Monthly Archive for January, 2010

Confusion in the Marketplace

As we anticipated Foster Beer is putting  out a wine label ‘ Santa Barbara Wine Company’ which is totally confusing, not only to the consumer, but people in the industry as well. In the short time since the company’s announcement many store and restaurant owners have been in contact with us all in agreement that this is pure exploitation. We have also received several calls from consumers wishing to participate in the Film Festival promotion that Foster is using to introduce their new wine label. The Santa Barbara Wine Company label emphasizes ‘Santa Barbara’ and ‘Wine Company’ is an afterthought. You can see it here (we hesitate to post it)

We have been in touch with Congresswoman Lois Capps asking that she make enquiries with the ATF, the department in Treasury that controls label approval, to clarify their policy with regards to labels with similar names. The ATF needs to approve, not only names, but, content, letter size and even artwork.

We are represented in all but a few states and although the confusion is huge here it can only be worse where our wines are not as well known. ‘Santa Barbara Winery’ has been our label for over 40 years. This is the first time that we have faced this kind of challenge.

A challenge from a huge Beer and Wine conglomerate who, after many focus group sessions, determined that ‘Santa Barbara’ scored well. To add insult to injury, the grapes may be from Santa Barbara, but the wine is made in Templeton, San Luis Obispo and bottled in Napa.

Topping Red Wines at Lafond Winery

All our red wines have completed malolactic fermentation. Once they have finished this secondary fermentation they need to be topped regularly, usually every two weeks, so that an air space does not develop in the barrel.

During fermentation the wine creates its own CO2 and pushes out air. Malolactic fermentation, which can take weeks and sometimes month to complete, is carefully monitored and each barrel is tested regularly and individually.

Today and Thursday we will top all 500 plus barrels and since the barrels are closely stacked it requires some agility to accomplish. The wine will remain in barrels until ready to be bottled.

Tuesday, January 26 – Rainy day at the Vineyard

Photos taken safely inside Lafond Winery. Steady rainfall, that does not come down in torrents, is very beneficial to the vines removing salts that may have accumulated during the year. This year we have had some strong rain, but interspersed with sunny warm weather allowing the cover crop, which protects from erosion, to grow. Pruning may be delayed a little, but since our fields are sandy and drain quickly, workers can return, if not the next day, in two or three at the most.


Lafond Winery New Release SRH 2008 Syrah

The ‘SRH’ designation on the Lafond label signals Winemaker Bruce McGuire’s intent to blend a selection of vineyards located in the Santa Rita Hills AVA (American Viticultural Area).

Located in the western end of the Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Rita Hills is a cool climate region where grapes benefit from a very long growing season.

Syrah plantings in this region have a pronouced white pepper and lavendar aromatic profile compared to Syrah planted in the Santa Ynez Valley, the warmer inland area in Santa Barbara County.

Syrah yields were down for the third consecutive year. The wine shows the beginnings of a big bodied Syrah needing time to integrate in the bottle to show off concentrated fruit and intense flavors.

This wine represents Bruce’s selection from seventeen vineyard lots and multiple Syrah clones. Forward cool climate character is evident in this multivineyard blend of Syrah.

The wine was aged for nine months in 60 gallon French and Hungarian oak barrels, and then bottled. It is noted for its abundant dark berry aromatics, white pepper spice notes, and firm tannins. One of our favorite wines for pairing with hearty fare and grilled foods, this wine is also fun to match

Suggested Retail: 23.00/750ml
T Order: Lafond Winery & Vineyards

Cane Pruning at Lafond Vineyards Friday, January 15, 2010

We have finished the cordon pruning, which is the simpler pruning and now for the cane pruning, and cane pruning comprises about 70% of the vineyard.

First, all the canes are removed from the vine except for two, and these should be the healthiest looking. This is really the hardest work, pulling the cut vines from the wires is often difficult, they generally grab on tight.

Then, at least in our vineyard, they are followed by a smaller group of women, today there were three, who do the tying.

The images show the workers, well protected from the weather, tying the canes left by the first crew.

This is a cane pruned vine

and this is a cordon pruned vine.

2007 Grassini Vineyard Petit Verdot – New Release at Santa Barbara Winery

Grassini Vineyard is nestled in the warm hills of Santa Barbara County’s newest AVA, Happy Canyon. They grew such a limited amount of this ancient Bordeaux varietal that Winemaker Bruce McGuire was only able to produce six barrels of this brooding full bodied red.

However, this small lot was enough to gain Bruce’s interest in this varietal, which he will strive to produce in future vintages. Petit Verdot is a small dark berry that when ripened properly, will produce intensely full bodied red with bold spice notes and high tannin.

Though its origins are not clear, most sources agree that the varietal predates Cabernet Sauvignon, making it a staple in most Bordeaux Blends. The varietal has been used much less in France over the last few decades as it ripens slowly and can not always fully mature in Bordeaux’s cool fall season.

Thus, Petit Verdot has become quite attractive to New World growers, that can allow for longer hang time. While delicous now with its hints of Mysore banana and leather this vintage will develop beautifully over the next few years, maturing between 2011 and 2016. Enjoy this wine with hearty cuts of beef or lamb.

Sugested Retail: 30.00
To Order: Santa Barbara Winery

Cordon Pruning at Lafond Vineyards in the Santa Rita Hills

We use two basic pruning methods – cordon and cane. In cordon pruning there is a permanent cane on the wire which can extend both sides of the vine, or sometimes just one side. The fruit canes grow from buds left on the permanent cane. The images below show our crew pruning the cordon trained vines. They will do all these first before doing the cane trained vines. It avoids confusion.

In cane pruning there is no permanent cane on the wire, canes from the previous year, usually four, are selected and tied to two levels of wires. The rest of last years canes are removed. This is a more labor intensive process because after pruning another crew needs to tie the canes to the wires but some varieties, such as Pinot Noir, have been shown to benefit.

Santa Barbara Winery New Release: 2007 Joughin Vineyard Primitivo

Looking for interesting grapes to plant in his Santa Ynez Valley vineyard, Mr. Andrew Joughin purchased the cuttings for this wine from vines
originating in Italy.

Primitivo is well known as the primary wine from the Puglia region of Italy where it was widely planted starting in the 1850’s. Interestingly, recent genetic research has confirmed that Primitivo is identical to Zinfandel.

Because of the similarities of climate in his Los Olivos area vineyard and the Puglia region, Mr. Joughin thought this would be an interesting selection as well as a very good food wine.

2007 was the seventh Primitivo crop from Mr. Joughin’s vineyard with yields filling about 11 barrels, smaller than average. “As Andy’s vineyard gains maturity, I am seeing increasing complexity and depth in the finished wine” notes winemaker Bruce McGuire.

Small loose clusters in 2007 led to an intensely concentrated wine. This is a terrific wine to experiment with a wide range of flavors and cheeses, we feel the list of food pairings is rather large with this concentrated Primitivo tilting things to bigger, richer flavors and grilled meats. In the bottle, this wine will continue to evolve through 2012.
Suggested Retail 27.00
To Order: