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Wayne and Robin Fieldsa put up the coffee and snacks for the picking crew. Robin didn’t want her photo taken since she’s part Native American and believes the process can take a piece of your soul.

September 29, 2018

SONOMA — The Syrah for our Rosé of Syrah comes from this little vineyard in Sonoma, owned by the Fieldsa family and kept watch over by Joker the chestnut-colored rescue horse. We got a decent crop this year, although we limited our pick to the stronger sections of the vineyard. Nearly a third of the property is suffering from what I’ve heard called “Syrah Decline” disease, which I think just means that the viticulturalists in the area aren’t exactly sure what’s happening, but that the vines rapidly begin to slow their growth and grape production and will likely need to be ripped out and replanted within the next five years. We keep our fingers crossed that the rest of the vineyard resists the decline. Super tasty grapes picked solely for making rosé. 24.5 brix, which is something like what you’d pick Sonoma Chardonnay at. But with a brighter acid and flavors of cherries, nectarines, Kiwi fruit, and strawberries. We pressed the grapes at Materra Winery in the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley. Winemaker Bruce Regalia has outfitted their facility with some top-notch equipment, including their Wilmes press. We prefer to use this press because the design allows for higher juice yields with lower pressing pressures. So it’s a very efficient press for quantity, while simultaneously boosting quality. Because if you can avoid it, you don’t really want to press red grapes for rosé all that hard, otherwise you might get some of the more aggressive skin tannins into the resulting juice, which is not what we are going for. We are going for a rosé so pretty and precious that you just can’t say no.

Last Week — We got busy last week and although I started to write a number of blog entries in my head, they never really made it to the page. Here are some bullet points:

-Sunday we picked Jennifer Thomson’s Pinot Noir vineyard in Carneros. Super ripe this year, which is just what it seemed was necessary to even out the maturity level across the vineyard. This was a simple destemming directly to t-bins for extended cold soak, followed by native yeast fermentation. The fermentation just barely started this morning, by the way. After 7 days.

-Monday was spent getting ready for Tuesday.

-Tuesday we brought in all our Napa Merlot and Calistoga Cabernet Sauvignon. Jon and I and a hired crew of 3 people destemmed and sorted and saignéed for 8 hours on the Phifer Pavitt crush pad. It was a punishingly hot day, but the fruit had all been picked early morning so each macro bin was still cold as the dawn.

-Wednesday I did a vineyard lunch where I met some really nice folks and shared wine and food and conversation. Also racked the Rosé of Merlot saignée juice clean to a stainless steel barrel.

-Thursday we dropped off macro bins for the Syrah pick, sampled another Syrah vineyard, and picked up cased wine from our Napa warehouse for restocking the tasting room inventory.

IMG_7876And then, somehow I missed mentioning this momentous meal at El Molina Central in Sonoma. Our go to spot had been The Fremont Diner, a restaurant so good that it was actually one of the catalysts for sourcing the Syrah and Zin vineyards so far from our wineries. What a great excuse to drive to Sonoma and work our way through the menu at Fremont Diner. But The Fremont Diner closed unexpectedly a couple of months ago and we have been adrift, not sure if we should keep the vineyards until we could find a killer breakfast or lunch spot to anchor the long drive to Sonoma. Stacy Murphy, who works at our tasting room, had recommended El Molina Central. So one morning we stopped there for breakfast. There was a lot riding on this visit. And the only breakfast type thing on the menu was the Chilaquiles. So we ordered that. And then we fiended on their simply gorgeous rendition. It seemed we had found it again. Our Sonoma vineyard contracts in jeopardy no longer. There is now a new menu to work through. So many pure and layered flavors.

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