So it looks like we are about to kick it into gear starting next week. With the heat making fruit surge ahead, we should be knee deep in harvest in just a few days. So whenever there is time to squeeze a weekend of relaxation prior to harvest, you gotta go for it. That is what my baby and I did last weekend. Knowing our days were numbered, we ran for the border. Time for some Mexico! We have this little place that we like to go just south of Tijuana about an hour that is our escape from our world of emails, cell phones and other forms of technology. It is a wonderful place to tune out of reality for a spell. If you read my last rant you know that my brain was sizzled after bottling. The only cure was lots of Coronas, some good old street tacos and an ocean to stare off into (oh and there was wine too.)
We caught a flight to San Diego from SFO and then rented a car. I think that you are not supposed to take rental cars out of the country (or if you do your supposed to tell them.) We didn’t have time for that sh*t. I needed a beach and a beer-stat.
So the bulk of the weekend was mostly spent chilling, eating tamales and sleeping in, but we did take a little road trip to the Vale de Guadalupe. It is a little wine region near Ensenada that is on the rise. We have heard tales of this place, but we finally made it on this trip. Wow. We had an amazing time driving around the beautiful valley, stopping to taste at a bunch of wineries, and taking in the scenery. I have to say that there is some really cool stuff going on down there. It is a hot place so there is a lot of Cab, Zin, Syrah and Grenache grown in the Vale (there are also rumors of a cool valley not to far from there where there is word of Pinot Noir being planted. If I tell you where, I have to kill you.) We tasted some real nice Chenin Blanc and Viognier at L.A.Cetto. At Case de Dona Lupe’ we tasted some organic Cabs and Grenaches that were exotic and tasty. They also have an organic kitchen there where they serve pizzas and other great organic delectables. It is a great place to take it all in on the back porch and realize that life is good! Highly recommended. At Chateau Camou we tasted some Chardonnay from the 1998 vintage that was stunning. I can’t wait to throw this one into a blind tasting. Fresh as daisies, and could easily be mistaken for a really great white Burgundy. It was fun for a day to be on the opposite side of the wine experience. Sometimes with the hectic nature of the wine industry, we forget how lucky we are to be working in beautiful places with such great perks.
I guess this blog doesn’t really have much of a point, except for the fact in this fast paced world you have to remember to push the reset button on your brain occasionally. You need that recharge so you can have a clean mental slate. With harvest looming it is exactly what I needed to get prepped for the mission ahead…. Happy harvesting to everyone involved in winemaking. And to all of you on the outside looking in-send us beer from time to time! Just kidding. Here we go!
So we spent an afternoon with my fellow winemakers Kevin Kelley & Justin Lattanzio tasting our wines from the last 3 vintages at the W.E.Bottoms Vineyard. We got together with the owners of the Vineyard to discuss & review the state of the vineyard. We tasted, talked and discussed all of the ways that we can improve farming, and make better wines.
We started off tasting the 2005 version from Zepaltas, Lattanzio & Salinia. The 2005s were hitting on all cylinders and they are entering their windows of drinkability. All of the wines definitely reflected the vintage, but it was interesting to see what each winemaker came up with. 2005 was clearly a great vintage in the Russian River Valley. All of our wines share the same vineyard profile, and the power of 2005 was evident. This vintage should be remembered in our minds as one of the best.
On to the "controversial" (well maybe not controversial, but lots of debate on) 2006 vintage. it was a year of higher yields in the Valley. Clusters were larger, the growing season was nice and cool like 2005, but with the added yields i don't think that fruit in general was allowed to ripen evenly. I don't think that flavors, sugars and tannins crossed the finish line all at the same time. The resulting wines are in no way bad wines, I think they are very underrated. They are pretty, floral and petite. It is debatable whether 2006 pinots will improve with age or should be drank sooner rather that later. Part of me thinks that the wines will be neat as old wines-7 years plus to ponder and go with food. The acid, pH numbers tell us that they should be stable wines, but is the power of flavor there? All of the wines from the 3 of us were neat wines, but they probably will not turn the heads that 2005 did, but who knows?
We tasted our 2007s last. For obvious reasons they tasted "young." The wines have been in bottle just 5 months so they have not completely regrouped yet. I believe that the framework is there for these wines to be as good or if not better than the 2005s. Great acidity, great depth of flavor, and much more complex. I am noticing that i get more 'minerality" in the flavor profile than in years past. I will say that the zepaltas version will need a while to come together, but overall i am very pleased.
We had deep discussion with the owners as we tasted the wines. We are on the same page for going fully organic in the vineyard. We believe this site can only get better at producing amazing fruit, and we all look forward to the next vintage.
There is a new interview up with me on Bob Dwyer's wine blog the Wellesley Wine Press.
CLICK HERE TO SEE ME RAMBLE ON:
thanks for the props Bob!!
Well it is official... the last fruit is in house and 2009 vintage is over.......We just brought in the Rosella's Vineyard Syrah and it is cold soaking away. I have a great feeling about 2008 (winemakers say that every year.) We were given scares by the heat spikes early on, and then it rained like crazy last week. All in all, I feel that the fruit was ripened perfectly and the weather didn't destroy or offset the balance of the the wines. I want to thank all of my crew and interns for really doing a bang up job in the cellar.
I especially want to thank my wife Anna for putting up with me throughout the past 2 months. It has been tough one. We would only see each other for about an hour in the evening before I would fall asleep at the dinner table! Thanks babe for the warm meals and the support! I would be a loser living off fast food and beer if it wasn't for you. I promise that I will clean the garage, get back to the remodel project and most importantly spend lots of time with you now that we are getting back to a more reasonable schedule!
Let's just call it the Zepaltas Wines Holiday Party. Come on down to the Marina District this Monday. We will be posting up at the California Wine Merchant wine bar. Greg and the gang will be featuring a bunch of our wines that night including some of our older wines. Come on down and have some wines and a little holiday cheer. We would love to see you there. Here are the details....
California Wine Merchant
Monday, December 21
2113 Chestnut St.
San Francisco, California 94123