Saturday, September 01, 2007

Fall Newsletter

Dear Friends,

So much has happened since the last time we wrote to all of you it's hard to know where to start! It's been a busy few months and a fantastic summer for growing grapes. We're excited with everything that's happened so far this year and excited for the upcoming harvest.
If you have signed up to receive an order form we will be mailing them starting the week of September 10th. We are going to do two waves this year. Those higher on the 'points' list will get their letters first, and the second wave will follow the week of the 17th. This spring there was a flurry of sign ups right after letters went out, so if that happens again, and we have wine left, there will be a final chance offering on September 24th.

We sold out in just about 5 weeks last time, and we think it may be as fast as two weeks this time based on the growth of our mailing list. We are so grateful for the support you've given us!

We expect to start shipping during the last week of October as the weather cools and the harvest activity slows down. Just like before, the order form will contain details on allocations, shipping and ordering. Shipping in particular has some big changes, as we've tried to make it even easier (and lower priced).

Summer News

And what news we have! First, our vineyard management business is booming! We have added a new vineyard in Morgan Hill that will start producing Cabernet Sauvignon in 2009 and a Syrah vineyard in Los Altos Hills that will start producing in 2010. We have several other projects lined up for 2008 and beyond.

All this new work has allowed us to add our first real employee. Our good friend Millie Ottinger is joining us for 20 hours a week starting this fall. Millie is a journeyman carpenter and electrician and loves working in the vineyard. She'll take on the role of Vineyard Construction Foreman and Assistant Vineyard Manager. Her email will be Millie's been helping us out for a few years now in the vineyard and knows exactly how we like to farm our vineyards.

We got the chance to get out and meet many of you this summer on our "Summer Tour 2007." We stopped in Washington, D.C., New York and Chicago. We had such a great time at each event and really loved being able to preview our new wines. We're already looking forward to "Summer Tour 2008"! Well, maybe “Spring Tour” when it’s a little cooler. We are also going to try and get to Dallas this fall or winter since so many of you live in the Dallas area.

Of course the REALLY BIG NEWS we already shared with you is that we're now running Chaine d'Or. Paul started working with Jerry and Anne Anderson a few harvests ago as "Crushman". They've helped us along and taught us so much over the years. This summer Anne and Jerry decided to retire and asked us to take over the vineyard and winery. We are so excited and grateful we can't even begin to tell you. The winery is absolutely state of the art and first class. We'll be releasing the wines we helped on and Jerry and Anne finished, under the "Chaine d'Or" label. Starting with the 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon we'll be releasing the wines as Stefania Wine, Chaine d'Or Vineyard.

The winery is located about 25 minutes north of San Jose, and about 20 minutes south of the San Francisco Airport. I know many of you fly into SFO on visits, and now there's no excuse to not stop by for a tour and some tasting. Just let us know in advance and we'll set up a visit for you!

Fall Release

This Fall we'll be releasing our 2005 Uvas Creek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. The vineyard is located on the gravelly banks of Uvas Creek in the southern Santa Cruz Mountains. It lays just outside the approved AVA for Santa Cruz Mountains wines, in the Santa Clara Valley AVA. We're very happy with how this wine has turned out and feedback has been great!

Like our 2005 Syrah this wine is round and well balanced, with really great notes of currant, black cherry, spices, vanilla and cigars. It will need about 20 minutes in the decanter if you open it now. I'm going to tell people to open it now or over the next 5-7 years. We have heard from some of you though that you think the wine has the backbone for much longer aging.

We are also scrambling to offer the 2006 Chaine d'Or Chardonnay in time for the fall. The wine is ready for release, but we don't know if we'll have all the shipping permits in place in the next few weeks. We may be able to offer it only to those of you in California this fall. We will have it in our Spring Release though for sure.

Harvest Update

Right now we're in a mini heat wave, with temperatures in the 90's and great sunshine. It looks like harvest will be a few weeks earlier than 2005 or 2006, both of which were 'late' years. It looks like 2007 will be a 'normal year'. We expect to start picking grapes at home in mid-September. The commercial picks will probably start the first week of October.

We have a lot of grapes coming in this year. We're planning on at least 12 tons, or 6 times more than just two years ago. We should end up making 750 cases. We will be returning to Eaglepoint Ranch for Syrah, and Uvas Creek for Cabernet Sauvignon. We will also be back to Martin Ranch/Harvest Moon for Cabernet Sauvignon and a new addition for 2007, Cabernet Franc. Stefania has wanted to make a Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Franc since we started, and this year we will have the space to try it. We will also be harvesting the Cabernet Sauvignon at Chaine d'Or and Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel from our own vineyards. Finally, Jim Schultze at Windy Oaks, has agreed to sell us some of his fantastic Pinot Noir in 2007. We have been after this Pinot Noir since we started making wine and are excited to get some this year.

Our plan is to make 5 different wines in 2007 plus our Haut Tubee. There will be vineyard designate wines from Eaglepoint Ranch, Uvas Creek and Chaine d'Or. We will also have Santa Cruz Mountains designate Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Plans for 2008

Settling in to Chaine d'Or and getting used to running the winery is our top goal in 2008. We plan on producing about 1200 cases next year. We will have a couple of new vineyard sources next year as we take on some new vineyard projects and older projects start producing fruit. We're going to try and balance all this into making 7-8 different wines going forward, and getting case production to about 3000 total. We'd like to keep our releases to 3-4 wines twice per year.

Upcoming Events

If you would like to come to our annual Harvest Party please send us a note. It looks like it will be Saturday October 13th in our backyard. We'll have our usual grape stomp and pumpkin patch at the party plus lots of great food and wine.

November 10th we'll be hosting a Friends of the Winemakers (FOW) dinner. FOW is a local group dedicated to preserving the history of winemaking in the Santa Cruz Mountains and Santa Clara Valley. Tickets will be $45 and include four courses paired with our wines. Space is very limited. Please contact us if you would like ticket information.

November 17th we will participate in Passport Days in the Santa Cruz Mountains. We'll be open to the public at Chaine d'Or. Paul will be providing barrel tasting for members of the Stefania Wine mailing list. If you stop by please let us know you are on the list for samples of our 2006 wines from barrel and a tour of the winery. Chaine d'Or is open only on Passport Days and Vintner’s Festival days, usually four days per year. We will be open by appointment, exclusively to members of our mailing list. If you would like to plan a visit please call us at 408-242-8598 or email Paul at

Cheers and thank you all for your continued support!

Stefania and Paul

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