All posts by NovaCadamatre

Harvest 2017 Update

Harvest is usually crazy but this year seems busier than most. After a super cool and very rainy summer we have had several weeks of warm, dry weather which was much needed. 

Riesling for Trestle Thirty One


Unfortunately, the four weather forecast models that I look at this time of year are inconsistent on the next week. As of now, it looks like it will rain. It is uncertain if it will be a few days or a week of rain. Either way it is not what one wants this time of year if one is a winemaker. 

One of the exciting things I’m trying this harvest is a barrel fermented red using Blaufrankisch. The first thing we had to do was remove the barrel heads. Coopering is something I’ve never tried before but after searching the internet I was able to get enough info to be dangerous. 


Two of my team mates and I got together to take apart some barrels last weekend. The hoops needed to be removed then the barrel head then the hoops needed to be replaced. After the first one held water, we felt more confident moving forward. Finally we had five barrels prepped and ready to fill with fruit this week. 

Now I have Chardonnay in a barrel and stainless drums, Blaufrankisch in barrels, and Cabernet Franc, Riesling, and Rose in tanks. 

I can’t wait to see how this turns out. 

Winemaker 2 Winemaker: David Parrish of Parrish Family Vineyards

David Parrish at his winery on the Central Coast of CA.

David Parrish at his winery on the Central Coast of CA.

This month’s Winemaker 2 Winemaker interview focuses on David Parrish of Parrish Family Vineyards on California’s Central Coast.  His story began with vineyard trellis work for icons of the Napa Valley such as Robert Mondavi, Bob Steinhauer and others. Parrish spent decades tending to vines and today holds 24 patents for trellis design. He is recognized as the industry expert in knowing how to work with trellises in order to get the most from the vines, and from them, great fruit. Thirteen years ago, Parrish decided to return to his grandfather’s roots of vineyard production. Parrish planted 40 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon on his Creston, California, ranch in 1995 and in 2004 made his first vintage of Cabernet Sauvignon. Seven years later he opened a tasting room in downtown Paso Robles and expanded his vineyard holdings into the Templeton and Adelaida Districts.

NC: What originally attracted you to vineyard development and trellis systems?

DP: Viticulture has been in my blood since the time my grandfather started growing grapes in Atascadero, which was before Prohibition and the Great Depression.

I graduated from University of California, Davis in 1974 and started a vineyard trellising company which I’m still involved with today. I currently hold two dozen patents for trellis design and have worked with partners all over the world. I’m also excited to see more and more developments around my shade cloth technology which is allowing further ripeness of the fruit without scaring or burning. I’ve been selling it to other wineries that are also seeing great results.

I worked in Napa for several years, but, my heart always wanted to come home to the Central Coast and grow my own grapes. I decided to take my grandfather’s passion a step further opening my own winery, which is slated to open in early 2018.

NC: You’ve stated that your passion is Cabernet Sauvignon. In your opinion, what are the key vineyard practices which are essential to growing great Cabernet which would be applicable globally?

DP: For us, it always comes back to the way you care for the land. We practice sustainable farming in many ways and have even restored a creek bed on our property to ensure the land continues to improve. One of the things I’m most passionate about is the way we care for the soil. We use seaweed that is infused into the drip irrigation adding natural minerals to our soil.  We also use a mix of worm cast and organic products, known as organic tea, to enhance the microbes. It’s not possible to have healthy vines without healthy land.

NC: There has been a lot of focus on what ripeness is in wine and what constitutes a ripened bunch. How do you personally define ripeness?

DP: We define it as when the “green” or characteristically “unripe” flavors are gone, and are replaced with more fruity flavors like black fruit and berries. We also look at the seeds to make sure that they have no more green color, and are crunchy in texture when bitten, like “Grape Nuts” cereal. The skins should be supple and velvety to the touch, and the pulp should separate readily and easily from the seeds when squeezed. We also monitor the pH and TA to make sure that they are in and optimal range, though flavor is always the deciding factor.

After that, I sit down with the winemaking team and we taste the grape samples together scoring each of the characteristics of ripeness on a scale. It’s then a group vote if we pick or wait.

NC: I’ve often heard that clone selection doesn’t matter as much in Cabernet as it does in Pinot Noir. What are your thoughts and which are some of your favorite clones and why?

DP: I think clones are important when planning and developing a Cabernet vineyard. I spent weeks planning the clones I wanted in our Templeton and Adelaida vineyards. Clones assist in creating a complex wine. For instance, Clone 337 produces dense, complex, and very aromatic wines, so we use that in our Cabernet almost every vintage. There are some years and some clones that can stand alone and for me that is Clone 6. It is my favorite clone as a winemaker because it produces such a beautiful, very dark, rich wine, but as a grower it has lower yields so it’s more of a love hate relationship. It’s worth it in the end, especially since our 2014 was rated a 94 points by Wine Enthusiast and we couldn’t be happier.

NC: In the 1970s, you worked alongside some of the great pioneers of winemaking in the Napa Valley. What was that like? Did you feel that history was being made or was everyone so focused on moving forward that it all just happened around you?

DP: I was fortunate at that time to meet a group of Napa growers who wanted to make Napa a world-class wine growing region and one of my professors, Dr. Kliewer, convinced me to accept their invitation to work with them. I moved to Napa and started working with Robert Mondavi and Bob Steinhauer of Beringer Vineyards. After a few months, I was working with most of the wineries in the Napa area on their trellises.

The experience was so meaningful because it was just a group of people working to make the most out of the land and to work in communion with each other. Today, I see that same spirit in Paso Robles. It reminds me of the early days in Napa when I worked with the family-run vineyards and wineries.  Paso Robles is still that way.  We are a pretty close knit group and a great community.

I think there is something magical that happens when winemakers live on the land they love and are able to truly give it the daily attention and care it demands. It’s uncommon and it’s characteristically Central Coast.

NC: You’ve now started your own family-run winery. How do you balance the business and personal sides to your life working so closely with your wife, daughter, and son in law?

DP: Other than my grandfather’s roots, I wanted to return to the Central Coast because of the people. I spent a lot of time in Napa and know the beautiful fruit that can be developed there but, I wanted to work with family-owned wineries just like the one I wanted to build.

My family and I have  learned a lot facing the wine business together over the last eight years.  I am glad we started in a small tasting room downtown because the learning curve was just right.  We all are involved in the day-to-day operations of the winery; even the dogs have a job. I’m lucky we share the highs and lows together. It takes a lot of work, but the rewards are so great. I can’t imagine doing anything else.

NC: Your vineyard and winery is located on CA’s Central Coast which is renowned for Rhone varieties as well as Burgundy varieties in the south. Which other varieties are you experimenting with beyond Cabernet Sauvignon?

DP: We love the progress of our Sauvignon Blanc, , Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and two Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah blends. We have four vineyards that provide us with a bounty of great fruit that’s easy to work with and delicious to enjoy.

NC: Please describe your winemaking philosophy in Haiku 

DP:

Grow it and guide it

Take care of the land you have

Drink with those you love

NC: What key piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out in the wine industry?

DP: I graduated with a biology major, but I’ve found the best way to learn is to simply study, experience as much as you can, and make sure you love it.

NC: Thank you so much David!

 

Do or Do Not. There is No Try: Part II

I have been blogging for the past 7 1/2 years.  I have been in the Master of Wine program for 8 yeasrs.  Over those 8 years, I have learned many ways to fail the MW exam.  If you would like to catch up on all that drama follow these links; Fail 2Fail 3 (on which I also passed theory so not entirely a fail), Fail 4 and Fail 5.  Finally last year, after taking a forced year off, I figured out how to pass both parts of the closed book exam; theory and practical.  Now, after finishing my Research Paper (RP) I am reflecting over all of the trials and events of the past 8 years.  Finally, tonight I got the call that I have been striving for over the past 8 years! I am officially a Master of Wine!

In this post I would like to try and thank as many of the people that have helped and supported me to this point as I can.  It is by no means an exhaustive list but here it goes…

To God, for granting me this amazing life and the ability to live it to the fullest! Thank you for standing by me when I was alone in my darkest moments.

My amazing husband, Brian, for putting up with the crazy weekend tastings, my roller coaster of emotions over the past 8 years, and taking care of our son when I had to be at tastings, events, and the exam itself. Thank you for not divorcing me!

To my son, Nathaniel.  I keep telling you if you keep working hard, no matter what falls in your way, you will achieve your goals.  I hope my struggle through this serves as an example for you.  Keep plugging away and you’ll get there.  I’ll be right behind you, cheering you on.

To my extended family, my parents, and my in-laws, who have always been supportive of my pursuit even though I don’t think they understood what I was trying to do for the first 3 years.  They’ve figured it out now and were the first people on the call list when I found out!

The amazing DC Flynt, MW – without whose gentle kick in the butt, I wouldn’t have come back to the program and who continued to support me as my mentor for my final year until I was in rare fighting form! You and your wife were so generous.  THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! I couldn’t have done this without you!

My fellow Musketeers – Dave Forer, MW and Matt Deller, MW.  You guys made the journey so much fun.  All for one and one for all!  I’m so excited we are back together again!

Wendy Cameron, MW – Thank you for reading, and re-reading, and re-re-reading my RP!  I know it was long and complicated but I think it looks amazing!  Hopefully the markers feel the same. I hope we get to meet face to face sometime!

Sheri Morano, MW – Thanks for all the “Mommy” advice, the faith and support, shoulder to cry on, and the tough love when I needed it! Your graphing advice was the best!

Mark De Vere, MW – For being my sponsor on my application.  I really loved working with you and can’t wait to help out on the seminars!

Mark Ebaugh – My boss at Mission Bell who believed in me enough to fund my Diploma and my first year as an MW student.

Barbra Phillip, MW – My mentor for my first 5 years in the program.  Thank you for all your faith in me and for all the advice.  I’m so glad your faith paid off!

Bob Betz, MW – For proving to me that winemakers can become MWs! Don’t worry! You don’t have to teach the viticulture and winemaking sessions alone anymore!!!

Mary Ewing-Mulligan, MW – For giving me “You have to be and MW to pass the MW” speech.  Also the “Yoda” speech.  You are my “Yoda” for the MW program! Thanks for all the philosophy.

Lisa Granik, MW – Thank you for being so real about the program.  You scared the crap out of me the first year and that made me want to work harder to reach the bar that you set for all of us.  Thank you as well for listening to all my dissertation ideas and later RP ideas and guiding me to develop what I thought were two really good dissertation topics.  The one I picked was a beast but totally worth it in the end.

Peter Marks, MW – For always hosting tastings that were so much more tricky than the exam.  I thought that if I was able to pass a tasting with you I would have no trouble on the exam.  Thanks for always having my back!

Jean-Michel Valette, MW – Thank you for all your great lectures on the wine business.  I think I finally “got it” the 3rd lecture and it helped me pass Theory paper 3!

Siobhan Turner –  Thanks for all the support over the years.  I hope I can be as supportive for you on your journey now that you are the student.

Ed Killian – Thank you for always supporting and believing in me.  If I’m half as good of a boss as you are then I’m doing pretty well.

My fellow students who achieved the dream! – Adam Lapierre, MW, Amy Christine, MW, Anne Krebiehl, MW and Liz Thach, MW

Eric Heimer, MS, MW – Thanks for the unwavering support and the friendly trade of Viticulture and Winemaking knowledge for practical tasting knowledge.

The Constellation Team – Thank you for all your well wishes and support.   I really appreciate all the time and effort you have taken to help me out in the last four years of my pursuit.

Martin Reyes – Thanks for keeping me company and navigating on our grand adventure in Germany! Best of luck on your RP journey!

Chuck and Jen Van Fleet of Vino and Friends – for searching out a Hunter Valley Shiraz in Fresno so I could taste it and write an answer for it on my MW application

Christian Seely and the entire AXA Millesimes group- For sponsoring such an amazing tour of Bordeaux, Sauternes and Burgundy.  Your generosity astounded me!

Joel Butler, MW, Tim Hanni, MW, and Doug Frost, MW– For being all around great guys and always positive.

Like I said above, this is not an exhaustive list but I hope everyone knows how critical they were in my success in the program. I’m so excited! Thank you to all!!!!