August 2012 Archives

It's amazing how much things can change in 24 photo to enlarge Yesterday I went out to the crush pad to find the crew busy with last minute harvest preparations. Cleaning tanks, making sure the crusher/destemmer is in good working form, calibrating the lab equipment, etc. Today, all hell broke loose! We received our first load of grapes at 6:45 a.m. Normally I hear the trucks roll in with their unmistakable "kaboom" sound as the metal gondolas rattle along the bumpy road en route to the winery. For some reason, I didn't hear a thing this morning. So when I arrived, I was surprised to hear we had already brought in our first load of fruit.

The weather is rather temperate right now, so I view it as a "soft" start... a nice way to rev up for what will likely become a fast and furious harvest. So far, the 2012 summer has provided near perfect conditions click photo to enlarge- a long warm summer with plenty of cool evenings and foggy mornings.  And no nasty rain mid season to mess things up. Of course, a lot can change... I don't want to jinx it!

As we approach the busy Labor Day Weekend (we've got 2 huge events and a fancy dinner in the cellar) think of all those hard working grapegrowers, winemakers, and cellar workers who are out there scrambling - trying to stay one step ahead of good ole Mother Nature!

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I'm a bit nostalgic today.  40 years ago, on August 24, 1972, my Dad finally got the permit to build Dry Creek Vineyard at the corner of Dry Creek Road and Lambert Bridge Road.  At the time, I was justGroundbreaking in 1972 - Dave Stare and Kim Stare Wallace 9 years old and preoccupied with making friends in the new town we'd just moved to called Healdsburg.  I recall being mostly focused on Barbies and Batman - not on some silly winery.  However, the now iconic photo of me turning over that first shovel full of dirt with Dad looking on is truly emblematic of our winery 40 years later.  I'm the President now and Dad is enjoying his retirement, albeit with one eye still on the family business.  I know he's proud of our success - the winery is doing well despite some of the economic land mines that we know are out there.  The wines have never been better and with our winemaker Tim Bell on board, future vintages are in very good hands.  I feel really positive about our business for the rest of 2012 and beyond.

So positive, in fact, that we are going to take a day off!  Yep, that's right -the entire DCV crew is heading up to Lake Sonoma today for an afternoon of barbecuing, water skiing and good old fashioned family fun.  We are actually CLOSING our doors for the day - a first for us on a non-holiday.  I figure, what better way to celebrate our 40th than with our winery family and the dedicated employees who have helped make this business possible.

So let's raise a glass to Dry Creek Vineyard and say Happy Birthday - forty never felt so fabulous!

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This time of year, something remarkable is happening in the vineyards that surround my house.  It's when the grapes begin to change color - the official term is Veraison, pronounced (Vay-ray-zoN).  This click photo to enlargeexciting time signals that harvest is just a few short weeks away.  And it also tells me that my winemaker will soon be pulling his hair out and losing sleep - but that's another story....

Veraison is a viticulture (grape-growing) term meaning "the onset of ripening."  The phrase is originally French (isn't everything in wine culture?) but has been adopted into English use.  The official definition of Veraison (or at least the one that was on the internet when I Googled the word) is "the change in color of the grape berries."  That's a nice definition and all but it really doesn't paint the entire picture.  

With theclick photo to enlarge grapes changing color, it means the culmination of almost 9 months of careful vineyard cultivation.  You see, to get to this point, we actually started working in the vineyards almost immediately after last year's harvest.  There was the pruning and cover cropping in the early winter.  Then there was the frost protection and nightly watch as new buds began to grow this past spring.  And finally, this summer our vineyard team has been painstakingly working to position shoots, thin leaves and manage the canopy to ensure proper sunlight for the grapes.  Plus, they've been closely monitoring to make sure the vines get enough water.  Whew, that's a lot of work! 

So, with the grapes going through Veraison, you can imagine how excited we all are to see that first load of grapes arrive on our door step soon.  In fact, we get so excited that we like to pop a bottle of bubbly and toast the occasion.  Yep, just one more excuse to drink champagne!  Our winemaking team tells me we are just a couple of short weeks away from our first grapes.  Later this week the first of two interns we've hired arrives from South Africa and our Dry Creek family will expand a little more.  

So, please join me in raising a glass to toast another great harvest... in this case, our 41st!

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from August 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

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September 2012 is the next archive.

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