Monthly Archive for September, 2012

Harvest from the Comfort of the Tasting Room

The Sorting Crew

This year for the first time Daisy and some of her friends are monitoring the first conveyor. Daisy is the daughter of our long time and indispensable Foreman, Enrique Solozano, and will be starting College in January. Their job is to remove all MOG ‘material other than grapes’ and any clusters that, for whatever reason, should not be there.

View of Pinot Noir from the Winery, Tuesday, November 25

The vineyard is beginning to color and telling us that the grapes are almost ready.
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Saturday Picnic at Lafond Winery Mixing Business and Pleasure

We had the visit of David Sciuto, originally from Santa Barbara, now living in China and his Chinese partner Wayne and wife Susan. David and Wayne are importing our wines into China with great success.

It was a perfect afternoon, and at their request, we tried to explain the wine making process in just a few hours. It culminated with Wayne driving the picking tractor.
David’s family was here along with most of the Lafonds and Winemaker Bruce Mcguire.
The images can be enlarged by clicking:

Lafond Winery at Harvest Time

Open top fermenters with removable plastic tops to permit punching-down the cap.

Bruce hand punching-down Pinot Noir and testing samples from various vineyards.

Another Appreciative Video from Wine Weirdos

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Processing Pinot Noir

Wednesday morning the winery crew is ready to process last night’s grapes. The image shows the grapes being dumped onto a conveyor belt where workers remove anything that shouldn’t be there.

The clusters then pass through the stemmer that removes the stems and also dried berries and loose seeds and then drops the grapes, undamaged, onto another conveyor where the final selection is made.

The grapes are collected in a picking box at the end of the line and will be forklifted into a fermenter.
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Night Picking

We started picking our first block of Pinot Noir last night at 8:00pm. We do all our picking at night. When we first started night picking almost 10 years ago no one , or almost no one, was doing it.

It requires lights, of course, and our system has evolved from pulling a generator to having the tractor generate the necessary electricity – a system that David developed. The pickers actually prefer night picking – it’s cooler.

Initially we started at 1:00am and continued to daylight. The advantage of 8:00pm is that it doesn’t require getting up out of bed.
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Getting Ready

Bruce anticipates that we will start picking Thursday, this week. Boxes have been cleaned and are ready. The fork lift has been fitted with its dumper gear – now all we need are the grapes.

Bruce has sampled our Martin Ray block, which is the most advanced. The sugar is there, the flavor is good and the seeds are browning. There is no pressure since the other blocks are a little behind – Bruce wants to pick at the peak.
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Our Last Nebbiolo

Winemaker Bruce McGuire jumped at the chance to make his first Nebbiolo back in 1998 when a small amount became available from Ballard Canyon’s Stolpman Vineyard.

2007 is our sixth and last vintage of Nebbiolo. Nebbiolo ripens very slowly and very late. In 2007 it did not ripen until the middle of November when most other varieties have already been picked. Stolpman decided after this vintage to discontinue growing Nebbiolo.

Winemaker’s comments: Our last vintage of Nebbiolo. The vines were removed in 2008 for economic reasons. The yields were very light and harvest very late, bumping into the rainy season. This is probably the best vintage to date with a very long hang time. They were our last grapes picked. This is a wine that will age beautifully over many years.

Suggested Retail: 28.00
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First Day of Harvest at Santa Barbara Winery Friday August 31 2012

Sauvignon Blanc from the Great Oaks Vineyard near Los Olivos in the Santa Ynez Valley. We purchase Sauvignon Blanc from 4 different vineyards, all are located in warmer areas than the Santa Rita Hills, warmth that is necessary for this grape.

The Great Oaks grapes are, immodestly, great. The grapes are of the Musqué Sauvignon Blanc clone, and are very aromatic. We think highly of this vineyard and bottle the wine under a separate vineyard designated label. The wine is totally dry and fermented in a refrigerated stainless steel tank to bring out the fruitiness and character of the grape.
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1.5 Liter Bottles

These are hand-filled, hand-corked, hand waxed-capsuled but finally machine labelled. This is Bruce fitting the bottles, carefully, into the corker.
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