Monthly Archive for July, 2011

Ripping and discing

In our new vineyard, at Burning Creek, some blocks consist of heavy soil that when dry are impacted and make root growth difficult. Now that much of the work in the vineyard that can be done, has been done, freeing up some of the workers, we can try to make it easier for the roots to grow.
First we rip the soil with long shanks that penetrate several feet, and we do this on both sides close to the vine, then we disc to loosen up the center of the rows. As you can see the rows are narrow, 6 feet, and the tractor 4 feet, which leaves less than a foot each side when you add posts and vine. You quickly eliminate bad drivers or those who let their minds wander.
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Veraison in the Pinot Noir

With the start of veraison, when grapes begin to color, also begins concern with bird damage. In the photo below, on the left, you can see two grapes that have had their insides surgically removed by a hungry starling. Next week we will begin netting the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
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Wine & Fire – Sta. Rita Hills Ten Year Anniversary Celebration Friday, August 12 – Sunday August 14

For more information Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance.

Pascale Beale-Groom author of A Menu for all Seasons at the Santa Barbara Winery

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Luna Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar Tasting at Santa Barbara Winery on Saturday Afternoons

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Annual Wine Club BBQ

Santa Barbara Winery and Lafond wine club members are invited to join us for one of our favorite and most heavily attended events of the year on Saturday August 13 from 1-4pm. Our Annual Wine Club BBQ will be held at Lafond Vineyard, and we will enjoy fabulous food, music and wine (including barrel samples and new releases).
Winemaker Bruce McGuire will be there to answer questions about the wines and this year’s harvest, which is shaping up to be a bountiful one. It’s a great opportunity to enjoy the vineyard, the summer sunshine, and meet fellow club members and winery staff.
Saturday August 13, 1-4pm
45.00 per person
For reservations call the Santa Barbara Winery at 805-963-3633 or Lafond Vineyards at 805-688-7921

Lafond Vineyard Pinot Noir July 15, 2011

The Pinot Noir is only a few weeks from veraison, when the grapes begin to color. The season is a little late, due to the cool summer and late rains, but the grapes are beautiful.

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Hedging Lafond Vineyard

The vines are hedged several times during the growing season. As the canes grow they tend to fall over the top restraining wire and cover the fruit that has been exposed after leafing. Not only the top canes but those that have grown laterally need to be cut. The hedger, working in very narrow 6 foot rows, cuts both sides and tops as well. Click images to enlarge:

Santa Barbara Winery 2008 Reserve Chardonnay

This has been one of our finest Chardonnays. Every competition in which we entered it resulted in a Gold Medal, or better. We are quickly running out of it but the 2009 promises to be just as good.
Here is a list of the competitions in which it was entered:
2011 Best of Class
Orange County Wine Competition
2011 Best Chardonnay
Finger Lakes Int. Wine Competition
2011 Double Gold
San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition
2010 Double Gold
San Francisco International Wine Competition
A wine that wins a Double Gold indicates one that has been awarded gold status by all judges in its classification.
If you like rich flavorful Chardonnays order now:
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Friday Sun Down Tasting at Lafond Winery & Vineyards 5:00 – 7:30

Join us for our next Sun Down at 5:00 this Friday.

Pulling Red Wine out of Barrels – Friday July 8

We are, actually, pushing wine out of barrels, using Nitrogen, an inert gas. Wine , especially finished wine, is very delicate and we avoid pumping wherever possible.

Once the wine is out, the barrel is cleaned with hot and cold water. The water from the barrel cleaning is drained, through about 200 feet of piping, to a mobile water tank set just below the hill. The collected water is used in the vineyard.

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Tuesday July 5th Touring the Vineyard

Warm today with temperatures in the high 80s. The vines seem to like the heat and have shown substantial growth in the past week. We took David’s 1960 jeep, which has been worked on by his sons Hayden and Mason, and looks great at least on the outside – none of the gauges work and it has been stripped to its bare essential – but it is a great way to see the vineyard.

Talked first to Enrique, the foreman, about plans to irrigate and then circled the vineyard until the jeep conked out. It had overheated and I had a momentary flash of walking about a mile to my car, at the winery, and having to cross the river. It’s not deep but it’s wet. Luckily the jeep started and we were off, only to find a large bottled water delivery truck that had crossed the river, stuck on the other side. I am not sure what the outcome was for that truck but David managed to get around it and we were on our way.

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Sun Down Photos at Lafond Winery

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Private Tasting at Santa Barbara Winery Friday, July 1, 2011

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New Release 2008 Lafond Vineyard Syrah/Grenache

After three decades of wine growing in the Santa Rita Hills of the western Santa Ynez Valley, Pierre Lafond and winemaker Bruce McGuire are still experimenting with unconventional grape varieties in our cool climate growing region.

The knowledge gained since the first planting of six varieties in 1972 (one of the early vineyards in Santa Barbara County) has led to a focused approach in which varietals are sought out according to Bruce’s hypothesis on a grape’s potential to exhibit unique character when grown in our area. This pioneering has paid off with great success such as the introduction of Syrah to the Santa Rita Hills.

Grenache has the same potential as Syrah to show off spicy character expressed in a different way than the white pepper spice found in our cool climate Syrah. The 2.25 acre planting has paid off in a distinctly bright Grenache exhibiting a hint of black pepper with cinnamon spice and dark red fruit flavors with a whisper of menthol.

Three separate Syrah lots showcase the overt cool climate Syrah character. The 2008 vintage was affected by frost, producing a smaller than average crop and very concentrated flavors with an overtly cool climate Rhone character. The blend of these two grapes yields a very pleasing spicy, dense, and full-bodied wine that invites pairing with a wide variety of foods.
To Order: