Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Inventory Update....and a Close Out Special!!!

Just running through inventory to see what we still have about. Here's the status on all of our 2007's and the one 2008.

2008 Chardonnay Chaine d'Or Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains - Sold Out.
We weren't even able to save a single bottle for ourselves!

2007 Pinot Noir Santa Cruz Mountains - Sold Out.

2007 Syrah Eaglepoint Ranch Mendocino County - We have about 30 cases left.
$32 a bottle $180 for six.

2007 Haut Tubee California - Sold Out.
We'll release the 2008 this Fall. Allocations will be down though, we only made 1/2 of the 2008 that we made in 2007.

2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Uvas Creek Vineyard Santa Clara Valley - We have about 25 cases left.
$37 a bottle $210 for six

2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Santa Cruz Mountains - We have about 40 cases left.
$40 a bottle $225 for six

2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Chaine d'Or Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains - Four cases left.

Here's the closeout! Regularly this is $30 a bottle or $360 a case. For these last four cases, first come first serve, we'll do $250 a case with free shipping!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Weekend Update -Vineyard Work

Saturday we spent the morning visiting a couple of vineyards and getting a status on how things are going. We'll use the visits to put together our work plans for the next month or so. We check on the health of the plants and look for any mildew or other problems. We also want to see how they are growing and how the weeds are. The final step is for Stefania and I to do a demonstration row. If one of us can't be on site when we send Jerry out, he'll at least have a row to look at to know what we want done.

First up was a small vineyard in Los Altos that we take care of for Big Basin Vineyards. This is the demonstration row after we've cleaned it up. Big Basin likes to have a single shoot on each spur and just one cluster on each shoot. That's what we've done here.

This is what the rows looked like before clean up. We will need to weedwhack again here. We'll wait though for another month or so to let the grass dry out. The plants are very healthy so there will be lots of thinning to do. We probably have a total of about 60 hours of work to do here in the next 6 weeks.

Stefania said she spotted the signs of an owl in the box we installed last year.

Our next stop was the Harrison Vineyard, also in Los Altos. We installed about 250 Syrah vines a few years ago. This will be the first year they get fruit.

The Harrison's are pretty independent and we just visit them every 2 months or so so they can ask questions. They take care of most of the maintenance themselves. I thought this fruit might make a nice Rose this year, but right now the vines look strong enough to contribute to the Haut Tubee blend.

Sunday Stefania went to Sacramento to see her sister graduate and I spent the morning at Chaine d'Or. There was a little work to do in the winery. Most of the morning though I was out gopher hunting in the vineyard. They are active now and it's a good time to find fresh tunnels. Chaine d'Or is the only vineyard we have now that hasn't had an owl family move in.

Today I'll be writing up the plan for the next 2 months or so. We'll be pretty busy!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Coastview Vineyard Tour

On Saturday Paul and I drove my brother Hans and his wife Richa to visit Ian at Coastview Vineyards before driving into Monterey Bay for lunch and to visit the aquarium.

Left San Jose at 9:38, heavy morning fog, getting thicker and colder as we head south to Salinas. Exit the freeway at 10:40, turn east and drive to the base of the foothills.

Ian Brand met us at the lower gate and we followed him up the hill...past cows lazying away the morning on the road, a couple of jack rabbits, and a lot of quail.

He wasn't kidding when he told Paul to put the Jeep in 4-wheel drive once we started the incline. Awesome ride up, and we were east enough to be out of the fog and enjoying a warm, sun-exposed hilltop - complete with wine and snacks!

Looking north-west toward the Monterey Bay, under a heavy blanket of fog.

Richa and Hans taking a break from sipping wine to listen to Ian tell us about the terrain, soil, terraces, and overall geology of the vineyard.

I keep telling Paul I want to live on a hill, surrounded by vines...something like this would be awesome.

Laura Ness wrote this blog about Coastview:

She captured in prose our exact experience, save for trudging up the hill because of the mud...we were able to drive to the top :-)

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Touring Season

It's that time of year again. We've had visitors for three of the past weeks and we'll have more over the next four. We love to entertain at the winery so please do come by for a visit. I thought I'd share a few tips for visiting us.

First the earlier you can let us know you'll be coming by the better. We can swing things at the last minute sometimes, but other times we may have blocked the day out for vineyard work at another vineyard or have another appointment. Saturday's are usually the best day, but with enough notice we can do any day.

Let us know how much time you'd like to spend. About an hour seems to be the shortest visit we have, but we've also had people stay for 4 or 5 hours. If you have time we will prepare some snacks in advance. Also let us know of any special tasting requests in advance. I usually will pour 4 or 5 wines of our most current releases and sample from a barrel or two. If you'd like to try something from the library though we'll have to bring it from home.

Woodside is usually a few degrees cooler than you'll see on a forecast. In the summer the fog will also hang around the vineyard making it a little breezy and cool. A sweatshirt is a good idea. If you'd like to see the vineyard remember to bring good walking shoes, sunscreen and a hat.

The road up to the winery is very busy on the weekends. There is also a lot of bicycle traffic. Plan on a few extra minutes more than you'd expect. Map out your route in advance. We get really poor signals at the winery on our phones and often can't call out. We might not be able to guide you in. If you do need to reach us text messaging seems to work best in the winery.

We have two large dogs at the winery. One is still a puppy and she gets easily excited. She has done fine with other dogs and small children, but you will need to mind after them. We usually try and wear the dogs out with some fetch before visitors arrive but they do have a lot of energy.

There are other wineries in the area. Varner, Woodside, and Great Blue Heron will take appointments. Fogarty, Michael Martella, La Honda, and Domenico all have tasting rooms. Rhys is one of our closest neighbors but I understand they only set up tours on pre-determined days. Many people want to do Ridge also. You can see Monte Bello from our cellar door. It's about 7 miles away, but it takes about 90 minutes to get from us to Ridge.

It's about 2 hours to Napa from us so a lot of people like to come right from the airport, visit us then head to Napa. Just let us know your plans and we'll make sure you get on the road in time and recommend best routes. If you're planning on staying in the South Bay we'll probably make it an excuse to have a party. We can also recommend hotels and restaurants for your stay. The South Bay is actually fairly cheap on the weekends for hotels, most hotel traffic is during the week for business so many local hotels have low rates on weekends.

To reach us for an appointment it's best to email at info@stefaniawine.com or call 408-242-8598.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Bumble Bees

Why am I uploading Bumble Bee pictures? Because I'm so over bottling that I wanted a fun distraction to share. On Monday while we waited for the glass delivery and bottling truck to show up, I took some time to look at bees. I noticed that the bumble bees went from plant to plant in a group and tended to avoid hanging out with the regular honey bees. The two groups took turns going from the lavender plants.

The lizards are wary of me so I didn't get any pics of them, and the banana slugs are just gross so I let them be.

Time for a much needed margarita and long siesta - it is Cinco de Mayo after all.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Last Bottling Post

We are cleaning up now. The tanks are being broken down, hoses cleaned, barrels, and putting the final touches on. I'll update all the pictures tomorrow with some details. A good day though and all the wine is safely on pallets now waiting pick up.

This is actually left over glass that I'm going to sell on Craigslist.

The crew at work finishing up a run of wine.

A finished pallet ready to go to the warehouse

And the Haut Tubee

Some challenges as always with bottling but overall it went ok and we're glad to be done!

More Bottling

I took this one inside the truck. I was the primary glass loader. I was also forklift driver, winemaker, and cleaning. When I had to be away from dropping glass in, Matt did it.

Jerry loading up a full pallet. Normally we'd put the pallet right by the truck but with the tow truck issue we had to use a hand cart.

Ingrid on the bottling line. When she wasn't inside doing winemaking she'd come out and help tape up boxes.

Glass going down the line.

My station. The glass enters here and the first step is to 'sparge' it with nitrogen, then it's filled with wine.

Sophie standing guard. She's become the perfect vineyard dog since her first harvest in 2005. She was protecting the wine from bunnies and other vineyard creatures. :)

This is the end of the line where bottles come off to be packed back into boxes.

And they roll down here to be tapped up and loaded.

Bottling Part II

Part of the challenge of the truck being stuck means we have to hand carry the empty and full cases up the hill. The forklift won't make it up the hill with a load.

The crew for today is Stefania, Jerry, his wife Estella, Ingrid and me. Ingrid will mostly be in the winery. She works the pumps and tank on bottling day.

We have gotten one task done today. We hand bottled nine Syrah magnums and three Haut Tubee magnums. We'll do twelve Pinot Noir later today.

Bottling Day Part I

Last night we got off to a rough start. We thought the septic backing up would be the one bad thing that always happens on bottling days. Well, the bottling truck one upped that. It got stuck coming down out tough gravel road. We had to call a tow truck to pull it out.

We were here until 8:30 last night and did not get everything done that we need to. That means we'll be starting about an hour late this morning.

The inside of the winery is mostly ready though.

Outside Matt is working to get the truck up and running. We are much further down the driveway than usual. We just could not get the truck further down this time. All the rain has made the gravel road soft and the truck can't get traction to push the trailer back up the hill. When we are done this afternoon we will likely have to call the tow truck again to pull the entire rig back out.

The glass is staged though and ready to go.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Monday Bottling Prep

The list of things to do today was more than 20 long. It was going to be a busy day getting ready for bottling. First up......

The forklift arrived. Which means we have day one of 6 this year of having a totally unqualified forklift driver on site moving around thousands of dollars of glass and wine. That would be me.

I did manage to get the glass truck unloaded though when it arrived right on schedule at 10AM. For those of you who have visited our tiny crushpad you can imagine how tight it is to unload a 28 foot truck full of glass in this small area.

A happy sight though is the glass truck pulling away with nothing broken.

We had some drama with the septic system. The sink in the winery had backed up over night. The plumber was called about 9:30. He just left at 3. It turned out to be a fairly major problem, but we worked around it all day.

The next task was to select a barrel to add to the Haut Tubee blend. We drew samples from five barrels to taste. We decided to move into the dry room to avoid the plumbing repairs going on in the wet room.

We are looking for the barrel that will make is first off least like the other four. We also are looking for something that will compliment what we already have set aside for the Haut Tubee. After a few rounds of tasting we decided on barrel #4. The final blend for 2008 will include:

Merlot 15%

Zinfandel 10%

Syrah 36%

Cabernet Sauvignon 37%

Grenache 2%

Mourvedre (trace)

Cabernet Franc (trace)

Petite Verdot (trace)

Pinot Gris (trace)

We've been topping up barrels and then had to transfer more wine around the last few hours. Next up will be staging the glass. Then we'll do the final sulfur additions to the Haut Tubee. Next will be getting the Syrah ready and we're going to bottle the magnums by hand tonight. We'll also stage the Pinot Noir barrels for tomorrow.

There's still lots of cleaning to do and I'm hopeful that the truck will show up soon and we will get out of here before 6:30 tonight. Tomorrow I'm planing on lots of pictures and short commentary.

Saturday Chardonnay Filtration

Saturday morning we arrived at the winery before 10 AM. We had a busy day planned with final preparation of the Chardonnay for bottling. First up was to remove all the extra insulation from the tank holding the Chardonnay.

Then we had to hook up the filter. No small task, it's only the second time we've used it. Stef had pretty good notes from last year but it still took us 90 minutes or so to get everything hooked up. We also decided to do a final racking so instead of filtering through the bottom bottling valve we finished off the tank with a racking wand.

The wine this year has a small amount of residual sugar so we wanted to get a good filtration on the wine to prevent any problems after bottling. The picture below is the filter all hooked up and working away.

We had one set back that we thought was major, but turned out to be minor. At some point in the last year the filter had been bumped and a pressure valve was turned sideways. We didn't notice the valve was out of position and when we started to tighten down the filter, the valve popped right off. We thought we were stuck, but we were able to route around the broken valve.

I'm glad we did the final racking the tank had a fair amount of lees left. We had guests at 2PM so mostly stopped for the day and did some tasting and had snacks. Stefania cleaned up the tanks around entertaining and we were packed up and on our way home by 6:30