Monday, March 30, 2009

2009 Bud Break Begins

The 2009 season has begun and ironicly it began in our Viognier rows. Ok. it really should have but it seemed like the perfect place as we lost all of our fruit in those rows due to the turkeys. Just is fitting that the new life begins in that part of our vineyard.

I must admit that I love seeing the new growth this time of year-who wouldn't love seeing the birth of our future wine. This time gives us a jumpstart as we walk into the spring season and gives us almost a feeling that we will be taken on an adventure for the next 6-9+ months. What will 2009 bring us from the vineyards this year? Will we be taken on a roller coaster ride again like 2008 with all the extreme conditions? We had great fruit but the stomach acids were kicked into high gear.

Will this season bring the vast range of conditions as 2008? Who really knows but some farmers in the valley are predicting 1 more hard frost! I really hope not but as one of my neighbors said to me last year-"Welcome to the life of a farmer." One lives, eats and breathes each vintage from the start of bud break to the release of the wine. It's such an ever changing cycle of life with the best part being the final product-WINE!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sea Ranch and our Winemakers dinner

Having arrived back to the winery on this last weekend of March, I couldn't be in a better state of mind. The weather is absolutely beautiful, we're in bud break and Kerry and I had an amazing experience at Sea Ranch Lodge yesterday. What a great location and even more special people.

We started off with sashimi with green apple paired with our 2007 Sauvignon Blanc. It clean and crisp on a warm sunny afternoon looking over the ocean. Kerry and I wished time could have been stopped-perfect wine and food pairing with a serene setting. Our next course consisted of fresh dungeness crab tart paired with our 2007 Stuhlmuller Chardonnay. A rich wine paired with lush seafood-made my mouth water even before I took a bite. As a rule of thumb, Chardonnay needs food for my liking. The crab seemed to accentuate the fruit in the Chardonnay, cutting through the rich buttery characteristic that the Stuhlmuller fans have come to know.

Kerry seemed to hit his his note for the evening between the Chardonnay course and the 2006 Maple Zinfandel. This guy loves life. If he wasn't a winemaker, he could be as successful as a stand up comic! He's happy go lucky and loves to speak about the wines and even better-engages our guests. He's ever the teacher. Seizing the opportunity to explain corked wine and have everyone smell the wine as we had 1 corked bottled and Kerry decided it was a perfect time to educate the masses. This really seemed to get them to another level of discussion during the meal which lead into the Maple Zinfandel pairing.

Our 2006 Maple Zinfandel has a interesting and cleaver food selection-a housemade chorizo Napoleon. This was a home run! The spice in the chorizo highlighted the Zinfandel-making that course the hit of the night! Our next course in the food adventure was prime rib and our 2005 Nevins Cabernet Sauvignon. People were ready for Cabernet and this course hit the spot-showcasing a classic food and wine pairing. Up next was the Palmeri 2006 Van Ness Syrah-matched with a light as air Gruyere Souffle which accentuated the black cherry characteristics of the Syrah. For me, the shining star of the night was the Ginger Chocolate Torte with Cherries. Our 2006 Port harmonized with the fresh ginger cookie-it brought back happy childhood memories of sharing ginger snaps with my dad.

Evening such as this aren't all about the food and wine but as much about the people you meet. I was able to sit next to some of our wine club family, Jim and Mary, and I learned so much. We talked about our food passions and I learned she worked side by side with Ansel Adams. At my table were three ladies that are ambassadors for Breast Cancer Awareness. One is going to release a cloth in the Tibetan way at the top of her climb for me Dad and I'll participate in the next climb for Breast cancer awareness in 2010. People had connections to the Midwest and Daisy ran into someone who knew a childhood sweetheart. Opportunities to have so much laughter and connection with people you met hours prior is quite indescribable for me. People come to these dinners to learn more about the wine, winemaker and owner and it always seems that Kerry and I walk away feeling blessed to work in such a great field and luck to have met new friends.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Pigs and Pinot

The 4th annual Pigs and Pinot happens this weekend at Hotel Healdsburg and Dry Creek Kitchen. Charlie Palmer and many chefs are gathering with some of the world renown Pinot Noir producers for will be quite a not to be missed event.

Several of my close friends tend to be huge Pinot Noir fans and they each claim the opinion on those wines is the one that should be followed. One is not far from staking his life on CA Pinots being superior to OR Pinots. One that discovered French Pinot last year and can't wait to taste the French producer this year. Then we have those that love CA Pinots in general verses the Appellation designate Pinots. I just want to enjoy good wine and discover new wines. What can I say but this will be a lively night at the Grand Tasting at the Hotel Healdsburg. Who will reign supreme amongst our tasting group and how will our panel compare to the experts who decide the Pinot Cup to be awarded this weekend. Stayed tuned for the results.

Events such as this always has a cause on one of the benefactors for Pigs and Pinot is The Healdsburg School. Charlie is a visionary in his own profession and lucky for THS that his vision encompasses other fields. Great cause and great food/wine will make this a rockin' weekend. Events such as this bring out the best in people and brings people together from all walks of life that share a common interest-food/wine and the wine country life style. I love wine, wine country, the people and everything I get to experience on a daily basis. I'm lucky and blessed to have this opportunity and my goal is to figure out a solution so I can share this feeling and experience with everyone I meet.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Food and Wine

Over the past month, I've had the pleasure of meeting the leaders of The Culinary Society of America and learn about their vision and direction. The idea of bringing together people who love food, wine and travel with a concept like facebook or myspace ,in my opinion, is brilliant.

I know I can speak for many of our wine club family in saying at food and wine are two of their passions-ours too. Many of our wine discussions end up veering towards last weekends dinner or what is in the food pipeline this week. Food, wine and the lifestyle are what it's about here. Our challenge now is how to create an atmosphere that unites our club members and all of their shared passion.

Dutcher Crossing joined The Culinary Society of America with their first creation of Culinary Bites. This not only will introduce new recipes, wine but also food and wine pairings. We were thrilled to be included in this project and look forward to sharing the finished results with you.