Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Long Harvest is Over- time for Beer!

This has been the longest harvest that I have ever been through.....and survived! I don't think I really saw summer, being buried in grapes, and now it is cold and frosty outside and cold and frosty inside - outside due to the weather, inside because cold stabilization for whites and sparklers is happening. The longevity of harvest this year was because we had a cool summer and the grapes were able to sit on the vines a little longer- truly mature. Those that waited, even with threats of rain, were rewarded with great flavors in their grapes.

My home vineyard, Tres Palmeras, is a great example of waiting for the flavors to develope rather than going by previous years picking schedules or lab numbers- picked about two weeks later than average and the wine is truly spectacular. The hard work and patience has paid of in the depth of fruit in this wine- can't wait to share it!

During this harvest I had the opportunity to represent California winemaking in Hong Kong- the Coral Mustang was there! What I learned was how fierce the competition is with France, but that there is definitely a yearning for something new and from the US, California in particular. A very different experience for me being immersed in International Trade, one that I will never forget.

My winemaking job at Rack and Riddle Custom Wine Services has teamed up with Crush Pad to do sparkling wine, what a fun adventure! In the process found out that some of you are anxiously awaiting your bubblies. Here is an interview I did with VinVillage Radio talking about the bubble program and about Coral Mustang- VinVillage Radio Interview.

This years Tempranillo almost ready for the long nap in barrels, still completing malolactic fermentation- should be ready by Christmas. If anyone is out this way- please feel free to call- barrel and bottle tasting are always at hand.

I hope that you visit the tasting room in Healdsburg as well- I plan to be there most Saturdays. I am also having some holiday specials-
2005 Rose' - $30/ case,
two pack gift box - one bottle 2005 Rose, one bottle 2005 Tempranillo - $20
three pack gift box - one bottle 2005 Rose', two bottles 2005 Tempranillo - $35
Perfect gifts for the season to bring to your friends, relatives, or treat yourself! 707-536-6339 or the tasting room at 118 North St. Healdsburg, CA.

Well, the wines are calling me back- the Mustang Winemaker

Monday, October 5, 2009

Taking a Breath! Harvest is not Over Yet,,,,,,,,

Going non stop since August 8 and there are still more grapes to go! All of the 'sparkling' grapes are in as well as most of the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Some of that still trickling in. Now waiting for the rest of the reds, like Cabernet, to come in. It has been an odd harvest- there is always a little lull in between the rush of the early grapes transitioning to the later reds- this year has been a big break!

Last week was the third harvesting of the Tres Palmeras vineyard- it is great to bring in the fruit that you have labored over the past year. The crop was very light due to the drought, but the flavors are incredible. It is fermenting away and will be pressed in about four days from now. Barrels are ready- time to start thinking about what will be ready to bottle.......

The break in the action allowed me to show my wines at the Monterey Wine Festival . I was able to share a table with friend and fellow Winemaker Gabriella Gazzano with Rielle wines which allowed me a few moments to view the incredible seahorse exhibit within the Monterey Aquarium . What a moving exhibit! I could have easily spent hours watching these creatures. The Wine Fest was a good one this year having moved the second day to the Hyatt- much nicer and more comfortable venue than the Fairgrounds. It was great to see some of you out there!

The grapes are calling- the 'second' round of grapes is que'ing up rapidly- about 120 tons today!

The Mustang Winemaker, Penny

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Fast and the Furious Harvest

I am totally immersed in harvest - the grapes keep a comin' and I keep a pressin'. The past month of harvest has been primarily grapes for Sparkling wine and we are just beginning to see some of the 'Still' wine grapes, like Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc start to trickle in. For those of us that make bubbly, harvest starts about one month ahead of those that do more of the still. Since the winery I work with does both, it makes for a very long harvest- about 2 1/2 to three months.

Speaking of Sparkling wine, my dayjob with Rack and Riddle has partnered up with CrushPad to make bubbly- whoohooo! When they were here with their first load of grapes they did a video interview with me about the process - CrushPad Sparkling
This was a fun day with them and am looking forward to working with them on this project.

So far the grapes are looking pretty good. Yields are down from what was anticipated due to the weather patterns of the year. Clusters are undersized or have shot berries for some varietals, but quality is good. It is always interesting to me to see how the weather patterns effect the vineyards- rain or heat at critical times of growth can have major effects on the grapes- specifically at budbreak and bloom. Since not all grapes set bud or bloom at the same time, every varietal is effected differently, sometimes escaping what has effected another varietal. Last year was a good example of this- some vineyards wiped out, others not effected-an extreme example.

I have promised videos of harvest - still working on that. Today I have a bit of a lull between grapes, yeast inoculations, barrels, pumpovers, rackings, and the endless paperwork.........

Cheers, the Mustang Winemaker, Penny

Monday, August 17, 2009

Let the Harvest Begin!

Pinot Noir for Sparkling wine started coming in last week- yippeee! The smells of the grapes and the juice from the press is magical- I really don't know how to explain it. What I have seen so far are very small berries and a fair amount of shatter. This is when the blooms to do not create berries, creating a cluster that does not have all of its grapes. I will talk more about shatter later with pictures. It is early yet to see what all varieties will bring us as far as crop load.

Yesterday the bird netting went up in the Tres Palmeras vineyard. The birds are starting to come in droves and without some protection on the vineyard they can take a substantial amount of fruit. I don't mind sharing the fruit, but the birds don't take the berries, they tend to pierce them. The juice of the berries then get bacteria and mold and create a problem to the whole cluster.

I do want to 'document' this harvest and have my phone set up to be able to blog and send pics-wish me luck with my tech skills on this one.

Before I sign off, Today at 6pm, tune into KSAV radio ( for Wine in Real Time- The Mustang Winemaker will be talking about Coral Mustang and my dayjob with Rack and Riddle Custom Wine Services, and the new tasting room in Healdsburg. I hope you will tune in.
Cheers to a new harvest,
The Mustang Winemaker

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Veraison is here!!!!

Last week veraison started in ernest at Tres Pameras Vineyard- can't believe another harvest is truly right around the corner! Now is the time to get as ready as possible for the onslaught of grapes, which means time for a vacation. I am on my way to Portland as I write this-my sister is celebrating the half century mark and I want to be there. The grapes will do as they wish whether I am there or not. The pic on the right is a quick pick I took before I left of the new tasting room- which is doing well thanks to all of you out there- Thank you!

During this trip I will be cooking, eating and drinking my way up the coastline of Oregon- which is absolutely spectacular! Inland the temps are in the 100's, so I am staying as close to the coast as possible until I have to land in Portland Thursday night.

Sunday night was a panned seared rib steak, steamed artichokes, nad an incredible bottle of Topel 2005 Mendocino Cabernet- it was a match made in heaven for my first night on the road.

Last night (Monday) was freshly caught rock fish that I sauteed with fresh heirloom tomatoes, green beans, garlic, thyme, and of coarse butter. Yes, I know I should be using olive oil, but vacation, I hiking, walking the dog more, watching sunsets on the beach.......the wine was a Longboard Sauvignon Blanc- wow, was it yummy! Big tropical notes, no grassy- just the way I like Sauv Blanc.

Tonight is steamers - steamed in a Widmer pale ale and garlic, some fresh sourdough. Haven't decided the wine yet- may have to break out another Sauv Blanc..........

Well, back to the beach- before the craziness begins!
The Mustang Winemaker, Penny

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Grand Opening of the Tasting Room!

This weekend is the official Grand Opening of In Vino Veritas - my new tasting room @ 118 North St in Healdsburg. Both Saturday and Sunday I will be there wine and food in hand - pretty exciting for a small producer like myself and in these times. Hope you can make it out - stop in and let me know you saw this!

So in anticipation of a big weekend and harvest about 4 weeks away, I am trying to relax a little. Right at the moment I am sitting on the deck with a glass of Point Reyes Blanc de Noir bubbly, looking out at my vineyard and making plans to vacation through Oregon. Wine tasting will be mandatory- always great for me to see what the rest of the world is doing from time to time.

Speaking of the vineyard- it is looking really good! The growth is looking balanced, berries smaller than I am used to- but just those two factors are making it look like a good year for Tempranillo winemaking- very excited to see the outcome. Frank is saying that it looks like harvest for this vineyard will be the end of September as we are not seeing the berries change color yet- unusual for this varietal.

Well, I have shrimp to put on the barbie and more bubbly to drink - more to come as harvest is coming! Hope to see you at the tasting room,
The Mustang Winemaker

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

TAPAS at Fort Mason

I am just now recovering from the best TAPAS event ever! I also want to acknowledge the great volunteer team, many whom are bloggers and wine lovers themselves- THANK YOU! A friend and fellow Tempranillo grower shot these pics of the event:
TAPAS San Francisco

The tasting room in Healdsburg has been open for 2.5 weeks, not that I am counting......It has interesting watching the ebb and flow of traffic to the tasting room. Days that you would think would be busy are not, and vise versa. I have been told there is no rhyme or reason and I am starting to believe it. It is so great to be able to share my wines daily rather than at random events.

The summer is trying to get going and we have just crossed over the solstice- days will be getting shorter. So far this has been unusually cool this season. I have a consultant friend who is usually firm about a harvest date, even this early- he has changed the date and now has said he just doesn't know. Not that we ever really know, but this is a man that has been winemaking for 40 years and is rarely baffled.

Well, I hear the wines and vines calling my name- hope to see some of you in the tasting room- 118 North St., Healdsburg, CA- The Mustang Winemaker, Penelope

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Morning After

Another great weekend! Saturday was spent in the new tasting room and Sunday was the TAPAS Grand Tasting event in San Francisco. Today I am back in the winery, a little slower than normal. Almost like having a hangover, though not from alcohol consumption.

The tasting room is doing well in Healdsburg-you always wonder if you are located in the right spot, people will actually buy the wines, do you need more gadgets.............definitely a learning process. I expect that the cool weather and the economy are keeping the amount of traffic down somewhat, only time will tell.

The TAPAS event at Fort Mason yesterday was a hit! Great wine, great Paella provided by Marco Paella, and a fun science demonstration by Schmahl Science who this benefit was for. It was an absolutely beautiful day in the city- perfect for sipping the wonderful Spanish varietals that were presented. This is out second year doing this event and 'we need a bigger boat' to do this again. Little did we anticipate the interest in Tempranillo, Albarino, Touriga,.......I think we are onto something!

In the vineyard, Frank has been out leaf pulling to open up the shoots to allow air flow and light into the canopies. So far the vines are looking very happy- good crop out there so far. Weather has been very cool, and there have been 'threats' of light rain- haven't seen the rain.

It is mid June and harvest is ever present on my mind. Here is a short video from last harvest :

Back to the winery- the Mustang Winemaker

Monday, June 1, 2009

Bloom is Here and Gone

Tres Palmeras is in full bloom- Frank went out and took these pictures and you can actually see the little flowers!

So far the vineyards are looking pretty good- after two not so great years of crop, the vines are ready to go with all that they have. Lots of shoots, lots of clusters = lots of fruit. We are beginning to see what harvest will yield.

In Vino Veritas Coop Tasting room is open, though I am still waiting for the final stamp of approval which I am told should happen any minute. Had the ABC website up all day to see if it would happen- much like watching a pot come to boil.....

This weekend, June 5,6,7, is taste of the Alexander Valley. The Tasting room will be participating since there a re a couple of us with wines from this appellation. Keeping my fingers crossed to have some barrel samples to debut Tres Palmeras vineyard.

June 14th is the TAPAS Grand Tasting at Fort Mason! Last years event was at Copia and it was fantastic! A chance to see what Spanish and Portuguese varietals do in California and they do well. I want to thank the volunteers that will be helping out on the 14th- THANK YOU! I can't say that enough. Also, I believe there is a discount if you say you know Coral Mustang- tickets are still available.

Will back to the cellar- the Mustang Winemaker, Penny

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Packed Weekend

It is Sunday evening - Frank and I are finally sitting- on the deck Mojito in hand. Yesterday was CigarBQ and it was hot - damn hot! Even the red wines were in the cooler and it was hot enough to wonder if there was any wine worth drinking without an ice cube.........wish I would have brought my plastic cubes that I keep in the freezer just for days like that.

Thank you! to our friend Blaine for taking the photo- a fellow Tempranillo fan that is getting ready to plant some vines in the Russian River that could one day end up in our RRV appellation wines.

Today is another scorcher- >100F in some spots. I had a tasting room meeting earlier today and one of the winery owners vineyard sensors were lighting up his phone like fire alarms. Tomorrow is supposed to be cooler-let's hope so. The Tempranillo vines in Tres Palmeras vineyard are days away from bloom-hopefully they are not getting fried! It did reach 98F here.......

Next weekend is Memorial Day weekend and I will be off with the family, though still near a computer! The following weekend my 30 day wait for my tasting room license will be done and a license issued-then let the tasting room fun begin. The weekend after that will be Taste of Alexander Valley- I will have some wine from my Tres Palmeras vineyard there-futures anyone? The following week is the TAPAS grand tasting- I am lining up volunteers-so far have about 12 - let me know if you would be interested and I will be getting the coordination of tasks going!

Cheers and I hope to see in the tasting room soon- the Mustang Winemaker

Monday, May 11, 2009

Tasting Room Opening this Month

This is an exciting time for me- something I really wasn't sure would become wine in a tasting room!

The New tasting Room is on 118 North Street in Healdsburg, California - Vino Veritas. For those of you that know Healdsburg it is across the street from the Raven theatre. There are six of us sharing this space with myself being the only Tempranillo and the only Tempranillo Rose' in the house. There is great artwork on the walls by the man, Ken Schilling, that started this venture by getting the investors needed, getting the permits, and working to make the space 'livable'.

The other wineries are Kelly-Young, Hook and Ladder, Milano, Marcucci, and Kenneth Schilling. Nice cross section of varietals and styles-something for everyone. Will have to start thinking about bringing in some bubbly-about the only thing we are lacking at the moment!

On the Coral Mustang front- this coming weekend Coral Mustang will be at CigarBQ. Then next month is the second annual TAPAS event- in between will be grand opening of the tasting room.

Hope I will see some of you at these great events!
The Mustang Winemaker

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Two More Inches of Rain=Happy Grapevines

We have had a nice bit of rain here in Sonoma County-actually saw the Russian River rise and it was muddy. Even with the rainfall, here in Cloverdale we are on water rationing and making decisions on the water regimen for the vineyards as well as ourselves-very short showers these days! Check out my weather station data for rainfall udpates- Palomino Lakes/Tres Palmeras Vineyard

Aside from the weather I attended a great event at the Sonoma Mission Inn supporting the YWCA -what a great event-Women, Wine, and Cheese benifits the YWCA women's shelter and features women winemakers and cheesemakers. An auction lot of wines made by the winemakers there landed $4,000 - not bad!

There is another Benefit coming up May 16 - Cigar BQ -always a great event whether you are into cigars or not- great wines, great foods, and it all goes to charity- what a great mix!

Not much to report on the wines- they have all finished with their '2nd' or malolactic fermentation and are resting peacefully in barrels.

Pending licensing, the tasting room is a go! I and 4 other wineries have joined together to have a tasting room in Healdsburg- Yippeee! The room is across from the Raven theatre - 118 North St.
Will be having a Grand Opening the first part of June- but will be open for some limited tasting beginning this weekend.

Well, the cellar is calling-
Cheers from the Mustang Winemaker

Monday, April 20, 2009

It's April....

It is April- the month for wierd weather. First it was cold and rainy, then dry, cold and windy, now it is sunny and 90F. Later in the week it is going to be cold and rainy again. The rain will be good, hopefully it will not be too cold.

The vineyards are growing like weeds- fast and furious. This time of the year it is amazing to watch- you can actually see them change and the shoots get longer throughout the day. So far the vineyards are looking great- nice even growth. Soon the flower buds will become more pronounced and bloom, it is just around the corner!

This is the time of the year that there are many events being planned. Friday I will be at the Google Complex in the South Bay and next month Cigar BQ in Santa Rosa.

Also next month I hope to be in a new tasting room in Healdsburg, though the ABC is saying that they will not have my paperwork done by then..........will keep you up to date on that. Gotta love the permit process.

Well gotta get back to the wines- more bottling tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Coral Mustang is on Vator.TV

First off - Yipppeeeee, it's raining! We are still in a serious drought, so every little drop is a blessing. Check out my website contact page to see the weather at the vineyard- it's very cool!

So- last week went to a great event in San Francisco -Wine 2.0 . I was at this event last year and will be at future events. This is a great group that is helping the wine folks get up to speed with technology. I brought along the new Netbook that my husband got for me-so that I am not lugging around the 'huge' laptop. I set it up so that people could see my website, order, and then Twitter live to the folks there and on Twitter. I am not a true geek-but am bordering on such........

One of the sponsors was - the Voice of the Entrepreneur. Great group if you are starting or maintaining a business- they have some great stuff. They were doing interviews with the principals of Wine 2.0 and decided to do some filming and tasting at the Coral Mustang and Terra Savia table - here is the film they did : Vator.TV

A funny thing happened at this event of tech/wine people- people were checking out my netbook-for their own use- kind of different! But it also got my wine and website out there-wish I could find a coral colored netbook.........

Vineyard update : the vines are growing like gangbusters! So far growth is looking pretty even and looking healthy. Now the next part of growing grapes that keeps me awake- frost danger.....this is what caused most of the havoc last year. The leaves and shoots are very susceptible to damage at this point-enough to prevent grapes from happening. Lots of checking on weather reports and hoping that Mother Nature wants to stay warm this year!

Well, back to the cellar and taxes..........the Mustang Winemaker, Penny

Sunday, March 29, 2009

If There is Budbreak, it Must be Spring!

It has finally arrived- budbreak- the little leaves are finally emerging from their winter hibernation. My Tres Palmeras vineyard is about two weeks later than last year. The weather has been pretty cool, and we are still pretty low on the rain. I was a little concerned about the cold snap we had about a week ago as the buds were looking pretty fat, but so far.........
Hopefully the vines have had enough water for healthy root growth- this may be the year that my Tempranillo does not overgrow itself! It will be a tough decision later in the year for water needs-there is a good possibility that it will not be available. This could mean another short year for grapes-we still have a ways to go yet- thinking too far ahead.

Looking back at last years harvest, here is a little video of the pics- the sound track is how I feel during this hectic time- enjoy!

Event update : Thursday I will be in San Francisco for the Wine 2.0 event - check it out and I hope to see you there!

That's all for now-
The Mustang Winemaker, Penelope

Friday, March 20, 2009

Back Home from San Diego Family Winemakers

What a great trip!
Not only did I attend the Family Winemakers event at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, but I had a chance to meet up with friends and family that often seem far away.

Part of my mission was to introduce my wines to some new shops and restaurants. So a friends I was staying with suggested we go into the downtown area where there are some very cool wine bars. One of them, UNWINE had just opened- what a wonderful couple that are running this business and good food! Another I visited was Enoteca - supposedly an Italian wine bar- though I had a wonderful Vinho Verde that was being featured paired with an ahi tartare that was great!

An update on my website- I was trying to point the old site to the new going direct to my new site - still updating a few things, but the story is there and purchases can be made. Please take a peak- would love to hear comments back!

Back to winemaking!

Monday, March 9, 2009

San Diego- Here comes the Mustang Winemaker!

I have a love/hate relationship with events........I love the travel, meeting new and old friends, sharing my wines. I 'hate' that I have to sell my wines- it is exhausting! I am not alone as a winemaker in this feeling- we love the excitement, but wish the wines would sell themselves. So, we learn a little about the ropes of selling. But we know that the people we are presenting the wines to, know that we don't have a clue about this part of the business. Did that all make sense?? In fact many of them wish that they did not have to deal with our passion, but would rather taste and then discuss business. And then there is the lingo....I still have much to learn.

I have gotten away from events some as I have drifted off to the retailers and brokers. Sunday Mar 15 is the first Family Winemakers event in Del Mar, California. So far, the number of tickets and responses has been very good. This organization has been doing this type of event in Pasadena for a few years and in San Francisco for more years. For me, I see how small I am in the big world of wine. But it also shows that I am a rebel in that big world. I make and sell TEMPRANILLO- the fifth most widely grown grape in the world. That's exciting- now I need to sell it to San Diego!

I hope I see some of you there- and if you know of any shops or restaurants that I should present my wines to- give a holler- we need to spread the word TEMPRANILLO!

The Mustang Winemaker

PS- I will be blogging and videoing the event and my adventures to the southland-stay tuned

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Yippeeee It's Raining - Time for Bottling

The rain has arrived - the lifeblood of the earth and the vineyards! My raingauge at Tres Palmeras has clocked in over 5 inches since my last post. Still not all we would like to see, but certainly way better than where we were seeing ourselves. Still going to put that bucket in the shower, just need to find something to put it into from there.

With the rain comes indoor sports. In the winery that sport is bottling. See Bottling pics. Before bottling there can be many chores-coming out of barrels, possible filtering, lab analysis-alcohol is very important to the government! Then there is the FDA, USDA......that is why some of us turn into chemistry geeks, but we really want to be artists.........

Speaking of filtering- this is something I do try to avoid. Sometimes that means a little sediment in the bottle, but it is worth it knowing that I have good fruit, have minimized my impact on that fruit and since I make red wine which allows me that latitude.

It is not wrong to filter, in fact many times it is the smart thing to do- for white and Rose' wines, generally it cannot be avoided. Those wines are not 'stable' as we refer to them in the winery. That means that sometimes they have a little sugar or malic left in them and microbes. Those things left alone without filtering are looking for a party- fermenting and bubbling- and usually stinky and nasty in a closed bottle. Supposedly that was how champagne originally came about, but these days, a little more control is a good thing.

Well, the barrels are calling- the Mustang Winemaker

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Food and Wine for Rainy Day

I asked for rain and I got it - over three inches in the last couple of days. Not torrential rain, but coming down steady enough and windy, hard to go outside even with an umbrella. So that's when I come up with some great food and wine pairings.

Last night was fish stew. Carrots, leeks, corn, roasted red pepper simmering in white wine, with saffron- the smell was incredible! Then cod and crab until cooked.....then cream to round it all out- oh yes, heaven in a bowl.

While waiting for this to cook, I began to think about wine. Looked in the cellar, looked on my cellar spreadsheet and was coming up blank. Then I spied what I felt would be a perfect match- Reisling- a dry Reisling from a very small producer in Anderson Valley in Mendocino County. Lazy Creek Vineyards, 2006 Anderson Valley Reisling- barrel fermented in 10 year old French barrels.

The pairing worked- nice floral aroma, slight citrus and spice with canteloupe flavors in the mouth of the wine balanced the somewhat smoky, earthy aroma of the saffron and roasted peppers.............I am still thinking about it! And with leftovers of the stew for lunch-but without the wine sadly.

The rain is a blessing in more ways than one-kept me indoors to work on the new website- take a peek if you get a chance- -it has been going through more than one change- should probably document the metamorphosis of this project that I thought I would have finished by now. It is a fun project and now I have the ability to make changes to the site when I wish-no not truly a control freak- just a little.

A little bit of news before you go- tasting room is on the horizon- hopefully next month if all goes on schedule.......we all know how construction projects can go! More to come-

The Mustang Winemaker, Penny

Thursday, February 12, 2009

It's Raining.......finally!

There is more than a little anxiety about the water situation here in California. My weather station was showing us at below 50% from an average year and you can see that the reservoirs are dry. Last week the rain began-what a wonderful site. So far it hasn't been a lot, but the predictions are talking about some pretty good rainfall as well as snow coming our way. I monitor my weather station at my Tres Palmeras vineyard daily- this morning it was .10 inches away from 10 inches for the season- it would be nice to see this at about 15 inches. Only time and Mother Nature know how this will all shake out.

Late January brought very warm weather which has caused many plants and animals some confusion- trees and bushes are blooming about a month early. Now we are having some very, very cold weather- this won't be good for fruit trees. So far many of the vineyards are still appearing to be dormant. Since it is pruning time indication of dormancy is if an old shoot is cut off and there is no sap-good sign- still sleeping.

Aside from the weather, last weekend it was time to replace my old phone. Since I had been looking at pocket video cameras as well, I looked into what might be out there to avoid having too many portable contraptions in my pocket. So a new phone with camera and video capabilities was purchased. Just took a video of my office to see how the quality looks- hopefully will be good enough that I will have footage in my next post- I love technology!

I also was able to get a look at the pics I took at harvest, but couldn't seem to get them transferred out to share them. That has been resolved and I will be posting them on Flickr, Facebook, The Wine Space, ...............I will let you know where they land!

Well, it is time to get back to winemaking- barrel tasting is at hand!
Cheers from the Mustang Winemaker

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Pruning Time in the Vineyard

As the cycle of the new year begins, pruning the old wood off the vines is the first course of business. There are many considerations as you move along the vines looking at the old shoots to determine what to cut and what to leave on the vine. And then there is the climate and soil that need to be taken into account as well. Generally I like to leave a fist size space in between the 'spurs' where the new shoots will emerge. Then on each spur decide which shoot is the least healthy and remove it and cut the remaining old shoot down to 2-3 buds. For very vigorous varieties, like Tempranillo, two shoots are left on with two buds to help keep the vigor in the vine to the growth needed for fruit instead of just leafy growth. But the vines need enough leafy growth to make sure that there is enough energy to grow and ripen the fruit........a lot of thought into every vine!

This year is looking to be truly a drought year- 50% down from where we should be at this time of the year. Maintenance of the roots is vital right now, so light irrigation is being started to make sure the vines are healthy enough to start their growing season. Thoughts as to a modified irrigation schedule for the summer is already being planned with the knowledge that we may only be able to keep them healthy enough to survive. It is going to be a long road this year and if the weather continues to be light on rain, will be little fruit to harvest- yes, I am already anticipating harvest.

On another note, I just returned from Sacramento from attending the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium. I did not attend any of the seminars, but did get a chance to hit the trade show looking at new equipment, catching up with friends in the industry, and thanking those vendors that I have worked with. This event is also the time that the annual TAPAS meeting is held. This year it was announced that I have been elected to the board- quite an honor for me- to be chosen to work with a team dedicated to promoting the Tempranillo grape as well as varieties that are grown traditionally in the countries of Portugal and Spain. This organization has grown enough to be recognized by other countries growing this variety and would like to join us in our efforts. This is pretty exciting to get this type of recognition and I am looking forward to working with the representatives to see what we can do together to promote Tempranillo around the world.

Well, it is time to get back to my favorite part of winemaking- end of the month and year paperwork...........time for a glass of Tempranillo!

The Mustang Winemaker

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Day After-Tempranillo Anyone?

Good Morning!
Yesterday does mark a beginning for our nation-one that I am again proud to be a part of. I actually celebrated the day with a 1992 Roederer L'Ermitage accompanied by steamed clams and mussels in pear cider, spinach salad, and crusty sourdough bread. Let me tell you, the bubbly was incredible- a golden hue showing its age. The aroma was nutty hazelnut, slight caramel, butter, some warm spice-maybe cardamon. Then in the mouth- beautiful creamy feel from the fine bubbles, balanced-not too tart, not too sweet, some more caramel- yummy! And with the steamers.....great way to start and to remember this historic day.

I am also optimistic that this will open up the door to a few more changes. One of them is how and what people drink. I make something different- Tempranillo wines. I know the tide is changing-though Cabernet is still king. How much longer will the king reign when there are so many other options for red wine? Don't get me wrong, I like Cabernet and make Cabernet for clients. But it is also one of the hardest wines to pair with food and drinking it without food, well not my cup of coffee.

So on this beginning- get out there and try something different- Tempranillo for everyone!

The Mustang Winemaker

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Where's the Rain?

It is a gorgeous day!
I just came in from the vineyard- sun is shining, 68F, light breeze.But this definitely concerns me as a winemaker and grower. Plants need water and in Northern Cal. this is the time of year they are supposed to get this commodity for life. My weather station is clocking 7.89 inches so far- more than a couple of inches below average. Tres Palmeras Vineyard Weather is where you can view my weather station for my vineyard. Time to get out and learn rain dancing! The vines are truly dormant this year- it has been pretty cold. That is a good thing, but with days like this they will awaken prematurely meaning possibilities for frost damage to tender buds, early harvest, small harvest.......yes, I am already thinking about the next harvest. But one thing I have learned in my 20+ years of winemaking, ya gotta go with what is dealt and I have to say it means I am never bored with what I do.

Speaking about vineyards, yesterday I tasted the wine I made from my vineyard, Tres Palmeras, and it is truly coming along nicely! Very easy to drink for being so young - beautiful cherry, raspberry, light spice, and pretty light on the smoky component that can be very prevalent in tempranillo. I am very excited about this wine and may be able to bottle it this year if it keeps going in this direction.

It is so warm out, I'm out to pick Meyer Lemons and Oranges that are ripe. Then dinner- roasted pork tenderloin, candied sweet potato, and another side yet to be named. Whaddya think- Pinot?

Cheers, the Mustang Winemaker

Monday, January 5, 2009

Starting Off the Year

It's raining and with the rain I think of indoor activities like making videos. Well, watching more than making. But over the course of the last year I figured out that my phone could take videos. The video attached is my first effort at trying to show the disgorging process. This will just be a small part, an appetizer, until I can get the rest of them in the correct format.

I am also attaching a photo taken of me hand disgorging as I did not have a saber to do a real show on opening a sparkling wine. Crowd loved it- I was a mess and had to change before I could get back to lunch. But it was a kick- I love showing people this and then tasting the wine- yes! It is one of my life's little pleasures.

So a new start in my blog posts, more vids of what I do as a Winemaker and life in general. I was contemplating doing a what I do in the day of.....still working on the details of how to make that work, but I will.

The start of the year also means cleaning up the end of the previous year- inventories, taxes, reports to different agencies. Not good video, but some of the daily, weekly, monthly, yearly tasks that not many of us do.

It's a good thing that it rains this time of the year.

Cheers from the Mustang Winemaker

PS-stay tuned, new website is starting to look pretty good!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year! and 1st Post of the Year!

It has begun - 2009! And I can feel it in my bones, even with the economic outlook, I know it will be a good and exciting year.

I have learned a lot this past year with a new winery working as the winemaker as well as progress with my own brand. Talks will begin on the possibility of a shared tasting room, wine club to begin soon and a new website will be up by the end of the day. Now it is time to put what I've learned into place. But keeping up with sales and marketing and advances in winemaking techniques is a never ending process. What I put into place will need to be updated on much more regular basis-not impossible, but will be a priority. Websites like Catavino
and Open Wine Consortium have been great sources - I can't thank them enough.

The holiday has given me the chance to get back to my kitchen, my source of relaxation. Lamb roast with mustard paired with a Norman Zin, Filet Mignon with a Jordan Cab, Paella with my Temp......heaven! One day was spent going out to Tomales Bay to Cowgirl Creamery for cheese and fresh bread then onto Hog Island Oyster for fresh kumi's and sweetwaters - take all of this to the beach- YES!
Tonight is rack of lamb with a blackberry and mustard glaze, sauteed green beans with grape tomatoes and feta. I am thinking about a Tempranillo from Baja Mexico to have with it - Valmar.

My reflections on the past are generally short as I am always moving forward - learn from it and move on - so here's cheers for the new year to all!

The Mustang Winemaker

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