Monday, August 25, 2008

Los Alamos - White Hawk

I have been involved with Syrah projects for the past 2 years that used grapes from White Hawk Ranch in Los Alamos. I final got to stop by the vineyard this past weekend on my drive along Highway 1o1 from LA to Paso.

The location is stunning! Warm but not too hot. Seems ideal for Syrah yet lacking the coastal effects for Pinot. The vineyard is quite large and lacked a farm house or winery. The fences had significant barbed wire so it was difficult to tell how the current crop is doing.

Like meeting someone you talk with only on the phone or email with, it's always nice to put a name with a face. It was nice to meet this vineyard face-to-face. I look forward to bottling the 2007 in about 5 months.

Monday, August 18, 2008

'cause I'm not the tease Dan is...

The Eel river, Humboldt County, California

We traveled up to Fruitland Ridge (along with Jenne, Terry and the newly shorn Calvin) to meet with Alan Estrada of Elk Prairie and see the pinot noir grapes the we will be soon converting to wine. Fruitland Ridge sits high above The Avenue of the Giants in The Redwood Forests of California's Humboldt County. This is a small growing region that is just starting to make a name for itself for producing some incredible Pinot Noir grapes. To get an idea of what kinds of wines can be produced from this region see what has been said about Nikolai Stez's Woodenhead Pinot Noirs sourced from Fruitland Ridge fruit.

Fruitland Ridge

I think the pictures will speak for beauty of the environment and the specialness of the grapes that we are going to be soon working with. What the pictures won't speak to is what a great guy Alan is. We are more than excited to be working with Alan and feel fortunate to be working with his grapes.

Alan, Dan and I amongst the grapes

To say that this is a dramatic and beautiful landscape is a complete understatement. We were on a steep ridge looking across at the hills that lead to the Pacific and down to the grapes that Alan planted some 15 years ago.

The Three of us doing our best to make it back up the steep vineyards of Elk Prairie
Alan showing Dan the vineyards

And 'cause we did drink something this trip. The standouts were an incredible 2002 Woodenhead Pinot Noir sourced from Elk Prairie Grapes, a 2006 Briceland Pinot Noir from Fruitland Ridge grapes and Alan's own 2004 Elk Prairie Pinot Noir. The first two were enjoyed with Alan, the Briceland was enjoyed at Persimmons (1055 Redway Dr. Redway, CA) which is a garden gallery and newly open Humboldt focused wine tasting room in Redway - we recommend stopping by to drink some great Humboldt county wines.

Humboldt Teaser

Just a teaser of our trip to Humboldt County last weekend...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

How many Puncheons fit in a 5x8 U-Hual trailer?

We spent Wednesday morning running errands in Napa. Getting up at 6am is easy when you're excited (and nervous) about getting your puncheons, barrel and harvest bins. Picked up Aaron in AmCan at 7:45am and headed to Yountville and the beautiful Blankiet Estate winery. Yes, once more we got lost. How many times is that now? The harvest bins are ultra-cool and hipster yellow. I am slowly mastering the art of backing a trailer up. The folks at Blankiet didn't think our 3 puncheons would fit in the Uhaul. Ohhhhh shit!

Next we headed to St. Helena to get the Puncheons from Cuvaison winery. Troy wasn't too sure they would fit either. Thank god the answer is 3. And double thanks we decided not to buy 4. Those big boys are heavy as hell (my guess is 160# each). More backing up the trailer (only 1 jackknife) and off to Billet in AmCan.

We picked up our new barrel and stuck it in the back of the Escape. The trailer has a 45mph speed limit, how lame is that? FYI, it handled fine at 60.

Dropped everything off at the DeuxPunx Crush Zone (aka my garage). Surprisingly it had been cleaned by my wife the night before. How nice is that? Dropped the trailer off with the rejects at Uhaul at 1:15pm and headed to the office.

What a day!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

planning and terroir

it's august already which means we're closing in on our harvest and need to get our ducks in a row. what better place to do this than terroir. This may have become our new "office" with it's great choice of natural wines, an amazing vibe that crosses Parisian neighborhood wine bar with a laid back surf shop and has everything from Gang of Four to Belle and Sebastian playing on the turntables (anyone that mentions Pylon in their frequent plays has got my vote).

While we did start the next stage of planning on the wheres, whats and hows for the 2008 harvest we also got to enjoy a couple great spatleses and a couple great reds (bourgogne from Olivier Guyot and cairanne from Domaine Richaud).

I'm going out on a limb to predict that this is going to be a great harvest and that we're going to be spending a lot more time at Terroir.

Once Dan is done gloating about the Giants' win I'm sure he'll post some pix of the wines we drank and the room we drank them in.

Here are the pics:

aaron likes his new office view.

can you spot the deux punx chalkings in the terroir potty room?

things always end up blurry at terroir!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

WA vs. CA Dinner

With a barrel sample in hand, Aaron showed up on Friday night for a casual BBQ. Along with smuggled beirwurst from Germany (thanks Thomas), cheeses, olives, flank steak, chicken, tamales, rice, coleslaw, peach pie and ice cream we had a wine show down. It wasn't a contest and no one got their feelings hurt. Just a great chance to compare vintages, regions and styles. I am sure Aaron will post more about the syrah sample, but just let me say "pinot of syrah."

Here is what we had:

2006 Inkling Syrah Santa Barbara
2007 Barrel Sample Syrah Wahluke Slope
2006 K Syrah Mibrandt Wahluke Slope
2006 Anthill Farms Pinot Noir Anderson Valley
2003 Crauford Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
2005 Covey Run Reserve Semillion Ice Wine Yakima
2005 Crushpad Lemuris Botrytus Late Harvest Pinot Blanc

That ice wine was a fan favorite, but led to debates of it's gender and the sexuality of those who enjoy it. I think we'll have to do much more investigating on the subject. Posting coming soon!