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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