It’s finally here the grand opening of our new tasting room. We will be open this Saturday August 15th from 11-4, and Sunday August 16th from 12-4. The tasting room is located at 1800 Day Road in Gilroy, CA 95020. We had a successful soft opening two weekends ago which we used to test everything we needed to have working and delivered. Thanks to all our friends and neighbors who stopped by to kick the tires!
Now we’re ready to invite everyone over! We will be pouring 5 wines for $10. The tasting price is refunded with any bottle purchased. Wine Club members enjoy free tasting and an additional assortment of wines. This weekend we will be featuring all of our recent medal winning wines including three gold medal winners: 2013 Chardonnay, 2012 Nueva Casa de los Padres and our 2012 Mourvedre (wine club only). Our tasting area includes picnic benches so bring your picnic with you!
Many of our local friends will also be open this weekend so come make a day out of it. There are 15+ wineries within 10 miles of us now and we have lots of good recommendations for everyone. See you this weekend!
It was another busy weekend for us. Saturday we picked the two largest vineyards that make up our Haut Tubee base wine. We did the actual picking of 600 pounds of Cabernet and Syrah at Roxie Vineyard near Crimson Clover. We just had to pick up and sort the 800 pounds of Syrah from the Harrison vineyard in Los Altos Hills. Most of the day seems like it’s driving at 60 MPH towing a trailer, and it is. We were out of our old house on Canton before the grapes were ready for wine but one of our neighbors came down and harvested about 200 pounds of grapes to make jam. No Mourvedre in the Haut Tubee blend yet, but we will have Mourvedre Jam in the new tasting room this Spring.
Sunday we were up early and did what is now a really long 55 mile drive to Chaine d’Or. Our trusted ‘A Team’ picking crew was there and had already removed the nets when we drove in at 7:30. We picked just about 3200 pounds of Chardonnay. The picture below is Jerry walking out the picking bins. In the lower section we bring the bins up on the tractor but in this upper section the three of us who can drive the tractor, Millie, Jerry and I all prefer to carry the bins out rather than mess with getting the tractor all the way up and down the long rows and around the two sharp turns.
Stefania usually avoids the camera when I’m taking pictures but I thought she was exceptionally pretty Sunday morning and got in this shot. That’s her usual place and job at harvest time. As we dump in the 30 pound picking bins she sorts through the grapes and removes, leafs, bugs, twigs, bad grapes, secondaries, water bottles, gloves, twisty tie, clippers and anything else that have found their way into the bins. We do always laugh when someone says they have hand made wine and wonder if they really touched every cluster with their own hands like Stefania does. Probably not.
Back at home we’re getting used to the new routines and sights and sounds. This little guy comes by every day. I think I’ve seen small bumps for antlers but Stef hasn’t so we’re not sure of its sex. It is really small so I think it was likely born this past Spring. I just spent some time on Google and the proper term is ‘Fawn Buck’.
The new place. Nope we’re not moving to New Orleans, that was the first guess of a few people. We found this nice ranch house just outside of Gilroy right on the Santa Clara Valley Wine Trail.
The ‘fast ball down the middle’ was being offered a property where we currently manage the vineyard. We hadn’t thought about moving, or the South Valley as a location, and we had no idea if we could come close to affording it. We dove right in though and started doing our research and putting together our list of things we needed and wanted in a house. That first vineyard house didn’t work out but we decided after viewing a dozen or so properties to make it happen somewhere.
Stefania actually found it on line and it was in contract but we asked our agent if we could go see it because it looked like it was a benchmark for what we were after. We loved it but houses in contract in Santa Clara County NEVER go to the back up offer so we didn’t get our hopes up. A few weeks later though we got another fastball when the contract fell through. The owners really wanted their next offer to come from ‘country people’ and not ‘city people’ who would understand all the complications of wells, wildlife, propane and country living. Our agent told them “Are you kidding they are farmers and own a winery”.
I’ll put the address in our Fall offer letter for people on our mailing list, but here are some of the highlights:
The hillside, were we will plant the new Haut Tubee vineyard with Cabernet Sauvignon and Mourvedre. We have just over 2 acres total and will plant about one.
The new back patio where friends and visitors can finish off those bottles of wine and dip into the scotch and cigar collection. If you look closely you’ll see there’s a breezeway. On the left is the main house, on the right is the wine cellar and guest suite. The guest suite has a separate entrance and a full bath, bedroom and kitchen (as soon as we install the appliances). We finally have a place for our out of town visitors. The original owners did canning and built a full cool room that we’ll convert into a temperature controlled wine cellar.
The new kitchen. This should make it much easier to pull together those dinners for 10-20 we seem to have all the time.
My plan is to get in the pool on the first day. I’m going to wear my suit under my moving clothes 🙂
This second garage was used to sell fruits and vegetables grown on the property for many years. I’m going to revive that garden as soon as I can. This building though will become our new tasting room. There’s enough room to park 20-30 cars at a time and have an office as well as tasting room. It’s just a shell right now so we have to clean it up and put some walls in place. Depending on how harvest goes and the permitting process we may try to open as soon as Nov 1 but early next year is more likely.
We are very excited and can’t wait to have our first visitors. Our move date is Friday Sept. 5th.
Over the past 10 years making wine the very best times have all been at our home and in our backyard. We’ve loved having friends and visitors come visit our little Haut Tubee Vineyard and see the actual hot tub it’s named after. As many of you know our home is in the same neighborhood I grew up in. My elementary school is just a block away and my Mom lives just two blocks from us. The artwork on our label is the view from that neighborhood of the Santa Cruz Mountains, a view I’ve had most of my life.
Stefania and I love our home in San Jose and we’d never thought of moving. We thought we’d live here the rest of our life. People like to say sometimes life throws you curveballs. I like to think sometimes life gives you fastballs right down the middle of the plate. You’ve got to swing at those and swing for the fences.
In June we got one of those fastballs down the middle. Something we were not expecting at all and had not really thought of. It spurred us to action though and we put our Haut Tubee home up for sale. You can see the real estate tour at 564canton.com We got three good offers and went with the best one after a little back and forth. Our last day on Canton should be September 9th if all goes well.
We are converting the wine cellar back to a bedroom right now and removing the front vineyard. There are a few other minor repairs to make and then we will be on our way too…..Part 3 coming up soon!
We have 4 wines we’re releasing, two of them brand new. Offer letter will go out to Mailing List Members this week. Anything left will be available for web orders on October 31st. I’m particularly excited about the Mourvedre. It got great reviews in Chicago where we opened two bottles in August. We do have a Chardonnay from 2012 but will be releasing that as well as our 2012 Pinot Noir in the Spring.
I wrote about the visit and testing at Chaine d’Or we did on Saturday. We also visited a small Syrah vineyard in Los Altos Hills that the owners now maintain all on their own and visited a potential new site in the Gilroy-Watsonville Road area. For those out side of the South Bay, Gilroy and Watsonville are two small towns south of San Jose. The irony of the Gilroy-Watsonville Road is it goes to neither Gilroy or Watsonville. We finished up the day at the Crimson Clover vineyard which is in the town of Morgan Hill behind the big hill everyone things is named Morgan Hill but is really named El Toro. Whoever named things in that part of the valley was definitely trying to confuse people.
Sunday we watched the Saints game in the morning. They seem to have their defense figured out this year which was encouraging. Then we headed to the Mineral Hill vineyard to watch the 49er game with the vineyard owners there and check on the grapes. This will be a hard one to figure out when to pick because the vines are just three years old and a vineyard that young tends to have a great deal of variation from plant to plant. Stefania says it’s really year 7 when the vineyard starts acting like a vineyard, and stops acting like a collection of individual plants.
The grapes planted here are Mourvedre and the yield looks to be pretty high. I’m sure some of the clusters won’t make it and will dry up and some will not be ripe and have to get cut off so probably 75% of what is on the vine now will make it into a fermentation bin. The vineyard is over an ancient creek bed and water still flow under ground so the plants are particularly strong for being three years old. I’m thinking we will pick here right around the 1st of October.
One last picture from Crimson Clover on Saturday. The vineyard tested at 22.25 Brix. Flavors are well past the green state and in between red and black fruit. We set the pick date as September 21st, which is in the normal to early range for the site. With the weather pattern we expect to pick right around 24 Brix. Yield here looks average for the site and I think we’ll get just under two tons. We will also pick the ‘Roxy’ Vineyard at the same time. Roxy is a mix of Syrah, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon that we put in the Haut Tubee Blend. Yield there looks high this year, close to a 1000 pounds. That would be cool actually if we got that much as we could keep the vineyard on it’s own through fermentation and into barrel.
I’ve just updated the website with the new wines we will be releasing in the fall. Check the ‘Wines’ page for details. We will have three new releases. The last of our 2009 wines, the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Chaine d’Or Vineyard will be released.
We’ll also have the first of our 2010 wines; the 2010 Haut Tubee and a new wine for us the 2010 Nueva Casa de los Padres. Details on the three wines and tasting notes are up. The Library Release will be the 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Santa Cruz Mountains.
So far reception for the three new wines has been great and we’re very excited by this release. We’re planning on sending out letter in September.
I took a few better pictures of the front yard Haut Tubee vineyard to illustrate the comments I made about aesthetics in my update on our Pinot Noir Vineyard. Most of the things we do are simple and you probably would have a hard time noticing the differences. It’s not really an attempt to make it ‘pretty’ as much as one to make it look clean and pleasing.
Below see how the vines don’t have a stake holding up the trunk? Once the vine reaches the cordon wire we remove that stake and let the vine attach to the wire. This removes a lot of metal from the vineyard and lets the plant be seen on its own with no visual distractions.
In this close up you can see there are no ties or clips in the vineyard. There’s nothing to attach the vine to the wire, or the wires to anything else. This vine hasn’t attached on its own so we will use one twisty to tie it off this year. Each vine does have a small vine protector on it to keep it safe from weed whacking. Stef selected guards though that blend in and aren’t too tall. We will use grow tubes, but once the vine is up to the wire we remove it with the stake.
The cover crop between the rows is slow to get started this year, it is a natural mix of crimson clover and California wild flowers. The idea is that the vineyard should look like a natural hillside would and the only thing you should see is the vines and the absolute minimum hardware needed to keep the vines upright.
Another bottling day down! I wish I could say it was drama free, but bottling days never are. Mostly though it went smoothly and a lot of the issues we had were early in the day and I chalked them up to learning a new bottling truck and system. We arrived at the winery at 6am and the truck was there at the gate.
No issues getting it into place (the last truck we used could take up to 5 hours to get through the gates and down the hill). The truck was ready to go by 8:15 am. This is early in the set up process with the forklift in the foreground. The equipment needs to get set up, hooked inot the tanks in the winery and cleaned before we start.
This was just as we got started. Millie, Kaleb from the bottling company and Stefania in the truck. This seemed to be a really good fit for the speed we like to go and care we like to put in. We had some early drama figuring out the right screen to put in line with the bottle filler. The first one we used jammed up after 5-6 cases. We finally went with a wide ‘bug catcher’ screen that lets everything through but big chunks.
Once we got over that problem we ran out of Nitrogen. The Nitrogen is used to sparge the glass and clean in before filling. Millie is doing that step below. I had a back up tank but it was also almost empty. I must have left it open at some point it as it should have been new. So we sent Millie down into Redwood City to get another tank. They would only let her load one at a time into the car so she had to make two trips.
Once past that we were back on our way. You can see Kaleb, Stefania and Ingrid’s back in the picture below. Somehow I missed getting Jaye in any pictures but she was there also working on the line.
My job was to tape up the filled cases, put on tags and load them on to pallets. It’s a good job for me because I can lift the cases and they come off slow enough that if I need to be gone for 5 minutes I can and only a few cases will back up. That time lets me use the forklift to move pallets around or run into the winery to make adjustments inside.
We wrapped up bottling about 1:30 and clean up by 3:00. A pretty good day in all and we were really happy with the new truck. Our 2010, Haut Tubee and a new blend are safely in storage now!
When we got home we had one last bit of drama. A bee swarm trying to move into our house. I called Art the Bee Guy and he arrived after 9:00 pm and safetly got the queen and her hive off to a new home.
Bottling is always one of the hardest most stressful things we do. There are over a dozen different vendors to coordinate with and everything has to be timed just right. It’s also hard because we do it just twice per year so getting experience for us and the crew has been a process that takes years.
This time we’ve also been fighting the weather and have had to reschedule twice around rain. We just don’t have enough room inside to stage everything indoors and that means rain is a deal breaker.
Stefania and I came up yesterday to prep the wine and get it ready. We’re doing a small lot of two wines. Our 2010 Haut Tubee and a new wine we will release this fall. There was a small amount of blending to do and Stefania had to check final SO2 on the wines so I could make the right additions. Other than the drain backing up on us it went smoothly.
The forklift showed up at 8:30 and I got that positioned and ready. The truck showed up at 12:30 with the empty glass and this is when I knew we’re finally at the point of being veteran bottlers. The driver had forgotten to load a pallet jack and had no idea how to get the 1000 pounds of glass from the front of the truck to the back where the forklift could pick it up.
“No problem”, I said. “I’ve had this happen before, I’ll show you what to do.” So I went in the winery and pulled out my strongest rope that we keep for just this emergancy. I showed him how to tie up a pallet and pull it out of a truck with the forklift.
Everything was wrapped up by 2:30 and we were able to get a late lunch and some hot tub time in last night. This morning came really early:
53 degrees and 5:30 am when we hit the road. We’re waiting now in the winery for the bottling truck to finish setting up. If all goes well we will start about 8:30. We’re using a small crew today. Stefania, Millie, Ingrid, Jaye and I. Another veteran thing we’ve learned. It’s actually better to have a small experienced crew than a large one that needs lots of hand holding.
I’ll be busy most of the day so probably won’t have too many pictures, but I’ll try and get some as we bottle and get them up before Friday.
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