Tag Archives: Grapes

The Road Not Taken

Fall Field at Trestle

The Road Not Taken – Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

I have always loved this poem by Robert Frost.  Even in American Literature Class in high school it was this poem that stood out the moment we read through it and has stayed with me for life.  It is a complex poem, covering different angles of choices in our lives.  I think writer David Orr said it best when he explains

“The poem both is and isn’t about individualism, and it both is and isn’t about rationalization. It isn’t a wolf in sheep’s clothing so much as a wolf that is somehow also a sheep, or a sheep that is also a wolf. It is a poem about the necessity of choosing that somehow, like its author, never makes a choice itself—that instead repeatedly returns us to the same enigmatic, leaf-shadowed crossroads.”

It brings me comfort to understand that many others including the esteemed Robert Frost, feel this way about decisions they have made in their lives.  This week I had the amazing experience of walking our newly cleared land that will be our vineyard and future home.  The land is exactly as I pictured it with a gentle slope running down towards the southwest and now that the leaves have fallen, a peek of the lake that is integral to growing grapes in this area.  It reminds me of the time, almost a decade ago now, that I lived here and had to make the decision to leave.  It was one of the hardest decisions of my life at the time.  The decision to come back was equally hard but for different reasons. I think it is natural to mentally relive decisions and try to imagine what would have happened if one had taken the other road.  For myself, I know if I had stayed in the Finger Lakes and not moved to California, I would not have been able to walk the land we have now.  I would not know what I know now.  Those years in California were essential to my growth as a winemaker and I don’t feel that I could have offered as much to the region now if I had stayed here.

I know if I had stayed in the Finger Lakes and not moved to California, I would not have been able to walk the land we have now.  I would not know what I know now.

However, it is natural to imagine what would have been particularly when faced with the reality of something that you have only dared dream of for close to 15 years.  Nearly every time I have ever walked through a vineyard over the 13 years I have been making wine, I have dreamt of the day when I would be able to walk through my own.  Walking the field this week and thinking of what clones and rootstocks we should use, what our spacing should be is almost surreal.  It is the point in your life where dream and reality blur and I did need to pinch myself.  To remind me that I was not going to wake up, still in California, but that we are really here and this is really our land.  The light was amazing with the sun setting in the west and blazing on the Trestle surrounded by the autumn colors of russet, auburn, and gold.


One of the first things that was suggested to me earlier this year was that I should RoundUp (R) the entire field to make it easier to work the land next year.  I recoiled from the thought of that radical approach.  I realize my dream of a bio-dynamic vineyard in the middle of the Finger Lakes is probably well beyond any realistic possibility however I remain determined to use as little chemical intervention as possible without sacrificing the health of our future vines.  Looking over the beautiful wildflowers and weeds I am happy that we made this decision.  Even though some plants have been removed, it has been largely brush and small trees.  The larger trees we have left in an attempt to keep the site as natural as possible to the original layout.  A medium sized black walnut marks the western most end of the plantable area and a large white cedar stands midway up the Northern boundary.  Both of these were kept since they were the largest trees that had grown up over the 40 plus years the field had not been farmed.  The land is perfect for my husband and I.  Brian has his forest complete with a creek and a stand of large Norway Spruces, Sugar Maples, and Walnuts that he is so fond of in this area and I have my field now for grapes.  It is the perfect retreat for both of us.  I can’t wait to see what the winter brings to see the full cycle of the year on the land.

Small Bites: My Quick News Roundup!

There is so much to talk about from the past few weeks while my family and I have been relocating across the country!  I decided to break them down into small bites…

Bite 1: Arsenic Anyone?

I really don’t want to give this story any more time than it takes for me to acknowledge it however Alder Yarrow from Vinography.com did an amazing post telling you why exactly you shouldn’t be worried about this and instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, please read his post here.

Bite 2: WE’RE HERE!!!!!

We arrived into the beautiful and chilly state of New York last weekend and are now settling into our new house.  Currently one entire room is devoted to unpacked, empty boxes but once those get hauled away tomorrow we should be in fairly good shape as far as moving in is concerned.

I started my new job last week and while it is a dramatic change from Robert Mondavi, it should present a good challenge.  Back in January, we closed on 12 acres on the shores of Seneca lake and I went out that day to put “Posted” signs up.  Upon our return last weekend all but 1 of the 6 signs were torn down.  I’m hoping it is just a combination of wind and extreme cold but I can’t help but be worried that the former owner of a nice deer stand on our land may have had something to do with it.  Our goal is to clear much of the land this summer once the soil dries out some from all the snow this winter.  That way we can start to see where our future house and vineyards will go! We are very excited about this new phase of our lives.

Bite 3: Vintage 2015 Update

New York: It’s cold.  It has been VERY, VERY cold this winter.  I’m a little concerned that we may not have many grapes to make wine with from the western side of the state.  Even though we got another 3 inches of snow this morning, signs of spring are everywhere.  Those 3 inches were mostly melted away by mid afternoon.  Robins are showing up and Canadian Geese can be heard flying overhead, heading North.  Maybe we’ll be close to budbreak around the middle of May.

Napa:  Budbreak is everywhere and frost season is in full swing according to a friend of mine.  There has still been very little rain so the area is poised for a 3rd consecutive drought season.  Again, I wouldn’t want the be the grower that has to choose between protecting what crop they may have this year and saving water so that they can ripen that crop.

Those are the bites for the week!  Happy growing season everyone!


Harvest 2014: Week 10 – Rounding Up the Stragglers



Like a duck gliding slowly, wings spread wide, feet reaching for landing on a pond, we are coming to the end of an incredibly fast harvest.  Last week we saw extreme temperatures.  Extreme cold in the mid 40s and extreme heat in the mid 90s.  I have seen some vineyards in Calistoga with frost damage at this point and that only reconfirms my belief that the season is coming to a close.  We have about a week an a half left of harvest at the winery to bring in all the remaining fruit.  It is mostly Bordeaux varieties with one lone block of Chardonnay down in Carneros that routinely takes its sweet time ripening.

The theme of this year has been low extractability.  We are having to work extremely hard to extract what color and flavors are in the skins.  Maybe that is a result of the drought.  Maybe the skins are thicker and harder due to the lack of water.  However, this was not the case last year which was also a drought year.  Quality looks good.  We are just having to work harder to keep it than in 2013.  It also seems to be a year of slow yeast.  Very few fermentations are “finishing strongly” with most going well until 3 or 4 Brix then slowing down to a crawl to the finish line.

For myself, I’ve signed up for a 10K on November 9th in Calistoga.  I wanted something to look forward to and work towards now that the Master of Wine program is no longer in my life.  Personally, I really can’t stand running.  I much prefer dancing, Pilates, Yoga, or even biking to running.  However, if I want to push myself I can’t stick with the easy stuff.  I have to motivate myself to do it.  Unfortunately my training has been hindered by an fateful run in with a tick sometime last month and fighting the resulting infection that may potentially be Lyme disease.  Why am I posting this? One, if one person who reads this blog remembers to check for the beastly buggers after wandering around in the outdoors it was worth it. Two, I believe in being open, honest, and fully authentic.  In this blog I’m not only writing about wine and winemaking but also its affect on my life.  Fortunately and unfortunately, one of the requirements of the job is being outdoors much of the year with all the highs and lows that come with that.  I’m under good care and well on my way to making a full recovery however prayers are always appreciated!

Stay safe my friends!