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Jeff’s Corner 1-5-18

Hey Hey Hey

Next week is the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, and once again I’ve been honored to be invited as a judge.  What a hoot!  The SFCWC is the largest (nearly 7000 entries from 35 states), and perhaps the most prestigious wine competition in the country.

Kathy and I will be spoiled rotten for 4 days, with lots of great wine and very elegant dinners.  (The formal Judges Dinner is at Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards.)  I’ll have to work a bit, however, judging about 400 wines by the end of the event.  Please don’t feel too sorry for me, but it is pretty brutal.  Hah!

If you want to check out some really cool stuff about this really cool event, visit the competitions website at

I’ll send some photos and be back in two weeks with some stories.

Jeff's Corner 12-28-17

Happy Happy Healthy Healthy New Year, Everyone!

Another spin around the sun, with a new orbit just begun.  Sometimes lately, however, I feel the earth is speeding up while I am slowing down.  Ah, well...

Anyway, onward through the vines with a special treat from our Vineyard Manager extraordinaire, Clint Messimer.  Several times a year Clint sends us an update on what’s going on in the vineyards.  I never know when it will happen ( I got this last Friday), but it’s always fascinating.

Clint has graciously allowed me to share this on Jeff’s Corner, and if any of you have questions I’ll rustle up an answer for you.  Happy New Year once again, and thanks again to you, Clint!

“Hey everybody,

We're rounding up a fantastic year in the vineyards and thankfully, we're going into winter in tip-top shape.  We've completed all our fall nutrient applications and have gotten a good amount of slow soaking rain, which is perfect for winding down the season.  Fall is one of the two times of year when we have rapid root growth where the roots are really seeking out nutrients for winter storage--rains were right on time.  Also, the cold weather has put the breaks on sap flow giving us the opportunity to start our prepruning.

Prepruning is the first part of double pruning, which helps in disease control and divides the workload of pruning into two parts, leaving the least amount of labor in the later.  The disease control part is just two basic things.  One, any pruning wound in the dormant season is an invitation for disease because the vine can't seal itself.  But, the good thing is, anything that actually gets into a pruning wound during winter will only travel down into the tissue an inch or so at best.  So by pruning high and leaving 8-12" canes, any infected material will be cut off during final pruning in early spring.  The second thing is, by removing all that canopy and burning the cuttings, we are reducing the area that disease spores can inhabit and overwinter.  It also gives us the opportunity to take our time throughout the winter removing canes and spur positions that we don't want.  We treat all these wounds with a biological paint that creates a bactericide/fungicide barrier.  Anyway, maximizing our winter hours on all this stuff makes final pruning a breeze when early spring rolls around.

Looking forward to an awesome 2018!

Merry Christmas y'all,



Jeff's Corner 12-14-17

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Habari Gani, and to cover all the bases, Seasons Greetings!  Today we’ll check out the new 2015 Merlot, but first a vintage update on an older GCV wine.

Kathy and were celebrating some good news last week and I pulled the cork on a 2011 Mosaic.  It was really, really good!  The color was starting to fade just a bit on the rim, but the aromas and flavors were rich and well-developed with ripe, dark fruit perfectly integrated with mature tannins and acids.  If any of you are fortunate to have one of these, I recommend you enjoy it soon.  It’s a real beauty!

Now, onward through the Merlot with a little history from last years story.  The first written mention of the grape appears in 1784 where it was spelled “merlaut” in notes penned by a clerk in Bordeaux.  Then, in an 1824 article on Medoc wines, it was spelled Merlot and said to be named after the “Merlau”, a blackbird that was especially fond of dining on the grapes right off the vines.  The dark-blue hue of the grapes is also a reference to the color of a young blackbirds feathers.

I thought it would be nearly impossible for Jason to duplicate the grace end elegance of the 2014 Merlot (it won 3 Golds and 3 Double Golds).  The ’15 is, however, a very good wine with lots of character and its own unique charm.  It is nearly all High Plains fruit, with 64% coming from Andy Timmons’ Lost Draw Vineyards.

The color is a classic ruby/garnet and the alcohol-by-volume a ubiquitous 13.9%.  The aromas are bright and fresh, with delicate layers of raspberry, cherry, and blueberry mingling with toffee, cinnamon, and vanilla.

The palate is soft, graceful, and well-balanced.  The lively fruit flavors are in nice harmony with moderate amounts of oak, tannin, and acid which leads to a subtle, intricate finish.

The straightforward freshness of this wine makes it appealing to a broad range of palates.  It’s fruity and fun, and slightly chilled (maybe 60*) would be a great choice with a hickory-smoked ham on New Years’ Day.

Cheers, Everyone!

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