Friday, October 1, 2010

The Neverending Harvest and Sad News

Harvest started for me the second week in August and looks like it will be mid November before it ends. For some in the field it started even earlier and will end later. Harvest is a time of constant adrenaline, little sleep, and lots of pizza and burritos- I love it. The smells, the challenges, it is all an incredible rush for me.

Last week sadness, making me look at harvest in a little different light- making me wonder about the marvels of life, how special the world and all of its creatures are. My dog Kado left us after a battle with cancer. It has left a hole in my heart, slowed my pace. Coming home after a long day, his happy face is not there- even in his last days he would make his way to greet me no matter what the hour. He was a pure bred Basenji that we rescued from the Healdsburg shelter- what a treasure!

On life goes.........

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Harvest has Begun for the Mustang Winemaker

Just got in from grapes and the multitude of paperwork that is required to get the winemaking process going! Now have a Mojito in hand and taking a breath. Harvest is going fill swing- grapes for bubbles and a little Muscat Canelli over the past two weeks. Not seeing to much of the damage that this years weather has brought on these grapes. However, I made a quick trip out to the Dry Creek area and was surprised to see what devastating effects the hot weather had on not only white grapes, but a lot of red grapes as well. This is something I have never seen in my 25 years in the business. I have talked with people that will not be bringing in grapes due to the damage.

Tres Palmeras is actually looking pretty good, though the amount of crop is way down. Sunburn didn't have much of an affect, but the cycling of not enough rain last year to an overabundance this year is freaking out the vines and they don't know whether do produce fruit or not. Remember- grapes are always in survival mode- what does the vine need to do to make more vines or just survive on its own.

Tomorrow is labor day and more grapes are coming- all for sparkling wine. Think I will stick a bottle in the frig- weather service is saying it is going to be HOT and cold bubbles at the end of the day.......almost as good as a beer!

Hope to get some video on the blog as soon as I get a moment, Stay tuned! Time to give my IPhone a work out, Until next time- cheers and have a super holiday.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Countdown to Harvest is Beginning!

Vacation is over and the pursuit of being prepared for harvest has begun. At Rack and Riddle, sparkling grapes are anticipated to begin coming in the week of the 16th. BUT- it has been unusually cool, no-cold here. At present my weather station(Asti - Tres Palmeras Vineyard Weather) is showing 48F, yesterday it was 52F. The highs have been in the 60-70's, a few 80's- even Southern California is reporting lower than average and lots of coastal fog. So what does that mean? There are some vineyards in higher elevations or coastal that may not ripen this year. And in general most vineyards are going to be late to start along the coastal regions. The central valley areas and foothills are reporting being more on average as they have not had the fog influence- crazy year!

So prep for harvest has begun, cleaning crush equipment, grapes bins, making sure everything runs- it definitely gets my blood running with excitement - the beginning is drawing near......

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

July and the Vines are Growing Like Weeds

Wow, last month was a busy one with all of the events going on. Things have come back to a more sane level now, maybe too sane!

Looking at Tres Palmeras has been interesting- lots of growth, but not many clusters. Instead od two clusters per shoot, there is only one and many of those have 'shot berries' that will not become full fledged grape berries. Mother nature at her best-she is calling all of the shots. The verdict is still out on how the fruit will be since we are about two weeks behind. My take on the lack of clusters is that we had a greater than average amount of rain and the vines didn't have to go into survival mode and push out a lot of clusters- trying to look into the 'brain' of a grapevine............

The tasting room has been slow- I am definitely feeling the ravages of the economic downturn. But like most of us in the wine biz, just hunkering down and hoping that an upturn will happen sooner than later. I am determined to be one of the survivors!

I am having a chance to get away and regenerate. Currently I am in Hat Creek, California attempting to get in some flyfishing- truly a love of mine- being out with nature in it's splendor.

This will end at the end of this week, then it is back to bottling and harvest prep. So far looking like a good year for harvest with my day job at Rack and Riddle. Some new wines coming in and new grapes from the vineyards that surround the facility.

I hope some of you made it to the TAPAS Grand tasting last month- I did meet a few of you- what a great event. Hopefully we will be able to have more of these events in other areas of the US- Let everyone know that Tempranillo from the US ROCKS!!!

More when I return from fishing, Cheers to good food, good wine and good friends!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

It is Wine Event time of the Year!

The vineyards are growing strong, the wines are resting in barrel, taxes are done, summer is nearly here- now it is time for wine tasting events. Next month there are a few that I will be attending:

TAPAS Grand Tasting - June 5 at the Herbst Pavilion in Ft Mason-The consumer tasting will run from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Consumer tickets are available at . The most extensive annual tasting of domestically produced Spanish and Portuguese varietal wines in North America along with great food- can you say Paella?

The Monterey Wine Festival - a multi day event June 11-12 in Monterey. There is a great evening event in the Aquarium- giving you a great chance to see the Seahorse exhibit!

CigarBQ - June 19th at the SaraLee vineyard in Santa Rosa. This benefits the YWCA of Sonoma County- a fun event whether you are into cigars or just tasting wines along with some great food vendors from the area.

A busy month, but a fun break from the winery and a chance to share the fruits of our labors.

Back to wine talk- the vineyards are looking pretty good considering there have been below average day and night time temps, but above average rain. The real effects of the temperature and the rain will be better viewed next month when we can see the fruit coming on. We are also dealing with the Grape Moth quarantines taking place in Sonoma, Mendocino, Napa counties. It has not made its way to the Tres Palmeras Vineyard, but the line is not far away. Big debates on how best to deal with this critter, especially for the organic vineyards which are becoming more prevalent. This really brings home the effects of bringing in plants, animals, insects, etc. that are not indigenous to an area and how quickly they can take over when their natural inhibitors are not present.

I hope to see some of you next month- or if you are in Healdsburg, stop by the tasting room- In Vino Veritas- and taste some wine and if I am not at an event I will be there as well!

The Mustang Winemaker, Penelope

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Is it really Spring??

It's April and it's cold here- below average cold. We even had snow a couple of days ago. This is not good for the tender shoots that have appeared in the vineyards. There is an interesting dichotomy of discussion about the vineyard vs weather- one branch that is worried and wringing their hands and the other that accepts that Mother Nature always has the upper hand and there isn't a lot that can be done so why wring your hands. Farming is hard and a livelihood for many and you do what you can, but ultimately there are things that cannot be controlled, like the weather. I talked with one vineyard owner that had snow on his porch, but none in his vineyard a few yards away- this is how weird the weather has been the last week. We won't know what damage there may be until the weather clears up which the National Weather Service is predicting is at least a week away............

In the meantime there are wines in the cellar waiting for bottling and wine to sell- plenty to do! And of course, events to attend. Some great events are coming up at Angel Island in the SF Bay, The Monterey Bay Aquarium event, and a couple of wine and food events in San Diego- never a dull moment and fun for me to be able to share my wines and hopefully pick up an account or two that want to have my wines in their establishments. You can check out my events on my Facebook Coral Mustang Fan page- I hope to see some of you out there.

Selling wine this year has been a challenge- lots of wine out there and good wine. But tightening of the pocketbooks are keeping sales down. But I am seeing more requests for Tempranillo and an acceptance in general of varietals that may not be mainstream- variety is the spice of life! Why only drink the usual suspects when you can have something new and exciting especially in this trying time.

Well, tax prep is waiting for me........the Mustang Winemaker, Penny

Friday, March 19, 2010

It's Spring and Budbreak!

It is hard to believe how quickly time goes by. I am just cleaning up from the last harvest finishing up wines to put to bed in barrels or get ready for bottling. And now I feel the push for the new years harvest.

The Tres Palmeras vineyard was finished with pruning about a month ago. Now budbreak is upon us! The weather has been pretty cool up until a couple of days ago, but the vines are ready. The hand wringing has begun as any hint of frost will send us out into the vineyard in the early morning hours to save the buds which are the grapes for the upcoming harvest.

It is beautiful here- the wildflowers, the blue sky, green hills- breathtaking! This is also the time of the year to get out to some wonderful events to show off the fruits of my labor. I just returned from the Family Winemakers of California event in San Diego and there are more events to come which I will post on my website and the Coral Mustang Facebook fan page.

Don't forget, if you are in the Healdsburg area, stop by the tasting room at 118 North St. - In Vino Veritas. I spend most Saturdays there and would love to share a glass of Tempranillo with you!

Off to the cellar, The Mustang Winemaker, Penny

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Return to the Vineyard

Now that harvest is over and the wines are being tucked away in barrels or bottles, it is time to return to vineyard duties. We have had some cold weather that has taken the vines into slumber and are ready to be pruned. It is amazing to me still the transformation that takes place in the vineyard from leafless and pruned to full of life laden with fruit.

This is where the first determination of vine growth and fruiting
on the vines begins. We look at growth from last year to help determine where the cutting should happen. The hardiest buds are kept and then look at where we want to encourage growth to even out the vine.

This year we are also taking a hard look at what we want to do in light of water needs. The vines were pretty heavily stressed last year to conserve water. This along with weather brought us a very light crop last year.

Here is an example of what the weather can bring to the vineyard-not pretty. There was a vineyard in the Russian River area that I wanted to get grapes from that looked like this through the entire vineyard. Interestingly, the adage that stressed vines bring good wines proved true this last year. They also had prolonged hang time that helped the clusters that did survive.

So with the last harvest a lingering memory, I am now thinking about the next harvest to come. I am also thinking about the economy and how wines sales will do. This week there was a symposium regarding this in Santa Rosa. I wasn't able to make it to the symposium, but was informed by friends that did attend that Tempranillo was named as one of three varietals that are going to be the next Pinot Noir........time to make a movie!

Back to the tasting room- In Vino Veritas- don't forget to stop by if you are in Healdsburg and stay tuned for the upcoming wine club- Cheers from the Mustang Winemaker

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