Winemaker on Tour

This past week I spent an amazing 48 hours in Denver, Colorado. I’d only been to Denver a few times in the past but always remember having a good time. We had quite a few amazing meals this trip. The first was a lunch at Pallatte’s located at the Denver Museum of Art. The Ahi Tuna tacos were a great start and then the Cobb salad was the perfect light introduction to what would turn out to be several great meals. The dinner that night was at a small casual gastro pub called the Coral Room located in an unassuming strip mall in one of the most up and coming areas of the Denver suburbs. We went through several courses paired with the Robert Mondavi Winery wines. The highlights for me was the smoked salmon appetizer as well as the amazing cheesecake with blueberry sauce for dessert. The next day following a meeting with our amazing distributor team we went to lunch at a restaurant called Cool River. I had a wonderful 7oz Filet here which was the highlight of the meal and I still feel a bit of regret that I didn’t get a chance to try their Makers Mark Bread Pudding. Maybe next visit? Dinner that night was at an amazing restaurant called Coolhills run by a husband and wife team comprised of Tom Coolhill, the culinary genius, and D, the front of house manager. The multi course menu that we went through was the gastronomic highlight of the trip. Our wines were beautifully paired with the dishes which are listed in full below.

All and all it was a very successful sales trip and I especially loved meeting all the amazing people that came to all the lunches and dinners.

Meanwhile, back in Napa, I was getting Brix updates from some of our Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc vineyards which included one block of Pinot that was at 17.5 Brix, last Monday. Harvest is approaching rapidly and I’m happy to be back home to turn my full focus on the incoming fruit.

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Six California’s and What that Would Mean to Wine

There is a movement currently to break the state of California into six separate states. Read more about the plan here. I could see some positives to the plan such as bringing law creation to a smaller group of people. Let’s face it what works for Napa doesn’t always work for San Diego and bringing this hugely fragmented demographic into agreement takes equally huge amounts of negotiation.  I highly doubt that this will get much farther than it already has but it definitely got my wheels turning thinking about the consequences of such a movement on our industry.  If one only considers the ramifications to the wine industry one quickly realizes the impossibility of this plan.

1) Say goodbye to “California” Appellated wine. This is by far and away the most important issue that this plan will bring up.  Political AVAs are defined by political boundaries therefore anything grown in the Central Valley would have to be listed as “Central California”. You also can not blend wines from multiple states without losing all appellations and just calling it American. Gone would be the days of mixing Central Valley and Central Coast wines (split into two states, Silicon Valley and West California) and it probably would drive further industry out of the Central Valley.

2) What happens to regional AVAs that span multiple states? Under this plan, both the North Coast and the Central Coast will be spread over two states.  Will they end up like Carneros and be defined as the AVA only or will you have to say North Coast – Jefferson or North Coast – North California, which in a way kind of defeats the purpose of the North Coast appellation.

3) Water. Some of the most populated proposed states don’t have their own water sources. Water has already become a huge issue between counties. What would the motivation be for states with water to share it if their own people needed it?

4) Distribution. With six states brings opportunity for six new different distribution laws. Maybe one of the states decides to go to a control state like Pennsylvania.

On the positive side, maybe we can petition to change the name of the state currently suggested to be called Northern California into Wineland? It might be more appropriate considering Silicon Valley gets to keep its pop culture name.

Seriously, this is a crazy plan. Hopefully calmer heads prevail.

Vintage 2014: Veraison

While we enjoyed a much needed vacation something was happening here in Napa. The very start of Veraison came about while we were gone. We also had some fire issues in the Northeastern part of the county so I’m hoping we don’t see any smoke taint in the reds this year like we did in Sonoma in 2008. This picture was taken the day we came back on July 3rd and is the table grape in my back yard a full 2.5 weeks early!

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I knew I needed to get out and see what was happening in the vineyards and sure enough, I saw the flowing picture walking into the winery last Monday.

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That is Cabernet Sauvignon at To Kalon. Granted that these are young vines planted in in 2011 so they are ahead of the average vine this year, but the general progression is moving very rapidly. Pinot Noir in Carneros is moving right along as well with
some blocks well through 50% Veraison. Right now it looks like mid August for the start of harvest. It’s coming on fast!
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