Friday, September 30, 2011

Night Harvest at Naggiar (Grass Valley/Nevada County): "season off to a late start"

Tony Tibshirani of Naggiar Vineyards in Nevada County, Sierra Foothills, sent these spectacular night harvest photos taken the week of September 25, and an update:

"This season is off to a late start for high elevation growers in Nevada County.  Naggiar's vineyards are at a 1200 ft elevation in the Sierra Foothills, between Grass Valley & Auburn.  

Our Rhone whites are showing exceptional quality.  We’ve harvested Viognier, Marsanne, & Rousanne.  We've seen very little raisining and the yields are somewhat lower than previous years due to the spring rains. We’ve been harvesting around 24 Brix and a pH of 3.5. 

We've also picked our Syrah and Sangiovese, but this next week,  we’ll be focusing on most of our reds."

About Naggiar Vineyards  (from their website)

"After searching for 3 years for a suitable vineyard site, we found a 160 acre site with ideal wine grape growing conditions in the Sierra Foothills between Auburn and Grass Valley. The 160 acre site sits on a large knoll with gentle hillside slopes providing good breezes and air circulation while at the same time reasonable hillside tractor access conditions.  We purchased the land in 1997.

The Nevada County Irrigation canal runs through the site providing an ample and dependable supply of clean water throughout the growing season.  We built a one acre surface area and 20 ft deep pond to ensure that an adequate reserve of water would be available at all times of the year.
The estate vineyards consist of 50 acres planted with 12 different varieties of grapes which provide the flexibility and choice of creating the best varietal wines or the best possible blends."

According to owner Mike Naggiar, the winery made 2600 cases 2010, and they plan to get to 5000 cases.  Their first vintage was 2003, with wines released in 2005.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Lava Cap (Placerville/El Dorado County) Reports Harvest is "latest start ever, in 26 years"

Tom Jones, Winemaker and one of the owners of Lava Cap Winery in Placerville, El Dorado County, and wife Beth Jones, Marketing & Sales, note that this harvest is the "latest start ever, in 26 years"...

Tom Jones judges grapes'
readiness for harvest
We are hand picking our Sauvignon Blanc today- it is now at 24 brix, 3 tons/acre and we should have 15 tons coming in on September 29- all estate produced (Tom’s brother Charlie is vineyard mastermind!)

Next, may be the Chardonnay ... but nothing until next week at earliest or maybe some early estate Zinfandel from our sunny slope vineyard.

Ideally the rain will stay north of us and we will have a warm Fall!

We have picked and crushed in early November before but it appears that our harvest 2011 may break that record as well! One upside… all of our bottling which we do on our line is completed this year before crush begins- That is a very good feeling!

About Lava Cap (from their website)
Family tradition is hands-on
at Lava Cap
"Lava Cap Winery began in 1981 when the Jones Family purchased an old 64-acre pear farm in the Sierra Foothills just east of the gold discovery town of Placerville, CA. It was the culmination of a year-long state-wide search for premium vineyard land by David and Jeanne Jones. David Jones, a professional geologist at USGS and later University of California, Berkeley, knew the critical role that soil plays with premium wines. They found that the old farm met their requirements: volcanic soil of modest depth, gentle sloping terrain affording numerous microclimates, a high elevation providing moderate temperatures for even ripening, and an abundance of super quality mountain sourced water. The residual “lava cap” topography had eroded from the volcanic activity in the Sierra Nevada millions of years ago. The old pear farm showed the potential of tremendous terroir and superb wine grapes, and thus was reborn into a vibrant, new enterprise.

Lava Cap Winery has always been a family affair. Family members include sons Tom and Charlie, and their wives. The family started clearing and planting the vineyard in 1981 with Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Charlie took the reins of vineyard management and pursued additional vineyard development with plantings of Petite Sirah, Barbera, Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Tom completed the business from grape growers to vintners by earning a Masters degree in Enology & Viticulture, University of California, Davis in 1989.

Over the years, Tom has worked hard to forge the Lava Cap style of elegant, textured-driven wines. Today, his winemaking style creates the consistent quality and concentrated flavors recognized far and wide by Lava Cap wine lovers everywhere. Charlie has developed over 90 acres of vineyard using sustainable practices for Lava Cap’s elegant estate wines. Almost three decades later, the old farm has indeed proven the wonderful terrior that was hinted at many years ago. "

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Szabo Vineyards (Nevada City/Nevada County) - Good Sugar in Grape Harvest

Sandor (Alex) Szabo of Szabo Vineyards sends this brief Harvest Report:

We recently harvested our muscat blanc and orange ----yum-- talk about sugar!

On Tuesday September 25 we harvested the Primitivo and then the Syrah today (Wednesday the 26th September).

We'll be working from 5 am to 11 am if anybody wants to visit:  fresh juice to be served!

p.s.  From the time of picking to them getting crushed is no more than 25 minutes ....we like it fresh!

About Szabo Vineyards : (from their website

Szabo Vineyards is a small, family-owned operation; the vineyards, 40-acres, are at 1900 feet and on south and west-facing hillsides off of Bitney Springs Road in Nevada City.   Sitting almost exactly halfway between Grass Valley and Nevada City, the views include the Pacific Coastal Range and the Sutter and Sierra Buttes.

We are proud of our new winery building, which was designed by architect David Wright of Grass Valley and completed in July 2009. This state-of-the-art, passive solar facility is built into the hillside and was engineered to keep the wines at a constant temperature year-round. We crushed our own grapes at the new winery for the first time in September 2009.

We pride ourselves on the hand-crafted quality of our wines, which are made exclusively from sustainably grown grapes from our mountainside estate. Our Zinfandel, Syrah and Petite Syrah wines are intense and fruit-forward without being dominated by oak.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Pilot Peak (Penn Valley/Nevada County) - "Latest Harvest to Date"

Lynn Wilson, winemaker and one of the owners of Pilot Peak Vineyard & Winery (Penn Valley, Nevada County) sends us this note about the Sierra Foothills harvest experience there:

"Until yesterday (September 25), we didn’t have any news to get out – just harvested our first grapes off the estate grown Sauvignon block on the property. Got them off the vines about 10 minutes before the light rain started so we just barely cheated Mother Nature. The fruit was whole cluster pressed and is currently settling in the tall stainless steel tank. The juice will be inoculated tomorrow morning with the fermentation normally taking 10 to 14 days (fermented in the range of 65OF – 68OF). The fruit was harvested at 24 Brix with a pH of 3.3 – the acid/sugar balance developed very nicely in the cool summer we’ve just experienced.

This harvest has been our latest to date and it appears the majority of the fruit will be harvested in October.

Tempranillo or Syrah should be the next in line, but they are at least a week to 10 days off – all dependent on temperature. We’re all keeping our fingers crossed that we don’t get substantial early rain which would have a major impact on the crop yields which are already light this year. Given the cooler weather and longer growing season, the fruit sampled thus far is excellent and should make for a great vintage.

About Pilot Peak Vineyard & Winery (from their website)

"PILOT PEAK Winery is located in Northern California’s Sierra Foothills – An hour north of Sacramento – just a few miles outside Grass Valley and Nevada City in the town of Penn Valley.  We currently produce approx. 2500 cases, using our estate grown Sauvignon Blanc and Mourvédre and other grapes sourced within 20 miles of the winery.  We have worked with the following Sierra Foothill growers: Damiano Vineyards,  S&L Vineyards, Naggiar Vineyards, Leeham Vineyards & Dibble Vineyards. 
We established the winery in early 2004.  The metal shop building was converted from a construction shop to a winery starting on July 6, 2004 and completed on August 29, 2004.  8 short weeks!  --  Luckily -  just in time for the first grapes to arrive (one of the earliest harvests on record).  We made 600 cases of wine that first year - which later sold out in record time (Cabernet Franc sold out in 1 day!  The Viognier lasted about a week!). "

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Kautz Family Vineyards (Calaveras County) & Bowman Zinfandel Vineyard & Sobon (Amador County) - Harvest Reports

Steve Millier, Director of Winemaking at Kautz Family Vineyards, which includes Ironstone Vineyards and Leaping Horse Vineyards (Murphys/Calaveras County) sends this report:
We picked Verdelho last Monday (September 19) from Hay Station Ranch.  The grapes looked fantastic with outstanding sugar + acid balance. 
Friday, September 23, we picked the 85+ year old Zinfandel from Larry Nies.  This is an old vine Zinfandel vineyard that backs up to the Mokelumne River along Hwy 12 (across the street from the Rous Estate vineyards) in Lodi.  This vineyard is noted for its intense cherry focused fruit.
Leon Sobon sends us this report from Sobon Estate Winery, Plymouth/Amador County:

We picked our first grapes Thursday September 22- the Sauvignon blanc and the Viognier.  Three weeks later than normal!!!   The quality seems to be excellent, partly because of the small crop, 40 % of normal, and partly because of the long hang time.  The cool, wet spring during bloom has affected most of our varieties.  The reds are a week or two away.

Scott Harvey sends this report: 

Scott at Riesling Harvest
We’ll start with the Amador harvest  on Tuesday with the Bowman Zinfandel Vineyard.  It is the first Zin vineyard we bring in every year.  Will be bringing in approx.. 40 tons.  We produce both wines from Amador County and Napa Valley for Scott Harvey Wines .  
Amador and the 2,000 foot mountain areas around Napa such as Atlas Peak both bud out three weeks later than the Napa Valley Floor.
Seems like the valley floor of Napa has been much more affected by the late cold spring.  The earlier bud break really hit the Napa Valley floor while the later bud break in Amador and the hills around Napa were not as affected.  A Sauvignon Blanc vineyard we get grapes from in Napa that normally produces 40 tons, this year only produced 15 tons.  We harvested Riesling from the Rutherford Bench last Monday and it came in at normal tonnages, although a month later than normal. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Montoliva (Chicago Park/Nevada County) - Harvest Report and commentary

Mark Henry, owner and winemaker at MontOliva Vineyard & Winery, located in the Chicago Park area of Nevada County,  sends along a very interesting report in Q&A format:
That  June rain that never seemed to end, how did it affect the growing season?
More than I originally thought it did. Although it was wet and cool, we did not get a late frost this year.  Although we got some snow in mid-May, the air temp never dropped below 34'F in my vineyard. Because I did not get the same frost burn in 2011 that we got in 2010 (frost event in late May), canopy development was pretty normal, and although things did progress slower, my thinking throughout the summer was that we are maybe a couple of weeks behind.
Last year I did sample testing on 20 September. So, I sample tested yesterday.  The numbers throughout the vineyard are most exactly what they were last year.  This is a little disheartening.  I had thought that with dodging the late frost this year, we would be at least a couple of weeks ahead of last year, the cold, wet Spring notwithstanding.
How does this year compare to a normal growing season?
Normal?  I planted my vineyard in 2000.  Except for maybe 2006 and 2007...maybe 2009, I don't think I've had a "normal" year yet.  This year is looking suspiciously like last year.  Maybe this is the "New, Improved" normal!
What does the '11 crop size look like?
This is the area where I am probably still trying to figure things out.  We didn't get a late frost this year, and lots of rain early, so the crop load was heavier than usual.  I almost always do some crop thinning, Sangiovese almost demands it, however, I think after the light crop load of last year (because of the frost), I got a little greedy this year.  Perhaps the fact that I  am almost exactly in the same place as last year, without a frost event, is because I left a bit more on the vine this year than I usually do. 
Did you have to do any crop thinning this year?
I probably haven't thinned enough.  I dropped fruit once in early summer, and again about two weeks ago.  I may go through the vineyard again later this week.  by the time I'm done, I may end of dropping about 50%.
This year seems to have progressed much like last year. Are you expecting similar results?
I actually think it may be something better...assuming the weather holds up.  The saving grace last year is that although we had a couple of rain events in early, then late October, it cleared up/warmed up immediately afterward, so no problem.  We harvested MV&W on October 31st last year.  The brix were at around 22, ripeness was pretty good, not great.  This year bloom and fruit set occurred earlier (because we didn't get the late frost), so assuming the weather holds up, we may harvest on Halloween again, the brix may be around 22 again, however, the physiological ripeness factors should be improved, meaning better colors, more flavor development.
When do you expect to harvest?

I probably need the weather to hold up until the last week of October.  It did it last year. Keeping my fingers crossed
What happens if it starts raining next week?
Well, rain isn't necessarily a bad thing.  It rains a fair amount during the growing season in both France and Italy (or at least it used to). Here in the north Sierra Foothills we don't have the same issues that Napa or Sonoma have.  There, it can rain, then stay cold and foggy for days. That inevitably means rot...especially with Chardonnay.  Here, it may rain for a day or two, but then it clears up, and warms back up.  This is what happened last year, so while Napa was scrambling to pick before too much rot set in, here in the north Sierra Foothills, we were able to sit tight for another couple of weeks.  Now, if it starts raining, and doesn't stop...that's a different matter altogether.  Or if we get a frost event.  If it freezes any time between now, and near the end of October, I'm toast.

About Montoliva Vineyards & Winery
Mark Henry was one of the first to plant the prized clones of Sangiovese introduced to the U.S. by Vivai Cooperativi Rauscedo in 2001, and the first to plant the southern Italian mainstay Aglianico in the North Sierra Foothills. Chicago Park, California is on the western slope of the Sierra Foothills at 2200ft elevation, about equidistance from Sacramento and Lake Tahoe. Warm summers, cool evenings and soils of decomposed granite create a very happy home for our 1820 Sangiovese and 80 Aglianico vines. This, combined with the old world tradition of close planting (4ft x 3ft), means that Montoliva Vineyard & Winery is blessed with an annual bounty of high-quality fruit.
Some of the original settlers of Chicago Park were first-generation Italian-Americans from Chicago, Illinois. The orchards and vineyards of Chicago Park bear witness to their quest to start a community in the untamed West that mirrored their homeland. Their spirit lives on at Montoliva Vineyard & Winery. Founded in 2000, Montoliva Vineyard & Winery creates Tuscan-inspired wines of uncommon depth and character

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Nevada City Winery (Nevada City/Nevada County) Harvest Report

Mark Foster, winemaker for Nevada City Winery, Nevada County in the Sierra Foothills, sends along this report:

Mark Foster looking
at the grapes

"Nevada City Winery has harvested only whites to this point: Viognier, Sauvignon blanc and Gewurztraminer.  

The Sauvignon blanc numbers were perfect, but the crop was down 40% due to the late Spring frost this year. 

The Gewurztraminer came in at about 50% of estimated crop. It too had beautiful numbers and color. 

We are expecting Sangiovese and Primitivo early next week along with Chardonnay from Clarksburg.  Our local Chardonnay supplier lost most of his crop to frost too. 

It is looking like there are some varieties that may not make it this year.  I am seeing some leaf loss on older vineyards.  It has been quite hot for the last few days and the sugars are climbing and the acids seem to be holding."

About the Nevada City Winery, from their website:
"Nevada City Winery was founded in 1980 in a small garage on the outskirts of town by Allan Haley, a Nevada County native with a European wine education and a dream of bringing winemaking back to the region.  They are extremely proud of their role in revitalizing the wine industry in Nevada County and have been recognized with numerous awards.
Winemaker Mark Foster joined the Winery team in time for the ’92 crush.  As a scientist with numerous advanced degrees, he found himself seduced by the science of wine after a trip to Napa.  He went to U.C. Davis and worked towards yet another Masters degree, this time Enology.  The result was three years at Chalone followed by seven years as a winemaker at Madrona Winery before coming to Nevada City.  “First of all, for the philosophical scientist, wine is the perfect blend of art and science. My goal as a winemaker is to be creative and make great wine. Nevada City is the perfect place to blend experimentation with wonderful viticultural environment. The result? Great wines!”

Sierra Foothill Wine Region- Hotbed of Wine Experimentation

Walking amongst the 14 El Dorado winery tasting stands in South Lake Tahoe, I hailed my friend and mentor, John MacCready of Sierra Vista Winery, Placerville. Under a canopy on Ski Run Way in the early September sun, he poured his fine wines, wife Barbara at his side. Yes, he admitted modestly, he had a role in encouraging this first-ever "Sample the Sierra" event. But of course, that is typical of John, who after all was one of the pioneers of winemaking in the Sierra foothills.

You can read about John on other of my blogposts, but he deserves accolades for another great vintage of fine wines. The 2010 Viognier has a medium straw color with lovely fragrances of honeysuckle, rose petals and citrus blossoms. Tastes of peaches and apricots are balanced with a rich texture and a bright level of acidity. 13.7 per cent alcohol, $18 the bottle.

The Sierra foothill wine region is a hotbed of wine experimentation. For example, Brian Bumgarner of Bumgarner Winery, Camino, poured wonderful Barbera sourced from Placerville’s Stone Vineyard from a tap in a wooden box. Normally I am an all-natural cork gal, but I was surprised at how fresh this wine tasted. Because of the packaging format, however, you can only taste the Barbera in his tasting room on his Silver Fork label and packaged in a refillable 750 ml wine bottle. “Bring your clean bottles back and get a credit on your next purchase. This is sustainable wine making in practice at your local winery! “ Brian noted. Brian poured other nice wines, and these you can buy by the bottle. The Bumgarner 2008 Pinot Noir has an aroma of strawberry and rose petal, s nose redolent of strawberry with subtle rose petal. You can also get a bit of smokiness from this wine; remember those forest fires that put some haze in the region in 2008? 14.1 per cent alcohol, $27 the bottle.

Always a pleasure to meet a female winemaker, and Debbie Knutzon of Synapse Wines, Placerville, is a molecular biologist by background. This accounts for the Synapse Wines logo: a junction of two nerve cells – a metaphor for family and friends coming together. Debbie learned winemaking by shadowing an experienced local winemaker, none other than John MacCready! She poured what she notes is their flagship wine, the 2006 Kspace Resonance Syrah, a deep rich syrah with mild blackberry and spice flavors. It’s won many Gold Medal awards! 14.5 per cent alcohol, $28 the bottle.

Lava Cap, Placerville, poured its 2007 Merlot Reserve, which recently won the Best of Class award in the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. It’s a medium-tannin wine, with structured ripe cherry notes, green apple, chocolate, and a nice clean balance to it. 14.8 per cent alcohol, $20 the bottle.

Shadow Ranch Winery, Fair Play, poured its 2008 Zinfandel. With a deep ruby color, and aroma of raspberry and cherry, this wine has a medium-full body, a nice tangy acidity and good depth. The finish has a hint of spice and a nice tannic structure. 14.5 per cent alcohol, $20 the bottle.

Jodar Vineyards & Winery, Placerville, poured its 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon. Aroma of black cherry and plum with toasty oak, vanilla and spice. Brown spice of clove, colarm, cedar on the finish. 13.7% alcohol, $22 the bottle.

Other El Dorado wineries pouring were Crystal Basin Cellars, Colibri Ridge Winery & Vineyard, Latcham Vineyards, Gold Hill Winery, DK Cellars, David Girard Vineyards, Madrona Vineyards, and Auriga Wine.

A great event, and I plan to go every year! Watch for it at or

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
© 2011 Barbara Keck

For more information on dining and the wide range of activities around Lake Tahoe, see the online version of The Tahoe Weekly. This article appeared in my column "Wine Adventures" in September 2011.

Research in Process for Book on : "Mountain High Wine: The Sierra and Its Foothills".

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Roland Rosario Cellars (Copperopolis/Calaveras County) Harvest Report

Martha Rueca-Gustafsson, winemaker at Roland Rosario Cellars, Copperopolis/Calaveras County, sends us this report:

Roland Rosario vineyards,
Copperopolis-Calaveras County
"Our 3 1/2 acre vineyard in Copperopolis, CA yielded its first fruit of the season on Sept. 5th.  .38 tons of Roussanne and Viognier field blend came in at 23.9 brix, 3.55 PH, .73 TA

The remaining 3 acres divided in equal portions of Mazuelo clone Carignane and 2 clonal selections of Zinfandel will not be due for for harvest yet another 2- 3 weeks. Weekend brix readings on Sept 17, 2011 were in the 21s, just under 22s. We just pulled down our bird netting this past weekend.

After months of getting family and friends to help us with weekend green dropping, cluster thinning, and cane tucking, we see the light at the end of the tunnel!

p.s., I'm still fermenting in the cold room at Winterhawk Winery in Fairfield, where I work a "day job" as the Enologist/Assistant Winemaker. The best perk about working here is that I can personally oversee the Roland Rosario Cellars fermentations right here, everyday."

Monday, September 19, 2011

Baiocchi Wines (FairPlay/Eldorado County) - Harvest Report

Greg Baiocchi, owner and winemaker at Baiocchi Wines, sends his harvest report for his vineyards in Fair Play, El Dorado county:


"After the coolest spring and summer we have experienced since planting our 12 acre estate vineyard in FairPlay, I am excited about the potential wines of 2011. The vineyard, now in its 6th leaf, looks tremendous as I walk through it taking samples this September.
Last September we started harvest on the 15th and we were a little behind from a cool season then.  This year I am sampling fruit the 15th of September, looking at harvest starting in our Upper Syrah blocks at the end of the month.
The fruit is exceptional this year, phenolic profiles are much riper at lower sugars than last year. Some of this could be age of the vines but more due to growing conditions this year. We did not have to drop as much fruit this year, 20% of our yield. Smaller berries, lighter clusters, the vineyard is telling me I can make some really concentrated, complex wines from the 2011 fruit.
I am tasting much riper flavors and nuttiness in the seeds at 20 Brix, still waiting for skins to soften a bit and the fruit to achieve total balance. I am very excited about harvesting some Syrah below 25 Brix something I was not able to do in our first two vintages.
Tempranillo should be next, in the first week of October. Grenache I would anticipate harvesting Mid October into November this year. From start to finish that would be two weeks later than last year as well. I believe the Mourvedre will be end of October/beginning of November as well, hopefully.
Mother Nature will have everything to do with our hang time. Looking for consistent heat and for Autumn to stay on the warm side in October with cool nights keeping our acids and sugars in balance, we have the potential for a truly great vintage that will enable great wines with complexity and balance."

About Baiocchi Wines, from his website:
"Situated among the rocky, granitic hillsides of the Sierra Nevada foothills, Baiocchi Wines is a family-run vineyard producing high quality, small lot wines from our estate-grown grapes. Our twelve acres of fruit, fed by a warm, dry growing season and cool evening breezes, are quite literally the foundation of the fruit of our labors: elegant wines crafted in the Southern Rhone and Rioja traditions."

Friday, September 16, 2011

Amador County - Brief Harvest Report from Grower's Association Member

Brian Miller, director of the Amador County Wine Grape Growers Association, sent a brief overall report:

"I've spoken with people and have a general feel for the Amador harvest this year.

Generally: Late and light. 2-3 weeks late, 20%+ light (with many saying 30%-40%).
Spoke to one Barbera grower that will get 3 tons off of a vineyard that usually yields around 27."
Brian has encouraged Association members to send more detailed harvest reports, so watch this space...
About Amador County Wine Grape Growers Association
Amador County Wine Grape Growers Association represents almost 20  growers among its 95 members.  Notes the website:,  "More than 60% of Amador's production is delivered to wineries outside the county.  Amador County’s wine grape industry is flourishing with a substantial amount of new acreage planted each year.   The premium wines that are produced from Amador County grapes are consistent medal winners, and are gaining major recognition throughout the wine industry.   Members grow more than 30 different varieties of grapes. Amador County vineyards are now also producing world-class Rhone, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese varieties"    For a list of grower members, click here.
Also from the website:  Appellation and Terrain

"As diverse as the wine grape varieties planted, so are the conditions in which they are grown. Amador's vineyards range from an elevation of 250 feet in the western foothills to 2900 feet in the east. Summer daytime temperatures range from the eighties to more than one hundred degrees, while nighttime temperatures dip into the fifties and sixties due to breezes from the Sacramento Delta and the Sierra Nevada mountains. Such a diurnal temperature shift is good for the grapes because the sunshine produces high acids and high sugar content while the temperature drop stabilizes the acid balance in the fruit.

Another factor that differentiates the grapes in Amador County is the jumble of the soils, from alluvial to decomposed granites, fertile to not-so-fertile, level to steep, and fine to coarse-textured. Amador County's diverse growing conditions have been acknowledged by the designation of one appellation of origin - Amador County, and two American Viticultural Areas (AVA's) - the Shenandoah Valley of California AVA and the Fiddletown AVA."

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ironstone Winery (Murphys/Calaveras County) - HARVEST REPORT

Ironstone Winery's Steve Millier, Director of Winemaking, reports from Murphys in Calaveras County: 
"We had our first day of crush on Tuesday, September 13th.  We crushed our “Rous Vineyard” Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel which came in at 25.5 brix and was absolutely beautiful.  This is a very special wine for us, as it is a single vineyard designate in our Reserve range.  The vineyard was planted in 1909, so as you can imagine it comes in intense with very low yields!

We anticipate picking our Murphys Verdelho early next week. 

Overall, the quality of all of our grapes look outstanding this year.  Unfortunately, the yields are either short or very short depending upon the variety!"

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Fortezza Winery (Auburn/Placer County) - Harvest Report

Lisa Mann, owner of Fortezza Winery, Auburn (Placer County) sends this report.  Fortezza  is a small estate located in the beautiful rolling Sierra foothills of Auburn California, near California's Gold Country

“We are about 1,260 feet in elevation.  I have two vineyards.  We have 5 acres of wine grapes planted total at this time but have room to expand on our 18 acre estate. We planted our vineyards in 2006 with Sangiovese, Petit Verdot, Primitivo and Viognier wine grapes. 

We will be harvesting our Viognier (planted in 2006) on or around the 19th or 20th this month. 

I will harvest my Sangoivese next around the 26th or 27th (brix is about 22), then the Primitivo soon after. 

We will wait on the Petit Verdot (only 18 brix); it is hard to ripen, generally needing a long hot summer, so possibly we will harvest the last part of October. 

The past couple of years it has not been that hot for a long period of time.  We dropped some more fruit and did some shoot thinning.

Our first estate 2009 wines will be released in the next couple of months."

Monday, September 12, 2011

Pescatore Vineyard & Winery (Newcastle/Placer County) - Harvest Report

David Wegner, Owner/Winemaker at Pescatore Vineyard & Winery, Newcastle (Placer County, sent this report on September 12, 2011:

"We will be harvesting our Syrah and Petite Sirah this Saturday. September 17th.  We have a great crop of Petite Sirah, large and very good quality, nice full clusters, great color.  Our Syrah is also very good, but we had four rows that had a fungus from the wet spring, so our crop will be down about 20%, but the rest looks great.  Sugar is running about 25.5 brix to 26. 

Our Zinfandel and Barbera look about 2 weeks out, and the Sauvignon blanc, our white, looks about 2 weeks out too. 

So, its going to be busy here!!  We use all our grapes in the winery, and we do not sell grapes."

The vineyard was planted in 1998, and Pescatore's first commercial harvest was in 2003.

Other information on Pescatore's vineyards, from their website:

Pescatore Vineyard is 5 acres and includes Syrah, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, and Barbera grapes. 

The Syrah and Petite Sirah are on south facing slopes, getting the full benefit of the warm/hot summers. 

The Zinfandel and Barbera are on an eastern slope that almost reaches the Auburn Ravine.  This slope benefits from cooler air from the ravine and the shadows of the afternoon.  This allows the fruit to hang a little longer and assures good balance between sugar and acid.

The vineyard's soil is decomposed granite, perfect for growing grapes, who love any soil but can't stand to be in flat water retention type soils.  We drip irrigate during the June - Sept. timeframe"

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Andis Wines (Plymouth/Amador County) - Harvest Report

September 10:   from Mark McKenna, Winemaker & General Manager, Andis Wines, Plymouth:

"While the weather still feels like Summer, even a brief walk through the vineyards reveals that Fall (or at least harvest) has arrived.

We walked several vineyards this morning and it looks like the Sauvignon Blanc will be the first grape to come off the vine this year. The Brix (how winemakers measure sugar) is 21.5 and climbing at a rate of about 1.5 brix per week. The flavors are starting to develop beautifully and the acids seem in balance, with pHs in the 3.2 range.

After we bring in the Sauvignon Blanc; Rose, Zinfandel and Primitivo will quickly follow, Syrah after that and then an unpredictable and furious free for all – Barbera, Petite Sirah, Grenache, and more.

The Andis estate vineyard is looking great and we are more thankful than ever in this difficult growing year for the fabulous growers we work with, as they have done a great job under tough Spring conditions. Crop yields look to be down this year, but, quality could be exceptional if the weather continues as it has the past few weeks.
Andis continues to grow and the enthusiasm with which we have been greeted this inaugural year has been much appreciated and very gratifying. We will be crushing about 50% more grapes this year than last and that means it is time for a winemaker's favorite thing – NEW TANKS! We have placed 6 new tanks in the winery in the past two weeks (four new stainless tanks and two more concrete tanks). The stainless allowed us to finish “furnishing” the fermentation room and they look just great.

After months of anticipation the two new concrete tanks arrived Wednesday…… and six hours later they were almost in place. Turns out moving around 9500 pound tanks proves a bit challenging (and a touch terrifying) even for our crack cellar crew."

First Report...from Tuolumne County

Coming Soon!

First Report...from Mariposa County

Coming Soon!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Naggiar Grapes in Featured Wines at Charity Event in Lake Tahoe

The Wine on the Water event at the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe benefitted the Boys & Girls Club of North Lake Tahoe and gave the opportunity to taste wonderful wines and nibble on hallmark foods from some of Lake Tahoe’s best chefs.   It was a sunny day and moderately hot there on the lawn near the Hyatt’s great Lone Eagle Grill restaurant.

Among the wines were some with great fruit sourced from Nevada County in the Sierra Foothills.

The 2009 L’Ingenue from Elyse sources its fruit from Naggiar vineyards near Grass Valley in the Sierra Foothills.  This is an exquisite white Rhone blend of 40% Roussane, 34% Marsanne, 20% Viognier and 6% Grenache Blanc.    “Aromas of honeysuckle, lycee nuts, peaches and a hint of orange zest. Explosive fruit flavors,” notes the winemaker.  14.6 percent alcohol.   $28/bottle.
Another lovely Rhone blend from Elyse is the 2007 C’Est Si Bon, also sourced from Naggiar vineyards.  This red blend is a fruit, berry-flavored wine, with low tannin and, I confess, very much my favorite style in a Rhone blend.  The blend is 46% Grenache, 26% Mourvedre, 18% Syrah, 5% Cinsault, 4% Counoise and 1% Viognier.    I am a pushover for Châteauneuf-du-Pape lookalikes, and the Counoise grape is the grape is a key component of many of these wines.  Legend has it that Counoise was introduced from Spain into France  and it was offered it  Pope Urban V when the papacy was based in Avignon in the mid-14th century.  This yummy  wine from Elyse is 14.4 percent alcohol,  $28/bottle.
The Hyatt Regency at Incline Village is located at 111 Country Club Drive, Incline Village, NV.  All proceeds from this event are donated to the Boys & Girls Club of North Lake Tahoe.

To read a longer report on this event, originally published in The Tahoe Weekly, click here

Helwig Winery hosts benefit for Amador Arts: Music by Sons of the San Joaquin

  EVENT DATE: Saturday, September 24, 2011  5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
The Sons of the San Joaquin are
Lon, Jack and Joe Hannah,
performing September 24 at
Helwig Winery in Amador County

LOCATION:  Helwig Winery, Plymouth, in Shenandoah Valley, Amador County
The concert by Sons of the San Joaquin is a benefit for the non-profit AmadorArts and its Arts in Education Program which serves students with arts classes and scholarships and awards mini-grants to other non-profits who provide arts-related services to schools.

AmadorArts is proud to be presenting a concert at Helwig Winery by musicians known around the world as the undisputed standard bearers of the Western Music genre, the Sons of the San Joaquin. 

On Saturday, September 24, starting at 5:00 pm,
Jack, Joe and Lon Hannah will perform powerful, lush three-part harmonies that tell the stories of a unique character in global history: The American Cowboy.  Not only will they be singing your traditional Western favorites, but those penned by Jack Hannah, who has written more top-quality cowboy songs than he’ll ever be able to record. 

The Sons’ distinctive sound has carried them from local church gatherings in the central valley, to which the Hannah family migrated from Missouri during the Depression, to such far-flung locales as Switzerland, the Arab peninsula, and to Japan. In the latter, traditional cowboy music is esteemed above contemporary country music.  Here in the U.S., they headlined in New York’s Carnegie Hall.  They also have professional baseball and teaching careers in their backgrounds.  But it’s their uncanny vocal blend and true love of cowboy heritage that have made the Sons of the San Joaquin the barometer for all Western harmony groups.

You’ll be able to enjoy their laid-back, “get-along-little doggies” charm in the intimate setting of the beautiful outdoor amphitheatre of the new Helwig Winery located in the heart of Amador wine country at  11555 Shenandoah Road outside of Plymouth . Bring your own low-back lawn chairs –must be no more than 12” off the ground -- or blankets to the grass-tiered setting that offers spectacular vistas of the color-changing foothill vineyards on one view and the peaks of the Sierra on the other.  No outside food or beverage will be permitted, but tasty personal trays of hors d’oeuvres, water, and the fine wines of Helwig will be available.  Gates to the amphitheatre open at 4:00 pm.  Helwig Winery is open for complimentary tastings on this day from 10:30 am to 4:00 pm.
Tickets are $30 each, festival seating, and are sold on-line at

Seating is limited to 450, so it is advised to make reservations early, as Sons of the San Joaquin concerts frequently sell-out.  If you have questions, call AmadorArts at 209-223-9038 or visit

Press release info per Penny West

Thursday, September 1, 2011

El Dorado Wineries announce September Events

From the recent newsletter of the El Dorado Winery Association, these notes of upcoming events:

Crystal Basin Cellars, Camino, CA

Psycho Pseptember!
Time Flies when you're having fun and sipping tasty red juice! We're celebrating our 5 years in Camino all during the month of September! Wine specials each week. Cool events and maybe - just maybe - a killer surprise for all of our fans!

Fenton Herriott Vineyards, Placerville, CA

Doggy Date Night
September 10, 5:30pm - 8:00pm
Spend an evening pampering your "best friend"! Featuring canine and human foods & beverages, as well as local, dog-friendly businesses showcasing their items for sale! Live music and fun all evening. Well behaved dogs are welcome. Please register you and your pet.
Cost: A small entrance fee to be donated to a dog friendly charity.

Uncommon Ground
September 17, 5:00pm - 8:00pm
Enjoy a relaxing and fun-filled day with the music of Uncommon Ground, featuring originals as well as covers. Bring a picnic and enjoy the music amongst the vineyards with a bottle of Fenton Herriott wine.
Cost: Free!

David Girard Vineyards, Placerville, CA
Labor Day Weekend
Wine Sale
Friday, September 2 through Monday, September 5
Join us Labor Day Weekend for great discounts on your favorite DGV wines! Case specials include:
$100/case 2008 Rosé
$200/case 2006 Coeur Rouge
Mix & match specials (the more you buy the more you save!)

Jodar Vineyards & Winery, Camino, CA

September 3-5
(Labor day weekend) Enjoy the "fruits" of our Labor
Wine Specials. Wine and food pairing. 12:00pm - 5:00pm

Photo courtesy Lava Cap

Lava Cap Winery, Placerville, CA

Lava Cap Sunsets

September 3, 4:30pm - 7:30pm
September 10, 4:30pm - 7:30pm
September 17th, 4:00pm - 7:00pm
September 24th, 4:00pm - 7:00pm

Enjoy the spectacular sunsets from the deck and garden at Lava Cap Winery. We will have music until dusk. Bring a picnic dinner and purchase a bottle of luscious Lava Cap wine. Deli items are also available for purchase. This event is complimentary.
September 3 - John Martin, electric guitar
September 10 - Alan Thompson, guitar, Country & Western
September 17 - Phillip Reddin - classical guitar
September 24 - Little Delta Band - blues, folk and Americana music

Miraflores Winery, Placerville, CA

French Picnic
September 11, 2011
12:00pm - 2:00pm
Make your reservations without delay for this cooking class, it sells out very quickly as seating is limited. Prepared by Chef Christian Masse from Allez. Chef Christian will whip up his fanciful luncheon right before your very eyes in our new vineyard pavilion.
Class starts at 12:00noon
Make your reservations Online or by calling the winery.

Charles Mitchell Winery, Fair Play, CA
Live Maine Lobster & Endless Pizza Every Friday!
Every Friday Night, 5:00pm - 9:00pm, $15.
Wine club members, $10.
Includes Italian barrel stave burning fire belching Gourmet Pizza and Caesar Salad. Bocce court groomed, lit, and open. Enjoy the evening.
In 1968, Mitchell's first entrepreneurial venture was a pizza restaurant and pool hall in Southern California and he has made pizzas at home and for friends at his nearby yacht club for years. This passion adds a unique flare to the winery.

Oakstone Winery, Fair Play, CA
Join Oakstone on September 4, 5, 6 from 11:00am to 5:00pm for a Labor Day Weekend Celebration. Visit for details.

Perry Creek Winery, Fair Play, CA
September 17, 12:00pm - 5:00pm
$25 per person ($20 Club Members)
Entrance to the event includes live music, lunch, commemorative cobra glass and 4 drink tickets.
Join us as we uncork the first bottles of our exclusive limited-edition 2009 Cobra Zin and Cobra Syrah. Drink a toast to the purest muscle car ever built! Enjoy some fantastic wine, great food and live music. There will be many Cobra cars and classics on hand to admire and you will have the chance to vote for your favorite.
Anyone who brings a Cobra car or Classic car will have the entrance fee waived for them and one guest.
Join us as we celebrate vintage cars at our second annual Vintage Ride Classic Car Show. Nestled in the charming foothills of El Dorado County, you can view a sampling of classic rides dating prior to 1960.

Boeger Winery, Placerville, CA

2nd Annual Vintage Rides Classic Car Show
Saturday, September 10th
10am -2pm

Join us as we celebrate vintage cars at our second annual Vintage Ride Classic Car Show. Nestled in the charming foothills of El Dorado County, you can view a sampling of classic rides dating prior to 1960. This first annual show features some of the region’s finest and most unique vehicles. Both Greg and Justin Boeger’s cars will be on display for this special occasion. It is a must see if you're in the neighborhood.

Pack a picnic or pick up some goodies from our deli cheese case, buy a bottle of wine and enjoy the a relaxing day in our garden. We'll be serving our famous Hangtown Coolers for just $2! A sure way to keep cool on a hot day.

If you would like to attend, enter a car or for additional information contact Tara or call 800/655-2634 x: 18

Gold Hill Winery, Placerville, CA

Art & Wine in the Meadow-Gold Hill Winery
Saturday, September 10, 10:00am - 2:00pm FREE
Stroll through lovely Cornelia's Meadow and peruse the wares of local artists and artisans.
Sunday, September 18, 10:00am - 5:00pm
Luscious, award winning Gold Hill wines and beers will be available by the glass.

El Dorado Winery Association:
Signing up for the El Dorado Winery Association newsletter is the best way to get news of events delivered right to your email in-box, but the interactive calendar on the EDWA website offers even more events on a frequently updated basis.

To sign up for the newsletter, click here

For the interactive calendar, click here
2nd Annual Vintage Rides Classic Car Show
Saturday, September 10th10am -2pm

Join us as we celebrate vintage cars at our second annual Vintage Ride Classic Car Show.  Nestled in the charming foothills of El Dorado County, you can view a sampling of classic rides dating prior to 1960. This first annual show features some of the region’s finest and most unique vehicles.  Both Greg and Justin Boeger’s cars will be on display for this special occasion.  It is a must see if you're in the neighborhood.
Pack a picnic or pick up some goodies from our deli cheese case, buy a bottle of wine and enjoy the a relaxing day in our garden.  We'll be serving our famous Hangtown Coolers for just $2!  A sure way to keep cool on a hot day.
If you would like to attend, enter a car or for additional information contact Tara or call 800/655-2634 x: 18