After a warm winter, March has come in with more than three weeks of freezing night time temperatures. We can be thankful that none of our buds have pushed. Otherwise, we would have some serious problems. I have a neighbor who has been running water on his vines for more than 18 nights. The vineyard is so saturated that the overflow is flowing through a couple of our rows to exit through a drain to the river. We use some judgment on when to prune which varieties. We like to save pruning the early budding and late budding varieties for last. Pruning as early as when we started in December can actually cause certain vines to bud out 2-3 weeks earlier than if you waited. What we have been doing has worked. We will be seeing green in the vineyard within 2-3 weeks and frost protection will begin. We have finished pruning the Goodchild Vineyard and Los Alamos Vineyard and started Monday on the Valley View Vineyard. You would think that would be simple but we grow seven varieties there on seven or eight different trellis systems. It’s called making an adjustment. Our vineyard pruning crew has been with us for many years. They really take pride in the job they do. We are fortunate.
2016 Chenin Blanc: A big wine from the past that is hardly talked about anymore. In the good old days, it was Charles Krug Chenin Blanc made by Robert Mondavi before he started his own winery. We still have about four acres. I refuse to graft them out because back when I used to sell Chenin Blanc to Foxen, Robert Parker called their wine made from our grapes “America’s best Chenin Blanc”. The 2016 has the essence of Vouvray, the world’s best Chenin Blanc from the Loire. I recently was a host for the Gentleman’s Quarterly dinner in Santa Ynez and served this Chenin Blanc with split pea soup and Waldorf salad. I was amazed at the number of compliments after the dinner about this wine. Reasonably priced and belongs on your dinner table.
2015 Cabernet Sauvignon, Valley View: This may be the best buy on the wine market. It is not priced for what it is but priced to give our distributor a great wine at more than a discount. I don’t expect it to be around very long. We have been doing this wine for years. It is one of our most popular and was the cause for me to plant the additional Bordeaux varieties. It is a Cabernet but it is really a blend of all the Bordeaux reds. This one is robust. 2015 was a very small crop so the wine has some intensity and great color which probably resulted from the smaller berry size. It’s a good reason to test your BBQ pit.
2014 Syrah: Is it possible to be big and delicate? This wine is. The 15% alcohol indicates the grapes were really ripe when we harvested at Valley View but it shows no heat. Co-fermenting with just a little bit of Viognier seems to have really brought out the sparkle. Syrah can sometimes be non-descript but this one is luscious and flavorful. I would settle for this quality every year. We included grapes from the two small patches of Syrah on the hillside. Load up on this wine at this price. It won’t be around very long.
Hope to see you at this year’s Vintners’ Festival and Winemaker Dinner at First & Oak. Prepare for spring. Put a smile on your face.