’s legendary Vougeot Premier Cru Le Clos Blanc de Vougeot Monopole 2011 was awarded the Decanter World Wine Awards International Trophy for White Blend over £15. The Decanter award winners were selected from among 15,007 samples tasted by 224 judges from around the world including 66 London-based Masters of Wine.

Categories: Europe

Another Villa Maria Viticulturist Wins National Title

Villa Maria Estate - New Zealand - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 02:00
Friday 29 August. A great celebration at the Bragato Awards in Marlborough last night as Viticulturist Paul Robinson won Young Viticulturist of the Year and Villa Maria received Six Gold Medals
Categories: Oceania

More about the Harvest

We are processing Pinot Noir and it looks to be a substantial harvest. Difficult to explain because after 2 years of drought you might assume that the harvest would be small. The images show a new configuration of our grape handling process. The grapes picked at night are nice and cool despite warm days. They […]
Categories: North America

Thoughts On The Napa Earthquake

Westwood Winery - Sonoma, CA - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 18:44

Carneros highway break, Elise NerloveEarly Sunday morning the earth ruptured about 15 miles from my home. I was awake when the quake hit. It was twenty seconds of increasingly violent shaking that had me racing to the back of the house to get everyone under the doorways. Then it was over.

I was in the lab at UC Davis during the Morgan Hill event. I felt the building sway and worried a little that the gas cylinders next to me were clanging around but otherwise had no idea of the extent of the devastation suffered near the epicenter.

I was driving down the Silverado Trail when the Loma Prieta quake hit. It punted my truck into the oncoming lane. Fortunately there was no oncoming traffic (though perhaps they might have been pushed off the road by the same shockwave) but I was mildly alarmed that the announcer on the radio station I was listening to had time to say “what was that…?” before the signal turned to static.

But this was the strongest quake I have experienced, the first one where I felt fear for the lives of my family and friends. I’m forever grateful that nobody died, or was seriously injured. Given the damage that we saw in some of the barrel cellars… Broken Barrel, image by Carole Meredith …it is just very damned lucky that this quake hit at 3:20am on a Sunday morning, and not at 3:20pm on a workday. A full barrel weighs 600 lb. and has steel-reinforced sharp edges at both ends. People working in those cellars that suffered the kind of damage we’ve seen in images like the one above would have been maimed or killed.

Sunday wasn’t over before the punditry in media started hyperventilating. One that got my attention was an article in the Sacramento Bee, crying that the quake should be a “wake-up call” for the Napa Valley wine industry. Quoting Tom Rockwell, a seismologist at UC San Diego,
“…this could have been a much larger earthquake. What I mean by a wake-up call is I think it’s important for the industry up there to realize they do have an active fault that goes up the valley. It could produce earthquakes that are even larger than this.”

My first thought was “brilliant analysis, Mr. armchair quarterback 520 miles away.” I’ve been through the planning and permitting process for several wineries, and seismic risk is always taken into consideration. The West Napa Fault — the likely focus of the rupture — is identified as a zone of special investigation according to the provisions of the Alquist- Priolo Earthquake Fault Zoning Act of 1972. ABAG West Napa Fault shaking map This shaking intensity prediction map for the West Napa Fault provided by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) is evidence that anyone applying to build a structure in Napa likely doesn’t need a wake-up call when it comes to seismic risk.

Corison Winery in St. Helena was well out of the zone of most intense shaking, but like many of us winemaker Cathy Corison felt the quake, and posted on Twitter @cathycorison to reassure friends and family: Cathy Corison I was at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars when Loma Prieta hit, and our barrel stacks — like those at Corison — didn’t budge. Contrast this with barrels Steve Matthiasson @matthiassonwine had stored at one of the facilities in the damage zone: Matthiasson So yes, maybe the wine industry does need a wake-up call. Not a general wake-up regarding seismic risks, but a very specific call to stack our barrels more safely.

I spoke with Chris Cotrell (@FineWineSpecilst) — Morgan Peterson’s assistant @BedrockWineCo — after the quake and he said he’s never been more relieved that they switched to 4-barrel racks from the 2-barrel steel racks most commonly used in the industry. Even these 2-barrel racks can be constructed to enhance earthquake safety. It should concern all of us in the wine cellar that these features are not incorporated into our work environment.

In the meantime, friends and neighbors continue to clean up, pull their lives together, and get back to harvest. Napa schools are open today, and most grocery stores are cleaned up and re-stocking. But over a hundred buildings and counting are being red-tagged as uninhabitable. Some of our friends and neighbors have lost much and some of them are among those with the least wherewithal to rebuild. Like some of my friends I made a cash donation to Community Action Napa Valley (canv.org) and am taking a big bag of non-perishable items over to their food distribution center today.

Right after I get back from sampling a vineyard. After all, there’s grapes to be picked — earthquake or no.

Categories: North America

15 Tips for Hosting the Perfect Labor Day BBQ

15 Tips for Hosting the Perfect Labor Day BBQ

The sun is shining, the grill is hot and your friends are gathered but before you crack open those hot dog buns and burger patties take a look at our tips for hosting the perfect Labor Day BBQ.

  1. Plan Ahead: Choose recipes that can be made ahead of time, that way you can spend less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying the company of your guests. Check out these fun and easy-to-make empanadas.
  2. Keep it Casual: Serve quick and easy small bites instead of planning a full meal. These bites can be put out on trays around the party and refilled as needed, this way guests can eat at their own pace.
  3. Keep out Uninvited Guests: Protect your food from pests by covering it with insect nets or glass covers. This is especially important for food that you keep out all day. Keep your food fresh by putting small amounts out at a time and refilling from the kitchen as necessary.
  4. Keep it Cool: In the heat of summer shade is crucial, make sure there are plenty of shaded areas at your party. You want to grill your burgers, not your guests!
  5. Outsmart the Elements: Wind can be a problem at any outdoor party. Weight your tablecloths to keep them from blowing in the wind and ruining your great set up. Do the same to your napkins and any other lightweight items.
  6. Utilize Your Grill: Summer doesn’t officially start until the grilling does and no summer party is complete without the grill. Pick out fun, easy grill recipes that will wow your guests. Mix it up; it doesn’t have to be the classic burger and hot dogs.
  7. Stay Hydrated: A cold, refreshing glass of white wine is essential to any summer gathering but its important to have plenty of other drink options as well, including non-alcoholic ones.  Try whipping up a pitcher of homemade lemonade to keep your guests hydrated throughout the day.
  8. Avoid a Traffic Jam: Set up a few self-serve drink stations around the backyard so guests don’t have to line up for refills. Be sure to stock your coolers with wine, beer and soda.
  9. Mingling Matters: Have places set up for guests to interact other than dining tables. Try setting up some standing tables where guests can have a casual chat over a quick drink or snack. Also, try setting up some benches together where people can relax. Not only do these extra set ups allow guests to mingle but it also means you don’t need to worry as much about cleaning up the tables!
  10. Label It: Avoid cup confusion by having your guests label their glass.
    • Get Crafty: Paint some chalkboard paint labels on your glasses so your guests can write their name. The best part is you can reuse these for all your future parties!
    • Get Simple: Create small tie-on name tags that guests can attach to the stem of their wine glass.
    • Get Cheap: Pick up some disposable cups and a sharpie from the store.
  11. Don’t Forget the Color: Summer is the time of year for bright, festive colors. Decorate your backyard with colored napkins and lanterns. Liven it up by adding bright, beautiful flowers to each table.
  12. Day to Night: Have a fire pit ready if your day party continues into the cool summer evening. However, you should check your local fire ordinances first! If you don’t have a fire pit have some blankets on hand for guests if it gets chilly.
  13. Light it Up: Have candles ready to light as soon as the sun goes down. Add some citronella candles to the mix to fight off nighttime pests.
  14. Keep Dessert Fresh: Use fruit to make an easy dessert and highlight delicious summer flavors. Make a simple fruit salad so you don’t have to worry about cooking or step it up a notch and serve grilled fruit with ice cream.
  15. It’s Not All About The Food: Don’t forget to keep your guests entertained. Plan some fun backyard games that are easy to understand and don’t require extreme effort. When in doubt, use this rule of thumb: if you can play while holding a drink in your hand it’s a great game for a summer BBQ. Make it a glass of K-J AVANT!

The post 15 Tips for Hosting the Perfect Labor Day BBQ appeared first on Kendall-Jackson Blog.

Categories: North America

2012: the sumptuous vintage: a rare gem!

Le Domaine de la Vougeraie - Burgundy - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 12:43

Superlatives are called for to describe 2012. The lovely 2012 vintage confirms its similarities with the outstanding 2005; very concentrated, very rich, its delicacy underscored by a delightful freshness.

This blessed vintage confirms its altogether exceptional greatness. The wines are very concentrated, with lots of body and fruit, and superb balance between sugar and acidity thanks to the excellent state of the grapes after a lovely summer. It all would have been perfect, if it wasn’t for the tiny volumes harvested.

Everything began with a concentrated harvest for a concentrated wine. Those were the first words which came to mind for this memorable vintage, which in July did not look too promising, yet which was saved by August. The grape picking was a 10-day race against the rain. Although two areas, Bâtard-Montrachet and Pommard, were hit by hail, and some others suffered frost damage, the small quantities harvested were not far short of perfection: small bunches with millerandage, thick skins, and good balance.

This extreme concentration allowed for an unprecedented vinification in whole bunches, which brings more body to the wines, smoother tannins, and greater aromatic complexity. At the start of ageing, the intense bouquet of the reds and the liquid gold of the whites were the most marked characteristics of two great personalities. The one great regret is that quantities were so low – around a quarter less than usual – meaning this vintage is exceptional not only in its beauty but also its scarcity.

 

Categories: Europe

The harvest of the summer honey

Le Domaine de la Vougeraie - Burgundy - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 12:15

This morning we harvested the summer honey from the grand cru plot of Les Bonnes Mares, and then from Le Clos du Prieuré in Vougeot.
The hives looked magnificent and the bees have been working very hard.
Next it’s time for tasting before putting it into jars.

Categories: Europe

Vintage 14

Shaw + Smith - Balhannah, South Australia - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 10:56

What started as an early start to vintage, slowed down with some unseasonal rains allowing the vineyards to recover from heat.  This was followed by a cool slow ripening period, keeping the grapes longer on the vines, increasing fruit intensity and flavour - always a good thing. Now we are in full swing with the cellar on 24 hour shifts. Dan, one of our vintage interns tweets "My hands are finally getting leathery, discoloured and generally manly. Thank you #v14@shawandsmith"!

Challenging vintages show the extraordinary value of years of experience and knowledge.  Ray Guerin (Viticulturist of the Year 2013) and winemaker, Adam Wadewitz have just come from the Woodlot vineyard, Balhannah and believe its some of the best Sauvignon Blanc flavours they have seen.  Chardonnay looks like the stand out variety for the season.  We are still a couple of weeks off picking the shiraz and although the yields are looking low, Ray and Adam are excited about the potential quality.
 

Categories: Oceania

Around the World in 5 Glasses

Ponte Winery - Temecula, CA - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 09:00


This group of gals is about to go around the world at The Cellar Lounge

There is less than a month of summer left.  Hopefully our guests and Members have had a sensational season, filled with vacations, long and lazy sunny days and plenty of thirst-quenching wine. If not, and your dreams of summer travel were squashed in the midst of work and unforeseen events, we’re here to tell you that a trip around the world before summer is over is not out of the question.

How would you like to be whisked away to the likes of coastal Italy or Greece?  Perhaps a journey across the pond to England is more your style.  Or maybe China or Indonesia is your ideal escape?  The Cellar Lounge at Ponte Vineyard Inn can take you there.  Tucked away beneath our luxurious yet comfortable 60-room boutique hotel sits the only full-service cocktail bar in Temecula Valley.  Styled like a 1920’s speakeasy, The Cellar Lounge offers up microbrews, small plates of food, local and international wines and artisan martini’s, each inspired by an exotic locale.  Relax, order a drink, and wait for the Mediterranean sunrays to wash over you, even if only in your mind…


Choose your ultimate destination…in a glass!

The Catania, named and inspired by the Sicilian city facing the Ionian sea, is a perfectly mixed martini which combines ice-cold vodka, Grand Marnier, blood orange liqueur and fresh orange juice.  Fresh, a little sweet and a touch bitter, it is a flawless nod to Italy’s most famous island and the citrus fruit grown there.

For anyone who craves a warm and sultry trip to Greece, the Santorini is for you.  Our mixologists shake up vodka, organic cucumber liqueur and freshly squeezed lemon juice for the ultimate summer cocktail.  This is perfect for a warm Temecula summer day and will have you daydreaming of crystal-blue waters and whitewashed, cliffside villas.

If the phrases “Cheerio” and “Long live the queen!” appeal to you, you may find yourself ordering the London, a martini that mixes gin, fresh lime juice, dry vermouth and a surprising bit of fresh jalapeno.  Gin gets its flavor from juniper berries and has been a wildly popular spirit in Great Britain since the Middle Ages, so it’s no surprise that it makes an appearance in London. While we can’t offer Bangers and Mash at The Cellar Lounge, this cocktail might be pleasant with our Butcher and Cheese Board.

If getting far, far away is your idea of a vacation, consider the Macao, our superb martini inspired by the subtropical region in China.  Elderflower-flavored St. Germain liqueur, all natural ginger liqueur and Ponte Moscato sparkling wine come together in a martini glass to create one of the most delicious and striking cocktails we offer.

And, finally, if you are one who is intrigued by the exotic and has a bit of a sweet tooth, the Java is for you.  Taking its cue from the Indonesian island it’s named after, Java is a cool concoction of caramel-flavored vodka, cream liqueur and espresso liqueur.  We love Java at the end of a long day or to polish off a wonderful meal.  Don’t be surprised to find yourself closing your eyes and imagining you’re swinging in a hammock on a beach at sunset.

While we don’t recommend you go “around the world” in one sitting at The Cellar Lounge, this tour of the globe is absolutely something you could experience over the course of a weekend stay at Ponte Vineyard Inn.  Our rooms and suites, excellent service and off-the-beaten-path location are the trinity for a great end-of-summer getaway.  Book your stay here.

And, just so you know, there are even more vacation destinations awaiting you at The Cellar Lounge…a Spanish tour of Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia can be found on our Sangria menu, while journeys to the likes of Venice, Monte Carlo and Los Cabos can be found on our selection of cocktails served on the rocks.  Go on, get away already!


A trio of Spanish Sangrias

–Erica Martinez

–Where is the one place in the world you’d like to visit?

Categories: North America

Santa Barbara Newspress Article about First Crush

>Click here to view full article (pdf).
Categories: North America

6 Wine Accessories Every Wine Drinker Should Own

6 Wine Accessories Every Wine Drinker Should Own

A person obviously doesn’t need anything more than a bottle of wine and a glass to drink it from to enjoy a nice wine. But there are things that can definitely enhance the experience. Here are some wine accessories every wine drinker should own that won’t break your budget.

  1. A good glass. It’s amazing how the same wine, tasted from different glasses, can taste differently. You don’t necessarily have to go out and splurge on pricy crystal glasses that claim to be made for different wine colors and varieties. But for home drinking, it’s nice to have a set of fine stemware. Get something with a large bowl, so you can swirl the wine without spilling it. Don’t fill the glass too full. And avoid glasses that aren’t clear!
  2. A good cork pull. There are so many kinds of cork pullers these days, it’s hard to know what to choose. My standby is a basic sommelier’s corkscrew. You can get a good one for under $20 — they last forever, you can fit in your pocket or purse and it just feels and sounds good popping that cork!
  3. A good decanter. Decanting is not just for old, rare wines. Almost any wine, red or white, will benefit from a little time in a decanter. Besides, a lovely, clear decanter looks elegant on a dinner table. If you’re proud of the bottle, you can always put it on the table, too, right next to the decanter.
  4. A good wine refrigerator. You may not have the space or the funds for your own customized walk-in wine cellar. But for a fairly reasonable price — say, below $500 — you can get a temperature-controlled unit that holds a few dozen bottles. And often, these will have dual temperature controls, so your whites can be chilled colder than your reds.
  5. Cleaning brushes. Some people don’t like putting fine crystal glasses or decanters in the dishwasher. They prefer to wash these items by hand (I do). There are many soft brushes, of various sizes, that let you do the job easily and safely, without scratching the crystal.
  6. Good wine books. If you have a passion for wine and want to learn more about it, consider buying some educational wine books or subscribing to a wine magazine. You’d be surprised how knowing more about wine will increase your pleasure. There are obviously too many books and magazines to recommend specific ones, but you might start with something that specializes in the kinds of wines you prefer: say California, Australian or dessert wines. There also are some great books on pairing wine and food.

Salud! And happy drinking.

Steve Heimoff is one of America’s most respected and well-known wine writers. The former West Coast Editor for Wine Enthusiast Magazine and a contributor to Wine Spectator, he has also authored two books on the subject of California wine, including “New Classic Winemakers of California: Conversations with Steve Heimoff,” published in the fall of 2007.

The post 6 Wine Accessories Every Wine Drinker Should Own appeared first on Kendall-Jackson Blog.

Categories: North America

Inner Staves

Older barrels, 4-5 years old, lose their ability to transmit the subtle oak flavors we look for in wine. Every year at the beginning of harvest this expert crew comes to the winery and in a matter of minutes install inner oak staves in older barrels.
Categories: North America

It’s Time to Love Chardonnay Again

Ponte Winery - Temecula, CA - Mon, 08/25/2014 - 09:00


Poor Chardonnay.  It is, by far, considered the wine people love to hate.  It’s even sparked an entire wine subculture: ABC drinkers, a.k.a. those who will drink Anything But Chardonnay.  What’s wild is that this grape is, at the same time, one of the world’s most popular wine grapes.

I, too, thought I hated Chardonnay some time ago.  I had tasted one too many that were oaky and bitter and just plain not my style.  In a classic closed-minded gesture, I then turned my nose up at any mention of the varietal.  And then one day I bought a bottle of Blanc de Blanc champagne.  I loved it – bright, crisp with lovely fruit and a mineral-y zest.  Turning the bottle around to read the description I saw the words, “100% Chardonnay grapes.”  Whaaa?  Totally busted.  Doing a little research I discovered that some of the world’s great white wines – Chablis, Montrachet, Saint Veran – are all made with the Chardonnay grape.  While Chardonnay wines are aged in oak barrels or with oak chips, these varietals are either not aged in oak at all or have very minimal contact with it.  Thus, the delicious flavors of the grape shine through without being masked by an assault of buttery-ness or oak.

Originating in the Burgundy region of France, Chardonnay is now grown in many parts of the world, and it excels here in southern California.  In our climate, Chardonnay grapes generally produce light to medium-bodied wines with wonderful tropical fruit flavors.  It is one of the only white wine varietals that is classically aged in oak, although, some vintners choose to keep it away from the barrel and age it solely in stainless steel.  At Ponte, we like things classy, so our Chard is aged in oak barrels, but for just enough time to give it a wisp of warm vanilla and toasty undertones.  Our 2013 vintage was recently sent in a Wine Club shipment and Members raved about its bright pear and pineapple flavors with traces of orange citrus on the finish.  You can purchase our 2013 Chardonnay here.

We also recently harvested our 2014 Chardonnay grapes…


2014 Chardonnay  harvest.  The brown spots show the impressive sugar content of the grapes. 

Even though we just picked the grapes on the 28th of July, this vintage is already showing beautiful pear and pineapple characteristics.  The oak barrel-aging that lies ahead will bring out hints of vanilla, toast and coconut as well.

We encourage you to stop by any day of the week and try our current Chardonnay, a wine we feel will change any preconceived notions you have about this timeless varietal.

–Erica Martinez/Mark Schabel

Categories: North America

9 Fun Activities To Do This Summer and Fall

9 Fun Activities To Do This Summer and Fall

Summer and fall are the perfect time to start new adventures but sometimes we still end up in the same routine. Many of us just need a little inspiration to liven up these sunny months. Luckily we’re here to help you out!

  1. Have a Picnic. You’ll most likely find this activity on the top of anyone’s summer to do list but with good reason. No one can deny the fun of a picnic when you bring together good friends, good food and, most importantly, good wine!
  2. Go to an Outdoor Concert. Outdoor concerts are becoming increasingly popular and can be found all over the US. Whether it’s as simple as a small free concert in your hometown or a large-scale production of your favorite band, outdoor concerts are always a fun experience. Do some research around your area to find a great open-air show; you won’t regret it.
  3. Host a BBQ. Summertime was made for BBQs! Take advantage and host an awesome backyard BBQ for your friends this summer. If you’re intimidated by making food for a large amount of people make your life easier and turn it into a potluck! Be sure to check out our tips on how to throw a great summer BBQ.
  4. Pick Fruit. Summer produce is one of the highlights of the season; take advantage of all it has to offer. If you don’t have a garden try to find a farm near you that allows you to pick your own fruit. Check out pickyourown.com to help you get started.
  5. Start an Herb Garden. Do ever find yourself wishing for some fresh herbs on hand to liven up your dinner plate? Remedy that by starting a small herb garden. It doesn’t have to be any large-scale production; you can start one right from the comfort of your kitchen windowsill.  Pick a few of your favorite herbs and get started!
  6. Go to the Farmer’s Market. This one may be an obvious summer activity but make it more interesting by picking out some produce you’ve never tried or heard of before. There are so many types of fruits and vegetables out there, if you dig around you’re sure to discover something new!
  7. Take a trip to a National Park. With breathtaking national parks scattered all across the nation, there is sure to be one close enough for you to explore. National parks are full of outdoor beauty, something that we should all be taking advantage of in these beautiful summer months. Check out our list of must see national parks to help you choose where to go!
  8. Go Wine Tasting. Gather up some friends (and a designated driver!) and find a winery near you. If there are no wineries in your area try hosting your own wine tasting party!
  9. Create a Photo Journal. Relive all the great memories you’ve made by creating a photo journal of all your summer activities.

The post 9 Fun Activities To Do This Summer and Fall appeared first on Kendall-Jackson Blog.

Categories: North America

Harvest has begun at Castello di Amorosa

Castello di Amorosa - Napa Valley - Fri, 08/22/2014 - 20:37

Our Pinot Noir and Chardonnay harvest for sparkling wine is now complete, and early Pinot Grigio grapes have also been pressed and are now cold-settling in tank. Predictions of an early harvest have proved to be true, so we are preparing for Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Muscat and dry-farmed Zinfandel to follow quickly into the winery.

Quality is very high, and we expect a stellar vintage in Napa Valley in 2014. Some varieties are yielding a bit light while others may come in a bit heavy. Cabernet Sauvignon (pictured above) looks great; Chardonnay and Pinot Noir yields are expected to be average, while Syrah and Merlot clusters are sizing up and will be at or above expectations. The cool weather over the last two weeks have given the vines a chance to recover from the summer drought conditions, and I am really excited about flavor development and acid profiles in the grapes. We want to extend the “hang-time” a bit for reds, so that the skin and phenolic maturity reaches its peak before harvest. Given our current weather everything looks really good, and 2014 should be another excellent year!

Categories: North America

Farmers at Heart

Ponte Winery - Temecula, CA - Fri, 08/22/2014 - 09:00


A farmer’s work is never done

You may have heard us say once or twice that we at Ponte are “farmers at heart.”  What does that mean?  We’ll explore that, but first a little history… In 1984 the Ponte family purchased the vineyard in Temecula Valley and has been farming it ever since.  I envy them.  You see, when I was a little girl, I wanted to be a farmer when I grew up.  I even have the artwork to prove it; Dated “Kindergarten, 1985” the messy, colorful picture shows my depiction of myself standing on a field of crops, holding a pitchfork and wearing a straw hat.  I have long brown hair, am wearing overalls and a crooked Crayola smile.  Carrots and lettuce poke out of the ground below my stick figure-self.  Towards the top of the paper is written: “When I grow up I want to be a farmer and a mommy.”

I’m happy to say I achieved 50% of that 5-year old’s goal.  The farming part didn’t work out so much.  Heck, I can’t even seem to grow a successful garden, but that’s another story.   I do know that when I landed an interview to work at Ponte back in 2005 and I read up on the company, I was immediately intrigued by their history as farmers and their love of the land. I knew they were winemakers, but farmers?

Farming is associated with the Midwest, right?  Sure, but did you know that no other U.S. state or combination of states can match the California’s output of agriculture per acre?  The state produces nearly half of US-grown fruits, nuts and vegetables. Across the nation, US consumers regularly purchase several crops produced solely in the Golden State.

If it weren’t for California, most people wouldn’t be able to enjoy almonds,  artichokes, walnuts, kiwis, plums, celery or garlic – the state produces 95% or more of the total U.S. crop of each of these.  And the list doesn’t end there!  Figs, dates, olives, pistachios, pomegranates and more would be far more expensive and nearly impossible to find in America if not for California. Another big commodity?  Grapes.  In 2012 the state’s grape value came in at $4.449 billion, just behind the number 1 commodity, which was milk.  The total grape crush that year was a record high of 4,387,434 tons, with red wine varieties making up the largest share of that, followed by white wine varieties, followed by a small percentage of grapes used for raisins.  Yes, Ponte was a part of that number.


Not all farmers grow carrots

Ponte is one of California’s 81,700 hard-working farms and occupies about 300 acres of the state’s total farm acreage of 25.4 million.  The average farm size in California is 313 acres, so we’re right on par with everyone.

So, as you can see, the people at Ponte are not only farmers at heart, but actual grape farmers, striving to keep the grape crop producing delicious things.  Going one step further, Ponte does this with sustainability in mind as a way of respecting the land that has been so good to us, and as a way to ensure future generations will enjoy the fruits of California just as much as we do now.

It’s a fascinating place, this grape farm we call “Ponte,” and guests and Members will love the inside look we provide with our Vineyard Bus Tour.  You’ll enjoy a history of our property, wine tasting, a scenic drive through the vineyards and a captivating lesson in the art and science of winemaking.  Book your tour here.  While you’re here, enjoy lunch at The Restaurant which sources seasonal produce from local farms.  You can make reservations here.


The Wine Country Salad at The Restaurant at Ponte

And a final note about all farmers:

Farmers – whether they be grape, dairy, beef, produce, cotton or wheat farmers – are a special breed.  From sun up to sun down, and very often beyond that, they are working hard, 365 days a year.  They work in rain, snow, drought, heat to produce for the country.  Very few of them get rich, funding is constantly being cut for them, yet, they continue to farm.  Support your local farmer’s markets as often as you can.  You’re not only making a difference, you’re getting the best tasting and freshest crops you can find!

–Erica Martinez

Sources: cdfa.ca.gov; farmflavor.com; dairymoos.com; seecalifornia.com

Categories: North America

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