Friday, April 2, 2010

dumb punx have dumb luck

In March of '08 we were excited by the prospect of pitching in on a ton of Pinot Noir from a great, small vineyard in Anderson Valley. We were set to pay a huge sum of money for the ton and had no idea what we were going to do with it. Later that spring we visited the vineyard as well as visiting Josh (former winemaker/owner) at Lazy Creek. While at Lazy Creek we met the Hoopes who scratched a name and vineyard name on the back of a business card.

The week we were visiting Anderson Valley it was warm and bud break was a couple weeks behind us. it was a spring of optimism and the young buds on "our" young pinot vines were ready to work their magic - producing more beautiful Anderson Valley fruit. The week after we visited the temperatures plummeted and frosts killed off 75% of the starts in the vineyard. We were immediately knocked from a much shorter list of folks that would be getting fruit in Anderson Valley and with heads hung low had to figure out whether A) we were going to stick with it and B) where the heck we were going to find fruit.

With the business card from the Hoopes in hand we called Alan Estrada at Elk Prairie in southern Humboldt County. Having tried (on the Hoopes' suggestion) a Woodenhead Pinot produced from his grapes in 2002 we knew that the grapes could produce great things but we were nervous about our ability to eventually sell (getting ahead of ourselves a bit) wine from Humboldt. Since then we've grown even closer to the grapes from Elk Prairie and the man responsible for those grapes. Our love for the the Elk Prairie grapes is, by this point, much documented.

Yesterday's Wall Street Journal re-reminded me of another reason why the frosts of '08 and our chance meeting of the Hoopes were so absolutely fortunate. In the summer of '08, as the Northern Californians among you will remember, we were plagued by wildfires. One especially hard hit area was the area surrounding Anderson Valley. As the Wall Street Journal article discusses this has left a large portion of the '08 wines out of Anderson Valley with a smoke taint due to the smoke from the fires hitting the valley while the young grapes were already hanging from the vines. This has been a tremendous blow for that year's vintage out of AV and one that probably would have psychologically and financially, especially after paying so much for the grapes,knocked us further back on our heals than we could have recovered from.

Here's the Wall Street Journal Article for your reading pleasure:
Sipping These Wines Is Like Smoking And Drinking at the Same Time

This photo shows us with our stamped LLC docs back from the Secretary of State (yes I'm totally voting to re-elect Bowen next year) - all thanks to our dumb luck, mindless obsession and well... our dumb luck. Thanks spring frosts, due to your arrival in '08 we are further along in our long and (not)prosperous careers as glorified janitors, dishwashers and door-to-door wine salesmen!


cfhoopes said...

Thanks for the references in your latest blog...(Hoopes)...Have a bottle of 2008 Elk Prairie Pinot Noir (Monument Mountain Vineyards) for you guys to compare with yours...I am saving my bottle of Deux Punx 2008 Elk Prairie Pinot...Thanks, Carol Hoopes

Unknown said...

Hey Carol,

We had to give you guys a shout-out as our chance meeting brought us to Alan's front door.

Definitely excited to try the '08 Monument Mountain Vineyards from Elk Prairie! How are your vines doing? I can't recall what you planted but is seems like it was probably at least 2 years ago right? Another year or so until they're producing for you or are you going for it this year?

All the best!

cfhoopes said...

Hey deux punx,
Well, we'll definitely have to meet up at Alan's door or our deck cause I cook better than Alan...
Checkout my 'facebook' page that chronicles the progress of our expanding vineyard blocks at MMV in also contains albums of our global travels in search of great wine.
We are waiting for budbreak in Humboldt(mid-April)...hope the weather calms down as I intend to harvest 2010 Pinot grapes for the crush.
Look forward to meeting up...
Take care,
Carol Hoopes

alane777 said...

Hey there Dan & Aaron
So now i know the whole story of how you guys ended up on fruitland ridge. I knew that you guys got my number from Jeff & Carol but knew nothing of the frost in the vineyard story. i guess you guys were pretty lucky considering the smoke at harvest issue in anderson valley. i agree it all adds up to some pretty dumb luck but glad it happened the way it did, other wise i might not have been aware of the wine adventures and the comedy of the "deux punx".