Winemaker & Vineyard Blog
Enjoy our blog posts as we chronicle with Derek Irwin the making of our fine Sierra Foothill wines and the development of our vineyard at the Seminary and Novitiate of the Oblates of St. Joseph in Loomis.
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!!!
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!
Two of the questions I've been hearing constantly over the past few months are....When will the vineyard work begin? and.... Can I help?
Well, the answer to the first question is now! As you saw in yesterday's blog post, marking the end post locations is being done with the actual end post installation happening next week.
The second question is answered with the photo below. Already Bob Vandervort has taken the "Can I help" message to heart. Here he is cleaning out the ditch water so our new pump station will be free and clear of debris from this year's massive amount of rain fall.
Not only is Bob cleaning out the canal, he (along with Allen Cummings and Mike Jones - two other Mount Saint Joseph Wines owners) are working on plans to construct a shelter from our new pump station. See the second photo as the three of them get started on this project.
This is truly an exciting time - check back often to this website and keep up with our progress over the coming weeks!
Jamie Rojas, owner of 2nd Generation Development out of Napa, is seen here on site with his crew. They are mapping out the placement of 278 ten foot vine end posts for the vine rows in the vineyard. These vine end posts will be driven some 4 1/2 feet into the earth! Think of them as the "foundation" for the vineyard.
In the second photo - Jaime marks out where the Boardman Canal (aka "ditch water") conduit runs underground so that we don't hit during construction and flood the vineyard and our neighbors!
Recently Joe relayed some feedback from a few of you that was disturbing. After opening and tasting the 2015 Sierra Foothills Zinfadel, a few of you said it was "Yucky".
I told Joe..."Yucky - what do you mean, yucky????". This wine was great when we bottled it back in February!
So Derek and I decided to taste it last Thursday.....and, sure enough, it was yucky. Perplexed at the difference in taste between bottling in February and the present, we decanted the wine and let it alone for 20 minutes and tasted it again. This time the middle pallet was coming back with the fruit that we had remembered from bottling time. We then tasted four hours later....now, that was more like it! Finally, later that night at dinner I had a glass with the short ribs Paulette had made - "yucky" wine had become great wine.
We have pulled the 2015 Sierra Foothills Zinfandel off the market for now and we will release it again in September. The additional four months of bottle aging will allow the complex elements in the wine that have become disjointed to recombine. For those of you who have a bottle from your February wine club shipment, here are your options:
- If you haven't opened the wine, lay it down until October/November and then open and decant and enjoy!
- If you have opened the wine and it tasted "yucky", let me or Joe know and we'll get you a new bottle and you can follow #1 above
While I won't go into detail about the business reasons for releasing this wine sooner than we ordinarily would, we have learned from the experience and will now follow the words of Orson Welles (Paul Masson ad circa 1979):
"We will sell no wine before its time"
It is February 2017 - time to begin the bottling the very first our 2015 harvest grapes.
Last week we bottled the first of our new "Sierra Foothills" wines, specifically our 2015 Sierra Foothills Zinfandel. We have created a Zinfandel blend that is truly unique. It is deep in tannin structure with an extensive middle pallet and a long finish that will beg the question - "how did they make that from Foothills grapes???".
While we won't release this incredible Zin until early April, Joe convinced me to include it in our wine club orders later this month. In fact, I might just bring a few bottles for sampling to our "Fat Tuesday" wine club dinner at La Fornaretta later this month. So, if you want to try it now, join one of our wine clubs!
The balance of our 2015 harvest wines will be bottled in the May. The photo below shows our 2015 wines spending their last few months aging in French oak barrels. Get ready for the summer and fall release of these outstanding wines...I know you are going to love them. Trust me, they will be worth the wait.
If you think I sound like a very proud father.....well, yes – I am!
While we had planned for irrigation trenching and PVC piping to be completed by now, the early fall rains have changed our schedule a bit. This is not a problem - we have plenty of time between now and next Spring.
The engineers from Toma Associates spent Thursday laying out the rows and plant spacing so our irrigation contractor can bring in the back-hoe and lay the main PVC irrigation lines as well as the risers to feed the black drip tubes. While the drip tubes will be installed next year, if the rains can hold off until after Thanksgiving, we'll trench for the main PVC irrigation lines early next week.
Off for now...........Joe and I wish all of you a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving!
Forgive the corny Doris Day inspired title to this blog - that was Joe's idea.
Our 2016 Syrah is now fermenting away. The brix level started at 24.8 and is now at 6.3 brix. We have about four days to go before we let it macerate in the fermentation bins to extract even more tannins and classic syrah flavors. This will be a very jammy Syrah.
I look forward to this wine be a key part of the 2016 Marello blend. It will also be a stand-alone varietal offering as well - maybe an early release next year.
Stay tuned as I continue to keep you updated on our 2016 harvest and winemaking.....off for now!
Peaches and Dessert Syrah - Delicious!
OK - the cat is out of the bag....many of you have asked if we will ever offer a dessert wine.... the answer is an emphatic "Yes!". With the addition of a wonderful 2009 Syrah Dessert Wine to our Mount Saint Joseph portfolio of wines - you will now be able to finish your meal or your evening with this delightful wine. The photo below is of me enjoying a nice bowl of fresh white peaches with our new dessert wine drizzled on the top.....wow, the taste is delicious. I must admit though, the combination was Paulette's idea, not mine.
I heartily invite all of you to follow suit and try your own summer dessert with this great Syrah Dessert wine.
Stay tuned - we'll let you know as soon as it is available!
Attention to Detail Means Optimal Fruit at Harvest
Our vineyards up in Grass Valley have been hit with an unusual degree of "Powdery Mildew” this season….Powdery Mildew is a common condition in vineyards throughout the world but.... In speaking with Derek Irwin, our consulting winemaker from Napa, it seems that this problem is rampant in Napa, Sonoma, Placer and El Dorado counties… The best we can do is stay on an every 2 –to- 3 week regiment in spraying with systemic sulfur and drop the damaged clusters so as to limit the infestation. By the way.....the application of sulfur is an organically acceptable and sustainable method of treatment.
The photo below shows me at the vineyard (like my stylish boots?), lending a hand in dropping fruit. This attention to detail will insure that the fruit we get at harvest will be of the highest quality.