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Jeff’s Corner 6-22-17

Greetings Once Again,

I first posted this story last year in early July.  I like it because it reinforces the cyclical nature of our lives in rhythm with the vines, and I really like the photo simply because it’s really pretty.

Veraison began last week in the Aglianico block by the winery, and Sunday Clint (our vineyard manager extraordinaire) and I found some clusters just beginning in the Montepulciano block by the Wine Club Patio.  Veraison began earlier this year due to the warm winter and early bud break in March.  So, here we go from Jeff’s Corner 7-12-16:

My favorite time in the vineyard is about to begin, and this photo pretty much tells the entire story why.  I took this snap shot in our Montepulciano block July 10, 2013.  These grapes are going through what is called “veraison”.

Veraison (vay-ray-ZON) marks the turning point in the two cycles of a grape clusters’ journey to harvest.  The first cycle is a growth phase, and ends when the grape reaches full size and cell division in the skin stops.  During the growth cycle all grapes (red and white) are the same color (the lima bean green you see) and are hard (like a marble) in texture.

Once the grapes reach full size, the ripening phase begins with veraision, which translates from French as “change of color of the grape berries”.  They also begin to soften and become pliant when squeezed.

For the next six weeks or so, the sugars will increase as the acids decrease, and harvest should occur in late July when the sugars are about 25% of the juice.

I got lucky with the sunlight in this pic; the kaleidoscope of color and light is stunning.  It reminds me of these inspiring lines from William Blake’s “Auguries of Innocence”:

“To see a world in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower”

The "New" Trattoria - June 19, 2017

Recently, we changed the style of food service we offer at Grape Creek through our partnership with Stout's kitchens. The new Trattoria is enclosed, remodeled, and upgraded. While our lunch menu still offers the Stout's pizzas many members and guests love, we now offer an expanded menu that includes new appetizers, salads and entree options like tenderloin filet, salmon and chicken. Additionally, our new "dine by the vines" dinner experience is available on Friday and Saturday evenings, plus a wonderful Sunday brunch menu served all day.

Of course, Grape Creek offers wine options for your meal including a prior-vintage library wine list (available during dinner for club members) and sparkling wine and mimosas on Sundays. Also, enjoy specialty coffees after your meal.

The restaurant includes both indoor and outdoor seating (on the adjacent patios) so guests can enjoy whichever option they like best.

When we started the Trattoria two years ago, many people welcomed the food options to enjoy with their wine, and some people were disappointed we didn't offer a sit-down, table service restaurant. We also imagined that might in fact be the natural evolution of our future dining experience.

So, we are excited about the launch of the "new" Trattoria with chef-inspired delights and weekend evening dining.

Like anything, not all changes are welcomed by all people. One change that is negative for some is not being able to get a pizza and take it to the wine club patio to enjoy. While we completely understand that sentiment and concern, we also had issues with all seating areas doubling as dining areas, as not all guests enjoyed the mixed experience. So, we created dining areas and non-dining areas on the patios,  although we still offer a wonderful cheese and charcuterie tray that can be enjoyed with wine on any of the non-dining patios. As mentioned previously, there are both designated indoor and outdoor dining areas so members can still enjoy a pizza on the patio.

On busy days we may have a wait for seating like any other restaurant. However, when we were busy before we often had a 20-30 minute wait in line to order plus the wait for food preparation (at times  30-45 minutes). Part of our goal was to change the wait experience so now the wait can be enjoyed by doing a tasting or having a glass of wine while waiting for a text letting you know your table is ready. Of course, there is still food prep time once ordered.

While we appreciate the changes might create some concern and disappointment for some guests we believe the good far outweighs the bad and most people are thoroughly enjoying the new, upgraded offerings. We also appreciate direct feedback (through our website or via email) regarding improvements; whether the feedback is about an issue with our growing pains from new ventures or ideas that may enhance the overall member and customer experience.

We personally love the new Trattoria and the great culinary options, and we hope you enjoy it too!

Brian Heath

Grape Creek Vineyards



Jeff’s Corner 6-15-17

Howdy all y’all out there,

Last Saturday afternoon, we sadly said goodbye to our delightful 2015 Rose of Sangiovese, and gladly said hello to our new 2016 Rose of Malbec.  As I like to say, “it’s a real beauty”.  Our guests love it, and sales are brisk.  We didn’t produce much, so if you like it grab some when you can; it won’t be around long.

Malbec is a new varietal in our portfolio, so I thought it would be fun to take a brief look at its origins.  A French grape, it is found mostly in the Bordeaux, Loire, and Cohors regions.

It has always been a subordinate blending grape in Bordeaux and the Loire Valley, and is much less prevalent in Bordeaux since 1956 when a hard freeze killed about 75% of the plantings.  In Cohors (southeast of Bordeaux) it is the dominant varietal, and is blended with smaller amounts of Tannat and Merlot.

In the mid 19th century it was taken to Argentina from Bordeaux via Chile, where it has found huge success, especially in the Mendoza region.  Malbec produces rich, dark wines with a rustic earthiness and solid structure.

Now, let’s take a peek at our ’16 Rose of Malbec.  It’s already made a couple of guest appearances, one at our Tank Tasting Party and another as a pairing with Chef Ross Burtwell’s (of Cabernet Grill fame) Marburger Orchard Strawberry Guava Gazpacho.

The color is a delicate pale salmon with a brilliant rim.  Modest alcohol (11.1% by volume), a tiny kiss of sweetness (.2% residual sugar), and lots of bright red fruit make this a perfect summer wine for afternoon gatherings or just hanging out on the porch or by the pool.

It is 100% Malbec from the Sprayberry Vineyards near Midland, and shows captivating floral aromas of pink carnations and cherry blossoms mingling with pear, cantaloupe, and honeydew.  The palate shows high acidity that is well integrated with the fruit to create a refreshing finish that leaves us reaching for our glass just minutes after our last sip.

Serving temperature is important for this wine.  Too cold and the acid hides the delightful fruitiness, and too warm it becomes flabby and it doesn’t transition to the back of our palate.  Whatever temp you like is best, but I’d recommend it between 45 and 55 degrees.

Let’s try this lovely wine with a large avocado stuffed with a jumbo lump crab salad in a light citrus vinaigrette.

Later, all y’all...

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