The wine industry is a very large and uniqe business. While many of us drink wine on a regular basis there are general questions of what we do to produce and sell it. We hope that this blog offers some insight on what we do on a weekly basis written by members of the family.
We are bringing in the whites! We have finished Sauvignon Blanc and now Semillon as of yesterday. With the weather cooler this summer and everything being pushed back a couple weeks, we get to sit and sort without dying in the heat! However, the days are still long with much of the time waiting for the fruit to be picked and then to arrive at the winery for processing. Here are a few tons of Semillon from Yountville that will all be used in our Michael Pozzan Sauvignon Blanc.
There are many stages in winemaking where your actions can greatly affect the quality. Sorting is one of those main steps. The goal here is to take out all things that aren't grapes. There is a destemmer at the end of the conveyor belt that seperates the grape berries from the stems and funnels the grapes to the tanks. Therefore many of the things you try to find while sorting are leaves, mold and little critters like stink bugs that can alter the taste of wine. Since these grapes were harvest by hand, you do not get critters like lizzards or snakes that are more common if you were to harvest by machine.
For Molly and I, we really only needed to focus on the leaves since the fruit was picked pretty clean. Sorting the dead leaves is not that big of a concern in comparison to the bright green ones that made its way into the bins. The phenolics that are still present in the leaves can make the wine have undesirable flavors such as a green bell pepper or vegetative taste. These flavors can also develop due to soil type or from too much canopy on the vine that was not cut back enough when pruning. It wasn't long until we were covered with grape juice, making our hands and arms very sticky. Bits of grape pulp magically find their way all over the body; appearing in your hair, back and legs. The only remedy is a hot shower to wash it all off. And later, a cold beer to ease your back from being hunched over sorting.
Our winemaker Molly Lyman sent this to one of our distributors and I thought I should share this harvest update as well:
"The harvest is off to a slow but optimistic start. The crop in the vineyards looks ample and even, but largely temperate days throughout late July and August have things measuring a bit late on the comparative scale (vs the last few years). I harvested a Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc vineyard this week on September 4th, for example, and it’s the first time since I began working with this fruit five years ago that it hasn’t been ready in August (historical dates were Aug 18-24). The general word on the street (throughout California) is that harvest is on a ~two week delay. The good news is that the crop seems to be heavy and of good quality. And sunny, dry days with milder temps afford the grapes more time in developing flavor and phenolic maturity, versus high temp days which force sugar accumulation regardless of any other markers of ripeness."
We look forward to getting harvest underway and into winemaking!
It's that time of year again where we see veraison happening in grapes. The ripening of grapes from green to purple signifies that harvest is near and soon the real work starts. The timing for veraison happens at different times all over the valley according to climate and geographical location as well as grape varietal and clone. Our estate vineyard in Calistoga is just now finishing veraison while the valley floor has finished this process weeks before. However, even within our own vineyard our low yielding clone 6 cabernet sauvignon, is two weeks behind our higher yielding clone 7 cabernet sauvignon.
What these differences show is that each vine is unique in its characteristics in ripening and quality, therefore each vine must be given equal scrutiny in determining when to pick. The days leading up to harvest will be filled with crop sampling from different blocks to determine when the sugar levels (aka brix) have reached optimum levels. Good winemaking starts in the vineyard and this is just one of many things to keep track of.
Today I am excited to announce that our 2017 Sauvignon Blanc from Lake County received 90 points and Best Buy from Wine Enthusiast Magazine! Sauvignon Blanc is a varietal I’ve worked with for 15 years, and it can be a struggle to find vineyards that allow us to offer the quality we want at the price our customers want. Since working with our Lake County vineyard, we’ve produced some of my favorite Sauvignon Blanc. This is especially perfect timing to share this news since summer is here and it seems like everyone (my family included) is looking for a cold, crisp bottle of white to enjoy on these hot days.
I hope you all get a chance to try it and love it as much as I do!
The review will be published in the August 2018 issue of WineEnthusiast, but the review is available online at link below:
In the wine business, there are three little letters with a big meaning: OND. Standing for October, November, December, it is a sales term that has become synonymous with the busiest time of the year. The last three months are when you expect businesses to make a big push to hit their end-of-year sales goals. While most businesses are affected in some way by the Holidays, the wine business goes into a special kind of frenzy as people begin to drink more.
As a producer, we also spend this time working distributor & trade shows. These allow retailers and restaurateurs to set their wine line-up for the holiday season. Every year, come October, we are busy traveling the country in pursuit of these wine placements. And as abruptly as our traveling begins, it ends. Mid October signals the start of the sales staff race as they begin calling on the accounts to secure wine placements for the remainder of the year.
With this increase in sales comes the need for an increase in inventory. Bottling is shut down during the harvest period, so with the end of Harvest comes the beginning of bottling. This means it is full speed ahead to finalize our wine blends. Just in the past few weeks we have put together the Dante Cabernet, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, our Annabella Red Blend, and the Matthew Joseph Cabernet and Chardonnay.
OND can be stressful, exhausting, and will quickly remind you that there is always something happening in the Wine Industry. Luckily, we’re always working with family and have the added benefit of loving what we do. We are thrilled with the wines we produced this OND and can’t wait to share them with our customers.
On Saturday, October 14th, my wife Mary Ann and I returned home after being displaced by the Napa and Sonoma fires. My son Matthew and his family evacuated Monday at 1:30 am and came to our house. By 3 pm that afternoon, we all decided to get out of the valley. Our grandaughter is only four months old and we were especially concerned with the amount of smoke that was accumulating in Napa.
This was the worst act of nature that I have ever experienced. Luckily, all of us are well and our homes escaped destruction. Our hearts go out to friends, family, neighbors, and fellow vintners that were not as fortunate. Napa came together as a community like never beore, and I am proud be a resident.
We are thankful that all of our grapes had been picked and crushed before the fires began. It is now time for us all to move forward and help our neighbors get their lives back to some type of normality.
Thank you to family, friends, and customers that reached out to us during that week. We are grateful for your thoughts and prayers.
A special thanks to fire fighters, police, rescue crews, and all first responders. You are awesome!
Harvest 2017 is far from done and has already proven itself memorable. Temperatures in the valley soared into the triple digits in late August, and parked in the high 90’s for almost a full week. Many locations up valley registered 109F on the two hottest days of the relentless heat spike. Temperatures briefly cooled into the 80’s before topping 100F again the 2nd week of September. The intense, prolonged heat initially seemed to super charge harvest - thin skinned, early-ripening varietals were ripening quickly and threatening to be damaged by the extreme temperatures. Once the early picks were in, however, it became clear that the heat had impacted later-ripening varietals in far more than visible ways. The word from all parts of the valley was that winemakers and vineyard managers were seeing a complete stall in sugar accumulation in the grapes. The heat seemed to have interrupted the vine’s ability to push the sugar load into the grapes. During a month which usually contributes to slow, even ripening in the vineyard, there were little to no changes in the ripeness of the grapes for roughly 20 days between Labor Day and the last week of September. It had a lot of industry folk scratching their heads.
October has broken with a long-ranging forecast that looks dry and mild - and what ought to be perfect ripening weather. Cabernet vineyards are beginning to adopt a more regular pattern of sugar accumulation, and the peculiar “pause” seen in harvest in September seems to be behind us. There are still plenty of tons left to harvest in Napa Valley, and it’s shaping up to be a spectacular vintage.
Our New Wine Project – Giapoza
I am happy to say that we have just completed our newest wine project, Giapoza! Being a family owned and operated winery, we try to stress this theme by naming wine labels after our loved ones. As a result, Giapoza comes from my first child, and daughter, Gianna. However, we hit a speed bump getting there. The name Gianna was already used as a wine label. The wine industry is so large with the so many wines in the market, past and present, that many common names at one time or another have already been used. I was recently speaking with a friend of mine whose family has a new winery in Coombsville and, when creating the name for the winery, he was surprised by how many were already taken. Eventually after much research on the many variations of Gianna or Gia, we centered on the combination of Gianna and Pozzan, thus creating Giapoza; dropping a “z” for the sake of symmetry.
Luckily, the difficulty of trade marking the name is over and we can focus on the winemaking. For now Giapoza comes in only 2 varietals, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. 1,000 cases made of each; they are California appellated wines that are meant to retail around $18. This is currently where we have a gap in pricing. Even though they are California appellated we decided to some Napa fruit in the Cabernet and Russian River fruit in the Pinot inorder to boost the quality. These wines will first be released in our September wine club, and be released to the public sometime thereafter.