Tuesday, October 30, 2007

50 Years

Sometimes our winery and my wines will delight, surprise, and even startle the people who come to taste them. Sometimes someone who comes into the tasting room does that to me. “Hi, you probably don’t remember me, I used to baby sit you 50 years ago”. Thus was the introduction by Charlotte (Albrecht) Gamble and her husband Mike. When I was a wee lad living in Seattle, she was a teen and looked after my sibs and me. Catching up on 50+ years of time made me reflect on the journey of life, especially the one Joan and I have taken. The youthful romance of “having our own winery” is replaced with the reality of the challenges of farming and being a mom and pop business. But basically Life is good and there will be much to be thankful for as we sit down to our Thanksgiving dinner in a few weeks.

Monday, October 22, 2007


A couple weeks ago, I transferred the last of the new wine into oak barrels. The week before, I had let the wine settle and finish fermentation - or so I thought. This weekend as Joan and I were labeling some of the 2006 Sangiovese bottles, we heard a loud POP. Upward went flying a bung from one of the Nebiollo barrels. A quick inspection revealed that the wine was still bubbling, albeit rather weakly. That made me decide to check the remaining barrels and for the most part I was able to vent just a little pressurized carbon dioxide. However there was a particularly stubborn bung in one barrel of the Estate Syrah and as I struggled with it, it finally gave way with an explosive sound followed immediately by a geyser of carbonated, delicious, fragrant, inky black wine. As Joan mopped up the mess, I groaned. This is one of ways that barrels get that beautiful purple embrace.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


Last week was the end of the active phase of harvest. Coincidently the Harvest Moon occurred on the same night Joan and I pressed the last of the Sangiovese. It was a spectacular sight rising over the Mustang Mountains at dusk and setting behind the Santa Ritas the next morning. As exciting as harvest and crush is for us; it is totally crazy busy - bringing in, receiving and harvesting grapes, crushing them, punching down a couple times a day, pressing the must, then after settling for a day or so moving them to the barrels that will be their first resting place. Did I mention cleaning up before and after each step? The fruit this year look fabulous, even better than last year – both our own and the grapes that come from our growers in Cochise County. I’ll keep you posted as the wine progresses.