vineyards


Vines growing in carneros

Shoot reaching out to the sun

I always say that spring is the second best time of the year (the first is harvest in the fall.)

Watching the new shoots reach for the sun, performing their annual miracle painting the vineyard green, sprouting from the brown, dead looking trunks, never ceases to amaze me.

Tiny baby clusters appear and the leaves open up, spread and gorge on the sun.

This is also the time of the year when planting replacement vines happen.  Some of the old vines are too tired and can barley produce a cluster or two each year. We plant new, young vines in the field, right next to the old ones.  It will be three years before the new vines will produce any meaningful fruit, under the watchful eyes of their elders.

new vine in milk carton

New vines receive protection from frost and bunnies with an old milk carton and sawdust.

It’s been a long, cool growing season and harvest is still maybe 2 weeks 1 week ?? away.  Yields look small but with the long hang time, complex flavors are developing in there.  And it’s always a pleasure to walk Steve’s vineyard with him.

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After much anticipation, we had our first harvest on 9/30. We picked 1.25 tons of Beresini Pinot Noir and proceeded to our first crush. That is the lowest yield we’ve ever got from this one acre.

We popped in on Beresini Vineyard and Corona Creek Vineyard in late June to check on the fruit.  Here they are:

Beresini vineyard (first photo) is in Carneros.  The berries are a little farther developed than those in Corona Creek (2nd photo) located in Sonoma Coast.  In 2009, we harvested Beresini over 2 weeks before Corona Creek.

We also stopped at the Fremont Diner in Carneros, just down the road from Beresini, for some down home cooking.  The big yellow square in the photo is butter, right behind it is a pig’s leg. Definitely not the place to go if you’re on a diet.

new vineyard growth

new vineyard growth

We went up with the kids to the vineyard in the Russian River Valley we source fruit from this weekend.  The young shoots are out in full force, reaching for the sun and tiny clusters of flowers are starting to form.  It was a beautiful day and we are off to a fabulous start for another great harvest from Lauterbach vineyard.

spring in russian river valley vineyard

spring in russian river valley vineyard

We have been taking the kids to wineries and vineyards for so many years and it is starting to pay off.  Finally, no complaints, no arguing in the back seat. And they happily trekked after Dad up and down the rows, stopping, inspecting and enjoying themselves.  A picnic and a stop at Powell’s Sweet Shoppe in Windsor on the way home might have helped a bit as well.

I am very exicted to announce that Stomping Girl Wines are now available at two top San Francisco Restaurants, COCO500 and the Moss Room.

Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to pour our wine for Clay Reynolds, the Executive Beverage Director for both restaurants. I was hoping he would like one of our offerings and serve it at Coco500.

I first poured our 2008 Sonoma Coast from Split Rock Vineyard for Clay.  We were swirling, sniffing, tasting, spitting and then I calmly waited for feedback…. finally, “I like it! Really nice wine, smooth, red berries and elegant finish.”

We chatted a bit about wine making protocol, cold soak, barrel selection, the vineyard location, our low intervention practices and selection of sustainably grown vineyards , while I opened our second wine–the Lone Oak Vineyard from Santa Lucia Highland.  Same ritual, see, swirl, sniff, taste, spit. Longer wait this time…”Wow, you used the same wine making protocol?” Everything was the same, apart from a slight increase in new French Oak.  What he was noticing was the difference in the vineyard locations.  The Santa Lucia Highland location has specific flavor profile (a very long way to say “terroir”, which I try to avoid) versus the Sonoma Coast, Split Rock Vineyard.  “Amazing how remarkable the differences are. I get more of the bass tones on the Lone Oak while the Split rock is a more high tones wine. I like this one too,”  says Clay.  His description also included these observations:  earthy undertones with a solid backbone of fruit, plummy with a lingering light acidity.  We both agreed the Lone Oak managed the new French Oak nicely.

It’s great tasting with someone who appreciates the fruit of your labor, especially if you learn something in the way of adjectives (high tones/bass tones.)

Clay could not make up his mind which one he’d take, so in the end he decided to take both. One for Coco500 and the other for the Moss Room.

Lorreta Keller , who owns Coco500 is an advocate for sustainably and locally grown ingredients. Keller is a co-owner of the Moss Room along with Charlie Phan (of Slanted Door fame), but is in charge of the kitchen where her style of cooking is carried on. Keller is known for her emphasis on using high quality, locally grown, seasonal ingredients in her Cal-Med dishes which produce bold flavors.  The Moss Room is a masterpiece of a restaurant built under the new California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. The Moss Room practices the same philosophy of locally grown, organic when possible, ingredients. Locally grown is taken to extreme some times–they grow some of the greens and berries they serve in the restaurant right on the roof!

We are really excited about this opportunity to showcase our wines alongside some incredible food made the way we like it and the way we make our wine. Local, sustainable, tasty!

Check it out before they run out!  Cheers!

Over the long weekend we met with Chris, our Sonoma Coast grower of Corona Creek Vineyards.  We compared barrel samples of 2009 Stomping Girl Pinot Noir Corona Creek Vineyard with barrel samples of Chris’ Corona Creek Vineyard.  They’re both still very young but coming along nicely.  We agreed our Corona Creek has great color, some black cherry notes along with a nice earthiness–like freshly turned up soil in the vineyards.  We then compared the ’09s to Chris’ bottled 2008 Corona Creek Pinot which had nice dark fruit flavors and aromas that continued to develop as we enjoyed the rest of the bottle with dinner that night.

We also visited Beresini vineyard in Carneros, anohter source of our 2009 Pinot, to check out the vines and discuss a new pruning technique with Steve, the owner.  We are extremely happy with our ’09 Beresini Vineyard Pinot Noir that’s in barrels right now and are keeping a close eye on our rows in his vineyard for the ’10 harvest.  His two dogs and our son romped while we talked in the vineyards.  Steve sent us home with a bottle of his own wine–aptly named “Black Dog.”

Beresini Vineyard

Beresini's black dog

Beresini vineyard

Uzi and Steve B.

Uzi had been been talking about this diner near Steve’s vineyard that has great biscuits–the Fremont Diner.  We were too late for breakfast but we stopped there for lunch.  It looks a little divey from the outside.  But the charm completely takes over as you notice the vineyards in the background, the lone chicken hanging with 2 friendly dogs outside  and the decor inside.  And the food is out of this world.  The food is down home cooking, all from scratch, fresh ingredients and definitely not for those on a diet.  I had the Whole Hog, a pulled pork sandwich with bbq sauce, coleslaw and these incredible beans.  I am already contemplating my next menu selection…

Whole Hog Sandwich

the Whole Hog

Fremont Diner

Fremont Diner

fremont diner chicken

Fremont Diner chicken

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