A dry spring and heat spikes led to a much earlier harvest for most California vineyards this year. On the North Coast, it started Aug. 1st.
The rains have come now, so the winemakers are busy in the cellar putting their reds to barrel, while the whites rest on the lees in tanks or barrels, or get bottled right away.
The fall winds are pulling the leaves from the vines now, and the rain has started to fall. It is quiet and still as the vines now move toward their winter sleep.
They’ve worked hard growing those plump, juicy grapes – and we’re really going to enjoy the results.
The vines are turning color now, and will soon be bare…but spring is not that far away1
Wine regions are getting hotter, and we’re not talking about global warming! Wine lovers are really dialing into the fact that wine is all about place — where it’s grown determines so much about the wine in your glass. It’s a lot of fun to explore California appellations — there are at least 150 — some comprise several counties (like the Sierra Foothills–eight counties!) and some are just a few acres. Many we’ve never heard of. There are those that have no wineries open to the public and are mostly home to vineyards. There are others like Napa with a winery on every corner.
Want to know California wine? Know the appellations– and have fun!
What’s your favorite wine for the changing seasons, as summer turns to fall?
Our choice is Syrah…it’s a versatile food wine, lighter than Cab, typically an easy sipper.
Some Syrahs you might enjoy are Stolpman, Harrison-Clarke or Lewis.
If you’re on a budget, Corkscrew Syrah delivers great value.
So a sip to the seasons with Syrah!
Traveling around California on the hunt for terrific wines for The California Wine Club, we’re always struck by how different each wine region is.
Napa is very compact…a 30 mile long valley, brimming with o incredible wineries, mostly high-end.
Sonoma, on the other hand, is all over the place from the hot Sonoma Valley to the very cool Sonoma Coast, and everything in between. Sonoma Coast is turning out to be a world class powerhouse for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Sonoma has every terroir imaginable.
Santa Barbara is a completely different character, a mix of wine (Santa Ynez Valley, Sta. Rita Hills), Danish culture (Solvang, huge tourist draw) and gambling (Chumash casino). Take your pick!
The winemakers we talk to these days are harried, to say the least. Those heat waves we’ve seen in California recently sent the sugars in the grapes climbing and harvest has begun in earnest.
These guys and gals work 14 hour days, or longer, and it’s not easy work. There can be wasps among the grapes, and you need to pick quickly to keep up with everybody else. Plus, some wineries are harvesting at 2 and 3am – definitely the night shift.
We’re on the tail end of summer so your white wines are still a hot item.
Here are some we can highly recommend:
Dan Gehrs Chenin Blanc – Dan is a pioneer in Santa Barbara wine country, and he’s stayed true to what used to be one of America’s top whites.
Signorello’s Seta: This Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc blend has done very well for Signorello, year in and year out.
Claiborne & Churchill’s Edelzwicker: This blend of Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc is a beauty, from the cool climate Edna Valley and a San Luis Obispo County winery that is a white wine specialist.
Tangent Winery’s Albarino, a Spanish grape, shows off tangerine aromas and a real Spanish flair.
There’s still enough summer to enjoy a wine adventure with white wine. Salud!
If you’re going to Napa, here are 3 wineries that will absolutely for sure deliver a great wine experience:
PEJU – down the road from Opus One in Rutherford, great wine selection, fun people, awesome tower tasting room
SIGNORELLO – on a hill overlooking the Sliverado Trail, gorgeous view, wines — do not miss their Enoteca tasting with food pairings!
MONTICELLO – just north of Napa town, an ode to Thomas Jefferson, the American president who so loved wine, charming in every way
Have a wonderful trip!