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

Rain in the Forecast – Time to Pair

With more rain in the forecast, at least in some parts of the country, it means staying in. Here’s some fun pairings for staying in this weekend!

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2014 Zinfandel paired with Games – The lighter body, raspberry notes, and playfulness of the Zinfandel will pair perfectly with game time.

We love games in the family. Chinese Checkers, Bananagrams, Yahtzee, Scribblish…there’s too many! One fun game to check out is Bubble Talk, which is like Apple to Apples but with photos. A fun twist is to add some personal old photos to the stack for more laughter…the more embarrassing and ridiculous the better. Another game that we love/hate is Clue. We love it because it’s a classic, but some of us hate it because SOMEONE always wins (David Parrish, no fair Professor Plum!).


2013 Petite Sirah paired with Reading – The moody Petite Sirah will lend itself to a thoughtful and quiet time with its large palate of purple fruit and rich tannins. It will give you something to think upon, just like a book.

Growing up my parents read a lot, but unfortunately, I never got into reading quite like they did. My parents, David & Lynn, love reading mysteries and James Herriot books because the stories remind them of our farm life. After meeting Ethan, my interest for reading has grown. We sometimes read together and there is something so idyllic about it for me. We usually read something for personal growth like C.S. Lewis. Lately, I can be found with my nose in a book about bread…there are so many bookmarks. The great thing about reading is that it can be for groups, solo, and with wine!


2013 Cabernet Sauvignon paired with a Blanket & Fire – The Cabernet will be another great lingering wine for the palate with its black cherry and cocoa notes making it perfect for savoring the moment. This might even be perfect with some cheese…make a picnic by the fire with maybe some gouda, charcuterie, and bread.

This is almost a duh, but there is nothing like watching the weather with a cozy blanket and a warm fire near by. I like to pull my two fur ball dogs into the blanket, while we sit on the floor and watch the wonderful drops of rain. It’s peaceful and relaxing…something we all can use in our busy lives.


What about a white?! Okay, okay. So, I’d say get to cooking or baking with the 2015 Sauvignon Blanc. I find this to be my cooking wine as it gets my creativity going with its lightness and brightness. Maybe make a pizza from scratch, or learn a new recipe.

Lastly, all that’s missing is music…what’s your jam in the kitchen? I must be an old soul as I listen to a lot of acoustic guitar, instrumental music, and a little French cafe. My go to for a rainy day is Dave Brubeck.


Whatever your plans are for the weekend, may they be enjoyed and stay dry!

-Cecily

 

Wine & Christmas Movies

Cheers!

Happy Thursday!

It’s almost the weekend and I thought it would be a great time to share some fun pairings, but not the edible kind, more like the feeling kind. The holidays are (for the most part) very warm and fuzzy with wonderful family traditions….a twinkling tree, warm cookies, joyful symphonies, glasses of cider or wine, and Christmas movies. Christmas movies were a staple in our house and we had a list we would faithfully watch every year. We still do even if my parents and I aren’t under the same roof. So without further ado, here are a few of our favorite movies paired with our wines:

2013 Sauvignon Blanc – How the Grinch Stole Christmas, 1966

2016 Estate Rosé – Love Actually, 2003

2013 Silken Blanc – White Christmas, 1954

2014 Zinfandel – The Santa Clause, 1994 & Home Alone, 1990

2013 Petite Sirah – Christmas Carol, 1951

2012 Reserve Silken – While You Were Sleeping, 1995

2013 Reserve Silken – Miracle on 34th Street, 1947 

2013 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon – It’s a Wonderful Life, 1946  

It looks like I’m going to be busy with this list! What would you pair with your favorite Christmas movie?

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