Wine Grape Harvest & Crush – Where The Pampered Fruit Gets The Crap Beat Out Of It

Wine Grapes During Crush

One of the Many Implements of Torture That A Wine Grape Experiences

When last we left our well pampered hero (aka the wine grape), it was living the life of luxury, quietly converting nutrients, water and sunlight into sugars but its day of reckoning was fast approaching when its existence would literally be turned inside out. They will be ripped from their branches, thrown together with millions of other orphaned grapes and then squeezed so hard, it makes a mammogram look like a gentle massage. Continue reading

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Santa Lucia Highlands Wine Tasting

Is it ironic that the region that’s become one of our favorites is best known for making Varietals that aren’t our favorites? OK…that was a touch awkward. Let’s try it this way. Our favorites tend to be really well made Bordeaux style wines…Big Cabs, well balanced Merlots, earthy Cab Francs and of course, the blends that can be sublime. The area in question however is known for complex but delicate Pinot Noirs, balanced Chardonnays and deeply flavored cold weather Syrahs.

Santa Lucia Highlands Wine

The Santa Lucia Highlands AVA

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Grape Fruit (Not Grapefruit)

Pinot Noir Grapes in Veraison

Wine Grapes Going Through Veraison

Vineyards, terroir, AVA and appellations, climate…what’s the point of it all? If that’s all there was to wine, it would taste like dirt. I’ve had a few that did and I’d rather eat a 10 year old tennis shoe than revisit that. Of course, the grapevine isn’t everything either. Last I heard, eating grape vines wasn’t a great experience either although some winemakers are so heavy handed with the oak that you may as well be eating wood. Continue reading

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Grape Vines – Getting to the Root of the Wine Grape Growing

Grape Vines at Masia de Yabar

Grape Vines in Temecula Valley

Ok…so I know this is a series of posts about wine but do we really need to know about the vine? Sure it’s what gives birth to the grapes and carefully nurtures them through their brief life, but is understanding the vine really important to understanding how a wine will taste or age? You betcha it is. Assuming a winemaker planted the right kind of grapes in the correct location, the vine now becomes paramount because without carefully tended vines, getting good wine grapes is virtually impossible. The vines are the genesis of the grapes and how they are tended, or in some cases neglected has a profound influence on the character of the wine. FYI for those of us in the wine world, we like to think that the wine grape is the most important form of grapes but roughly 80 percent of all grape vines produce table or drying grapes….kinda humbling when you think about it. Maybe there’s an industry waiting to emerge. Imagine row after row not of wineries but “Raisinries”, purveying there carefully crafted…naw, I can’t even finish the sentence. It’s just too absurd. Continue reading

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Vineyards and Terroir

Burrell School Vineyards

Vineyards In the Santa Cruz Mountains Expressing Their Terroir

Wine starts in the vineyard, there’s no real surprise there, but how does that vineyard get started? In the old world most vineyards have been in place for decades, if not centuries so choice of location for a new vineyard is rarely a concern. There just aren’t a lot of new vineyards being planted. In the Americas and Australia where the wine industry is booming, thousands of new vineyards are planted every year. Continue reading

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AVAs, Appellations & Some Terms in Spanish & Italian That Are Really Tough To Pronounce

Vineyard on a Hill

The Region Where A Wine Is Made Has A Profound Impact On It’s Character

So what is wine anyway? A scientist might say that wine is the perfect melding of what nature can produce and man can modify. A writer – that it’s a journey that can take decades from cutting to vineyard, to press, barrel and glass. On that journey, it goes through dozens of steps that can influence the flavor, feel and ageability of the wine.

A great winemaker can’t make great wine from bad grapes but a bad winemaker can make bad wine from great grapes. So what’s it mean? The hand of the winemaker transforms the fruit, and using modern techniques and creative license, can profoundly change the character of wines that traditionally conformed to a common style. Continue reading

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