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.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Front Corral Fixins

How in Heavens are our fancy city slicker designers going to use these? I guess we'll all see next week.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

More barrel tasting photos

As promised yesterday, here are a few photos from our earlier barrel tasting on July 24. It was a great evening of wine, too.
Across the tasting room, guests taste and discuss our '09 reds

Right now we have a LOT of different tasty wines in the barrels

Tim uses a winemaker's tool, the wine thief, to extract wine from the barrels

Winemaker Tim shares his assessment of one of the new wines

Beautiful Sonoita skies over the vineyard as the evening comes to a close

Too bad we have to wait another year for our summer barrel tastings to return. If you missed them this year, be on the lookout for announcements next spring about our July and August 2011 (yes, 2011) barrel tasting evenings. We even have some new ideas for next year!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

'09 Reds get a thumbs-up at summer barrel tastings

On Saturday evening we had our second summer Barrel Tasting event. It was a lot of fun, with many Canelo Hills regulars, and a few first-timers, pumping us with winemaking questions and giving us their feedback on our '09 red wines.

We sampled seven '09 wines plus our Yummy Zin dessert wine, and they were all pronounced delicious. Some guests asked if they could buy some that night right out of the barrel, but unfortunately we'll all have to be a bit patient. These wines will have anywhere from a few weeks to several months more barrel aging, and then they'll be bottled and need from 3 to 12 months of bottle aging to settle down from bottle shock and reach their full potential.

Stay tuned. Tomorrow I'll post photos from our July barrel tasting!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

2010 Harvest

It has begun. Melissa and Todd brought over the 2010 Harvest's first fruits - Viognier from their vineyard in Sasabe, AZ - Sierra Vista Vineyard. This is the second time I'd had the opportunity to work with Melissa's fruit. She's a master gardener from the University of Arizona who not doubt tends to Arizona's southern most vineyard. The fruit isbeautifu, at the peak of ripeness and already along the way to wine. Today I destemmed the fruit which is now cold soaking at the winery to be gently pressed tomorrow. This should make a plush, rich wine with an "oily" mouthfeel in the way that only Viognier can be. It will be available on a limited basis in the winery and through the wine club.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

City Slicker Design Team

Canelo Hill's New York City Design Team thinks our front corral needs some sprucing up. Since Rhian Swierat and Ian Mueller did a mighty fine job with our tasting room design, we're leaning towards believing them. They will be jetting out the middle of the month to start the work. I'll be posting some of their fancy Eastern ideas in the days ahead. You can add your two cents if you have a liking to.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

High Desert Green

Almost exactly 9 years ago, Joan and I "discovered" Southern Arizona wine country. As we ventured down SR 83, we traveled through a monsoon rain storm complete with rainbow, nearby lightning strikes, brief hailstorm, intoxicating smells of wet desert and brilliant Arizona sun as the rain passed us by.

The hills were green - incandescent green waving grasses punctuated by small clusters of flowers of many hues. It has been many years since this valley looked that spectacular. This year is one of them. The grape vines are happy. In fact all things growing seem to be happy at present. I suspect you will be too when you make the trip.