Northern CA Fires

IMG_2588

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.

mg_1163-1.jpg

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.

IMG_3261

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.

IMG_3795

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.

IMG_2317

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

FullSizeRender 12

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.

White Shade Cloth in the Vines

Happy Friday all!

With it being Summer, it is definitely a time for enjoying the sun, but as we know too much sun can lead to a dependence on aloe vera and cold packs. This is true for grapes, the sun is an imperative part of grape development, but too much can lead to issues. Grapes depend on the sun for photosynthesis to occur, but too much heat and sun can lead to sun burns, excessive sugar, and lack of acidity. This can result in unbalanced wines with high alcohol. The flip side of this applies as well…too little heat can prompt high acidity and a lack of sugar. Sugar is a necessary part of fermentation in the wine process. As you can see, there needs to be a balance, like in everything, for grape development to be successful and lead to deliciously, balanced wines.

How do you put reigns on a natural part of creation such as the sun? Viticulturists have been using the leaves for years in their vineyards to help facilitate sun distribution, but there is now a shade cloth that can be installed to help create even distribution of light. We recently installed this white shade cloth in our Adelaida Vineyard (Paso Robles) to do just that. It not only has a purpose, but looks really lovely.

IMG_1562

I was curious about the shade cloth, so after seeing our new tanks at our production barn (winery) I drove around our vineyard and found a tall man walking down the rows straightening the white shade cloth. It was my dad (David Parrish).

“Pretty cool, huh?” He said with a smile.

“Yeah! It looks great, dad. So, I’m assuming the shade cloth is to protect the grapes from the sun?”

“Correct….”

Thus started my dad on the innovation and science behind this white cloth.

It started 10 years ago when my dad was working with Paul Hobbs. He was seeing a need for sun protection, but something that wouldn’t completely block the sun from the grapes. My dad had been primarily working with dark shade cloth for nurseries with his company A&P. So, he began working with a company overseas, but the white shade cloth was very expensive. It wasn’t until a year ago when he found another company that he was able to invent a cloth that would have the perfect weave, exact spaced holes for easy hanging, and it was half the price of the previous cloth. It was also reusable and came on large spools for easy installation. Finally, a perfect match for what vineyards were needing!

IMG_1573

So, what makes this white shade cloth better than other shade cloths? There is a science to it and it related a lot to what I know from photography. The white shade cloth helps distribute the light by filtering direct sunlight, but also bouncing reflected light from the other types of sunlight through out the day. This creates more even lighting, which in turn develops more consistent fruit in the vineyard. Therefore:

The viticulturist gets better yield.

The winemaker receives better quality fruit.

The consumer drinks better wine.

A win for everyone on the trail from grape to bottle. So, it is actually a really important piece of innovation that could help the vineyard/wine industry be elevated overall…just with the basic concepts of harnessing light. “Pretty cool, huh?”

After my dad got done explaining all the information to me, I realized that we had bonded over science, which is not something that happens as he is very left brained and I am very right brained. Although, as I write this, we actually embody what wine is…science and art.

-Cecily

IMG_1572

Adelaida Project: Rain & the Bridge

Hi all!

Remember I mentioned rain in another post, well, we have certainly gotten that! In Paso Robles, we’ve gotten to date 17.40 inches of rain. It is truly amazing to see the hills green and the lakes & creeks full. In Atascadero, the small lake there is full again after years of dryness and the frogs were certainly happy. There was a ribbit symphony the other night when we drove by. So, a lot to be thankful for!

untitled-77-3.jpg

The Adelaida creek restoration is looking wonderful. The water isn’t shooting down the creek like it did in past years and instead is trickling down to replenish the aquifer. We are so happy. The RCD and Conservation Corp did a fantastic job!

untitled-71.jpg

untitled-73.jpg

Despite all the rain, the construction for the new winery is still moving as Rarig and their team work hard on days of “no rain.” The big exciting thing that is now on the property is the bridge! The bridge looks huge, but it is not actually finished as there is the stone work to be done. I for one am totally looking forward to seeing that as it is going to be gorgeous. Our architect, Shana Reiss, is very excited about the progress too (see below) as we’ve been working on these plans for years and to see it come to fruition is thrilling.

EE2EBC3D-82B9-4540-8BBF-536CEDF9C030.JPG

The Bridge shows up!

IMG_0213.PNG

IMG_0033.JPG

Bridge in place

 

Hopefully by next time I will have some other great shots of the project. Until then, try to stay dry!

Cheers!

Cecily

2017 – Another Big Year

2016 held a lot of wonderful and exciting things for us at PFV from our exciting news of receiving our 1st permit, working with our local RCD on the Adelaida creek restoration, and having our first 100% Estate harvest. With 2017 just beginning, we have another exciting year and a full one at that. Here are just a couple of the highlights…

Clone 6
Our very best (so far) is just around the corner and it is the 2014 Clone 6 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. First, some may be asking, “What’s a clone?” Cuttings are made from an original vine that has the key characteristics of a variety (grape plant). A clone is just a slight variance from the original whether it’s stronger, concentrated berries, or repellant to certain flaws and diseases. Each grape variety has several clones. In Cabernet Sauvignon, there’s a ton. Winemakers use several clones to make a complex wine as some characters are seen more in one clone than another. Sometimes you can have an exceptional vintage with just one clone.

So, what makes Clone 6 special? My dad, David Parrish, weighs in on that:

“Clone 6, is one of those special grapes that I love and hate. The grape grower in me hates the Clone 6 as the yield is light, but the winemaker in me loves it because of the wine it creates.”

What this means is that at harvest the yield can sometimes only be 2 tons due to the berry size and sparse clusters (shatter). As a farmer, that is always a disheartening sight, but it is the character of that clone. Once in the tank, the color is dark and profile is rich. So, with all the hard work (and I can vouch, as it is my least favorite grape to sort at harvest) comes great reward. The reward is tasting and knowing it is a special wine. We have already received some great reviews over it from select media and are looking forward to showcasing it to our wine club this Spring.

pfvclone6-5-edit

Development 
With the excitement of the site & winery permit approval (waiting on one more permit), we have begun to lay the foundations of our new project for our winery. The time frame hinges a lot on the weather. This year we have been blessed with rain! Last year, we were supposed to receive the monster El Niño, but it was more like a kitten’s meow when all was said in done. This year we have received over 5 inches (time stamp…we’re in January)!

untitled-33

It has been amazing to see the Salinas River in Paso Robles flowing as it’s been years. This means that many of the aquifers are being replenished, so that is fabulous news for our community. So, while we finally are having a true winter season, it has definitely slowed our personal progress. In the mean time, we still have our wonderful Downtown Tasting Room.

untitled-93

With that, as you can see, we have quite a year ahead. Be sure to come visit Paso Robles as it is gorgeous right now with all the green hillsides. It’s a little chilly, but we’ve got some wine to keep you warm.

Cheers!

Cecily

Conserving Adelaida Creek

Happy Friday All!

We are THRILLED we got our permit to go ahead with the Adelaida Creek Restoration!!! Wait, what’s this about? Well, it’s something very cool…

Upon purchasing our Adelaida property, my dad (David), was walking around and noticed:”hey, there’s a creek bed!” Prior to us putting in our vineyard, from the Adelaida Road you would have never known that it was there. This creek is actually where the Adelaida Creek begins and travels almost the entire length of our property!

untitled-83

On our tallest hill, you can see the winding of the creek in the middle. 

untitled-69

The beginning.

Every year when we receive our 1 downpour (that’s a sad CA joke), the water vigorously takes the path of this creek bed and washes all the way down to the Mid State Fair Grounds in Paso Robles, which is about 12 minutes from our Adelaida Property. I’m not sure how, but according to our local RCD, that’s the case. Not only is it a mess for the city, but it’s a waste of precious water!

untitled-21

Dry grass, weeds, and my feet.

untitled-28

We tried putting hay bails in the bed this last year to slow the waters, but they blew out with a heavy rainfall. 

After talking with a local biologist and Fish & Wildlife, we were introduced to our local Resource Conservation District (RCD) who shared that they could help us restore the creek. So, over a year ago we donated the creek bed to the County for restoration. This means with the help of the RCD and California Conservation Corps (CCC) we will be cutting down the weeds and planting over 600 native plants. The plants will help slow the creek so that any time it rains the water will not just race down to the fair grounds, but instead will percolate into the aquifer!

untitled-44

My little fluff ball enjoying a run by the creek and vineyard.

Work has slowly begun as we wait for the CCC to return from Louisiana, but there has been some work started from the RCD and AmeriCorps Watershed Steward Program to take down the vicious star thistle (I can vouch it’s painful to weed eat). This is really a labor of love and I so admire the work they are doing and will do.

untitled-128

Thistle.

adelaidadevelop-17

Philip (RCD Restoration Specialist) starts weed-eating.

In the future, probably next year, the County will be hosting 4 tours of the conservation project to the public. And once our tasting room project is complete, we look forward to giving tours as well.

untitled-96

Another above shot of the Adelaida creek.

A huge thank you to Devin Best and Audrey Weichert for leading the effort and working with us! It has been such a pleasure to work with you.

Till next time,

Cecily

 

P.S. Permit for our winery project is almost there, we will announce once it’s in our hands.