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Jeff’s Corner 10-19-17

Hey, Hey, Hey!

One of the many things I love about working in the tasting room at GCV is the fact that change is constant.  Status quo is pretty much a four letter word.

For the last year or so we have made major changes in how we do things on Saturday, all designed to create a better experience for our Wine Club members and mature adults looking for a “wine experience” and not a “party experience”.

A few weeks ago we made a radical change in the Saturday traffic flow in our tasting rooms.  I’m going to make a restaurant analogy in order to explain the significance of what we have done.

Imagine going to a very busy restaurant where all the tables are full and guests continue to pour in the front door.  Rather than take names and start a wait list, the maitre’d directs everyone into the dining room and tells them to wait until a table gets up to leave and then grab a seat.

Before long, chaos ensues.  The seated guests feel rushed and uncomfortable, the server feels rushed and can’t sell desserts, and the guests waiting for tables are jockeying for position with one another.

Well, this is kind of how it has been in our tasting room when super busy for many years.  Now, we have a “maitre’d” system where guests are escorted to their spot at the bar only when there is room for them.

When the bars are full, guests wait (outside of the tasting room) for bar space and are texted when we have a place for them.  Each bar has a fixed number of spaces, so there is never overcrowding.  Wine Club members, as always, have immediate access as soon as they check in.

I work at a short bar by myself every Saturday, and to me this is win/win and win/win.  Guests don’t feel rushed, servers don’t feel rushed, and guests waiting for a spot at the bar receive the attention they deserve once they are “seated”.  This has also created a much more harmonious relationship amongst the staff regarding an equal distribution of guests at the bars.

So, back to the beginning.  This is one more step (a big one) in how Grape Creek is always at the cutting edge in finding new ways to improve customer service.  Come check us out...

Jeff’s Corner 9-28-17

Hey, Hey, Hey, today is Ego Day

Once again, I’m proud to mention that I’ve been invited to judge the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition in January.  This is my third consecutive year, and it’s a gargantuan honor to again be included in this storied competition with about 70 of the best wine judges from across the country.

The SFCWC is the largest, most respected American wine competition in the United States.  Last year there were more than 7200 entries from over 25 states.  Judging lasts 3 days (I scored about 120 wines each day), with a fourth day (the “sweepstakes” round) where the best-in-show is chosen for white, red, rose, sparkling, and dessert wines.

Kathy and I will be wined and dined (literally) every night with all travel  expenses paid by the SFCWC.  The event is held at the Cloverdale Citrus Fairgrounds in northern Sonoma County, in the beautiful town of Cloverdale.

When I was a kid, my greatest dream was to play in the World Series for my beloved Detroit Tigers.  Never did I dream I’d be a part of the World Series of wine competitions 3 years in a row.  The SFCWC is that cool, and it’s a huge honer to represent myself, Grape Creek, and Texas at this spectacular event.

Oh, by the way, last year Grape Creek sent 17 wines to this event, and brought back 17 medals.

More in January...


Jeff’s Corner 9-21-17

Howdy and Hi,

Today we’ll take a gander at our stunning new 2015 Cabernet Syrah, but first a word about the 2017 harvest/crush season.  Jason and crew have been going at it like crazy for over two months now.   I don’t think they have had a day off in three plus weeks, and these have been some very long days.  I mentioned to Jason last week that they’ve been burning it at both ends, and he replied “Yeah, and the wick is getting pretty short.” 

The rewards, however will be great.  The fruit this year has been outstanding, both on our Estate and the High Plains.  (We now have over 200 acres of vines under contract in west Texas.)  Brian mentioned to me that it’s some of the highest quality Texas grapes we have ever seen.  Jason attributes it to the fact we contract a low yield per acre from our growers, thus concentrating the fruit.

We should finish crushing this week, and by then we’ll have processed about 600 tons of Texas fruit; the weight of about 100 male African elephants.  Wowser!

Now on to the ’15 Cabernet/Syrah blend, which vintage after vintage is one of my favorite GCV wines.  To me, the Cab/Syrah has always been the forgotten hero of our red portfolio; it doesn’t have the rock-star status of Bellissimo or Mosaic, yet consistently showcases Jason’s ability to create wines with incredible balance and refined delicacy.

We released the '15 last Saturday and I tasted it pre-shift.  Holy guacamole, I could barely wait for a glass after work!  Austere and elegant, the new Cab/Syrah blend is 57.8% Cabernet Sauvignon and 42.2% Syrah with an ABV of 13.8%.  A bit more extracted than the ’14, the '15 is a rich violet/purple with a touch of ruby in the rim.

Aromas are vibrant and complex.  It shows hints of red fruit (raspberry and dark cherry), with floral notes of lavender and lilac.  Adding to this, intricate layers of white and black pepper mingle with cedar and cocoa.  This wine exhibits a more dense, round mouthfeel than previous vintages.
The balance is near perfect  Acid and tannin are already well integrated, and the finish is long and seductive.  Moderate amounts of oak allow the intense fruit and spice to be fully showcased.  To me, this wine is a thoroughbred, waiting to run.

Let's go classic French with a food pairing.  This wine begs for a steak au poivre with Pommes Anna.  Yumaroo! 



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