Monthly Archive for December, 2012

Friday December 28 2012

Saw Bruce at the Lafond Winery in the Santa Rita Hills today. There is not much going on now that all the wine is in barrels, there are 541 60gal. barrels stacked four high and an almost equal number in our barrel room at Santa Barbara Winery. Topping is once a month, but Winemaker Bruce McGuire is here on bung and leakage patrol. At this point the bungs are fairly loose to permit CO2, from malolactic fermentation, to escape and sometimes they just pop off.

12.28.12-bruceThe other concern is leakage caused by a bore called Lead Cable Borer which makes its home in the vineyard and in oak trees. Invariably, during harvest, some barrels are left outside which will attract the bores and leakage is not always evident when the barrels are filled. Bruce has a simple oak wood cone, made especially for this purpose, which he will hammer into the bore hole. The difficult part, however, is finding the bore hole.

12.28.12-bore-hok=le-sealerBruce has every barrel numbered and eventually each barrel will be tasted and analyzed. All lots are kept separate, some will be bottled separately but most will be blended.

Getting Ready for Pruning

12.18.12-pre-prunerDavid is getting the pre-pruner ready. Pruning will probably not start until mid-February.

We like to wait as late as possible to inhibit bud growth which can be damaged by frost, and with this pre-pruner the work can go much faster. It cuts the canes about 6 inches above the growth wire eliminating a lot of heavy physical work. The workers then go down the rows cutting back the canes to the desired bud count.


End of Harvest 12/18/12 Lafond Winery

Today Bruce is pressing the last two tanks of Syrah. These have been undergoing extended maceration for 47 days, since the end of the primary fermentation. During this period they have also undergone malolactic, or secondary, fermentation. Because of this extended skin contact the wines are rich in color and flavors. Tomorrow, after giving them a day to settle, they will be put in barrels.

12.12.18-end-of-harvest-1The photo is of the key group who ran both the red and white wine productions. From the left Carlos, who can be seen at the Santa Barbara Winery Tasting Room on weekends, Bruce McGuire, the Winemaker, Shane, assistant Winemaker, and Alex who has helped at the Lafond Winery for two harvests.

Santa Barbara Winery 2010 Pinot Noir Santa Rita Hills

Gold Medal 2012 Long Beach Grand Cru
Gold Medal 2012 Pacific Rim Wine Competition
Suggested Retail: 25.00
To Order:

A Company’s Christmas Event at Santa Barbara Winery

The ‘mise en scène’ by John Savage

Winter Time

Not only are the vines going dormant but it seems at times that the winery goes dormant as well in the winter. Not so, red wines are still being pressed, we have at least another week of pressing. They are also being barreled, checked and topped regularly and checked, as well, that the secondary fermentation is active.

All our red wines and some of our whites go through malolactic fermentation – the conversion of malic acid to lactic acid, which gives both reds and whites that roundness and in Chardonnay that buttery quality.

Some of our whites that are fermented in stainless steel do not go through this secondary fermentation, and that is deliberate, since we are looking for a style that is fruity and fresh with little or no barrel ageing. Perfect examples are our Rose of Syrah and the Sauvignon Blanc.

Unfortunately, this is not very photogenic time.

The Vineyard in Winter

This photo taken November 27, the Pinot Noir below has lost almost all its leaves and the Syrah is about to do so. These light rains we have been getting recently are perfect for the seeded ground cover. A heavy rain will wash away the seeds but once they have roots it is harder for it to do so. The vines will soon be completely dormant, the next major event is pruning which will not begin until February.

A Menu for all Seasons

We are fortunate to have Pascale Beale-Groom, the author of these wonderful books, give what is probably her third or fourth demonstration at Santa Barbara Winery. We limit the number to 30-35 and they are always quickly sold out.

Pascale has a book for each season, they have great photos along with recipes. She is also introducing a line of herbs and jams that will all be available at the Santa Barbara Winery Tasting Room.

You get, not only helpful cooking suggestions, but to sample her effort carefully paired with our wines.
Click images to enlarge: