This years harvest has just been put to bed. What an interesting year its been. Unlike the hard freeze we had in the spring of 2011, this years spring was mild with a good amount of late rain, followed by one of the 'hottest' summers on record for Paso Robles. No real scorchers of 115+; just continually warm, around the 100 mark, most every day, with moderate to cool evenings. Quite a contrast to last year, which was one of the coolest summers on record. And because of the late rains, I decided to see what I could produce by giving the grapes only minimal water, about 3 hours of drip per week. The net result.....beautiful, small berries, which produced some of the best wine to ever come off our vineyard.
But lessons learned. High temperatures, combined with low water produced high sugars in the grapes – and intense wine - but offsetting this was the quantity of yield; one of the lowest I have had from this vineyard... less than two tons of fruit per acre. So for the second year in a row, we will have incredible wines, just not a lot of it. ( good thing I am doing this for fun!) The other thing I learned is that these two factors caused the grapes to ripen earlier than usual – and even worse, all four varieties ripened almost all at the same time. What a zoo at the winery. I had 41 bins of grapes fermenting at the same time. Long days, but now seeing – and tasting the results - it was well worth it.
This years wine club party was another huge success. The party was attended by over 230 “wine family members” all of whom had a ball playing “Lucy” and partaking in the old fashioned way of wine making...by stomping on a half ton of Syrah grapes.
One of the days highlights was the face painter - who did a great job getting everyone into the mood.
To see more of the days festivities,
click here to see more photos
When the day was done, I looked at the deep red juice and just couldn't bring myself to throw it out.
So I threw in a little sulfur (to kill those unknown yeasts) and then induced my own yeast. I was able to make enough wine to fill one barrel, which will be bottled as “2012 Chateau La Feet” and I plan on serving it at the 2014 club party. ( it actually came out very good)
Our 2010 vintage is almost completely sold out – thanks to our wonderful members. We have now exceeded 800 members and have temporarily closed the club - but are taking names on a waiting list for new members to replace those who have either moved out of the country because of our new tax laws, or have been forced to join AA.
Our 2011 vintage will be bottled in January. As many of you know, all of our wine ( all 20,000 bottles) are all hand bottled by our wine club members. For those wishing to partake, just email us when you plan on coming and we will advise what is happening that day. We do about 5-8 barrels a day, and it takes 2-3 weeks to complete the process. Its a fun time, with a number of 'quality control' breaks throughout the day. Hope you can join us.
Just a quick note on our 2011 wines....and a promise from the winemaker.... these are going to be some of the BEST wines I have ever produced. They revert back to the Big, Bold, Jammy, Inky, HIGH alcohol style wines similar to our 2004-2008 vintages. Both 2009 and 2010 were cool year wines – not as big as the prior years as the sugar levels in the grapes could not get up to the levels as in previous years; and although 2011 was also one of the coolest of these years, the freeze in April of that year decreased our yield by 60% … and what little remained was kept on the vines for an extra couple of weeks to allow the remaining grapes to ripen and increase their sugar levels to just where we wanted them ( over the top). And the resulting wine shows it. I have a barrel of Petite Sirah sitting at 17.4% alcohol....the biggest wine I have ever made – even bigger than the 2004 which came in at 17.1%. All the varietals are in the 16%+ range. I am really excited about releasing these – they will all go out in our March and May shipments. But a word of caution; there is going to be VERY little left to distribute after all the club shipments go out, so if you are considering additional bottles, please get back to me quickly. Many who have visited this year, and tasted these wines out of the barrels, wanted to place early orders ( and a few have even wanted to reserve an entire barrel) but I don't have any way of doing this on my system, and if I tried doing it the old fashioned way – on paper - I know I would forget and disappoint someone; so the best course is to just order it when its available.
A number of our members have sent us photos of our wines that they brought with them on vacation. As of now, we have photos of ourwines in about 20 countries,including
GV in Kazakhstan
Alaska, the Nile River,Africa,Tahiti, Mexico, and many other
exotic places. For those of you who have similar photos and have yet to share them with us, please do so, as we plan on putting together a collage on our website.
GV in Alaska
travelin' first class - to anywhere
enjoying GV in Tahiti
enjoying GV in the Sea of Cortez
LOTS of GV on Marco Island, Florida
We would be remiss if we didn't thank the many of you who have asked to be my friend on both Facebook and or Linkedin. Please do not be offended that we have not responded to your requests. We have not ignored you. Its just that I dont have the time....or energy.... to participate in either of these social media sites. But I do respond to each and every email that is sent.... ( ok - so i'm showing my age! )
Thanks to all for making 2012 another great year for us. Look forward to seeing many of you at the winery in '13.
Important Dates to jot down:
March 1st - first wine club shipment
May 1st - second wine club shipment
September 28th - WINE CLUB ANNUAL PARTY
Drink the Dream
Len & Jan