Friday, December 28, 2007

Pruning Season

Winter in the vineyard tends to be the slow season. At our spot just outside of Boonville, there is a lot of rain, frost, and generally unpleasant weather that makes it a necessity to wear rubber boots when going outside, and completely impossible to even get a tractor into the vineyard. It's a nice time to be slow, although there are a few important tasks that must be done during this time -- the most important of these is pruning.

Pruning a vineyard is the same theory as pruning rose bushes, per se, only you're basing your entire year's income on what you cut off and what you keep. Pruning sets up the vine for the coming year's growth, as well as the next year's, so it must be done right. Too many "positions" left mean too much fruit and unbalanced vines. Too few means too little fruit and too little income.

We started pruning our Pinot Noir this week. It's a bit early, but it's nice to be done before too much rain comes. A crew of about 20 guys is currently sweeping through the vineyard. Then we go behind and "dob" the "wounds." Basically we paint the newly cut ends with a substance that protects the vines from a disease carried by rain (eutypa). Not many people in the industry bother with this because of its time-consuming nature (HOURS), but we do everything we can to keep the vines healthy. And if that means painting every cut end on 15 acres ourselves, that's what gets done.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Back in Town

Just got back from the holidays and am taking the week officially off from my day job at the local winegrowers association. However, that forces me to take a look at everything we have to do for our winery in the next month plus to make sure we have wine to sell in May 2008.

- Finalize our label
- Order labels, capsules, corks, bottles, etc.
- Submit our label to the government for approval
- Finish our Web site copy and press kit
- Design and launch our Web site
- Bottle our 2007 Sauvignon Blanc and label our 2006 Pinot Noir in late February (currently in shiners)
- Finalize trademarks
- Deal with more ABC/TTB paperwork
- Start arrangements for our winery site/building

When they said there was a "high barrier to entry" in this business they weren't joking. At all. Guess I'd better get to work. Hope all your holidays were wonderful!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Oh Christmas Tree

It finally feels like the holiday season when the cookies are baked and the tree is decorated. This year, we cut down a very large tree from our ranch above Boonville. It's only 7 feet taller (give or take a few inches) that the 3-foot tree we normally had in our Santa Rosa duplex, but luckily we have high enough ceilings that it wasn't a problem. Running out of ornaments was, however, an issue.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to Everyone!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Social Networking At Its Finest

There's no denying that social networking sites help you keep in contact with old and recent friends, as well as make new ones. Because we have a lot of college/club/other friends who don't know what we're up to (you know, world domination and all), we recently created a facebook account for our winery, and I persuaded Joe to start a myspace account so we both have one (btw ladies - I know he looks good holding a wine barrel, but he's totally taken). If you want even more photos and details, look us up at:

On Facebook - Foursight Wines Inc.
On Myspace - Kristy or Joe

We'll also try to keep all our friends at both sites updated about all our big events - our grand opening, first wine releases, Web site launch, and so on. I promise some good parties in works as well. :)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Hard Choice

We got our new round of label options back from the designer. Now we just have to pick one... Too bad we like them all. I'll post our final decision after we hash it out over a bottle of wine.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Just in case you decide to become a criminal...

One of the fun events that my entire family got to participate in this week was something called a Live Scan. As we're owners of an alcoholic beverage facility (read: tiny, I mean MINISCULE, family-owned winery), we had to all go the the Sheriff's department and wait in line to get every finger on each of our hands scanned into the law enforcement database.

They don't really tell you why, but all I can think is that maybe we're considered high-risk because we deal with alcohol. Or maybe they're afraid we're all going to become bio-terrorists (no wait, they already have that covered - we have to register our facility with the FDA under the new bioterrorism act for that). Well, maybe the just want to be sure because alcohol's lumped into the same government department as tobacco, and, once upon a time, firearms. Either way, we all know better than to commit a felony any time in the future. Besides the fact that we're honest, upstanding citizens, no person who has ever committed a felony is allowed to own an alcohol-related business.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Way We Make Wine

When it comes to Pinot Noir, our favorite wines always tend to be the least manipulated. We love the unique flavors that you often get with wild yeast fermentation, as the different strains battle it out for dominance until one rises above the rest. We prefer less than half new oak so the main aromas and flavors don't come from the barrel. And, the less you touch the wine between fermentation and bottling, the better.

It's no surprise, given the above paragraph, that we decided to make our own Pinot Noirs this way. Joe, my fiance, worked as an assistant winemaker (among other capacities) at Joseph Swan Vineyards in the Russian River Valley. If you want to taste truly natural wines nowadays, visit them ( They are completely wild, unfined, unfiltered, with no additions. Even to the point where they won't stop fermentation on a late-harvest if it decided to go dry. After the grapes come in, it is what it is. Now, many winemakers say this is a crazy, chancey way to do things. Well, it is. However, if you don't take a little risk, what's your return?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Mistaken Vines

When we planted our vineyard, the nursery made a mistake, and we ended up with a few Gewurztraminer vines in our Pinot Noir blocks. Of course, when you get the vines there's no possible way you can tell what they are - they're sticks, more or less, with no distinguishing features. However, when the vines start to grow, you start to notice differences in the leaves. Then, when the fruit comes, it's pink and spicy. Definitely not Pinot Noir. So, we left it hanging. It wasn't until last year that we figured out it makes a killer sweet wine.

On Thanksgiving Day 2006, we decided to pick the few clusters of Sauvignon Blanc that were left by the picking crews. They were sweet, with some botrytis. So, we pressed them and then did our favorite thing: left it alone. It fermented with wild yeast and we bottled it for our own consumption unfined and unfiltered. It was delicious.

This year, we decided to do the same. On the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving, we went out and scoured the vineyard, literally selecting berries by hand in many cases. Because there had been fall rains this year, less clusters were left to pick, but we did our best and ended up with a few small lots of Gewurzt and Sauvignon Blanc that came in around 30 brix. So, it's fermenting on wild yeast right now, and we'll see how it turns out in a few months. You have to love experiments!