1220 Park Street

It’s crazy to think the day has finally arrived that we would be saying goodbye to our Downtown location at 1220 Park Street next Monday (August 13th). We have spent months and years dreaming, planning, and developing our new tasting room that the time has finally come to move into our new place, which is exciting and surreal! But I cannot do this without reflecting on our Downtown home of 7 years.

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I remember texting Ethan, the evening before our first official date, to see if he wanted to help me drop off items for the tasting room we were slated to open in a month. It marked the first time hanging out with my future husband and spending time in the tasting room at 1220, but little did I know that this spot would be the location of so many memories not just for us, but for others too.

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We have been a spot for vacationers and honeymooners. We have seen engagements and acts of valor. We have watched as friends catch up and family members reunite. We have sat many times in conversations that have lasted hours and taken photos with new friends. We’ve seen and heard the quaintness of our small town like the hula hooper in the alley, the bagpipe playing in the park, the check ins from the twins, Brian and Steven, and the daily hellos from Happy, the friendly dog. I could go on and on of all the things that have taken place at 1220 Park Street in Downtown Paso Robles, but there’s just not enough space to really capture this spot.

While the conversations turn to echoes that go faint to silent…all those memories will not be lost, but instead will carry on into our new home at 3590 Adelaida Road. They will be memories that will warm my heart and cause for a pause and a smile.

Thank you to all those who have become such wonderful friends and to the Downtown community for accepting us. We will miss you, but obviously, we’ll only be 10 minutes away!

Cheers to the location’s new occupants, our friends, Diablo Paso! We know this special spot will continue to be a place that creates memories.

Looking forward to seeing you all at our new tasting room!

-Cecily

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Vineyard: Flowering & Fruit Set

We finally experienced flowering and fruit set in the vineyard! It was a little slow this year as the temperatures have been up and down in Paso Robles, CA. We’ve been surprisingly cool, but this week is picking up to the 100 degree days. (not sure if I’m ready for the hot, hot heat yet!)
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Now that we’ve had the flowering and fruit set occur, what does that mean? It means a lot as this is the development of the fruit for the year! It’s a crucial time that occurs, after the leaf canopy’s growth begins and the calyptras appear. The calyptras (caps for short) look like itty-bitty green grapes, but actually they are just spheres holding the pollination parts and pollen. Many plants require pollination from bees, but vines are wondrous self-pollinators. The flowers have their own male and female parts.
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Once ready, the calyptra opens to show a pistil and stamens holding pollen. The pollen is softly transferred to the pistil slowly fertilizing it (it’s a slow dance, let’s say), which eventually produces seeds. These blossoms are not protected, which leaves them susceptible to weather elements such as gusty winds, hail, and extreme temperatures. It is a nail biter as these elements can “shatter” the outcome of the harvest in the fall. As mentioned in another blog, vines like consistent and slow developing temperatures, not extremes. This year (2018) has shown to be not perfect, but positive:
“Shatter happens when it gets too hot. Shatter also happens when temps get below 70 degrees and over 90 degrees. When the temps are below 70 and above 90 and it is too windy then pollination doesn’t occur very well. This photo shows that our crop is good, nice weight, and nice loose clusters. All in all, we have had only moderate shatter and a good fruit set so far.” – David Parrish
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So, now you’re probably wondering what shatter is. Shatter is when the clusters fail to develop to full maturity. Flowers can remain closed and therefore, unable to pollinate…meaning no berries. The vine is trying to preserve it’s carbohydrates because it becomes focused on staying alive against the elements. What this means is that there will be less clusters at harvest, which equals less production for the winery.
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Once flowering and pollination takes place, fruit set occurs.  This is when the fertilized eggs form seeds and pericarp tissues form a berry, kind of like an envelope around the seeds.  The berry’s size will be impacted by the number of seeds. A berry with no seeds is smaller and a berry with up to 4 seeds will be larger. The reason berry size makes a difference is if you have a cluster with various berry sizes, it is difficult on the ratio of skin to pulp for the winemaker.
A fully grown berry is 75% pulp, 20% skin, and 5% seeds. Pulp is essential for flavor and aroma in the wine. The main component is water and the second being sugar, which is vital for yeasts to eat during fermentation (creates alcohol). Skin is important for color, flavor, and aroma as well as the tannins, which will impact a wine’s texture and structure. The seeds also contain tannins. As you can see if you have a higher ratio of skin to pulp, this will mean a more tannic wine and that the winemaker may have issues with the fermentation process, which is important for alcohol to develop. On the flip side, if there is too much pulp (happens from too much water in the berry), this may impact color and flavor.
To avoid issues during fruit set, viticulturists begin thinking after the year’s harvest about the vine dormancy, root moisture, and soil health as these will impact the fruit for the next season. Pruning is also important for the new growth. Ultimately though, it does depend on the weather each year, but growers will do all they can outside of that factor.
As you can see, there is a lot that goes into just the grape itself and it begins prior to even bud break. It is just a reminder that it takes a lot of work to get to the glass of wine.
Next up, the berries will begin to grow in size:
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Stay tuned for berry growth and soon, veraison, which is when the grapes turn color…my favorite time in the vineyard as I find it fascinating…well, I like it all, but veraison is really cool to see.
Cheers!
Cecily

Vineyard: Pollination Rows

A very beautiful, sustainable practice in the vineyard is pollination rows. This is something I just learned in the last year as my knowledge of this industry never stops growing, so I wanted to share about it as we are in the midst of spring time with lupin, mustard, and poppy covered hillsides.

Pollination rows are when we put in pollinating, native plants (wild flowers!) through out the vineyard. The mix we put down is allowed to grow for the majority of the season so the flowers can seed. This then becomes an open invite for beneficial insects such as the praying mantis and lady bug. These wonderful insects eat bad bugs such as aphids and spread the seeds into other rows of the vineyard. So, this creates an overall healthy environment for not only our vines, but the insects we love! Not to mention it’s absolutely beautiful. As you can guess this reduces our need for spraying, which always puts a smile on our vineyard manager’s face. The best part, since we’ve been doing this for years, is that it works very well. It’s a win-win for everyone!

Check out below the photos from last year that we submitted to the AG department. Thank you Linnea of our vineyard management company, Vineyard Professional Services, for sharing these!

Have a great Wednesday!

Cecily

Quick Fact: Did you know dust brings aphids into a vineyard (or crop)? That’s why we have signs on dirt roads that say speed limits in an attempt to control the dust. Aphids suck nutrients from a plant, which can stunt growth and wilt leaves. An infestation can create havoc and there’s only 4,000+ species of aphids. Cue the “More You Know” jingle.

Vineyard: Bud Break

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Bare lines of vines, a coo of a pigeon in the distance, and the crackling of footsteps as a vineyard manager passes through the rows in the morning light. He has done this many mornings, but his steps stop as he notices something different. There it is…light green, soft, even a little fuzzy…it is a bud.

Each year we eagerly wait for bud break to occur. This is when the vines push open leaves much like other plants during the spring. Dormant vines awake when daylight and temperatures increase, which encourages the vines to pull up stored water and macro-nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) from the roots to the limbs. This up-flow of water and nutrients push open the buds. You would think that after leaves push open that it would mean photosynthesis would occur immediately, but it does not. It takes the vine a little bit of time, leaves the size of about silver dollars, before that process begins.

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One of the most important parts of bud break is that it is a measurable starting point for the vineyard. We can actually start the clock for when pivotal moments will occur. For instance, we now know we are about 150 to 200 days away from harvest depending on the grape variety. It seems like this then would mean that bud break itself is actually a markable date, but it’s not that simple. This is still farming, which means everything is variable. When bud break occurs depends on a few things. Each terroir is different. And you can probably guess, each variety of is different.

A cooler terroir means that bud break will be later, while a warm terroir like in Paso Robles, CA will have an earlier bud break. In Paso Robles, we have seen buds as early as February. Although for us this year (2018) we are running a little slower as we have had a cooler spring. Each year is different! Another factor is micro-terroir. The difference between locations of vines in a single vineyard will even come into play. A hillside vine will have bud break because of its elevation, but a lower valley vine will still be dormant. Lastly, varieties will have bud break at different times. In our Adelaida Vineyard, our  Malbec and Cabernet Franc had bud break first, but the Cabernet Sauvignon hit the snooze button. As you can see, there are many variables that go into this and this is just one part of the vine cycle!

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While there are variances in the cycle, one consistent thing is temperature. Vines are very dependent and particular about temperature. Vines prefer gradual temperature increases for bud break, but they don’t always get that. Sometimes they get awoken from slumber with a warming trend and then hit with a freeze. That is why vineyards have tall fans to help with frost protection. A freeze will damage the cellular tissue in the leaves and the leaves will then turn black. It’s awful. This then kills the growth for your year and can sometimes decimate a vineyard. Bud break is basically the infancy stage of the vine. You want to protect it because the leaves are soft and fragile at this stage, much like you would with a newborn (and well, we all know parenting doesn’t stop there). So, that is the one thing all farmers can count on is frost season and the need to be vigilant.

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We have a mobile, quieter fan it’s so cool. Contact us if interested.

After bud break, we now watch as the leaves begin to grow (obviously). Photosynthesis will begin at a certain point and once that happens the shoots of the vines will really take off as the vines will receive something that they love, much like humans, carbs! Up next is flowering, so stay tuned.

Happy Friday and hopefully this gave you something to think about while you sip your wine…cheers!

-Cecily

Northern CA Fires

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So many heartbreaking events occurring that it is difficult to keep up, but now the fires in Santa Rosa, Napa, and Sonoma are hitting home due to our colleagues and friends being affected. Words simply do not suffice during this time, but we are praying for all of you up North. Ways you can help currently:

Redwood Empire Food Bank

Meathead Movers in SLO and Fresno are collecting donations till Sunday, 10/15

SLO County Go Fund Me for NorCal Fires

Paso Robles Wineries Donating $1 per Bottle during Oct – See the List

Napa Valley Community Foundation

Sonoma County Resilience Fund

Mendocino Community Foundation

Items & Volunteers Needed for Evacuation Center at New Life Christian Fellowship in Petaluma

CA Fire Foundation 

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all the first responders helping us across the state. Your bravery is unparalleled.

With love and support,

Cecily

When to Harvest?

Happy 1st Day of Fall Everyone!

It has truly been an interesting year for the 2017 harvest season in Paso Robles. We started out, well, hot and heavy because it was in the triple digit heat for about two weeks in August. We harvested our Sauvignon Blanc, which was not too early, but the Syrah and Zinfandel were not far behind it.  It looked like we would be done with all our harvests in late August and early September, but the heat spell broke with the scent of rain and blustery winds…monsoon weather. We didn’t get the rain and crazy microburst that Santa Barbara did, but the temperatures finally fell below the 100’s, which all plants and creatures, including us humans appreciated.

September showed up with the 70’s and 80’s, which meant a slow down in the fruit ripening. As you can see, grapes (most agriculture for that matter) are affected by temperature. More heat means faster ripening. Less heat means slower ripening. At this time, we are waiting on harvests, but how do we determine when to harvest? Here’s a breakdown…

Brix – We test the brix (sugars) of the grapes with a tool called a refractometer. Generally, the winemaker will have a number he/she wants as a target for each variety of grape. This is decided upon what the variety will become as a wine. All wine grapes have to come into the winery with sugars for the yeast to eat, otherwise no fermentation can happen. On the other side, when fruit has more sugar it means less acidity, so there’s a balancing act. We still need acidity in wine to help formulate the structure. Once we reach the desired brix, it brings us that much closer to harvesting. That said, it isn’t the only factor we consider in pulling off fruit.

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A club member uses a refractometer to see the brix of the Cabernet at our Harvest Party 2011.

Feel – We use the feel of the grapes to determine if they are ripe. This is a lot like at home when you have a basket of strawberries in your fridge, you will not only use the appearance, but the feel to determine if a berry is ripe to eat (or too ripe). So, this is true with grapes, we take note if the skins are soft and velvety as a sign of ripeness.

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Ethan analyzes the berries of the Cabernet Franc. – 2017

Seeds – We also look at the seeds as they help show how ripe the grapes are. The seeds should be brown in color and crunchy. The pulp of the grape should easily separate from the the seed when it is ripe. There are some seasons, like this current one, where we may have to harvest without the seeds being 100% brown because the flavor, brix, and feel say otherwise.

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David is reviewing the seeds of the Cab. – 2017

Taste – Taste is a huge factor for determining when to harvest. There have been times when the brix were at the desired number, but the flavor wasn’t. Flavor may be one of the most important factors because how the fruit tastes as a grape will impact the way it tastes as a wine. If we pick fruit that is too green, it will show up in the wine’s palate. If we pick fruit that is too ripe, it will mean very high sugars, no acidity, and heaviness (syrup-y) for the body of the wine. Of course for a port, you would want high sugars, so it does depend on a winemaker’s intent. For drier wines, we do not want green or over ripen fruit, but instead balance.

The Elements – If it’s going to rain, sometimes it means that we have to harvest to avoid mildew and rot. This does depend on the variety, weather temperature, and wind. There have been years where some rain didn’t make a difference, but others sadly did.

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2017 Cabernet Sauvignon

As you can see, it isn’t one factor that determines when to harvest, but many. That is why intuition, knowledge, and goals will ultimately determine when each variety should be harvested because some years it won’t be clear. Lastly, being in Paso Robles, the special thing is we talk with other wineries about harvesting. We learn from each other, which fosters a unique community of respect and care.  So, with that, happy harvest to all our fellow wineries and vineyards out there! See you in December.

-Cecily

SF International Awards

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We are celebrating new scores for some of our favorite wines. Judges at the San Francisco International Wine Competition acclaimed the 2014 Silken and the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon as some of the best they’ve tasted.

The 2014 Silken received a Gold Medal and was awarded 92 points! It’s great that our flagship blend captured the judges’ attention and admiration as much as it does ours. We love sharing this wine and watching responses to it. It brings us joy that everyone likes it as much as we do.

The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon received a Silver Medal. This wine is smooth with nice structure and restrained tannins. It’s perfect for easy drinking with jammy flavors and dark chocolate on the flavors. Just delicious!

The 2014 Silken is currently available for our Wine Club Members. Please contact club@parrishfamilyvineyard.com for more information! The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon will be released to the Wine Club later this year. Thank you for your continued support as we move along this wonderful journey creating beautiful wines that will eventually be the cornerstone of our new boutique winery.