Tuesday, December 21, 2010

2010 White Line Up

This past weekend I racked the white wines from the 2010 harvest. The grapes are sourced from Dragoon Mountain Vineyards in Kansas Settlement and Sierra Vista Wineyards in Sasabe. Each batch is fairly small but very distinctive and true to variety. The Gewurztraminer is completely dry at this point and Joan and I like it. I was thinking of returning a little fresh juice to the wine to sweeten it but perhaps not this year. The Riesling was more ripe when harvested compared to last year and consequently is more complex - still piercingly dry and acidic but rounder and richer in the mouth. It's my first year working with Pinot Grigio and I was totally faked out when I saw the grapes. They are greyish red. How strange for such an ethereal light white wine. The Viognier comes from what must certainly be the most southern vineyard in Arizona - Melissa Owen's vineyard in Sasabe. It is the second harvest from the vines so the wine is consequently fresh and light and crisp, but true to Viognier. Look for them all to be released during our Memorial Day Weekend White Wine Release.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Creativity, wine, and holiday cheer

Yesterday we hosted our 3rd annual Holiday Wreath-Making Workshop and Wine Tasting. Again it was a special afternoon of good spirits, good people, and good wine. Our group included both Canelo Hills regulars and first-timers. Everyone was in good spirits, crafting, conversing, and even helping each other with wreath-making and design ideas. We also enjoyed a tasting of all our wines including both sparklings, and delicious holiday cookies from Nadine's Bakery. Looking forward to next year!

Making wreaths


The finished product

The whole wreath-making crew

More photos coming soon to our website - stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Blank Slate

So far, this is what the new Canelo Hills website looks like:

a blank Design View page in Dreamweaver. I'm just getting started with a total re-design of our site, which hasn't changed much since we launched it before our Grand Opening in 2007.

I want the new design to be familiar, and just as easy to navigate as our current site, but to look more modern. I created our original site in Dreamweaver MX, a software program that dates back to 2002! I'm looking forward to trying out the powerful tools in my new, modern version of Dreamweaver, but that means some manual-reading and tutorial-watching on my part.

Of course we've involved Ian and Rhian on the design end--we're awfully lucky to have them and their expertise on call. I emailed them my initial page design, and they sent back some helpful comments. When I incorporate them I'll share the basic design with you, so stay tuned!

Got any comments or suggestions for our re-design?
Post them here!

Thursday, December 2, 2010


The next in an irregular series of quiz questions.

The person who provides the most accurate identification of this picture will be awarded a free wine tasting. But there are some new rules to this quiz. Since all the answers will become public once entered on this blog or on facebook it's OK to revise your answer. If there are multiple correct answers, two names will be randomly drawn from an empty spit bucket.

On your mark, get set, go!

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Our good friends, Liz and Charlie, whom we've known since our Reservation days, came to visit us today, all the way from Seattle.  As happens with all our friends who visit us at the winery, we quickly put them to work. Actually, they offered and ended up helping us organize our first wine club shipment for the year.  The work went quickly so we had plenty of time to visit and share a meal at the Velvet Elvis in Patagonia.  A day does not get any finer than that!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

In this month's e-newsletter we added a new feature: the Wine Fact of the Month.

Here's your first Wine Fact:

Did you know that 1 ton of grapes will fill 2 oak barrels with wine?

Do you know how many bottles of wine that will make? The answer will be in the next issue. If you want to wager a guess, leave us a comment here. We'll see how many people get it right.

And, if you're not getting our e-newsletter delivered to your In Box every other month, click here to join our email list (we'll never sell or share your address).

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Answer is ........

Yucca Seed Pod

Although we had some wonderfully creative answers to our "What's This?" contest of last week, Nicole Dee Miller gave the closest answer, saying it is a seed pod.  She wins a free tasting!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Wine makes you young

Well ok, to be truthful it doesn't actually make you young, but don't tell Adele that. She brought her parents Matt and Nicole back to the winery for a second time in her 11 youthful weeks of life, this time to enjoy the lovely Fall weather. Her first visit included bottling the NV Yummy Zinfandel. Although way too young to sample wine (no need to even ask for and ID), she is a big fan of our place and we are of her.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

What's This?

Here's your next chance to win a free tasting.  Can you tell us what this is?  The correct answer will be posted soon.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Winner Is............

Casey Polivchak was the first to give the correct answer to the "What's This?" contest via the blog posting.  Congratulations! 

 Although I do find them a bit creepy I am sure they do a lot of good.  Perhaps Tiffany, our Doctor of Bugology consultant, can enlighten us on why we should appreciate these little buggers! 

Stay tuned for our next "What's This?" contest.  You, too, can win a free tasting. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What's This?

Tim and I are going to do a few of our "What's This?" contests.  Here's the first.  What critter does this head belong to?  Someone will win a free wine tasting.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Good Grape

Those of you who have been following the 2010 growing season know we lost this year's harvest to a freak hail storm.  I recently wrote about the Syrah's canopy growing back.  The Tempranillo is not only growing a canopy, it is also trying really hard to put out another crop of grapes.  It doesn't matter that the grapes are growing out at the wrong place or that it is the wrong time of year; it is the thought that counts.  Being the traditional good grape of my vineyard family, it just wants to do the right thing.  I know, I'm not supposed to play favorites but I can't help it.  Tempranillo is just such a pleasure to grow.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Morning After

the rain, that is.  Wednesday it rained all day, maybe our last monsoon storm.  Thursday morning everything was glistening.  It made for a great photo shoot!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My Love-Hate Relationship with Syrah Continues

All I can say now is, "Thank goodness for the Syrah!" The top picture shows how most of the vineyard is struggling to recover from the hail storm. The bottom picture is the Syrah. I spend a great deal of my summer wrestling with these vines, trying to tame and control their growth. For someone of my size, it is back-breaking work. And it seems no matter how hard I try, I cannot get them trained on the wires the way I want. I am usually not very happy with these plants until harvest, when they make a simply delicious wine for our customers. But this year is different. The vines are oblivious to the trauma they experienced. They are doing what they do best and are sprouting leaves as fast as they can. Hopefully, they will do the same with grape buds in the spring. Syrah, you just gottta love 'em!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

2010 Cabernet Sauvignon!

Chris Hamilton, owner of Rancho Rossa Vineyards, delivered a mighty nice load of Cab grapes to us on Sunday. Beautiful fruit!

It is now crushed and happily fermenting away. That is happy news. Thank you, Chris and Sarah!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Very Yummy Yummy Zin

What do you get when you blend together Arizona grown Zinfandel from three vintages (one of which was the 2007 late harvest crop)? You got it - very, very, yummy, Yummy Zin. We have been waiting a long time for this wine. The 2007 vintage dessert Zinfandel was tasty to the extreme and very popular. It was a small experimental batch that convinced me of the compelling power of Arizona fortified dessert wine. This past Saturday Mike and Stephanie (and their doggie Ella) and Matt and Nicole pitched in and bottled 140 cases of small bottles of this wine. Being a mixture of three vintages it is a "Non Vintage" wine and will be on the tasting room the first weekend in October.

Did I mention Adele? What a sweetie. The last time she helped bottle some wine it was the 2008 Sunrise and she was in utero. Matt and Nicole are understandably proud parents and Adele is about the most mellow, easy tempered and gentle soul I have met in the form of a 10 week old child.

Thanks Mike, Stephanie, Matt and Nicole!

ET - 08

The day before The Storm - Amber, Katelyn, Dave and Casey put in a full day's work bottling the 2008 Estate Tempranillo. Although Katelyn is new to the task, the others are old hands and within a case or two the group was humming like a well oiled 4-person powered machine. Seventy cases of absolutely scrumptious wine was bottled. As I was originally composing this blog the next night, The Storm blew in, the power went out and Joan and I were worried but (for the moment) oblivious to the vineyard damage that ensued. I haven't had the heart to get back to it until now, but thanks to the efforts and good wishes of these four and hundreds of other friends, fans and well-wishers, Joan and I are back on track. Another one of life's lessons learned. Mother Nature is has a mind and desire all of her own. The '08 Estate Tempranillo needs some serious bottle time - huge, dark, rich, oaky wine flavors of a classic Sonoita AVA wine. Look for it to be on the tasting table around New Year 2011. Amber by the way is working on a new member of the Polivchak family - due to arrive in 2011. There is always room for one more on the bottling line.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Canelo Hills gets a makeover

If you came down to Canelo Hills last weekend for our '08 Estate Syrah release, you might have seen our newly spruced-up front corral. Or maybe you followed the work in progress last month on our facebook page (scroll to August 18-23 for videos).

Here are a few photos of the completed winery park that Ian and Rhian designed and built to transform our empty front corral. We think it looks great! Come on down and see for yourself.

Click here to visit our website and view more photos of the new winery park.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Why I Love Grape Vines

Tim and I have been in communication with grape growing consultants around the country. They can't believe the damage that was done to our vines during the hail storm a couple of weeks ago. They have never seen damage this extensive. Yet, the vines don't seem to be paying attention. No matter what happens to them, they just keep on trucking. Time and time again, they send out new leaves in hope of renewal. I think that is a good lesson for all of us. That is why I love tending my vines.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Introducing Spritzer

You might remember that in our July e-newsletter we announced the first-ever Name My Tractor Contest. We needed a name for my mother's new little tractor, which she got when my father decided she needed one more her size.

We had some great suggestions, including Tilly, Sol, Poco Rojo, and Big Red. But the winning name, submitted by Felicia, is Spritzer. Felicia wins a bottle of Canelo Hills wine. Next time you're visiting the tasting room, you can see how Spritzer compares to the old blue tractor. Which makes me think, maybe the old blue tractor needs a name too...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Yay! We Got Some AZ Riesling!

Tim and I drove to Dragoon Mt. Vineyard to pick up some beautiful Riesling from John McLoughlin. His mother, Marge, was there and gave us a delightful tour of their vineyard.

Tim paid a visit to their Zinfandel which will stay on the vines a while longer. Their vineyard looks like a lot of love has gone into it. Tim is very excited about the wine these grapes will make.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Tim and I are grateful for all our winery friends and the wonderful support that has flowed our way since the hail storm. The grapes are off, the wine is fermenting, and we are planning for the future, like all farmers do around the world.

Our design team arrived just in time to help us move on. They are creating a magnificent front corral for us. We have been posting daily videos of their progress on Facebook. Here are some still photos of days 1 to 3. Come see for yourself.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Revised Harvest Plan

This is not rocket science; just common sense and a lot of optimism. The hail and wind stripped the vines of the leaves and damaged the grapes. But, most of the grape clusters do remain on the vines; they so want to complete their task. The problem is that they are badly bruised and if we leave them on the vine longer, they are likely to get rot. And anyway, they are not going to ripen any more without the foliage there to feed them. And, if we left them on long enough for new foliage to grow, that would zap the vines of all their remaining strength just when they need to start storing carbs for the winter (like bears do before hibernation). So, the plan is, the grapes come off tomorrow. Who knows what the resulting wine will be but I have lots of faith in Tim's wine making skills. He loves a challenge. We will have a "Name the Wine" contest when the time comes!

Our Design Team is on Its Way!

This is what my architect son calls our "Winery Park." We'll call it the Fancy Front Corral. He and his design teammate, Rhian, will be onsite to survey the area tomorrow. Work will start early Thursday morning. That is, not farmer early but New York City Designer early. Drop on by over the week-end if you want a look.