August 2010 Archives

Mother Nature has been acting rather hormonal lately. Erratic weather conditions and unpredictable swings in temperature have left even the most seasoned grower/vintner guessing as to when harvest will start. Honestly, I can't remember an odder summer. (I actually experienced better weather in Maine than we've had here.)

As everyone scrambles to get ready for the 2010 harvest, most are speculating that things won't really get started until mid-September. That's a good 3 weeks later than normal. Of course, first to get picked is always Pinot Noir and Chardonnay intended for sparkling wine production. My good buddy Judy Jordon over at J Wine Company brought her first load of fruit in last Wednesday. In the still wine business, most of us are still waiting patiently on the sidelines.

Postponing harvest isn't necessarily a bad thing. In theory, the slower the grapes ripen, the more complex and concentrated the fruit will be. Maybe that's why Ken Wilson, friend and grower of our Wilson Ranch Chenin Blanc is so optimistic. In his words, “I don't know what everyone is all worried about, we've had fabulous growing conditions.” Easy for him to say…he's over there in the Sacramento Delta where they're just happy to be growing grapes!

Here in Sonoma County, many of us are still recovering from the blistering heat that bombarded us last week. (It spiked to over 110 degrees within a 24 hour period.) Those who were overly zealous in their spring leaf thinning (in order to get better air flow to minimize the possibility of mold and mildew) really got nailed, losing up to 50% of the crop to sunburn damage. Fortunately, we've got a seasoned captain at our helm who made sure we didn't end up in this boat. (Boating pun intended!)

While Mother Nature might be menopausal, and winemakers are getting a bit skittish, it's the growers who tend to be the most anxious of all. For them it's all about harvesting their grapes as soon as humanly possible.  Their livelihood depends on it. Which is why it's a constant tug o' war. Growers want their crops off early so they can get paid as soon as possible. Winemakers want to prolong the arrival of fruit until conditions are ideal and ripeness is optimal. If you happen to be BOTH the grower and the producer, like we are, you pick when you're darn well good and ready and try to stay one step ahead of Mother Nature, after all…

Everyone knows not to mess with Mother Nature!

Click to enlarge!   Click to enlarge!

Sunburned grapes due to
Mother Nature's hot flash


Happy grapes due to proper shading and Mother Nature's natural A/C

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Sometimes you have to put the family back into the family business-which is exactly what I just returned from doing. A couple of weeks on the coast of Maine was the perfect way to recharge my batteries and reconnect with my kids. Throw in perfect weather, plenty of ice cream and I swear I became the poster child for “Life is Good!” Since a picture is worth a thousand words I thought I'd share a few. Thank you guest bloggers Bill and Erin and to everyone who held the fort down in my absence. I love you all!
Click to enlarge photo!
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Last week I had the chance to spend a little time in Denver, CO.  I was there with a friend on a business trip, which left some time for me to explore the city solo.  In order to capitalize on my short stint there, I decided to be the tourist (as opposed to host the tourist).  It was interesting, walking around downtown, visiting hot spots per local recommendations.  After two days I felt like I had a genuine impression of the city.  On the flight home I started thinking, and I have mentioned this before; working Click photo to enlarge!behind the bar at a premium California winery is like traveling.  Every day I meet people from various states and countries, and each interaction leaves a unique mark. 

As a lover of language and culture I am always thrilled to host international guests.  About two months ago, on one such occasion, I met a family from Strasbourg.  They were on a tour of the United States, and they came to Dry Creek Vineyard per suggestion from their hotel concierge.  In my broken high school French I welcomed them, and did my best to explain the DCV profile.  Four wines later, our flagship was deemed the favorite.  After ringing up a chilled bottle and handing over a couple picnic glasses, the gentleman said, “Merci, votre Blanc Fumé est excellent!”  Even I understood that one, “Thank you, your Fumé Blanc is excellent!”  The visit was brief but his sentiment was imprinted.

Erin Ginder-Shaw, Assistant Tasting Room Manager

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It was like any other typical morning.  First, an early morning walk through the vineyards with our Golden Retriever, Truman.  Then a cup of coffee, a few minutes of news on the tube, and a quick shower before heading out the door for my ridiculously short 8 mile drive to the winery.  NPR on the radio and still a bit bleary eyed, I was traveling down Dry Creek Road when I was literally forced to pull over.  The beauty and majesty was breathtaking.

It was relatively early and the morning fog clung to the valley floor like a hand reaching down from the heavens.  A flock of birds circled over the evergreen vineyards, the sunlight dancing across the top of the vines.  The sky above was the most amazing shade of blue and the air was cool and crisp.  From the side of the road, I took a few deep inhales of the pollutant free air and I thought to myself, I live in the most beautiful place on earth!

Click to enlarge photo!

It's funny how one can go through life's motions, practically oblivious to the surroundings.  Then, in an instant, you are awestruck by God's creation and Mother Nature's brilliance.  Those of us that live and work in the Dry Creek Valley, I'm sure, have had similar experiences.  On this morning, I was reminded of how very fortunate I am to call the Dry Creek Valley, one of the most beautiful places on earth, my home.

Bill Smart, Director of Communications
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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from August 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

July 2010 is the previous archive.

September 2010 is the next archive.

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