Journey: Thoughts and Reflections along the path.
Harvest is a romantic term, it has connotations of happy peasants bringing in the sheaves, their voice raised in harmony. Harvest is the consumation of year's work in the fields, the garnering of sustenance and payback for all of the foregoing labor. Harvest is a lot of plain brutal hard work. All of these are equally true, you particular view perhaps whether you are savoring the fruits, or loading them into the bins at dawn.
2011 has been a challenging year, with early cool weather, premature rains and low crop yields around the region. We've had to scramble a bit to find the fruit we need, and added an additonal Gilroy vineyard to our management portfolio, with Cabernet, Merlot and Petit Syrah.
This year, we used professional picking crews for the second time, and it was the first that we had to negotiate and manage them. It's been a learning experience, as the pros and cons of hourly vs by the ton compensation, and supervised vs autonomous picking have presented. The value of a trust worthy crew, who can take the truck to the field, harvest efficiently, return promptly, destem and clean up is worth a lot more, than the crew who took 27 labor hours to pick less than a ton, and left the crush pad a mess, and then complain that the hourly rate should be $15 not $12. One learns, and moves onwards, the ranking of the crews for future calls the logical result.
Crush was handled mostly by Jane, with help from Joan, the ladies manned the destemmer for the Mtn Chardonnay and Colombard, and ran the 180l Spiedel bladder press for all of the reds, with help from Noah and me, lifting and dumping the pomace out into the estate vineyard. 11 tons is a lot to hand process, and our muscles have been complaining, but there's the undeniable satisfaction of making something with your own hands. We are already planning ahead to next year, and realize we need to add press capacity to keep up.
Happenings: Our Journey
October 3, 2011
Good weekend for our first Passport, met lots of great people, hosted the debut of the band "Something Borrowed" and our friend Chef Eichelberger's private catering. Our Colombard went well with the sunny bright weather. We visited our Gilroy Cabernet and Petit Syrah and were relieved that the Brix was only 20, so we have a few weeks to go still. We hope to receive our Pinot from Carneros after the rains clear and our Chardonnay a few weeks afterwards.
September 27, 2011
We've started harvest already, with a half ton of Chardonnay from the mountain vineyard, and two tons of Colombard from Gilroy. A crew of five picked all weekend to bring it in, and Jane and Joan crushed and pressed it as soon as it got to the winery, with our new 180 L hydraulic bladder press. It's nice to be working at a bigger scale, as this press can handle a 1/4 ton of destemmed fruit in a single load.
We're getting setup for Passport, Oct 1&2 selected entertainment, arranged with Chef Eichelberger for food and setup a new canopy with side curtains to expand our tasting area for inclement weather over the winter.
August 23, 2011
Its been a very busy month, we've been open two weekends released another wine and had family in from the East Coast in between. Our Colombard has been selling well, it's crisp and light and pairs well with fruits and cheeses.
It was great to share our wine with Jane's kids and sisters, and see their enthusiasm. We placed our Cabernet at Rosy's at the Beach in Morgan Hill, and will have our Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet and Pinot at Rocca's Market in San Martin, a local landmark since 1927. We are exploring placements at other fine local restaurants, if you have any suggestions, please let their management know or send us an email.
We took delivery of two new Stainless tanks, and signed a doubled Carneros contract to handle expansion of our Pinot and Chardonnay with Thomson vineyards.
Locally, we are getting ready to net the three vineyards, and waiting for our new bladder press to be delivered. The Colombard, mountain Chardonnay and Merlot look great and we're confirming our Cienega Valley Cab order.
We will be open Sat and Sun of Labor Day weekend.
August 4, 2011
We've had a great first full month, open two weekends in July and then pouring at the Gilroy Garlic Festival the last weekend.
Our wines are being well received, and we expect a busy weekend coming up as many of the people we met told us they were coming. We also bottled our 2010 Santa Clara Valley Colombard, and are letting it rest, with an expected release date this fall. Its crisp and floral and complements the Chardonnay's more subtle flavor. Our 2010 Cabernet, Merlot and Pinot Noir are maturing nicely, and we hope to be bottling within a year. We arranged contracts to double our Chardonnay and Pinot production, bought new tanks for expanding our whites and have been managing two vineyards as well as the estate, giving us additional whites and a mountain Merlot.
This is the Los Altos Vineyard, where we have Santa Cruz Mountain AVA Chardonnay and Merlot
In between all of that activity we've been getting the winery ready for the fall "crush" with a new driveway/crushpad by local concrete artist Patrick Meyer. Patrick has given us a stunning design which features our logo cast in concrete and a large Sun motif that's on the welcome screen.
June 25, 2011
We're open on first and third weekends. Our soft opening June 18th-19th went well, we had over 60 people stop by to taste and were quite content with the first weekends's results. Biggest problem was that on Sunday the high winds blew over our signs, so we need to ballast them for the future. The Pinot, Cabernet, Merlot and Chardonnay were well received. We are cellaring our 2010 reds and the Colombard for future release, and looking towards crush season when we expect to process 12 tons, or twice last year's fruit.
June 11, 2011
Wow, almost a year has got behind us since the last update. We got busy with harvest, crush and cellaring then poof it's a week till opening. The wind turbine is up and generating a part of our power, four wines are bottled and ready to sell. We're going sailing today on Lioness, and then final preparations tomorrow; building tables and signboards to place in the neighborhood so people can find us next weekend.
August 27, 2010
It has been a bust few months gearing up for our Grand Opening in 2011.
May- 350 vines were planted to round out the estate vineyard. All of the forms were filled out, checks were written for both the wind turbine and our Federal winery license.
June- Winery license obtained, working towards our State permit and ABC license. Spent 10 days in Japan, lovely country.
July- A very cool summer- we found growers to work with and contracted for fruit this Fall. Started working with a designer for Lightheart Cellars' logo. Ordered parts for the wind turbine, and bought barrels in anticipation of fruit this Fall
August- Reapplied to the county zoning commission to be able to provide tasting. Finalizing the logo design, continued work on bases for the wind turbine. Started planning the tasting area. New vines are doing great! Getting line posts in place and stringing trellis wires.
April 4th, 2010
In contact with the TTB, we hope to have our permit interview soon. Racked our test lots, and were quite happy with the feedback we had at a meetup of the wineberserkers forum in Lompoc on our Chardonnay. The winery is even closer to done, being used to store the barrels, and a work surface and cabinets available. The estate vines are leafing out, and we are currently entertaining 2 cows from a neighbor who are turning the remainder of the plot's cover crop into fertilizer. We'll till on the 11 and then layout our for the balance of our vines. "Meritage" gets painted later this month, and Jane's on call for Grandmother duty in Virginia, so it will be a busy month.
February 17, 2010
The winery is almost done, floor is painted, walls and ceiling are up and all the wiring and lights in place. Federal paperwork is in progress, we have the CA ABC stuff ready to go and we are getting ready to bottle our 2009 Pinot Gris and Chardonnay test lots. We attended the Unified Symposium and got some good ideas for marketing and admired the shiny equipment thats a few years down the road.
We are arranging our vineyard to plant out the remaining space as the wind Turbine gets approved and we are done with excavation. Met with the Sustainable fertilizer/soil amendment folks and have a sample off to the lab soon to get an update on our trace elements.
on a related note:
Jane bought a Merit 25 Sailboat which we are naming Meritage, so we will probably have to make one and put the boat on the label, It will be painted a nice burgundy color and be raced out of Oakland Yacht Club on the Alameda Estuary.
December 21 2009
Been a long slow month, putting together the paperworkt, while distracted by other things. We've been completing the winery space, have a half ceiling up. Our yeast trial lots are aging nicely, and we are setting up the accounting systems for taxes.
November 18 2009
Jane is negotiating the winery bond, and Sheldon just received approval from Santa Clara County Planning Dept for site usage. We will still have to go and re-apply for tasting room usage permit when we are ready, having fulfilled all the fire and environmental requirements to have the public on site in 2011. In the mean time we are working to get our Federal and state licenses in time for 2010 harvest.
We are doing yeast trials on the estate Cabernet, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay, as well as a Pinot Noir from Summit Rd Los Gatos, and have local San Martin Merlot and ZInfandel lots aging in a mix of French and American oak. Selecting the varietals for the remaining vines has been done, and we expect to plant in February after the winter rains have softened our hard clay soil.
The winery production space is partially built and we are discussing final layouts for crush, cellaring and bottling to hold our inventory. Designing the outdoor tasting area will be our over the winter activity as we debate the features and style that are most appropriate, along with the logo and colors we will use on our labels.
March 11, 2016
September 18, 2015
July 7, 2015
May 28, 2015
May 23, 2015
January 7, 2015
November 2, 2014
October 5, 2014
August 27, 2014
June 6, 2014
- November 2014 (1)
- October 2014 (1)
- August 2014 (1)
- June 2014 (1)
- April 2014 (3)
- March 2014 (1)
- February 2014 (3)
- November 2013 (2)
- October 2013 (1)
- September 2013 (2)
- August 2013 (3)
- June 2013 (1)
- May 2013 (2)
- April 2013 (2)
- March 2013 (2)
- February 2013 (4)
- January 2013 (3)
- December 2012 (4)
- November 2012 (5)
- October 2012 (4)
- September 2012 (4)
- August 2012 (3)
- July 2012 (1)
- June 2012 (2)
- May 2012 (1)
- April 2012 (3)
- March 2012 (3)
- February 2012 (4)
- January 2012 (6)