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“The Beginning of the End and One Hell of a Scare” By: Wes Hagen

“The Beginning of the End and One Hell of a Scare” By: Wes Hagen

Today is a good day.  A really, really good day.  I haven’t felt so relaxed in months.  After finishing the longest day of the vintage yesterday I knew that we wouldn’t have to wake up for a 3 am pick this morning, so I initially reserved the right to go out with the crew for a few drinks last night—stay up late and be crazy—like at least 10:00 pm!

But (lo and behold), come 7:18 pm I was man down in our bed, which is a bit later than I have been going to sleep, but not exactly a bedtime that denotes an iron man party-when-I-can mentality.  And I’m OK with that.  I didn’t wake up until after 7 am and those 12 hours of pure and unadulterated sleep were a revelation. … Continue Reading

“Night Harvesting Russian River Valley Chardonnay” By: Lisa Mattson

October 4, 2010 Lisa Mattson - The Journey of Jordan, The Cru Comments Off
“Night Harvesting Russian River Valley Chardonnay” By: Lisa Mattson

Watching a picking crew harvest grapes is an unbelievable rush. Your eyes fight to follow the hooked knives slicing away at each stem. You hear the grapes shaking on the vines as the workers tug the canes. A tractor engine hums. You hear the men shout for more collection bins. But you can’t see anything–unless you follow the lights.

This is the beauty of night harvesting. … Continue Reading

“Pneumonia’s Last Syrah” By: Jason Haas

“Pneumonia’s Last Syrah” By: Jason Haas

Most of you are probably aware that Syrah faces a challenging marketplace. Even articles complimentary about Syrahs (as nearly all of them are) feel compelled to begin with a story about how hard they are to sell. A recent article by Eric Asimov in the New York Times began “There’s a joke going around West Coast wine circles: What’s the difference between a case of syrah and a case of pneumonia? You can get rid of the pneumonia.”

How did we get here?  The theories are many, but my own opinion is that there was such a rapid increase in planting that it was inevitable that demand would lag compared to supply.  In the 1990′s, California Syrah acreage saw an enormous leap, based on guesses that Syrah was going to be the next big thing.  In 1992, there were 867 acres of Syrah planted in California, 0.7% of the total red grape acreage.  By 2000, that had increased to 12,699 acres, of which nearly half we non-bearing because they’d been planted in the last three years.  In 2000, Syrah accounted for 4.6% of red grape acreage, an absolute increase of over 1400% and a percentage increase of 657%.  … Continue Reading

“A Walk in the Fog & 09′ Clos Pepe Pinot Noir from Barrel” By: Wes Hagen

“A Walk in the Fog & 09′ Clos Pepe Pinot Noir from Barrel” By: Wes Hagen

Welcome once again to the Year in the Vineyard Blog.  We continue with our new High Def video blogs, to give you as much visual input as possible.  There’s times when the written word can describe what’s happening in a vineyard, but I’m a big believer in getting out in the vines when I have visitors and getting them to see, touch, smell and understand what’s going on here.

With this in mind, I would like to continue posting blogs each week from the vineyard and the winery so you can get an intimate view and understanding of my job as a vineyard manager and winemaker for Clos Pepe.  This week we post part 2 of the barrel tasting: the Pinot Noir, and a ‘Walk in the Fog’—my take on how the fruit and the 2010 vintage is maturing. … Continue Reading

“Making Wines for Food, Not Scores” Video Interview With: John Jordan

August 20, 2010 John Jordan - The Journey of Jordan Comments Off
“Making Wines for Food, Not Scores” Video Interview With: John Jordan

After a brief gap as we work out some kinks, I am thrilled to have my first video post on A Long Pour, except it isn’t mine.

John Jordan is CEO of Jordan Vineyard & Winery in Healdsburg California. I had the pleasure of meeting John back in May and I am delighted to have him, along with support from Jordan’s Communications Director Lisa Mattson, provide guest vintner videos. I am excited to see where this goes.

This week, John speaks about their philosophy on wine and why a wine that complements food is more important to them than big scores. … Continue Reading

“A Long Pour In Short Order” By: Christopher Watkins

“A Long Pour In Short Order” By: Christopher Watkins

A Long Pour

Driving from my side of the mountain

towards the Black Mountain

on a cool Sunday morning,

draped in colorless afghans of fog, … Continue Reading

“Why Limestone Matters for Wine Grape Growing” By: Jason Haas

July 19, 2010 Jason Hass - Blog Tablas Creek, The Cru Comments Off
“Why Limestone Matters for Wine Grape Growing”  By: Jason Haas

It has long been cognized that great wine regions such as Champagne, Burgundy, Chablis, the Loire and southern Rhône valleys, and Saint-Emilion in Bordeaux are rich with limestone.  Or, more precisely, these soils are rich in plant-accessible calcium carbonate, the principal chemical component of limestone, typically from decayed limestone outcroppings.  (Limestone itself is too hard for plants’ roots to penetrate.)

Limestone is rare in California except in a crescent of land in the Central Coast between the Santa Cruz Mountains to the north and Lompoc to the south.  When we were searching for a site on which to plant our vineyard, finding calcium-rich soil similar to that of Château de Beaucastel was a primary criterion. That calcium-rich soils were only found in the Central Coast focused our search in this area.  The west side of Paso Robles and Templeton is the state’s largest exposed limestone layer, and in 1989 we bought our property here.

For all the anecdotal evidence of the superior qualities of calcium-rich soils, the science behind how calcareous soil influences grapevine health and the wines that come from them is still being explored.  It turns out that there are four principal reasons why these soils improve wine quality. … Continue Reading

“The Birth of an American Viticultural Area” By: Wes Hagen

“The Birth of an American Viticultural Area” By: Wes Hagen

Let’s take a slightly different view of the wine world this week.  I’d like to leave the nuts and bolts of vineyard management for a few moments and discuss the descriptive system of wine appellations in the United States, a Federal program overseen by the TTB, or Tax and Trade Bureau.  But before you start to think that this is going to be a boring blog full of bellicose bureaucracy, let me guarantee that I will be injecting the subject with enough interesting anecdote and incisive commentary to keep it interesting and entertaining (although pouring a tall glass of pinot noir makes any of my blogs more palatable).

First, a quick vineyard update.  The weather has taken another cool, foggy and windy turn as low pressure trofs continue to move over the Central Coast, keeping us in the high 60’s.  While most folks don’t think about June in California as sweater weather, it really has been.  There have been some warm days, as well, but the nights have been in the high 40’s and the vines are growing slowly, methodically, and finishing their fruit set and marching toward bunch closure in a very patient and easy manner.  Cool weather means we’ll turn off the irrigation for a few weeks until we see a warm up and an increase in evapotranspiration, which is a measurement of how much water is both being used by a plant and how much is evaporating out of the soil. … Continue Reading

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Bonny Doon: Day of the Doon IX {Photo Essay}

September 22, 2011

Bonny Doon: Day of the Doon IX {Photo Essay}

We have grown rather accustomed to long trips for short stays, so much so that a 500 mile weekend is not such a big deal anymore. There are a lot of events we are invited to and we can only attend a few of them. But when Randall Graham asks you to attend, you attend. [...]

Secret Project {the reveal}

August 17, 2011

Secret Project {the reveal}

A few weeks ago I posted the “Secret Project” with some shots of  a friend’s new winery taking shape. At the time, the space was still in a raw state, holes in the ground, bare walls, cut concrete. In terms of photographing a new winery, one might say there was not much to see, no [...]

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