Saturday, February 28, 2009

Peruvian Night Out

Last night we visited Nazca, a Peruvian restaurant that opened last March in downtown San Jose. We're always on the look out for good South American food so Stefania can sample dishes she grew up with in Chile.

The interior is a sleek open space with a small wall separating the large bar and lounge area from the dinning area. The colors and lighting give it a feeling of a club or lounge. The only oddity was the pan flute music in the background. We soon amused ourselves though figuring out what song was getting the flute treatment. 'We Are The World' on the pan flute is odd, but half way through our meal the music kicked over to something a little less goofy.

Service was crisp and efficient. Our waitress set the stage for us and checked with us on timing and clearing often. The right mix of friendly chattiness and professionalism that matched well with the lounge/club feel.

We started with five items from the Appetizer menu that we passed around between the four of us. Each dish was presented on a long plate which worked well for sharing if not passing. The Pastel de Choclo was light and fluffy with the filling centered in the whipped corn bread crust. This is something Stef makes at harvest every year. It's hearty and satisfying. This take brought a lightness to the dish.

We had the Ceviche de Pescado, which featured Red Snapper. The fish is always 'of the day' for the Ceviche's we were informed and our waitress recommended this highly. We were not disappointed. The Anticuchos de Corazon takes a leap of faith for an American Suburban palate, but they were cooked perfectly and had a nice gamy - mineral mix. We also sampled Choros a las Chalaca, mussles with a corn salsa, and Papa Rellena, a deep fried version of the hearty ground meat, egg, olive and raisins stuffing combo.

No appetizer disappointed, in fact we could have ordered another round after the first. Each executed well with a great variety of flavors and textures.

For our main course we again passed around four dishes; Aji de Gallina is a pulled chicken in a cream sauce, Arroz a las Criolla de Mariscos, is the Peruvian take on paella, Seco de Cordero, a savory lamb shank, and Bistec a lo Pobre a grilled steak with fried egg.

Only the chicken disappointed. The cream sauce was sweet and dominated the dish with out a good balance of spice or acidity. The lamb had a nice gamy finish and fell from the bone. The paella though was the highlight with spicy dark rice and a perfect mix of seafood in each bite. It came topped with a beautiful full head on shrimp.

We sampled all four desserts on the menu and no disappointments at all in that group. In fact when faced with the dessert options at other downtown restaurants, I think my preference would be to head here to finish. Each was a nice combination of fruitiness and sweetness.

The wine list was small and mainly South American, keeping with the theme and we were pleasantly surprised by the two Peruvian selection on the menu we sampled. As a wine guy I'd like to see a little deeper selection on the menu, especially given the complexity and depth of the menu and food. A Syrah from the Northern Rhone would have been excellent with the lamb, and the corn based appetizers would have sung with a full bodied Chardonnay from Sonoma, or Burgundy.

Nazca will become a regular stop for us, I'm sure.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Can You Spare Some Wine II?

Tomorrow we will be at Fort Mason in San Francisco pouring wine the the Chronicle Wine Competition Public Event:

I wrote in the past about the amount of requests we get to donate wine. It's truly overwhelming. In the past two weeks the pace has picked up. Between public events, charity requests, and private events, I've had 17 requests in the last 10 days. Almost two a day. An art gallery wanted us to donate 4 cases of wine for an opening. A legal conference in Portland wanted us to sponsor a table at their conference, at a cost equal to two weeks pay for Jerry. We've been asked to enter two competitions and six festivals.

In all I calculated the requests to come to 51 cases of wine and $6900 in 'fees'. That works out to about 18% of our total budget for the year. Not 18% of our charity budget, 18% of our total budget.

I do say yes to some. There are events we do decide to do Of those 17 requests, we've decided to do two of them. We'll do a fund raiser for the Los Gatos Jewish Center, and an event at the Capital Club in San Jose. We won't be dropping off four cases of wine at that art gallery, or riding the dirty choo choo train at the SCMWA event.

I will try and keep our schedule update here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Company Rules

We get asked very often: "What else do you drink?" People are talking about what other wines do we drink and there are a number of producers Stefania and I buy regularly.

We both also like a good margarita though also.

There are many times when we end up working late. Monday night was one of those nights. If you look closely you can see my lap top in the background of the picture below. Stefania and I worked until about 8 PM. We had to review upcoming events, our next release letter and order form, and planning for our next bottling.

A few years ago we made up a company rule. "No working past 5 PM with out a cocktail or a glass of wine." We can make up the rules, and I bet you wish your company had that rule too. So we left the office and moved to the living room to watch the Sharks beat Dallas and have a cocktail. As you can see below we're pretty serious about our Tequila collection.

The bar greets visitors as you come in the house, and we have a TV set up to watch sports while people sit at the bar. Stef calls it "The Best Sports Bar in San Jose".

So Monday night it was margarita time. I use a recipe that I adapted from Rick Bayless's Frontera Grill in Chicago. Frontera Grill and Topolobombo is a place we try and stop at every time we are in Chicago.

Here's the recipe:
Two frozen martini glasses.
3 limes
100% Blue Agave Tequila

First step is to squeeze 3 limes. Not lime juice, not lime concentrate, and never, ever, ever anything called 'margarita mix'. We planted two lime trees in the backyard to have a fresh supply. Then pour a small amount of kosher salt to a small plate. You don't need 'margarita salt', kosher salt is best. Next rub the rim of two frozen martini glasses with a small amount of lime juice and coat the rim with salt.

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the lime juice, 2.5 oz of Cointreau, and 2.5 oz of Blue Agave Tequila. I never use Triple Sec. It's harsh and has volatile compounds that can give people a headache. Grand Marnier and Citronage are two other orange liqueurs I'll use from time to time. All the tequila we have is 100% Blue Agave. That means it comes entirely from the Blue Agave plant. Things like Jose Cuervo Gold can have up to 49% cane alcohol. A good bottle of tequila will always say "100% Blue Agave" on the label.

There is some dispute about using Blanco, Reposado, or Anejo tequila. Blanco is clear, un-aged tequila. Reposado and Anejo have been aged in wood, Anejo for at least one year. They are darker and richer more complex tequilas. Many people prefer to have Anejo's neat and some say a margarita should only be made with Blanco. I will use all three types at different times. Blanco's tend to show the lime fruit more. Reposado's and Anejo's bring richness and complexity to a margarita. Monday I used an Anejo.

Shake very, very well. Strain into the prepared martini glasses. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Uh Oh Pinot

I know I've been hinting that Pinot Noir allocations are going to be very small in the Spring Release. We made a very small amount from an old, low yielding vineyard. The wine came out very good and people have been pretty excited about the wine based on barrel tastings many have done.

Today I sat down though and worked out allocations based on what we have left. The first thing I had to do was let our sales people in New York and San Francisco know that there was not any available for distribution. There won't be any going to restaurants at all. We also will not be pouring this wine at all at any events.

Even with those strict limits it was still so tight I couldn't really believe it when I filled out the numbers. Just 21 people will be getting an allocation. That's right - 21. The point cut off level is 1200 points to get a single 3 pack. Normally I over allocate wine and give out more wine than we have. I know some people won't order and that way people lower on the list can get more if they would like it. This time I'm not going to risk that though. There will be a spot on the order form to request a 3 pack if you don't have an allocation. If one of those 21 people don't buy their Pinot Noir, the next highest person on the list who has requested some will get a 3 pack.

We also decided we are going to do a combo case. On a first come, first serve basis we will offer 20 combo cases with 8 bottles of 2007 Eaglepoint Ranch Syrah, 3 bottles of 2006 Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon, and a bottle of 2007 Pinot Noir. I'm still working on pricing, and shipping will be free, but this was the best way we could think of to give some of the newer people on our list a chance to at least try the Pinot Noir.

I'm afraid with the amount we produced in 2008, and some retraining we're doing in 2009, this lottory like system will be the way we allocate Pinot Noir for at least the next three years. I wish we had more to go around.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Shipping Update

Today we'll get out the last few shipments we have from late orders. Most are going to California and will arrive tomorrow. The rest will make their way via UPS across the country. Everyone should have their wine by the end of this week or the start of next week.

We closed out with pretty good sales. Wine sales have been hard from everything we've read and we were worried about this release, but it went well. We have some wine left still, but not too much and we felt pretty good about how things went. We can cover any late orders that come in and should have enough for the restaurants that want wine still and the events we have upcoming.

Given all the bad news about the economy, we're glad to make it through one more release and have the bills paid. Tomorrow we start working on the Spring Release and hope it goes as well.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Pictures From Pick Up Day

When we had our first pick up day in the Fall of 2007 I remember talking to Judy at Windy Oaks about their pick up days. Now for their Spring and Summer open house's Jim and Judy require reservations, a strict limit on guests, and the sheriff comes out to do traffic control. They've had to cap the events at 500 people. She told me for their first open house they had three people. She said for the next few years they had 4 more people each time they had an open house and it took them about 4 years to get over 30 people.

Well our first Pick Up day had 3 people, and we've added 4 more each time. Yesterday was our 4th Pick Up Day and we were at 16 visitors.

Below Stefania pours wine at the little table we set up in the cellar. She made a few small snacks for people. We decided to pour in the cellar this time since it was cold outside.

My IPhone was a little blurry with the cellar light, but the shots are 'ok'. It's nice to be in the cellar and really feels like visiting a winery I think vs being in a tasting room. I did a short walk in the vineyard to talk about our pruning and winter vineyard practices. The weather was cold but it stayed dry.

We poured five wines for everyone and had barrel samples of our 2007 Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon. It's sure not a fancy tasting but everyone has a good time, and there is lots of catching up and chatting. I really like this way of tasting wine. It gives Stef and I a chance to talk to every one and answer questions. It's also un-rushed and people can linger and enjoy the wine.

I took this picture as we were cleaning up. The barrels are back in place from the sampling. I did two different barrels. A regular Sequin Moreau Bordeaux barrel with medium toast and a special S.V.T. Sequin Moreau barrel especially designed for extended aging of Cabernet Sauvignon. It was a great way for people to see the effect even a small change in barrels can have on the wine.

The last shot of the day. Just my car left in the parking area besides the vineyard. I know I've had this shot before but the car really gives a good scale of the redwoods and the slope of the upper vineyard. Everything is green now from the recent rains and the vineyard is ready for spring. We'll have our next open house just after tax day in April.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Today is Pick Up Day at the winery. We will have the winery open from 11am - 3 pm. Those of you who placed Winter Release Orders will be able to pick up your orders at that time. We will also be pouring at least three different wines, including a preview of our 2007 Syrah which will be released in March.

If the rain holds off we will do a vineyard walk at 12:30 showcasing our pruning strategy and a discussion of the winter and early spring vineyard practices we use.

Directions can be found at:

Remember we only open the winery three times a year so please stop by. You do not have to have an order to pick up in order to visit, the winery is open for everyone on our mailing list.

Saturday February 28th we will be pouring at the San Francisco Wine Chronicle Tasting at Fort Mason.

We will be pouring or 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Uvas Creek vineyard and 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Santa Cruz Mountains, both of which won silver medals.

We may add a couple more public events this Spring, but right now this is all we have scheduled. We left the SCMWA this year so we will not be doing any SCMWA events.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Review in Today's DC Paper.

From the DC Examiner

We're mentioned in the weekly wine column about California's undiscovered gems!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Rain! I don't feel like working yet this morning so I went outside to capture some pictures. The nearly full copper bowl is one we use for chilling beverages, it'll hold six bottles of wine comfortably with ice and look, it's almost full of rain water!

Then I went out front just to see how much damage the rain is doing to the, post garden. No vines yet, still another month or so before we put the plants in.

You can see a couple of low spots there in the foreground where the water is puddling up, but not too bad otherwise considering the slope and amount of rain we've been getting. Really, it's been non-stop for several hours now.

I did manage to connect an extension to the drain spout since the last time it rained I noticed a river going through part of the vineyard. We haven't put down any seed yet for a cover crop, but we'll do that this spring around the same time the vines go in.

It doesn't look very rainy (I don't think), but the contrast between front and back yard is huge. The lawn in the back is LOVING this rain and the rest of the trees and roses are too. It's like a tropical oasis compared to the front...which will be green in time.

These are the vines along the hedge around the patio, they're going to look really awesome when they send shoots and fill in the empty space of the wires.

We had some really warm days back in January, the temperatures hit into the high 70's and I watched the vines closely. I captured a couple of close ups today showing the swollen buds. A couple of years ago we had bud break as early as March 5th...I love watching that first little leaf pop out.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

Stefania's sugar cookies. The pink icing is made with Port.

She wanted to mail this out to everyone, but Yahoo was not cooperating.

Tomorrow we're hitting the gym early for a long workout then relaxing in the afternoon. The weather is rainy which will keep us out of the vineyards, and we're all caught up in the winery.

Tomorrow night we have a special dinner and wine pairing planned with a few friends. Seven courses and ten different wines are on the agenda. We'll try and take pictures and notes.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Bringing Your Own

The other night Stefania and I went to check out Pizz A Chicago. We both love Chicago, and Chicago Pizza. It has been a while since we've been able to get to Chicago, so we thought we'd sub in the local alternative.

The pizza is deep dish style, they don't have the Giordano's style stuffed pizza, but there is a full selection of toppings and combos. We built an anchovy, pepperoni, mushroom, bell pepper and sausage pizza. The crust was excellent and overall it was worth a trip back.

We both had a pint of Newcastle, but next time we'll bring our own wine. Corkage was just $5. We have always said our business plan was to not make more wine than we could drink. The back up plan if we couldn't sell it has always been to drink it. I can't think of much better than a Chicago style pizza and a bottle of our wine. Another big plus is now, when everyone is trying to save money, $35-$40 for a bottle of wine at a restaurant is a great deal.

It wasn't fancy eating but it helped our local economy to get out and spend a little money. I hear a lot of people now talking about 'simplify', and bringing a bottle with you is a great way to do it and still get out.
Stefania and I would love to hear about our wine 'getting out' or even a picture or two. Knowing people are enjoying our wine keeps us going in the vineyards and the winery. So send us a note, or a picture. I'll get it started with one from our friend Mark. He always seems to know when we need a pick me up and gets us a great picture like this:


Sunday, February 08, 2009

First Look at the 2008's

Yesterday as we worked in the winery we tasted sample of each wine before sulfuring it. After adding sulfur it will take a few weeks for the wines to recover so this was our best chance to try the 2008's for the next few weeks. This was the first time we've tried samples since they came out of the press after harvest.

First up was the Chaine d'Or Chardonnay. This wine was sulfured around Christmas so it was time to check on it. This is by far our highest alcohol wine this year at 15.3%. pH is 3.62 and the wine shows a nice crisp feeling. It's very rich with soft peach and fig notes. This is really unlike anything from the Estate vineyard in the past. Much richer and fuller with more stone fruit notes. Stef and I both really like this wine.

Then on to the reds.

Estate Cabernet Sauvignon; 13.2% alcohol and a record high pH for the estate of 3.80. The wine is dark purple and has huge super ripe tannins. It's not picking up any oak yet, just a black hole of dark fruit. This will be fun to watch in barrel.

Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon; 14.1 alcohol and a 3.76 pH. The only 2008 in the cellar over 14% alcohol this year. This is showing lots of ripe fruit and some of the minty spice notes we usually get. Tannins are very ripe on this wine. I'm expecting this to just have tons of fruit as it ages.

Elandrich Merlot (65%) / Cabernet Sauvignon (35%); 12.5% alcohol, yes, really 12.5% and a 3.64 pH. Ripe cherry notes right away from this wine. It's starting to show some oak notes also. Very fruity. The tannins here are not as big as on the Cabernets. We always keep this vineyard separate for at least a few months before blending. This will likely go 50% in to the Haut Tubee and 50% into the Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon. If we do that it will lower the alcohol in that blend to about 13.8%.

Pinot Noir; 13.7% alcohol and 3.59 pH. Darker than the 07 at this stage. Shows the effort we made in the vineyard to increase concentration. Fruit is just starting to come out with lots of red fruit under the ripe tannins. I expect this wine will get darker and really explosive in the coming months.

Haut Tubee ; 13.8% alcohol and a 3.72 pH. Wow. Wow. Super ripe fruit is showing already. Plush in the mouth with perfect tannins. Right now this wine is the sexiest red in the cellar. Stef says: "you need to charge $75 for this, not $20." We did just a little blending trial with the Elandrich and the combo was excellent. This will be another popular Haut Tubee.

The Crimson Clover Cabernet Sauvignon and Eaglepoint Ranch Syrah are at Big Basin, so no notes on those.

2008 looks like it will be good. The wines seem to have the ripe fruit of the 2007's with the colors of the 2006's. The low alcohols are cool. We had a little rain about three weeks before harvest and that seems to have kept the sugars lower and refreshed the vines. These wines might end up being the longest lived we've made so far.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

First Racking of the 2008's

Today we spent a full day in the winery racking and sulfuring our 2008 wines. We just received the lab reports back and the wines had all finished their malolactic fermentation. We inoculated all the lots with malolactic starter during fermentation. This process converts and softens the acidity in the wine.

In an older winery like Chaine d'Or we probably don't need to inoculate. There is enough yeast present to start the process naturally. In fact we totally forgot to do the Elandrich lot and it started and finished on its own. Still it's not something you want to risk. Because sulfur would stop the process, you can't add any until it's complete. This means the wine is unprotected from spoilage while it is going on.

That's why we monitor it closely. As soon as it's complete we want to get a good dose of sulfur in the wine to protect it. I've been following a trend that a few other winemakers have been doing lately of adding a larger dose now, with the hope I'll have smaller doses later. I used to add 30-35 parts per million (ppm) now I add 50-60ppm.

It's the normal process for us. First we empty the barrels into a tank. We keep each lot separate of course. We add the sulfur in the middle of the process so that it can mix into the wine well. Once the barrels are empty we rinse them and clean out any gunk that has settled.

Jerry usually handles the barrel cleaning and mans the part of the hose that empties and fills the barrels. I move the barrels and man the tank connections. I also run the pump and put in the additions. Stefania prepares the additions and takes the readings then helps us with the hoses. Above Jerry is cleaning two barrels on a special rack that lets the barrels spin freely.

Above both hoses resting in a tank. This was the 2008 Chaine d'Or Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. The sulfur had been added and the barrels were still being cleaned. In other racking we'll let the Cabernets settle for a couple days before returning them to barrels but on this first racking we go right back into barrel. We don't have the tank space to store all the wines for 2 days and it's more important to get sulfur on them and prevent bacteria or spoilage.

One of our great challenges is the small space we work in. Above you can see barrels spread everywhere. Some are empty, being stored for this year. Others have wine, and the standing upright barrel we use as a table. The drains on the floor take away all the water we use.
Everything went well. Only two minor problems. I over ran about a gallon of Pinot Noir and we had one barrel I wasn't happy with so we switched that one out for a different barrel. We got to try the wines too. Notes on them tomorrow!

Friday, February 06, 2009

Ranch 99

We've been trying to increase the amount of fish we are eating and lower the amount of beef. Part of the training program we started before harvest last year that worked so well and kept us going through those long hard days. The hardest part though has been finding good fresh fish.

The selection in our local Nob Hill market is absolutely horrible. Farmed and dyed salmon, frozen things, farmed things, and nothing local or fresh. The really bad part is the selection is actually better than Lucky's or Safeway. Whole Foods is an option. There's one about 10 miles from us, and one that is off the freeway between home and the winery.

But really, scallops should not be $23 a pound. For $23 a pound I want Selma Hayak to come over and cook them for me. Sadly that's not going to happen.

There is an option though. Ranch 99 Markets. I, like most non-Asians I think, was completely intimidated to go into the Ranch 99 Market. Lucky for us though we found a great solution. A tour. Our good friend Ingrid took us one Saturday afternoon on a 'tour' of her local Ranch 99 market. Patiently translating things for us from Chinese and guiding us through the process to select and purchase fish from the amazing display of seafood.

We told her she could easily charge people for a tour like that. Put together a 'field trip' at $75-$100 a person and then cook an authentic hot pot dinner after the shopping. She thought we were insane. Kind of like my uncle thought everyone was insane for telling him in the 1970's he should bottle the fresh spring water on his New Mexico ranch. "Who would buy water?", was his puzzled reply.

Back to the plot. We've ventured out on our own now a few times to the Ranch 99. At first, still hesitant I stuck to the packaged fish. Still fresh, cheap, and far better than anything from the 'white peoples' market. Scallops, creamy, with a deep sea smell and only $10 a pound. Stefania ventured into the lobster tanks over Christmas. $8 a pound for live lobster. It's $24 everywhere else.

Yesterday though I decided to take on the whole fish section. I remembered Ingrid's instructions. Pick out your fish. I know how to look for the right one and selected a fine Branzini. You then take one of the bags at the ends of the iced section and grab the fish. Hold it high and soon one of the fish mongers will come to you. Call out your number. "3" means clean, scale and remove the head. Just how I wanted it. There is a helpful sign with a picture of each of the six services. "5" will get you cleaned, scaled, head and tail removed, and steaks made.

It occurred to me as the monger approached me with some reserve; he's probably as afraid of the coming exchange as I am. His English is no doubt just a bit better than my Chinese. That moment of realization made the entire event go so much easier. A few minutes later I headed back to work with my Branzini ready for baking last night with onions, fresh herbs, olive oil and lemons from our tree.

Today I think I'm going back for some live spot prawns!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Points, Pinot and Allocations

I think I've covered this before, but it came up on:

The Wine Spectator Forums

We use a points system to figure out who gets offered what wines and how much. The allocation size is based on the wine we have available and the number of points a person has on our mailing list.

You get points by buying wine. One point for every dollar spent. We also have given points for people who have set up or hosted dinners for us while we travel. If you buy our wine from a restaurant or retailer and fax me a copy of the receipt, I'll give points for that as well.

At each release I sit down and divide up the number of bottles that we will offer based on the points pool. Right now we have a few people over 3000 points and one over 4000 points. There are about 70 people with more than 1000 points. The higher the points, the higher the allocation you get.

We have also started a futures program for our most loyal customers. That gives them the chance to buy our hardest to get wines before they are released and secure an allocation in advance. The first futures offer went out to our top 48 customers or about 10% of our list. 30 of those people bought futures and they will qualify for the next futures offer in the summer. The remaining 18 spots on the futures list will go to the next 18 highest point totals on our list. That way new people have a chance to enter the program. Right now we are planning on keeping it at 48 people total.

If this all seems a little complicated, it is, but it also seems to be working and getting wine out to the people who want it. The first real tough time I think we will have is with our Spring Release. After we offered our 2007 Pinot Noir on futures, we have fewer than 90 bottles left. That means that it will take more than 1000 points to get an allocation. It doesn't get much better in the near term future either. We'll only have about 60 cases of the 2008 Pinot Noir, and we should have about the same amounts in 2009 and 2010.

As I said on the Wine Spectator forum, if you sign up now, and buy every bottle we offer you, you still might not earn a Pinot Noir allocation for some years. I wish we had more wine, but we are so picky about the grapes we'll use I'm afraid it will stay this way for some time.

A lot of people have started to share allocations and divide them up. I actually support that idea. I think it's fair to everyone and gives people lower on the list the chance to try a bottle or two of wine. If you let me know who is buying what, I even assign out points to each individual. I hope that all not to confusing, and I'm glad that people like our wine so much.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

New Label Preview

We've done a redesign again on our 2007 labels.

For the 2005 labels we were not happy with the artwork on the label. It captured just a portion of the water color painting and was missing the radar tower on Mount Uhmunum. That was something I really wanted on the label because I thought it was a distinct Santa Cruz Mountains sight.

For the 2006 wines we switched to a wrap around label that captured all of the original art work. Unfortunately it didn't work well on the bottling line. It was prone to wrinkles and failures that required us to manually apply about 25% of the labels and made for a very unpleasant day of bottling.

For our 2007 wines we think we've finally got everything together. The artwork was condensed. The scale is not perfect, but we got both Mount Madonna and Mount Uhmunum on the label. On the first bottling of the year things went perfectly with no issues at all. I shortened the 'romance' on the back label to just a short bit about the vineyard location, drinking windows and the case count.

There's one typo on this version of the label that we corrected before going to print, otherwise this is what you'll see in our 2009 releases.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Hiking in Calero

Sunday morning Stef and I got a chance to head to Calero park for a hike that took us about 2 hours. We haven't been able to go hiking as much as we used to with the weekend demands on our time, but this Sunday was a good combination of free time, and good weather.

Calero is just about 15 minutes from our house. 5 miles actually, but there is no real direct route. The park is located in the Santa Cruz Mountains and our hike starts out at about 300 feet elevation. A quick 3/4 mile climb brings us up to about 1100 feet. These pictures are from the high point of the climb, just as we clear one ridge line.

You might recognize the mountain and tower in the background from our label.

Despite clearly being in the Santa Cruz Mountains, this area is not in the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA. When the original lines were drawn up in the 70's, the people drawing the lines wanted to leave out a couple of low quality producers who were making wines in this area. They drew the line so that those wines could not say 'Santa Cruz Mountains', even though as you can see, this is area is by altitude, geography, geology and every other factor, except wine, part of the Santa Cruz Mountains.

This is another picture that should look just a little like our label.

This section of the mountains is where our Uvas Creek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from, as well as our new offering the Crimson Clover Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. Those wine carry the Santa Clara Valley AVA, even though they are not really in the valley section, they are in this strip of mountains.

This area is where Stefania and I want to eventually build our winery and plant our own vineyard. We want to be a little south of Calero in an area called Uvas Canyon. I'm not really worried about the AVA thing. We'll likely just label the wine 'Santa Clara County' when the time comes, or maybe if I get the urge I'll see if I can't get this area it's own AVA name. Maybe 'Uvas Canyon' would work.

The last picture is just a bit blurry but it gives you an idea how rugged this area can be. Nothing is really 'flat' for more than a couple acres, so any planting will have to be in small patches and work with the existing hills.