0

Wine

Retailer With Beverage Education As A Priority ~ Total Wines & More

I applaud Total Wines & More

Being on the inside of the wine business, I get to see things happening that let me know who’s who and what’s what.

[Image: center is Ron Rubin, owner and president of The Rubin Family of Wines, greeting his guests.]

I have been in the wine business for over two decades. I’ve not seen it all, but I’ve seen a great deal of it. This includes working with off premise retailers, when I was a district wine sales manager. So, I “get” sales. It’s not my actual calling, but having worked it intensely for three years, I have an appreciation. (If you’re a consumer, and many of you are, “off premise” means that you – as a consumer – take a purchased beverage off the premises to enjoy consuming it.)

[Ron Rubin begins his portion of the program by giving the Total people a bit of history of how he was born into and has been in the beverage industry his entire life, fulfilling his 40 year dream.]

When The Rubin Family of Wines just entertained sales people from Total Wines & More, I was once again reminded what a great company this beverage retailer really is.

[Image is of winemaker and cooper Ed Morris, who works with winemaker Joe Freeman. In the above image, Ed is talking about the importance that choosing the right barrels for each variety is all important as a great structural beginning for making wine with harvested grapes. Below, Ed's demonstrating how barrels are washed from one vintage to the next. This is something I'd never seen, either, visually. The plexiglass allows for the bird's eye view.]

When the day’s educational activities were complete, we all had a pizza picnic dinner in the vineyards. At my table sat Jenny, Dan, Keith, Debbie, Keira, and my new best friend Jen. They were all young, eager to learn, excited to be on the road learning, and just beginning an adventure of a lifetime. Total Wines had a busload of young beverage professionals learning firsthand what being in wine country is all about.

This was my second year attending one of their ‘stops’ along the way, again at The Rubin Family of Wines.  Our stop had been orchestrated by the team from the winery, led by Kate Dos Santos and Diane DiRoma. Every ‘i” had been dotted and every “t” had been crossed. The visit went off without a hitch, offering these eager-to-learn emerging wine pros (not everyone was “emerging,” but many of them were) more reasons to understand Ron Rubin’s wines.

[Image is of Ron Rubin and Alvaro Zamora, the team's vineyard manager for over 25 years. Alvaro knows his vines.]

Imagine a beverage company that will make this kind of investment in its employees? How it enriches their lives is immeasurable, when it’s all said and done.

  • The importance of knowing what you’re selling is paramount.
  • Hand selling by each member becomes critical, versus just dusting off bottles and stocking shelves.
  • Consumers can walk into any store and get valuable information about which wine to buy, and why they’d want to purchase it.
  • In many cases, these sales people will sell what they know, due to the back stories they’ve learned by being in vineyards,wine cellars, and having met the people behind the wine brands:
    • Owners
    • Winemakers
    • Vineyardists
    • The winery cat or dog
    • Any lingering memory
  • Time in the field… for every single minute… is part of a learning curve and an important team building experience.

Images from this day just say it all. I’m not going to wax poetic any further… You get the point, right?

[Winemaker Joe Freeman, conducting a tasting of differing alcohol percentages from the same original wine. It was a remarkable tasting.]

[Winemaker Joe Freeman's glasses of wine, for his demonstration.]

[A lovely pizza picnic in the vineyards with River Road Family Vineyards and Winery wines.]

 

 


0

P.S.A.,Public Service Announcement,Wine,Wine Magazine

NAPA VALLEY EARTHQUAKE ~ HALT THE SAMPLES

This is a public service announcement (PSA) from the Napa Valley office of Wine Spectator

You know how you ask, “What can I do to help?” Yeah… it’s one of those moments.

NAPA VALLEY EARTHQUAKE 2014

I just received this Email and know its importance, as I have samples that I’d like to send in this direction. As a result, I understand how important it is, in this time of turmoil.

Perhaps having our $70,000 house flood on July  8, was in preparation for me to have that side of empathy that I’m now feeling, as everyone faces cleanup and re-construction. (Our house flood allowed just under 3000 gallons of water to escape onto our second floor bathroom, and travel down into our laundry room, then out into our garage. That equates to 74 bathtubs full of water to be dumped into that one room, and down into another… It’s now three months later, and we’re still trying to resolve the catastrophe; ergo, I’m here to help.)

HEAD’S UP

From Wine Spectator:

Greetings,

Like a lot of businesses in downtown Napa, our office was affected by the earthquake. As we work on cleaning up and getting the office back in order, we ask that you stop sending us samples. When we are ready to receive them again, we’ll send another notice out.

All samples that are shipped from today forward will be automatically returned to sender. We cannot take any responsibility for samples sent to us during this hiatus.

This includes any wines we may have solicited directly for reports we have been working on. When we hit unpause, we will notify you of any new deadlines.

Thank you for your help, good luck with harvest, and best wishes to everyone.

-Wine Spectator Napa Tasting Office

This image was on Wine Spectator’s site, illustrating a story written by MaryAnn Worobiec. It was taken by my good friend Dave Pramuk, partner with Robert Biale at Robert Biale Vineyards… Just a few weeks ago, I was telling Dave the tales of my own woes. Now, there are just too many of us.

Hold your samples, and when I hear otherwise, I’ll post on this blog. Thanks.


2

Alexander Valley,Cabernet Sauvignon,Movie,Sonoma County,Wine

Get On Up: James Brown moment + a lifetime memory + a befitting wine

Get On Up… What a chant…

It’s no secret that I have a rock n’ roll background, long before I moved to California and segued into wine. Our friend Corinne Reichel of Respite Wines just asked us, before seeing the movie  Get On Up, “Did you ever meet James Brown?” Ask about most rock and roll artists, and the answer is a probable “yes.” Jose said, “No, but Jo’s got a good story.” So, I told it to her.

In the 1980s, we were at the annual New Music Seminar in New York City. It was being held in the Marriott Marquis, which had just opened, but not even their theatre was completed yet… So, it was very, very new. As Jose and I were headed out of the building, having just gone down the escalator from the second floor, we were waiting for the revolving door to stop revolving as people were flooding into the lobby. The last person to come through the door left me looking dumbfounded, right into the person’s face.  James Brown swept right into the building… right in front of me by a couple of feet. I must have had that look on my face of, “Oh my gawd… James Brown.”

But, I didn’t say anything, because I was far from star struck, being on the inside of that business. He was just another performer, but it was the unexpectedness of it being James Brown and that talent I did respect. It was just a shocking realization that I recognized the person just standing in front of me, who was someone larger than life.

He looked at me, shot that affable smile, and then grunted, “Huh!” right at me.

I burst out laughing and left the building… It’s not a moment that’s easily forgotten

“Get On Up!”

“Based on the incredible life story of the Godfather of Soul, the film will give a fearless look inside the music, moves and moods of James Brown, taking audiences on the journey from his impoverished childhood to his evolution into one of the most influential figures of the 20th century.”

Corrine had suggested the movie to us, which was playing in Petaluma at the Rialto. Leave it to Corrine to turn me onto yet somewhere else new, in this case, the Rialto.. She was the third women in a string of talented wine women at Belvedere Winery to understand my potential, and let me get busy.

  • Lavonne Holmes hired me to work in the tasting room.
  • Katrina Morss Commesso took me into the marketing department as her communications coordinator.
  • And when Corinne Reichel came in as the marketing director, she understood what we could do together.
    • We turned around the financial books, while ripping up the road nationally.
    • I ended up with about eight states, which now had sales efforts, beside the communications coordinator position.
    • Traveled to 40 states, in the effort.

It was a golden period, and to this very day Corinne still offers so much opportunity to me and my family. People like Corinne are really hard to find in life. She just came into mine; so, when she asked if Jose and I’d like to go see a movie with her, I made myself get out of my own way. I said, “Yes.” (My house flood is really hard to push past right now, until it’s completely rebuilt… gaping ceiling holes in my office, raw floor boards, etc. It’s easy to get sucked into nothingness, and it’s almost two months to the day of the disaster.)

When Corinne came into my life, she talked about her Reichel Vineyards in Alexander Valley. The family was, and still is, farming it.

Our 20 acre south-facing vineyard is located northeast of Cloverdale in the Alexander Valley Appellation from 2,300′ to 2,500′ in elevation. It is owned by Corinne and Charles Reichel and is part of a 400 acre ranch that was originally purchased in 1948 by Corinne’s grandfather.

Like a myriad of growers before them, they just had to get their grapes made into a wine… And they pulled out of the stops, when they hired Denis and May-Britt Malbec.

A vibrant, husband and wife team briefly:

Having been born and raised at Latour, Denis has deep viticultural and wine making roots with Château Latour of Pauillac.
May-Britt is a European Master Sommelier, who has won the Prince Henri-Melchior de Polignac award, for best sommelier in the Nordic countries.

This is how you make a wine that has a lot of soul, by hiring a king of Bordeaux’s winemaking royalty…

And, this is why I’d chosen to enjoy Respite Cabernet Sauvignon, while watching this movie outside of a movie theater (since you can’t bring it into one)… This is my befitting wine, while enjoying the journey of the King of Soul. someday, it will be “in the house” as I watch Get OnUp on NetFlix (or whatever), while enjoying the King of Soul Cabernet by Respite.


0

Social media,Wine,Wine Business,Wine Country

Social Media Faux Pas, Reminder to Keep Your Social Media Local

The Napa Valley Earthquake was very close to home. It was also quite a reminder for me how important it is to keep your business local; most especially your social media. Don’t expect someone sitting in Kentucky, for example, to understand the local geography. And, how can you even begin to measure someone’s emotional intelligence in the process. If you’re just hiring some agency, which has hired kids off the street who think they can just fill in the daily blanks, you’re in for a big surprise… sooner, rather than alter.

I actually had an agency call me one time,

to see if I could help with social media for one of their clients…

It was because of my blog. Reading it, it appears that I probably know a bit about the wine business, right? What I was being pitched was to write Facebook entries for a former client, with whom I had worked for nearly ten years. The joke in it for me was that I probably knew too much about the company than anyone would care to know… But, and this is a BIG but… why was I terminated as an expert in their history, and now they were farming out their social media to a group outside of California looking for someone inside of California? They would get the fee for farming it out, and did they even know who they were talking to? No… I didn’t hear back from them when I explained the irony of the fact that I was who I was in the history of the wine company?

And their eventual social media? Generic at best; wanting, a least.

My former client could have come to me directly and explained a shift in my job descriptions. Their continuing revolving door and the layers of their petticoat, however, were now strangling their ability to see beyond the haze of their netting.

Too bad…

I’d like to remind you all, if you own a company, “thinking locally” is always better or your business, as well as your image.

There was a huge social media fail coming out of Louisville, Kentucky on Sunday morning,  as everyone was spreading the news of the Napa Earthquake. It came from a company representing a Sonoma County entity. I’m not editing typos:

See if you can catch the faux pas…

First, the reaction from a Sonoma County Facebook page:

We would like to assure all visitors to Sonoma County that there is no damage from today’s early morning earthquake. Happy travels.

While 403 people liked this, it’s safe to say that they’re mostly not in our area and love Sonoma County. Meanwhile, others saw the flaw in the social media ointment. This allows for a teachable moment.

  • Taylor: Maybe a “hope our napa neighbors are safe” status would’ve been better
  • Christine: Way to put greed above safety.
  • Charlene: Someone is assuring us from Louisville, KY?
  • Susan: There is damage in Napa. Watch the news.
  • Pamela: Naps is not sonoma County
  • Jen: Agreed. Damage in Napa and in Sonoma which is in Sonoma County. And why is a post about Sonoma County coming from KY
  • Jennifer: why does this say Louisville, KY ?
  • Jo: Pamela, the fail is telling people to have “happy” travels. The wine industry is very closely knit, so our hearts are sad, on this side of the industry. Someone who doesn’t understand our situation… Feeling horrible for our Napa Valley friends, won’t be in that “happy” mood. It’s going to be really somber here… Someone writing in Kentucky doesn’t know that… So, it is better to hire someone close to home, in a case like this… That’s where the fail occurred. And… I’m right here in Sonoma.

This is why it’s important to think locally….

There is good news for this story. Enough of us had such a negative reaction that someone has now taken down that entry.


4

Wine

Napa Valley Earthquake: Not too shaken, just a little stirred in Sonoma County

A terrible pun, I know, but actually very true, about this Napa Valley earthquake, as it relates to outlying regions.

Our hearts go out to all of the wine companies, their owners, and their employees, whose lives just got turned upside down. this is PR pro Mia Malm’s office. While This is an office pick-up, the outside of Mia’s building has a different story.

See the image below of her office building. Restoration is now in the building’s future.

As we watch while people share their stories on Facebook their devastation, I feel really connected. Everyone is ahead of any news sources, because it’s impossible for local news to be everywhere at this point in time. There’s just too much that’s gone wrong to record, too; most especially for the human element that this represents. For posterity’s sake, I’m going to show you some of the images that people are willing to share on Wine-Blog.

Having just experiences what’s turned out to be a $70,000 internal house flood, I’m feeling the angst for anyone affected, for the long run of it all.

I just did the math on how much water damage we had from the broken pipe upstairs in the guest bathroom. We lost just under 3,000 gallons of water. It takes about 42 gallons of water to fill a bath tub… So, we had over 71 bathtubs full of water flood the floor, come down into our laundry room through the walls, ceilings, air duct, and floors,  etc.

It’s going to be a big mess for a long time for Napa vintners, complicated by harvest needs. Everyone is so focused on harvest, and yet, it must be managed all at the same time. I’m sure of this, as I try to continue to balance life in the midst of our huge mess.

I asked on Facebook who felt the 3:30 a.m. Napa Valley earthquake shaking. The range was far and wide:

  • South Coastal
    • Carmel
    • Santa Cruz Mountains
  • South Bay and coastal
    • Morgan Hill
    • South San Jose
    • North Beach, which is the northeastern part of San Francisco a few blocks from Fisherman’s Wharf
      Southern part of SF
    • Very strong in Oakland. Gus (the dog) was panicked.
  • East of Napa
    • Fairfield
  • Northeast of Napa
    • Lake County
  •  Napa (of course)
    • Aratas Wine: Downtown is pretty bad. Mike says tanks at the winery just split right open.
  • North of Napa
    • San Rafael and the hills of San Rafael (west of Napa
    • Sonoma
    • Petaluma
    • Windsor
    • Geyserville
    • Cloverdale

In Napa, how Robert Rollett of RJR Enterprises home was devastated. Caption: Stuff on top shelf of book case on floor…thirty pound speakers ended up eight feet away…old tv and TV stand moved 8″ from normal position…

Mia Malm: My office is trashed. Don’t know if the building will be cleared for occupancy. We’ll see. Right now there is a lot of danger of falling bricks. Amazingly, the wine gods kept every bottle intact although there is some dented capsule damage. From Mia to me: Nobody has earthquake insurance, it’s too expensive. Sure you can share it if it helps your story. My stuff is mostly ok, just a mess.

This is the rippling effect…. First devastation, then recreation, which doesn’t happen overnight.

With Mia’s building looking like this, it’s highly unlikely that anyone will be allowed into the building for a while, lest any brinks fall on anyone in the process.

Another PR professional’s office is Lisa Adams Walter. She writes: My totally trashed office in downtown #Napa

Carole Meredith of Co Owner at Lagier Meredith Vineyard, shared storage warehouse, where thousands of barrels of wine are stored.”

A glimpse into what people in Napa are now facing…

This is a stainless steel tank for wine, not a soda can without a logo, at the Hess Collection.


0

Wine,Wine Importer,Wine tasting

Conscientious wine making and scrupulous storage are required to go the distance

[Image borrowed from the Best of Wines.] Bacchus, author of the site, writes of Jim Ruxin:

You will receive an email twice a month listing current holdings in Bordeaux, California, collectibles from current Parker-rated wines, Burgundies, Alsatian (a fetish), and even German Rieslings. His specialty is older vintages but you may have to wait until he scores a major cellar from a client that goes back 30 years – vintage and otherwise.

Having personally been in the wine business for the last 20+ years, this is how history allows for stories to just unfold on their own, including conscientious wine making. This one is so good, in fact, that it’s worth sharing, with Jim’s permission. As I just wrote in another blog post, PR 101 ~ Personal emails are a true path. During the time when I was writing that story, this one dropped into my Email inbox, from Jim Ruxin of Village Wine of Brentwood.

The subject title read:

1984 Belvedere…you worked there?

Dear Jo,

As a wine broker, I recently acquired six bottles of this wine, served it at a subscription dinner and sold them instantly.

I was extremely impressed with the youthfulness and the maturity. This wine, as all the others in this perfectly stored restaurant cellar, were amazing. Modest wines that were fresh, with wonderful secondary aromas and flavors. Not terribly complex, but there was much to be said for their relative to today modest alcohol. These wines were not austere.

I would buy cases of these and other Belvedere if I could find them. Others from the era that were equally impressive: Cutler Cellars, Stephen Zellerbach, Lakespring.

I wrote back to Jim Ruxin:

Hi, Jim,

I was at Belvedere from 1993 to 1998. When I arrived, Erich Russell was the winemaker. I believe he was there for the 1984 vintages. (I’ve Cc:ed him, so he can correct me if I’m wrong.)

The wines that you had would have been made by Erich, if I’m correct.. Today he owns Rabbit Ridge Winery.

Consider buying Erich’s wines of today, because he does know how to make great wine. Belvedere is no longer in existence. Bill Hambrecht dissolved the business, to make a profit from Belvedere Vodka… First the vodka company had a copyright infringement for the Belvedere name; but Bill, being a venture capitalist, seized the moment and turned that into instant profit…

Thanks for reaching out and sharing. I’m hoping that I’ve been able to guide you to the original source for that wine.

Thanks, Jo.

I just wanted to share my respect and gratefulness. You could taste their effort to produce something of value. Effort like that gets too little respect today. It may have been uneventful then, but their work speaks to me today.

The wine came from a Santa Barbara restaurant that closed 15 years ago when the owner retired. He [put] 440 bottles into professional storage, and they were not touched until the early summer when I acquired them all.

Thanks for sharing, Jim.

I think I’ll blog about this one, if you don’t mind? It’s a good story. I haven’t blogged about Erich in a while, and it would be a great winemaker profile, along with a wine pro backing me up with my thoughts. Are you okay with that?

Yes.

Every bottle showed like a far younger wine. This includes modest bottlings like 1981 Rausan Segla (at the time), 1975 Lescours, 1989/1990 Meyney and lesser bottlings you would think might not be drinkable at this age. Even the bottles with high shoulder fills showed no signs of premature aging or falling apart.

I already mentioned the California wine that showed so well.

The lesson is that conscientious wine making and scrupulous storage are required to go the distance. Few have tasted the mature potential of mid- to lower level bottlings in off years, because they are often consumed young or ignored by the market when younger better vintages displace them from the limelight.

Can’t wait to open the 1947 Leoville las Cases and 1961 Latour that remain. Please refer your readers to me if they have any interest in these and other remaining wines.

Thanks,

CLICK FOR EMAIL: Jim Ruxin
Village Wine of Brentwood
Representing Fine Cellars
+01 310-471-7372 office
+01 310-617-7372 mobile

There you have it… Wines that have aged show all of the promise of their potential, when conscientious wine making and scrupulous storage go the distance.

Thanks for reaching out, Jim. It’s great when colleagues share their own stories, versus me always harping on subjects, for which others might question my credentials.  (It happens every time someone decides, “you’re just a blogger, what could you possibly know?

 


0

Oregon,Viticulture,Walla Walla,Washington,Wine,Wine Education,Winery

Writing you don’t see, revealed… Cadaretta’s Soil Composition at Southwind Vineyard

Cadaretta Wine’s Soil Composition at Southwind Vineyard is a story that I wrote for our client. Because it’s for their Website, it’s got a copyright on it and stories like this I never put onto my blog ~ like so many other internal documents that I produce daily. But this one has just stuck with me, I mean really stuck with me. I first wrote it, then ran it by Dr. Kevin Pogue of Whitman College, because he really knows this vineyard site… And, even more important is that he’s an expert in the Great Northwest. This is an area where I have very limited knowledge; while I’ve been there, it’s not like living there. One has to really travel to these locations repeatedly to get to the depths of their roots. It’s very limited exposure for me. I really need to get myself up there, again and soon.

Meanwhile, I got my dig deeper hat on and did the best I could, bases on what’s available. And – as I said – ran it by Kevin Pogue. It was like turning in an extensive research paper and having the professor (which is what he is in his day job) get back to me with edits and humble suggestions.

Huh… This is the part that really got me. He, the one who really knows what he’s doing, becoming humble on my behalf. Where do you begin with that one; except to know that you have to really appreciate this man? And so, my learning began, after a few logical inferences got a red line through them and encouragement to go on, with humble suggestions that were based in HARD FACTS.

I left my ego at the door a long time ago, I pray to the altar of editing, and Kevin Pogue was/is a master.

So, I asked David Hance, my contact person for Cadaretta, if I could put this story onto my blog besides the Cadaretta Website. Why? Because it’s really so good… Not my writing, I’m not talking about my writing. The story is good… I mean really good. Many of us around the world have limited knowledge of this area, and this story needs to be in multiple places; so you – dear readers – will know about a bit of magic in the Great Northwest.

The Southwind Vineyard is just west of Milton-Freewater in Oregon, and is located in the Walla Walla Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA). This estate contains some distinctive soils that help to define its exceptional terroir.

Here’s the Cadaretta vineyard story…

According to Dr. Kevin Pogue:

“The soils in the “fractured block” are distinctive. What makes them distinctive is that the surface layer of loess is relatively shallow, allowing the roots of the vines to penetrate into the underlying fractured and weathered basalt bedrock, which has a different mineral chemistry (more Fe, Mg, Ca, less K, Al, Na) than the overlying loess. The block is on a slope that faces south and southwest, into the sun and prevailing wind direction. The thin soils, as well as enhanced exposure to sun and wind, induce vine stress. This is generally associated with grapes that make better wines.”

Dr. Kevin Pogue, of VinTerra Consulting, is a licensed geologist and professor of geology at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington. He holds a doctorate in geology from Oregon State University, and has over 25 years of teaching and research experience at the university level. It was he who Rick Middleton, whose family company owns both Southwind Vineyard and Walla Walla’s Cadaretta Winery, hired to characterize and delineate his vineyard’s soil types. This was done in order to begin to identify Southwind’s terroir, and the flavors that might be irreplaceably ascribed to its wines.

What Kevin Pogue found was an area of their property that they had not planned to plant because they thought the soils were too shallow and rocky. Pogue advised them that it might actually be the best place to plant if they wanted to make interesting, terroir-driven wines.
Kevin Pogue:

“Southwind Vineyard and Walla Walla’s Cadaretta Winery hired me to characterize their soils, and I told them that they should consider developing and planting the Lickskillet soils on their property I felt that this would add diversity to their terroir portfolio, and was likely to give them grapes for exceptional wines. The adjacent Seven Hills vineyard has a block planted on Lickskillet soils. I knew that this would be something new and interesting for Southwind, adding to the diversity of what they offer with their Cadaretta wines.”

Have you heard the Japanese saying, “The nail that sticks out gets hammered down”? This saying is used to make a point about how difficult it is to be different, and that any deviance is met with resistance. With the vineyards at Cadaretta, this is how it is for us, except for the fact that we have something so dramatically different in our Oregon vineyard. And, it’s not something that we’d like to level out. It’s become the basis for Cadaretta; a distinct defining point of differentiation and not the one nail needs to be leveled to match the rest. It’s the one spot found in Oregon that singularly has the opportunity to define new flavors from ancient soil for us. It is truly our unique story and an experiment worth close attention.
Cadaretta Vineyards contain fractured basalt soils, which occur on steep hillsides all over the Columbia basin, as compared to the other 99.9 percent of soil types planted in other areas of the states. Whether they’re wind-blown or alluvial, most soils planted in the Basin are derived in part from the non-native granite, which was finely ground by glaciers and redistributed by wind and water.

The Lickskillet Very Stony Loam series, the fractured and decayed basalts that we have at Southwind, are common on every steep, hillside soil type for the region. They’re not present, however, below 1,250 feet, the maximum height of the Missoula flood. Because of the relatively high elevation, it’s not been historically convenient to develop water to these sites. They’ve not been developed for viticulture, primarily because they are thin, rocky, and occur on steep slopes where cultivation is difficult. A challenge is that it’s so difficult to get water up that high (which is not the primary reason, however). But when this does happens, viticulturists and winemakers find ancient basalt soils, with highly oxidized iron and magnesium, as well as elevated calcium carbonate levels. This results in a distinctive assemblage of mineral nutrients available to vines, which have a big flavor impact on the resulting wines.

It’s a rarity, and an experiment. It’s very difficult to access soils like this in this semi-arid environment; the site is stony, harsh, sunny, and wind exposed.

The Back Story

It’s important to note that terroir is a concept. It’s more than a simple definition, and much more than all that’s tangible. It is a word created by French vignerons, whose families have worked specific vineyards for centuries; where each day their terroir delivers something new to consider. It could simply be a warm breeze on a cool, spring day. Something that simple can affect the outcome of a wine harvest’s uniqueness, if it persists for any length of time.

To gain understanding of terroir for Cadaretta, Dr. Kevin Pogue was asked to help, because only the most experienced person would do, in order to get it right. We began by knowing that the soils on Cadaretta’s hillsides are that complex. Initially, we didn’t know exactly how complex they would turn out to be.

In order to begin the process, a hole about 12 feet deep and at least twice as long was dug into the ground. This revealed all of the layers of geologic history:

  • Loess ~ Topsoil
  • Fractured and decomposed basalt ~ Midsoil
  • Basalt bedrock ~ Bottom soil

Each layer holds certain characteristics and will function in certain ways, affecting the flavors of the wines to be produced; therefore, minerals would become all important as flavor compound considerations.

UPPER:

Loess (pronounced as “luss”) is the wind-blown top soil that has a distinctive geologic history. This kind of soil was first recognized in the Rhine River valley, about 1821 A.D. It’s the most common soil type in the Walla Walla AVA, with its local historical roots dating back to the Missoula Floods. Loess was the final layer deposited, when the floods ceased their ravages. We have to return to the end of the Ice Age, which occurred between 15,000 and 13,000 years ago, to get the complete geologic snapshot. This is when geologists estimate that the cycle of the impounding and catastrophic draining of Glacial Lake Missoula Lake occurred… dozens of times, over that 2,000 year period. The floods would periodically sweep across eastern Washington; heading southward, down the Columbia River Gorge.
Loess is sediment deposited by the wind. It is composed mostly of silt with some fine sand and is poor in clay. Loess in the Columbia contains the minerals quartz and feldspar, derived in part from granite. This is all loosely cemented by calcium carbonate. It is usually uniform and highly porous, crossed by vertical passageways, which permit the sediment to fracture and form vertical bluffs.

MIDDLE:

Fractured decomposed basalt is the midsoil section, and is from this Lickskillet soil type. Basalt is usually grey to black in color, and rapidly (only in wet climates) weathers to brown or rust-red, due to oxidation of its iron-rich minerals, into rust color.
The midsoil was formed by stony soil and debris that accumulated on, or at the base of slopes. It is composed of loess, basalt, and weathered basalt all coming together. Lickskillet soils are on uplands, and have slopes ranging from zero to 120 degrees. Annual precipitation is usually about 12 inches, and the mean annual temperature is about 48 degrees Fahrenheit.

BOTTOM: Basalt bedrock is the lowest layer of soil in the Southwind Vineyard. Extrusive igneous rocks, or volcanic rocks, form when magma makes its way to Earth’s surface. The molten rock erupts, or flows above the surface, as lava. It then cools down forming a hard rock. It’s dark-colored and fine-grained, and is composed largely of plagioclase feldspar and pyroxene. Basalt is also considered to be one of the main components of oceanic crust.
If the lava cools in less than a day or two, there is no time for elements to form minerals.

FLAVORS OF THE SOILS:

All of the above are combining to define the Southwind vineyard in exclusive ways.

Cadaretta’s Southwind Vineyard’s Unique Soil Experiment

With little exception, much of Cadaretta’s Southwind Vineyard has been planted on these Loess soils. These wines will be very characteristic of other Walla Walla Valley wines.

There is, however, an important exception. There’s a location that is high on Southwind Vineyard’s hillside. It’s well above the Missoula Flood elevations, and is consequently in a class all of its own. Loess is thin and the next layer, just below the surface of the loess layer, is undisturbed and decomposed volcanic basalt. It’s easily fractured and it develops into grainy rock soil, which is known as Lickskillet.

It is the presence of these unique, fractured basalt soils, which are so unique as compared to the rest of the state (which state?) that is so out of character, and what Rick Middleton and his vineyard and winemaking teams believe will produce a distinctive wine; one that will become the benchmark wines for the Cadaretta wine brand. Dr. Pogue is truly excited about the possibilities. In independent studies, Pogue has discovered important differences of basalt-based soils. They have the following:

  • More iron, calcium, and magnesium content than loess soil.
  • Generally retain more heat more quickly (only if basalt fragments cover the surface)

Learning what the differences mean for the location that is high on Southwind Vineyards’ hillside is a wait-and-see experiment, as vines have only been recently planted here. But, as with all vines being planted in different locations, it’s a safe assumption that these vines will perform differently, and deliver more unique fruit characteristics. And, the waiting is exciting for everyone involved in Southwind and Cadaretta, as the vineyard moves from test rows to larger production blocks, anticipating the wines those blocks will produce.


0

Cabernet Sauvignon,PR Advice,Wine

PR 101 ~ The Art of Diplomacy

I’m a Sagittarian; and in astrology, we’re known to be pretty blunt. This isn’t a cop out for my being blunt, nor does it say that astrology is the be all to end all for supposed traits within that world… It’s just my life’s observations about myself, and the realizations that my bluntness has sometimes offended people. Sometimes I intended it (younger years); and, sometimes I don’t mean to offend others (most of my communications now).

I actually thought at one point in time, “If they don’t like what I’ve said, it’s their problem, not mine,” until this one day that caused a paradigm shift…

Example

Boss: “Jo, you’re so bossy.”

Jo: “Well, Ed, when a man’s assertive, he’s called a ‘boss.’ When a women’s assertive, she’s called ‘bossy.’”

That’s definitely not what my boss was wanting to hear. And, had I used the art of diplomacy, I might have kept that job longer. He was expressing a problem and I needed to pay attention. Instead I just shot back that answer, which – literally – sent a shock-wave through his body, like I had just zapped him with electric shock therapy. His body jerked and I thought… Hum…

Take II ~ If The Art of Diplomacy had been employed

Boss: “Jo, you’re so bossy.” [Like this wasn't very blunt?]

Jo: “Well, Ed, I appreciate your feedback. I’m sorry that I offend you. Maybe my enthusiasm for just getting things done is misinterpreted as being curt? Thanks for sharing; I’ll work on it.”

That’s what my boss was wanting to hear. And, had I used this art of diplomacy, I might have kept that job longer.

Because of the circumstances of this feedback, I took a four unit course called the Psychology of Interpersonal Relationships. It was in this course that I learned several things:

  • The truth – most of the time – really does hurt, most especially when it’s delivered in a razor sharp way.
    • Does “kill the messenger” sound familiar?
  • Whomever you’re talking with, regardless of the situation, must save face in the heat of the moment.
    • Otherwise, you’ve missed an opportunity to get a point across.
    • You’ve got only this one chance presented to turn lemons into lemonade.
  • The use of equivocal language is an art, besides it being a science.
    • Bluntness is replaced with the following:
      • Putting yourself into the recipients shoes… How would he or she want to hear the response to a question of concern?
      • Timing is everything, so maybe no answer is the answer, until you’ve crafted your message in an unemotional way.
      • Why is the correct answer  (i.e., crafting it so the other person walks away satisfied?) so darn important?
        • Because both people have a point, and it has to come to neutral ground, or no one walks away happy.
  • Who hasn’t heard, “Think before you speak.”
    • Comments said in a flurry will later be regretted, in many cases.
    • Those comments could also come back to haunt us in ways we’ didn’t foresee, when we just emotionally spit them out.

A couple of really important lessons from Mr. Ed

  • He told me one day: “There are a lot of people in this company that I don’t like, but they’ll never know it.”
  • He also told me, “Sleep on that, and respond tomorrow, not today.”

 

The Art of Diplomacy ~ Equivocal Language

Why and when to use it?

  • To get your point across
  • To preserve the other person’s integrity
    • You’ve got to also care about the other person’s feelings, or none of this makes any sense
  • To maintain a relationship
  • To solve a problem

How to use it in speech?

  • Acknowledge and accept the feedback as having a modicum of truth in it.
    • “Well, Ed, I appreciate your feedback”
  • Apologize.
    • “I’m sorry that I offend you.”
      • As soon as you say, “Sorry,” the other person feels like he or she has been able to hit a bulls-eye. This allows this person to feel better and know that he or she is making progress.
      • Understand: Being sorry for the other person’s perception, does not make you guilty of anything, except for acknowledging the other person’s perceptions.
  • Give the person reasonable explanations for his or her objection – sell, sell, sell yourself.
    • “Maybe my enthusiasm for just getting things done is misinterpreted as being curt?”
  • Acknowledge the sharing.
    • “Thanks for sharing.”
      • It had better be sincere.
  • Continuing the relationship
    • “I’ll work on it.”
      • This, too, needs to be sincere.

 

When diplomacy is missing in good customer service?

  • When you state that the other person’s perceptions are unreal.
    • Remember, perception is reality.
  • When you don’t ask, “What can we do to make this right?
  • When you name call… never, ever ever name call.
  • When you try to turn it back onto your customer.
  • When you threaten the other person.

And, remember… Diplomacy, after a back and forth of going nowhere, is just senseless war; most especially if the other person doesn’t want to “hear” anything, except the sound of his or her voice going nowhere…


0

Dark & Delicious™,Event,Food & Wine,Wine,Wine Business,Wine Hospitality,Wine tasting,Winemaker,Winery

The ‘Res Ipsa Loquitor’ mutual admiration society circumlocution

What goes round and round and round again? The ‘Res Ipsa Loquitor‘ mutual admiration society… [pronounced rayz ip-sah loh-quit-her (the thing speaks for itself)]

On Sunday, August 17, PS I Love You and Kent Rosenblum (below, from Rock Wall Wine Company) hosted our annual volunteer and Groupies picnic. The following is a thank you Email that I got from Brian and Nancy Gillespie. This indefatigable couple have helped with Dark & Delicious®, since the very beginning, when we realized that if we didn’t have volunteers, we wouldn’t have an event.  Non profit events survive on the generosity of people who feel “the cause,” and help to carry the banner.

I have to share this follow-up Email from Brian Gillespie [below, center]. It just wraps-up the spirit of PS I Love You hosting an event to thank our volunteers, only to have them turn around and thank us for thanking them… Consider the volunteer spirit behind Brian’s words. They’re very important:

Hi Jo:

As usual, the annual Volunteer Picnic at Kent Rosenblum’s vineyard estate was very special.

Great setting, gracious hosts, an exceptional range of delightful wines (mostly Petite Sirah, of course), and tasty treats, including Kent’s ‘do it yourself’ pizza’s, made for an extraordinary afternoon.

While it was a day of appreciation for your volunteers, Jo, we also appreciate greatly the efforts you make to set aside a special day to celebrate with your volunteer team.

There is a Latin phrase, ‘Res Ipsa Loquitor’, which literally means ‘the thing speaks for itself’.

(It has a legal meaning as a doctrine related to personal injury law.)

It also has a colloquial meaning………the import of a thing or situation is obvious.

That was the thought I had as I looked around and saw how much everyone was enjoying the event and appreciated your arranging this special day with Kent and other winemakers.

It is obvious in your hosting this ‘Thank You’ event how much you value your volunteers.

I am sure the event was appreciated by all.

Nancy and I will be looking forward to next year’s annual PSILOVEYOU event in February. [Dark & Delicious]

In the meantime, thanks again and may the FORCE be with all of us.

Cheers,

Brian

Here I am, trying to thank those who help me, and yet they continue to thank us.

Res Ipsa Loquitor

Without volunteers for our annual event, we’d collapse upon ourselves. What I never anticipated, though, is the outpouring of generosity of this core group of people. At first, Kent, Jose, and I did everything; but one-by-one, the volunteers are taking this event over.

The Volunteers are volunteering at their own event

  • Two trucks ready, willing, and able to get everything to and from the picnic grounds. (Honey Airborne, Patty Valez, and Margie Veja)
  • Bringing extra food. (Honey Airborne, Suzanne Hudson, and Katie Rall)
  • Setting up with us. (Everyone who arrived.)
  • Make their own pizzas, with Kent’s guidance. (Everyone)
  • Photography by Scott Noltensmeier (All of the images for this blog story were taken and are donated by Scott.)
  • Picking and doing the dishes, before I had to bring it all home and do it here. (Honey Airborne with dishes and everyone else with everything else.)
  • Taking it all down with us.
  • Loading everything into vehicles to get it back to ground zero. (Honey Airborne, Patty Valez, and Margie Veja, with Ken Wilson standing by to help if needed.)

In the past, Jose and I have done most of these steps, with Ken Wilson always ready to help once he saw how much we were personally doing. But each year it grows to be more and more of the volunteers volunteering for themselves, in true Res Ipsa Loquitor style.

Thanks, Dan Berger

…for suggesting that there needs a Petite Sirah advocacy group and it should be called PS I Love You. And, thanks Mimi (my grandmother) for telling me when I was very young, “You wear your heart on your sleeve.” At the time, I didn’t know what the heck she was talking about; but as an adult, I’ve become very aware that I don’t hide my love and gratitude for those people, places, and things that I hold most dear to my heart. It’s important to me to be generous with those who are paving my path to success. As regards Petite Sirah:

  • The brands that are helping me to get the word out on this variety; not only for Petite Sirah and themselves, but also selflessly for the entire industry.
  • The sponsors who are helping us to “get ‘er done.”
  • The volunteers who are vital to the success of PS I Love You.
    • Imagine a $68,000 budget for the entire year, and how much we’re able to accomplish with so little.

How do we do it? We’re called PS I Love You…

The following wineries always step up to just made it happen with their wines, showing up to help every time we need help:

Res Ipsa Loquitor.


3

Petite Sirah,PS I Love You,Viticulture,Wine

The state of the Petite Sirah grape – Harvest 2014 and where it’s at right now

As I personally think about Petite Sirah for the 2014 vintage, in terms of this year’s grape season, it’s going down as the season of “bewitching fog” in my neighborhood. However, I’m in Russian River Valley and I’m seeing it from a very narrow band, I just found out.

I decided to reach out to the members of PS I Love You, to get them to reply to me, in order to back up my thinking for this story. What I found, though, is how narrow my view really is.

What a reminder… This changed the original title of this story, of 2014 goes down as the season of the bewitching fog in the vineyards to The state of the Petite Sirah grape – Harvest 2014 and where it’s at right now.

It was also a  huge reminder of how – when we’re thinking about ANY vintage – it has to be put into a tiny little context box of that area’s season… Over any mountain range, down into any little valley, on whatever tectonic plate the vineyard grows, terroir changes rapidly. Even within that valley, attitude and altitude will change with latitude, longitude will change with a simple breeze. With climate being a very important element of terroir, we have to be really careful of broad, sweeping statements.

Lesson learned as I was reminded of how tiny my world is… my view is only as good as my backyard’s grapes; otherwise, ask the grower of that vineyard and beware of the sweeping statements. They’re too narrow… I don’t care who the authority is, his or her sweeping opinion is just too narrow.

QUESTION

How is all of this continuing early morning fog affecting the Petite Sirah grapes in your vineyards?

Here is what I got back, proving my point, in the order that answers were submitted to me… And keep this in mind, no matter who short the answer is, it tells you something about the region and its concerns, or lack thereof.

LIVERMORE, CA

  • Concannon Vineyard ~ Senior director of super premium wines, James  W. Foster  
    • We have not really experienced any fog in the Livermore Valley as we have been blessed with amazing sunshine and nice warm weather.  Grapes are ripping very well with nice sugar and acid balance.  We are starting Harvest on Monday, August 18 [but, not Petite].
  • Occasio Winery ~ Winemaker & proprietor John Kinney
    • Our vineyards in Livermore Valley have not been plagued with fog this year, but the humidity has been running 20-30 percent higher. This is slowing sugar ripening (reducing evaporation-transpiration), but letting the acids and skin phenols develop normally. I think this will be a perfectly ripe year but with lower sugar levels- not a bad thing. Too early to know about Petite Sirah, but we are starting harvest of our white wines next week.

SANTA CLARA VALLEY

  • Guglielmo Winery ~ Director of marketing Greg Richtarek
    • Down here in the Santa Clara Valley, we love the fog! We get it more often than up north as there is the Hecker Pass gap between Watsonville and the Valley. We like things to slow down the vines, so we are not harvesting everything at once!

DRY CREEK VALLEY: CA

  • Gustafson Family Vineyards ~ Proprietor Dan Gustafson
    • Fortunately , we are above the fog, but at our elevation we have been bothered by the smoke in the air from the forest fires. It seems to linger at the higher altitude. Look at our website for a photo.
    • [Thanks, Dan, I've borrowed your image and included it in this story.]

RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY: CA

  • Rock Wall Wine Company, Lone Oak Vineyard ~ Winemaker & Proprietor Kent Rosenblum
    • The morning fog is pretty normal this time of year in the Russian River Valley, and it basically slows down and smooths out the ripening process, which is a good thing this year, as almost everyone is anticipating an early harvest.

CALAVERAS COUNTY: CA

MENDOCINO: CA

  • Artezin Wines ~ Winemaker Randall Johnson
    • All our Petite Sirah comes from Mendocino right now. Nobody is talking about PS in Mendocino. Hardly even talking about Zin yet.  My best guess for Petite Sirah harvest, NOW, in Mendo will be mid October, +or- 7- 10 days. NOW means that the weather crystal ball stays “normal,” without any rain setbacks or heat waves that advance things. Mid October +/- is the best I can say right now for PS.

LODI: CA

  • Harney Lane ~ Family member in marketing, Jorja Lerner
    • Sorry…. No fog in Lodi

WASHINGTON & OREGON, Columbia and Walla Walla valleys

  • Cadaretta Wines ~ Winemaker Kendall Mix
    • In the Columbia and Walla Walla Valleys, we haven’t really had any fog this year. However, we have recently had a few days of rain, which is pretty much unheard of in August. I don’t think it will have much effect on the crop, as vineyards will adjust their irrigation accordingly. There may be a slightly higher risk of mildew in some vineyards depending on the particular situation, but only very slight.

 PASO ROBLES, CA

  • Clayhouse Wines ~ Winemaker Blake Kuhn 
    • I think we have had less fog than normal this year. Fog is usually not an issue for us as it is relatively infrequent and burns off by 9:00 a.m.. It’s usually heaviest in June.

NAPA, CA

  • Tres Sabores ~ Winemaker, grape grower, & proprietor Julie Johnson
    • I for one am happy for it.   It’s lengthening out the season just a bit after one of the warmest springs I can remember.  Today the fog lifted here by 9am so it’s not lingering long. Even with the warm days from early spring on we still enjoyed that marvelous diurnal temperature variation—on many days the swing was as much as 45 degrees from afternoon to early am.
  • Robert Biale Vineyards ~ Grape grower & proprietor Bob Biale
    • Most of the growing season this year has been nearly ideal; starting with much needed and very timely rain in early spring, followed by warm to moderate weather spurring the vines to an early and strong start. The cool to foggy mornings in August has been a good balance to this fast moving season, allowing the grapes to retain vibrant, healthy acidity and balanced flavors. Growers who did careful, early leafing and managed their canopies have been rewarded with no mildew and healthy fruit. Early indications and samples are pointing to another powerful, yet balanced, vintage.

MODESTO, CA

  • Silkwood Wines ~ Winemaker & proprietor, John Monnich
    • We do not have fog in the central valley where 72% of all wine grapes are produced, why not a story about the chemical damage to grape vines in the Lodi area which is far more serious threat to grapes than fog. Growers may not be able to sell grapes in this area due to the overspray damage.  It’s rumored that major buyers are already shunning Lodi grapes. Another far more important topic than fog in my view is the lack of water for grapes after harvest which will create a problem for adequate luck in spring. With the politicians talking about spending money to raise height of drones and building reservoirs without assurance of a consistent supply of water is ludicrous. Sorry Jo, fog just isn’t a vital concern to me.

OREGON, McMinnville

  • Spangler Vineyards ~ Winemaker, grape grower,  &  owner Pat Spangler
    • What fog?? Hottest and driest July on record up here, thought it was the same down your way…

CLARKSBURG, CA

  • Lake Winchester Vineyard ~ Grape grower & proprietor Tim Waits
    • Not much impact in Clarksburg. Higher humidity is greater concern to our mildew reduction programs.
  • Wilson Vineyards ~ Grape grower & proprietor Ken Wilson
    • No fog in Clarksburg.