Summer is officially here! This is my favorite time of year, it’s beautiful outside and there are wine events to attend almost every weekend. Whether we’re hosting an event here at the winery, or pouring off site it’s very inspiring to be surrounded by great wine, good food and a happy group of wine enthusiasts.
Last weekend I had the pleasure of pouring at Pinot Days, San Francisco with our assistant winemaker Nicole Pope. For those unfamiliar, Pinot Days is a varietal specific event held in the Fort Mason Building in the heart of the city. This event draws a large crowd of serious Pinot Noir drinkers from all over the country. Now in its eighth year, Pinot Days has certainly garnered the respect of the top pinot noir producers in California as even the smallest, and top reviewed wineries can be found pouring their finest selections.
We poured our flagship 2010 Estate wine and a preview of our 2010 Stone Corral and Rincon Vineyard Pinots. These wines are already showing beautifully. As usual, and right on schedule, Stone Corral’s enticing bouquet is already well developed and Rincon is beginning to reveal its layered depth and rich minerality. It was great to see such excitement about our wines so early in their youth - we had many repeat tasters! It’s always so rewarding to get such a positive response to our wines, especially in a venue of such great company.
Some other noteworthy wines we tasted: 2009 White Rose from Dundee Hills, 2009 Failla from Sonoma Coast and a 2006 Scherrer from Russian River.
Every year around early summer I feel that the previous year’s Pinot Noirs start to turn the corner. The flavors have matured to a point that they start to taste like wine and are no longer as young and awkward tasting as they were in the winter. Once the wines have “turned the corner” the winemaking staff is involved in hours of tastings which ultimately leads to the finale of blending of the various estate and single vineyard wines. This is a great time of year because we can really get a vision of how the vintage faired and honestly, we can see if we did our job in the vineyard and winery.
As much as I love making the Rosemary’s and Rincon Vineyards blends I have to say that I am extremely intrigued when it comes to the Stone Corral Pinot Noir. The Stone Corral Vineyard is unique in that the Talley family collaborated with local winemakers, Stephen Ross Dooley (Stephen Ross Wines) and Don Othman (Kynsi), in a long-term lease arrangement to share the grapes. The vineyard is divided into 5 distinct vineyard blocks, with each block divided into thirds and designated for Talley Vineyards, Stephen Ross Wines and the Kynsi Winery.
Around this time of year the production staff from all three wineries, get together and taste the previous year’s pinot noir from the Stone Corral Vineyard, block by block. I always look forward to this tasting because it clearly shows the influence of the winery’s house style. It amazes me how different the wines are, they are all very distinctive. If I didn’t know, I would swear the pinots were from different vineyards across California. Even though you have the same grapes, the wines are still defined by the winery. I guess that’s what makes this process so interesting for me.
As the summertime nears, guests in our tasting room are starting to wonder if the weather is ever less than perfect here in the Arroyo Grande Valley. While we do get our fair share of weather, I’m often left scratching my head to think of the last gloomy day. It’s a great time for picnickers, who are loving our new patio tables and lounge furniture – not to mention our outside bar and sauvignon blanc on tap - which we have available on the weekends.
The main feature right now, however, is our lineup of world-class Chardonnays. Displaying the perfect balance of rich fruit and refreshing acidity, it is my secret pleasure to show guests how truly amazing this varietal can be. To learn more about this classic grape, join us for The Chardonnay Experience on June 16th. This is a fun, intimate event that includes tastings of past, present, and future releases from our estate Rincon Vineyard, a winery and vineyard tour, and lunch.
Later on this month, we are gearing up for Roll out the Barrels on June 23rd. This is one of my favorite events of the year – though let’s be honest – I’m going to be at any event that includes a barrel tasting. New this year is the music of Matt Suarez and the Movement, a great local singer-songwriter with a distinct blues/reggae sound. For more information on these and other events this summer, check out our events page. - Andy
The middle of May marks a weather transition in the Arroyo Grande Valley. The cold harsh winds of early spring give way to foggy mornings and gentle afternoon breezes typical of summer in this area. The vines are flowering and the potential crop for the season is largely determined at this time. Warm, sunny weather means that most berries will be pollinated, the clusters are full, and the crop will be average to above average. Rain or cool cloudy weather leads to poor pollination and a small crop. The weather has been dry since mid April and temperatures warmer than average, implying good pollination and full clusters. Since the number of clusters in the vineyard is higher than average, all indications are for a larger crop for the 2012 season.
To follow the growing season, check out our ongoing series of photographs of an individual chardonnay vine in the East Rincon Vineyard.
|Chardonnay Vine 4/23/12|
Springtime is a beautiful time of year in most places. Here in Arroyo Grande, springtime means that the hills are green, the wildflowers are blooming, and our vines are growing. Bud break occurred the first week of March in many of our vineyards and the longest shoots are now 4-5 inches long. As the days get longer, the soil warms and growth accelerates.
This rapid spring growth means two things. First, we have to protect the tender young shoots. Even in our exceedingly moderate climate, frost is a danger. On the coldest nights we run wind machines or sprinklers for protection. The danger typically passes in mid to late April. Rapid vine growth also means shoot thinning--the removal of excess shoots from the vine to allow the remaining shoots to grow more evenly.
|Char Cluster 4-23-12|
Finally, spring time also means the release of our chardonnays. The 2010 Estate Chardonnay, the 25th anniversary bottling, has just been released. It’s perfect with local halibut or the salmon that are rumored to be running off the coast of California right now. On May 1, we release our three single vineyard bottlings from Oliver’s Vineyard, the Rincon Vineyard and Rosemary’s Vineyard. What can be better than springtime, chardonnay and fresh local seafood?