Friday, August 24, 2012

Changes Underway in the Anderson Valley Wine Biz

Several years back I remember reading an article that stated that 50% of wineries would change hands by 2017. Because so many were owned by baby boomers who would look to retire, their wineries would either be sold or passed down to someone in the family within this time frame, signaling one of the largest shift in our business in a long time.

I've always found our little valley to be a bit insulated from the greater world. When I was growing up here, any trend in America's youth took just a year or so longer to hit the metropolis of Boonville (yes, I pegged my pants and wore many pairs of stirrup pants). Even things on a global scale like the recent recession took longer to hit us here, but we also took longer to recover from it. It's a delayed reaction, but it always hits, and it seems lately that this trend of change in the wine business has finally hit Anderson Valley.

With wineries closing like Standish and Berridge, and those for sale like Claudia Springs & Esterlina, it seems like there is certainly change afoot. However, you can always rest assured that while some go away, some will be opening up. With Roederer's new still wine project and Baxter's new tasting room, there will be new representation on the valley floor. It will certainly be a slightly different landscape in the next few years, and we'll be sad to see some of our friends go. The rest of us? Well, we'll keep chugging along as we always do.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Bottling our 2011 Pinot Noirs

Racking Pinot to tank
Wednesday we'll be putting our 2011 Pinots and 2011 Semillon into bottle. If you've read this blog before, you've read my rants and raves about bottling -- how it's every winemaker's nightmare, and how something also goes wrong, always. All that's true, and it's also true that it's one of the most exciting times of the year because you can look back at an entire vintage and know it's now safely aging in bottle.

This year we're bottling a vintage that we're especially proud of. Our entire family (and numerous friends) came together and made it happen, all in a short time frame. The 2011 vintage will be remembered as a difficult vintage at best, due to a long, cool spring and summer and early fall rains. Later years tend to mean compressed harvests, and it seemed all the fruit came in within a few weeks, in one big rush.

Some vintners chose to pick before the rains (and not always at optimal sugars), and some chose to wait it out and risk soggy vineyards and mold issues. There are several stories I've heard about Chardonnay not being picked because it disintegrated in the rain or the vineyard was too wet for tractors.

Foursight Winemaker, Joe Webb, at work
Despite all the challenges, however, our estate delivered again: we had great sugars and flavors well before the rain loomed, and we picked everything without a threat of related issues. During the past two years, being at the southern end of the valley has made all the difference.

During the past few evenings, Joe and I have been racking and putting these 2011's into tank. I truly enjoy being able to work in the cellar with my husband, and my cellar rat skills have improved over the years, although I still sometimes struggle to heave around barrels and equipment (back to the P90X workouts I guess!).

The wines are drinking wonderfully right now, and the new screen printed Pinot bottles will look gorgeous! So far, everything seems to be set for Wednesday, and we'll just have to cross our fingers that nothing else pops up. After all, we already had to deal with our glass delivery never getting scheduled and several other small calamities. Ah, the joys of bottling...

Friday, August 10, 2012

Lunch at Morimoto, Napa

Does working on a Saturday count when you have an hour-and-a-half lunch at Morimoto, Napa? Given the fact that it takes us longer to get to Napa than to the Golden Gate Bridge, a break was well-deserved.

Foursight Winemaker, Joe, and I made a round trip to one of our warehouses to drop off and pick up wine, and we decided to have lunch in the revitalized riverfront area of downtown Napa. Having worked in the Napa Valley years ago, I took note of how drastically this part of the city has changed. And in a good way: I almost convinced Joe to have a pre-lunch bite at the Hog Island Oyster restaurant down the way. :)

The Morimoto restaurant in Philly carries our Semillon, so we wanted to stop in and try his Napa location (Philly's just a little too far for a day trip!). Below are images of our meal. It was a fantastic experience with great potion sizes and timing on the courses. We split everything so we could taste it all. Morimoto definitely did a good job with this one!

Joe, tolerating my photo taking (and some bubbles, of course!).

The open kitchen.

Washugyu Beef Carpaccio with yuzu soy, ginger and sweet garlic.

Pork Gyoza with garlic chives, tomato, bacon cream. This one was too cool - like a giant cocoon you opened up to reveal the gyoza.

Sashimi Ceasar with local romaine, Morimoto dressing & seared tuna.

Lobster Wonton soup with shortrib pho broth. Yum.

Morimoto IPA (8% abv!).

Bone Marrow. Saw this at another table and ordered one; delicious!

Sushi/Sashimi Chef's Combination. Real wasabi and decent pickled ginger too!

Love the grapevines on the wall everywhere!