Friday, April 27, 2007

How Much Wine?

We didn't make a lot of wine in 2005. Just 100 cases total. 50 cases of Syrah and 50 cases of Canernet Sauvignon. In 2006 we made 16 barrels, 400 cases, so four times more. Still not a huge amount. This year we're planning on 23 barrels, about 575 cases of wine.

I big part of this approach was to not make more wine than we could sell 'part time'. Build up slowly, get the wine out there, build a mailing list and some key restaurants and go from there.

I also know I'm making pretty unique wine. I like wine with a great smell, and well balanced. I don't like thick wines, and I don't like wines with brown flavors or jammy flavors, so I don't want to make wines like that. Those are the kinds of wines that are simple crowd favorites and fill up the bottom shelves at the supermarket. That's easy appeal, and nothing wrong with that, but I'm not out to compete with Little Penguin. I knew our wine would have to find a market. People who like elegance over thickness and pretty scent over ultra ripe flavor.

I know those people are out there, and I know they will love our wines. But I also knew that making 2000 cases to start off with would have been a hard search to find them.

We're never going to make 2000 cases of anything is the bottom line. We'll make small amounts of a few wines from special sites that let me get great balance, scent and flavor in a bottle. 100 cases here, 200 cases there, just small amounts. Copain was successful doing this, and Brian Loring, so I think it can be done. I don't want a confusing amount of wines, or wines from all over. Our wines will always be from mountain vineyards that let me make a wine I'll like. I hope enough other people like them too to let us keep making them.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Sorry for the long laps

A bad streak of colds, allergies, computer problems and getting ready for the Release Party have kept me from blogging.

I should be back at it now though. The party went very well with 40 people coming and trying our wine. We've gotten it out to Olio this week and Twist next week to get on thier wine lists, and almost all the orders have gone out.

I'll be catching up in the vineyard this weekend and trying to update everyone on what's going on!.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

The Pinot Quest

I've thought a lot about making a Pinot Noir. The hard part for me has been finding fruit to buy that I like. There's not much Pinot Noir available for sale in the Santa Cruz Mountains. I'm also very very picky about the vineyards we'll use and making sure that they are farmed for the highest possible quality.

That's meant for the past two years the only vineyard I've been interested in has been the Schultze Family Vineyard in the Southern Santa Cruz Mountains. The Schultze's make what I think is the best Pinot Noir in the Santa Cruz Mountains from their vineyard under the Windy Oaks name. They also sell their fruit to Thomas Fogarty, David Bruce, Testerossa and Mark Alfaro. Jim Schultze is so dedicated to perfection to his vineyard that this is some of the most sought after fruit around.

Every year I call Jim and Judy and beg for fruit, and every year they call back and say, "Sorry". This year though, Jim said, "Maybe, I can give you 2 tons." So my fingers have been crossed, they'll let me know after fruit sets in June if I have a Pinot source. I ordered my barrels just in case, and then haven't thought much about it.

Then last week, through a series of connections another great source became available to me. The owners of one of the oldest and most sought after vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains called Bradley Brown at Big Basin Vineyards. They were looking for a new winemaker and vineyard manager for their vineyard. Bradley is busy this year planting more Syrah, so he referred them to me.

The vineyard is fantastic, but it was too far away for me to take care of well. At 10 acres it would mean I'd have to dedicate almost 100% of my weekend time to it and I couldn't see doing that with all the other vineyards we have (We're up to 5 we take care of, and 3 we consult at now). So, I started making frantic phone calls.

Yesterday I called back the owners and said, "Yes I think we can do it." Ted at Uvas Creek Vineyards is interested in partnering with us on the project. He's a fantastic farmer and he's about 30 miles closer than I am. We can split up the vineyard work, and then split the fruit. We still need to work out the details, but it looks like we'll have 1-2 tons of Chardonnay and 3-4 tons of Pinot Noir this year.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Shipping to Start on Schedule

Barring some real unusual error over the next day or two, shipping will start on schedule next Monday April 9th. I plan to release all orders, to all states next week. The exceptions will be a few special deliveries that have been requested. Those will go out after the official release of April 21st.

The wine should start to arrive as soon as next Wednesday and Thursday to California addresses. We did send out a small number of late offer letters this week. It looked like we would have 2-3 cases left after first round, so I sent out 18 offers for three packs to the first 18 people who had signed up after the first cut off.

I'll deliver restaurant orders starting the week of April 23rd. Olio in Campbell and Baci in Vacaville are confirmed. We will also likely be at Twist in Campbell as well. That should be confirmed next week.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

April 21st Release Party

Our official release day will be Saturday April 21st. We're celebrating with a party at Unwined in San Jose : from 2 to 5pm. There will be snacks, champagne and our 2005 Stefania Syrah Eaglepoint Ranch by the glass. Unwined will also have a limited number of bottles available for purchase at the store.

If you would like to receive more details please let me know. It looks like we should have about 50 people at the event and it should be a great time.

Unwined will also have their regular selection of by the glass tastes available during the event. We're hoping that we'll have shipments out before that date, I'll update everyone on that in the next blog.