Peter's Blog & Our Newsletters

Enjoy Peter's blog posts as he chronicles the making of our fine Sierra Foothill wines and the development of our vineyards at the Seminary and Novitiate of the Oblates of St. Joseph in Loomis.

Enjoy our newsletter as well - both the current edition as well as past editions in the links below.


Current Newsletter

Past Newsletters

Peter Story
November 30, 2017 | Peter Story

Zuppa Proves to be a Winner!

When we first blended the 2015 Zuppa red blend, we were almost giggling over the name since calling it “Spaghetti Red’ or “Italian Table Red” just didn’t carry the day.  Then a number of our owners came up with their suggested names - there were quite a few creative ideas!  The winning name came from Joe Smock – Zuppa just seemed to joylessly express the zest of this 7-varietal blend.

Ever since it's release, Zuppa has pleased just about everyone who has tasted it....and it being priced at under $20 seems to be pleasing as well!  The review that I love the best came from Avery Drewe from Southern California… Avery states in a posting to our website…..

“Wow. Total surprise. I must qualify this by saying that my guilty pleasures are blends, meritage's and table wines. (Mostly a Pinot/Burgundy drinker). The risk of that is/are very bad, over jammy wines. The rewards are really great blends and wines that are different. This is one of those. Sort of fruit forward. Yet not. Sort of dry. Yet not. Sort of soft. Yet not. Probably a great Thanksgiving wine. Hope to find out if I can get some by then. Congratulations on making a truly fun and great wine.”

I think Avery has a future as a wine reviewer.  Thanks to Avery and thanks to all our customers.....enjoy the Zuppa!


Time Posted: Nov 30, 2017 at 6:30 AM
Peter Story
November 22, 2017 | Peter Story

Vineyard Prepared for Winter

It is November and our vineyard at Mount Saint Joseph is going into "hiberation".  Last week we completed the seeding of the vineyard with 250 lbs of mustard and canola seed.  It didn't take long after our recent rains for the seeds to germinate (as you can see in the photo below).  

These plants will protect the vineyard from erosion during the rainy season as well as provide a rich supply of nitrogen next spring when I mow and disk this natural supplement into the soil.  A side benefit of the mustard is the beauty of the yellow flowers....just a prelude to the beauty of the vines as they grow into Year 2 of their development.

Thank you to our owners on our Vineyard Team for making our ‘Girls’ entry into this world so lovingly successful.  Your physical labor of love and devotion truly make this vineyard very special...The Owners Vineyard.


Time Posted: Nov 22, 2017 at 9:11 AM
Peter Story
September 7, 2017 | Peter Story

2017 Harvest Has Begun!

Well the hot August weather has triggered an earlier than usual harvest this year.  Last weekend we started harvesting from our lower elevation Loomis vineyards.  First the Negro Amaro came in, next was the Tempranillo and on Tuesday it was our Barbera.  Yes…you heard me right….I’ll be doing a Barbera for the first time this year.

Today we move up the hill to our Nevada County vineyard for the first of our varietals to come in there - the Sangiovese.  I love the harvest season!  

That’s enough for now….there are grapes to be picked and wine to be made!!!





Time Posted: Sep 7, 2017 at 6:43 AM
Peter Story
August 14, 2017 | Peter Story

Owner Ed Stoessel and his Bobcat to the Rescue

As you read in my last post, our vineyard at the Mount has truly become the "MSJ Wines Owners Vineyard".  I've been delighted by our fellow owners stepping up to assist in various vineyard projects.

Last weekend it was Ed Stoessel and his son-in-law, John Russell who helped with an important vineyard project.  They loaded up their Bobcat 763 Skid Steer Loader and arrived at the vineyard by 7:00 a.m. on Saturday.  John and Ed were able to clear the road around the vines where we had some very large rocks that were making it very difficult for me to make turns with my tractor.

They also did some earth moving at the top of the vineyard near the Boardman canal where it was too steep and I was unable to safely make tractor turns at the end of the vine rows.  By noon the work was complete and our mission accomplished.

Thank you Ed and John!

Stay tuned for more blogs on this very exciting time for our vineyard....


Time Posted: Aug 14, 2017 at 4:44 PM
Peter Story
August 7, 2017 | Peter Story

Vineyard Owner Volunteers Complete Replanting and Trellis Work

Our 3,000 vines are growing up and over their 18" rabbit protection grow tubes.  There are always a few vines that don't make it once planted and 93 of our vines after three weeks obviously weren't going to make it.  Fortunately, my trusty owner volunteer vineyard group came to the rescue and replanted new vines in their place:

  • Bob Vandervort
  • Henry Favro
  • Dave Beiler
  • Allen Cummings
  • Mike Delaurentis
  • Dave Fox

With the help of these gentlemen these replacement vines will soon be looking like the vine in the photo below:

Now that all our "girls" are growing straight and tall, our team turned our attention from replanting to completing the trellis work.  We needed to place three (3) cross-arm wire holders on every stake throughout the entire vineyard.  I had targeted November as the date for completion of this task but my vineyard team labored in the 100 degree heat and completed all the work by the end of last week.  All the vineyard "girls" and I truly appreciate the hard work of the vineyard team!!!

Time Posted: Aug 7, 2017 at 12:55 PM
Peter Story
July 26, 2017 | Peter Story

My "Baby Girls" Are Growing Up Quickly!

My oh my….how quickly my newborn “Baby Girls” (our vines) are growing!  It was less than a month ago when we planted over 3000 dormant vines (like bare root roses - no sprouts, no buds - just a root stock with a grafted vine).  Now these baby vines are reaching up toward the heavens and breaking through the tops of their 18” protective grow tubes - I call them “milk cartons”.

Of course, our vineyard job was not finished once the vines were planted.  Since that time my vineyard owner volunteers (Bob Vandervort, Allen Cummings, Henry Favro, Mike Delaurentis, Dave Beiler, Tim Mabie, Dave Fox, Joe Smock and Rick Tlustosch) have been very busy helping with weed whacking, rock removal, vine replanting, discing and other vineyard chores in the 100 degree heat.  Kudos to all of them for their hard work!  

The hard work has certainly paid off.  If you haven’t driven by lately, take a trip down Wells Avenue and see the transformation.  Mount St. Joseph has always been a pretty sight and now, with our “Baby Girl” vines in the vineyard, it is even more beautiful!!!

Time Posted: Jul 26, 2017 at 3:15 PM
Peter Story
July 5, 2017 | Peter Story

When Will the Vines Go In?

"When will the vines go in?"  If I had a dollar for every time I've been asked that question over the last few months........

I spent a good deal of time explaining the delayed planting due to the extended rainy season.  The fact that we are a very small customer competing with the vast Napa clientele who wanted their vineyards planted exacerbated the situation but...who cares?

Finally, we planted our 3000 vines on June 28.  Eight young men from Napa did the work in an amazing time.  I only wish we had that kind of vineyard talent here in the Foothills.

If planting the vineyards was not enough, the following day, June 29 - a crew of six men placed all of the 18" cartons over the vines to initiate the first growth (a nursery "hot house" effect) as well as keeping the rabbits and deer away.

Stay tuned for next weeks blog as we anticipate the first vine shoots!

A farmer's day is never over till it's over (Yogi Berra with a Peter Story twist)


Time Posted: Jul 5, 2017 at 2:16 PM
Peter Story
June 17, 2017 | Peter Story

Irrigation Work Continues - Vines to Follow!

It is Saturday morning and the irrigation work continues.  In the the first photo below....a techncian wires in the irrigation control valves.  In the second........a worker installs the drip emitters along one of the vine rows.  Soon we will have water, water everywhere......and soon after that our grape vines!



Time Posted: Jun 17, 2017 at 2:39 PM
Peter Story
June 14, 2017 | Peter Story

Our Vineyard - It Has Been Blessed and Is Almost Ready for the Vines!

Wow - what a great day we shared on Sunday, June 4!  

Fr. Phil Massetti blessed our vineyard while 180 owners, wine club members and guests joined the celebration.  We had a perfect day for the blessing ceremony and followed it up with great food and great wine in the Marello Youth Center.  If you couldn't join us this year, below are a few photos from the event.......

We have been working hard since then to get the vineyard ready for the planting of our vines in a couple of weeks.  The end posts and stakes are in.  Irrigation trenches for the main distribution have been dug and the PVC infrastructure is in place.  The bottom row of wiring that supports the drip irrigation tubing is now in as well.  

Our voluteer team will be busy with a number of projects including general clean-up, weed removal, rock picking and some tree triming.  We project the actual planting of the vines by the end of the month.......patience and hard work will be rewarded!!!

Time Posted: Jun 14, 2017 at 7:27 AM
Peter Story
May 27, 2017 | Peter Story

Long Days in the Vineyards

The vineyard development at the Mount is well underway yet I still need to take care of the 2017 harvest in my vineyard.

The Aglainico and Negro Amaro vines need t be protected against mildew.  Beginning at 5:30 a.m. I'm able to treat 1/2 of the vineyard before I get over to our vineyard at the Mount to open the gate to begin today's development.

Tomorrow is another day....5:30 a.m. to spray the other half of the vineyard for mildew and then back over to the Mount vineyard for another full day of development.

To paraphrase Yogi Berra.........a farmer's day is never over until it's over!

Time Posted: May 27, 2017 at 6:49 AM