Tweeter button
Facebook button
Digg button

Home » Pinot Noir » Recent Articles:

“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

Zaca Mesa – Contending with Nature

Zaca Mesa – Contending with Nature

Chess, the beloved ancient game for the opulent and the humble masses. Played by both Kings and noblemen, and millions from the working class. Chess is a human heritage with its foundations in ancient India, before coming to Europe where it evolved and spread around the world. It has inspired us to create international champions and produce numerous books and films dissecting its every part.

Like chess wine is a global obsession. It has found favor with the opulent few and with millions of modest means. It has enticed men to lose vast fortunes and has even revived the moral of men at war. Wine is a part of our collective human inheritance; passed down through the ages.

As there is in Chess, wine has two contenders, the Winemaker and Mother Nature. Each has their pieces in which they utilize in attack against or in defense from their adversary. Nature, has her heat, wind, rain, and frost. The Winemaker, has his land, his winery, and his vineyard and cellar team that he uses to outplay and outthink Mother Nature. In this battle between adversaries there can be only a single outcome: success for one and failure for the other. … Continue Reading

Alta Maria Vineyards – Antithesis of Common Sense

August 12, 2010 Fifty-Two Weeks 3 Comments
Alta Maria Vineyards – Antithesis of Common Sense

James Ontiveros and Paul Wilkins have impressive resumes.

James Ontiveros is a 9th generation Californian. His great-great-great-great-great grandfather was Juan Pacifico Ontiveros, the son of a Spanish soldier and a one time Corporal at San Gabriel Mission. His family originally settled in what is now Orange County on Rancho San Juan Cajon de Santa Ana (modern day Anaheim), which Juan Pacifico Ontiveros’ father was granted by the Mexican Government in 1833. A connection to wine came early to the Ontiveros family, when Ontiveros sold 1,165 acres of the land to the Los Angeles Vineyard Society in September 1857 for the cultivation of wine grapes. It was the first commercial vineyard in California.

In 1855, Ontiveros purchased the 8,900-acre Rancho Tepusquet from his father-in-law Tomás Olivera, who acquired it in a land grant in 1837. In 1957, he relocated to the Ranch in what is now the Santa Maria Valley, constructed an adobe, and lived there until his death in 1877. During his time there he raised cattle and horses and even planted wine grapes. Rancho Tepusquet, which today includes famed vineyards such as Bien Nacido and Solomon Hills made up the north side of the Santa Maria Valley. The south side was Rancho Tinaquaic, some 9,000- acres that were granted to Benjamin Foxen, another son-in-law of Tomás Olivera and Ontiveros’ brother-in-law. Ontiveros and Foxen were the first two Anglos to settle the region (Foxen, is the namesake of Foxen winery, which was co-founded by his great-great-great great-grandson Dick Doré). … Continue Reading

Merlot, A Fall From Grace

July 21, 2010 Merlot, The Press 9 Comments
Merlot, A Fall From Grace

“It’s all crap you know, the things they say about me. It’s all crap.” Merlot took a long drag from his cigarette. A glass of half drunk scotch sat on the bar before him. It was his fourth.

“It’s bad enough that I had to grow up under the shadow of that pompous jerk Cabernet my whole life. I suffered a lot of abuse because of him. Then that movie came out.” The movie was of course Sideways, the cult classic starring Paul Giamatti. Paul’s character, Miles, at one point bluntly refuses to drink “any EXPLETIVE Merlot.” The film, which centered around two best friends’ misadventures in Santa Barbara wine country is said to have given a huge boost to Pinot Noir sales, a varietal Paul’s character was particularly fond of. The opposite was said to be the case for Merlot, with sales reportedly dipping after the damning statement. … Continue Reading

Foxen – Degrees of Separation

July 16, 2010 Fifty-Two Weeks 6 Comments
Foxen – Degrees of Separation

There are certain truths in life. Light travels at 186,000 miles per second. The Earth orbits the Sun once every 365.25 days. Bob Barker will never die. There are six degrees of separation between Kevin Bacon and the rest of the world.

Many are familiar with the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, a trivia game with the goal of tracing anyone in the entertainment industry back to Kevin Bacon in six or less steps. I myself can be traced to Kevin in four degrees:

  1. I have a friend named Rob.
  2. Rob has a friend who wrote the screenplay for Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lighting Thief.
  3. The Lightning Thief starred Pierce Brosnan.
  4. Pierce Brosnan and Kevin Bacon contributed text to a book of photographs by British photographer Andy Gotts. … 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

Landmark Vineyards – The Third Flag That Flies

Landmark Vineyards – The Third Flag That Flies

1776: The Founding Fathers sign the declaration of independence. 1805: Lewis and Clark “discover” the Pacific Ocean. 1838: John Deere invents the steel plow. 1865: The Civil War ends. 1914: Henry Ford revolutionizes automobile production. 1929: The stock market collapses. May 22nd, 2010: Mike Colhoun, Owner of Landmark Vineyards meets me, Wayne Kelterer.

While each of the above events had massive implications for American culture, none were as earth shattering as Mike Colhoun having the opportunity to meet me. I am the Barbara Walters of wine interviewers. The Ernest Hemingway of wine writing. When people say, “it is a pleasure to meet you,” I usually say, “yes! you are right. It IS a pleasure to meet me.” … Continue Reading

Kokomo Winery – There’s A Place Called…

Kokomo Winery – There’s A Place Called…

A city sign that reads: “Kokomo First into the Twenty-First Century – Hometown of Erik Miller” sits high and proud on the tasting room wall of Kokomo Winery.

Erik Miller is the energetic thirty-three year old behind Kokomo Winery, based in the Dry Creek Valley AVA of Sonoma County outside of Healdsburg. The sign was a gift from the Mayor of his birth town in Indiana, the town that was the inspiration for his brand name, Kokomo. Eric wears a goatee that contrasts with his buzzed hair. His intense and dramatic eyes match his absolute zeal for sharing his wines and the land they are made from. He wears a Kokomo T-shirt and jeans and speaks quickly.

Kokomo sits on the Dry Creek Canyon “bench” that runs a long the east side of the valley. Once the site of an orchard and dried fruit processing center (Timber Crest Farms), the series of old farm buildings now house a half dozen independent wine brands. Behind the facilities, a junkyard of the rotting decrepit remains of old Sterling trucks lead up to the base of the vineyard. The farmer who owns the land has an intense passion for these forgotten relics and expends huge efforts to bring them back to their former glory. Erik too speaks of them with enough focus and exuberance that suggests he finds inspiration in their transformation and in the possibility of what can be, with some time, and a lot of hard work. … Continue Reading

Lafond Vineyard – Pioneers and Pinot Noir

Lafond Vineyard – Pioneers and Pinot Noir

Santa Barbara, the American Riviera. First settled by the Chumash Indians and later colonized by Spanish Missionaries in the late 1700′s, Santa Barbara continues to be a cultural mixing pot. Santa Barbara straddles the line between Central and Southern California lifestyles. From hippie communes in the hills, to billionaire moguls, there is something for everyone in the city embraced between the mountains and sea. Few places in California allow for a surf session in the morning, rock climbing in the afternoon, and a fine dinner and Yo-Yo Ma in the evening, all without leaving the city limits. Almost the entire California experience can be had in Santa Barbara, if only Robert Iger would build a theme park.

The original Santa Barbara Mission, a key landmark within the city, founded in 1786, was rebuilt after it was destroyed by an earthquake-induced tsunami in 1812. The rebuilt mission remains one of the most impressive in California, affectionately called The Queen of the Missions. The Spanish colonization influenced Santa Barbara greatly through the centuries. The mission and other historic structures remain threads that tie the identity of the city together. History pairs with high fashion in a city known for its museums and shopping. Street names and neighborhoods bare Spanish names like Carrillo, Chapala, Sola, and San Roque. Interestingly, it was Sebastián Vizcaino in 1602, a Spanish soldier that gave Santa Barbara its name (he passed through the Santa Barbara Channel on Dec. 3, the eve of the feast of St. Barbara) along with Point Conception, and San Diego. … Continue Reading

The Ojai Vineyard – Part II

The Ojai Vineyard – Part II

Two weeks ago I wrote about The Ojai Vineyard and my time with Adam Tolmach and Fabien Castel. Much of the story centered on Adam’s decision to tone back the amount of alcohol in some of his wines over the past several years. At the outset, I did not intend to write a story that focused so heavily on the controversy that came along with his decision. Nor did I plan on writing so extensively about his relationship with wine critics (one in particular). These topics just became a big part of our conversation that day.

Yet, I am pleased I wrote it. In preparing for my interview with Adam, I came across much chatter about him. Some was in praise of the winemaker and some was not. A small portion of it was borderline character assassination. Therefore, I was happy to present Adam’s fair and balanced side of the story.

Read the original interview here: The Ojai Vineyard: “Legends, Myths, and Fantastic Chardonnay”. … Continue Reading

{Archives}

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 [...]

{People We Like}

Studio Holladay
Municipal Winemakers
Kunin Wines