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Monday, March 30, 2009

Wine 2.0 April 2nd

I know, I know. Why would I want to attend something that sounds like an operating platform? I am not really cool enough to know all the details myself, but we will be pouring at Wine 2.0 this Thursday in S.F., and if you are interested in attending go to, and enter the promo code: wine for 10% off admission. I am curious just to see Crushpad!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

What did you do today?
I killed trees. Never done much logging. After living in Portland for well over ten years, and having a mother-in-law from Aberdeen, Washington, you would expect a certified tree killer. But kitchen work and philosophy studies don't tend that way, and sure I've chopped a bit here and there, used to cut up dead prune trees for fire wood, etc. but, taking out acres of walnut trees is real, serious work. I love walnuts, don't get me wrong. They may not be as sexy as pistachios or as versatile as hazelnuts, they don't have the ego of chestnuts or the devious falsehood of peanuts, but I am a defender of their tradition and that twist of savory bitterness. But I like wine more, and these trees need to go. We have vines coming and vines to order, and these derelict trees just aren't pulling their weight. Nebbiolo or walnuts, hmmm, you decide. The burn piles will be fun though. The backhoe guy comes in next, then we clean it all up again, rip, disk, lay irrigation for our pathetic well to keep the newborns alive...

The boneyard.
The most important question: what will be going in? Well, secrecy aside, we will be trying our hand with Nebbiolo like idiots. I am also thrilled to announce that Sagrantino is on order along with Negro Amaro and several Sangiovese clones...;

Spring cleaning

Here is our obligatory "spring is coming" bud shot of the Chardonnay variety. We were worried that March 15th was likely, but the freezing nights have slowed it down. In other news of vineyard work all the new trellising is up and shiny - we are pleased with that. Wine wise, all of the reds have had first a racking now, and everything seems to be on track - no surprises, which is the best surprise of all. Barrels cleaned out and rotated, everything topped, a good feeling to not worry about it for a little while. We are working on a bigger project right now...details to follow!

Monday, March 16, 2009


The big guns have recently shown how they bottle (Grgich, Selene, etc.)on their blogs, so I'll show how we kick it (relatively) old school. We bottled the 2007 Dolcetto today at nearly a record pace with a whole three people! Bottling is miserable for anyone and everyone, but our system is appropriate to our size and scope, and now that we have a pneumatic corker (we hand-corked everything until mid-last year), relatively pain free. The big guys have massive dedicated lines, or hire mobile bottling where the trailer backs up to the dock, hoses are connected, pallets moved and it whirrs like a finely tuned machine.

Our bottling "line" moves from right to left in the picture: the weird looking box with two prongs on the far right is the sparger, blowing compressed air into the bottles to remove any foreign debris (when we get really cool we will use nitrogen instead). Next to it with the six spigots pointed in the air (wrapped in cling wrap for cleanliness) is our filler. It is a nice, simple design with a float that controls the fill height in the reservoir and then simple gravity feed into the bottle. Our overworked 3/4" diaphragm pump moves the wine from the tank to the filler at nice low and gentle pressure. Sparging two bottles at a time and cycling through six bottles on the filler times out just right with corking six bottles on our snazzy new corker (the big chunk of metal in the middle of the picture) that is air operated, nice and clean. It has a large cork reservoir in the top with a wheel that feeds them into a tube as the two operating buttons are pushed. The cork is compressed and punch into the bottle. From the corker bottles are passed finally to capsuler, which is basically just a little platform that is operated by a lever that moves the neck of the bottle up into a heated element, and the PVC capsules then shrink around the top (we don't use foil which requires a much more expensive machine). Grgich does 350 cases an hour/2000 a day, we can do 200 in a day, 150 if there are only two of us. This does not include any labelling either - which is presumably performed for them at the same time. On the other hand, I think Grgich spends about 35 days a year bottling; we only spend eight or nine days a year with our little production of 2000 cases a year. Grgich has earned every bit of their fame, and I hold them in very high regard, but no way am I gonna spend a month bottling every year!

Friday, March 13, 2009

While we are in PR mode here, we will be offer a $99 6-bottle intro sample pack to anyone who is interested. Our website is undergoing a bit of work and will be available to order from in about six days.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tiburon, we will be there (Six Sigma too) May 16th, while the other half of the family will be pouring at Ghirardelli Square's Uncorked! that same afternoon. Come on down!