The image is of our contractor installing a 4′ diametere drain pipe under the ‘bench’ so that in rainy years, you remember, the vines are not washed away.
On our ‘bench’, an area of about 2.5 acres we formerly had Riesling, which we just pulled out. We will be re-planting with Grenache using clones that Winemaker Bruce McGuire has carefully selected. From our own experience and that of others, the Santa Rita Hills Appelation, can produce some very exciting wines from Grenache.
The 2013 vintage was the last for the ‘bench’. The vines were not producing and many had died but in a final effort gave us some excellent botrytis infected late harvest Riesling which we will bottle later this Spring.
Come Join us
We will be pouring all Red Wine paired with wonderful local Stawberries, fresh from the fields, dipped in Chocolate. The usual Decadent Brownies will also be present. The Barrel Room, which is filled with barrels and very pictureque, will be open.
No reservations are needed. There is a 10.00 Tasting Fee for four Wines. And as usual there is no charge for Wine Club Members.
The Santa Rita Hills is a small appellation at the western end of the Santa Ynez Valley that has gained national recognition for its Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah.
The Valley runs west to east permitting the late afternoon ocean fog to roll into the Santa Rita Hills, where it lingers until early morning. The surrounding hills trap the fog before it is dissipated in the wider Santa Ynez Valley.
In the spring when frost is our biggest concern a layer of fog over the vineyard can provide protection. In the summer the fog moderates the normally warm days of the valley, cooling the grapes at night. Warm days and cool nights are what gives our Santa Rita Hills Syrah its spicey rich complex flavors.
Our grapes are picked at night so that when they are processed in the morning the temperature in the fermenters can be quickly dropped allowing the maximum extraction of flavor.
Winemaker’s Comments: This SRH bottling continues to showcase the cool climate character of Syrah as grown in the Santa Rita Hills. 2011 was a cool and a late harvest with a small crop. In spite of the coolness the vines matured well and we picked at optimum ripeness. The wine shows intensity and complexity.
Wine Spectator 88 ‘Fresh and zesty, with dark berry, pepper and chewy tannins lending personality and depth. Tightens up on the finish. Drink now through 2019.’
Gold Medal San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition
Suggested Retail: 23.00
To Order: www.lafondwinery.com
These are the last grapes to be pressed. They have undergone extended maceration (skin and wine contact) for 55 days. Two tanks were pressed both of Grenache. When we stem Grenache the grapes come out like marbles. They are thick skinned and do not crush easily.
As a result they are made to order for extended maceration and much of the fermentation occurs within the grape imparting a very unique flavor. The longer skin contact allows the wine to extract more color. Tasting the wine off the press makes us aware of how complex and dark this wine will be.
One of our first harvests at Lafond Vineyards. Pierre and Vineyard Manager Bill Collins talking to crew.
A cooking demonstration by Pascale Beale, the author of four seasonal cookbooks, introducing her new cookbook ‘Salade’. Pascale’s demonstrations are always popular and her books are particularly suited to our climate and our increasing awareness for where our food comes from. Her dishes are wonderful companions to our wines.
After pressing, the wine needs to go in barrels. Carlos is tightening the hoops on a barrel and while filling another appears to be nourishing himself. All for a good cause.
Joughin Vineyard 2011 Primitivo
Andy Joughin, our Vineyard Manager for many years, was looking for interesting grapes to plant in his small home vineyard in the Los Olivos area of the Santa Ynez Valley. Varieties that would have a niche value and not compete with the more common ones. Andy consulted winemaker Bruce McGuire who recommended several Italian red varietals.
One of these was Primitivo, the primary grape of the Puglia region of Italy. Los Olivos, in the central area of the Santa Ynez Valley, has a climate similar to that of Puglia.
The vineyard is small, less than 10 acres, and each variety is three acres or less. Since Andy’s retirement Lafond Vineyards has been managing the vineyard. The small lots, that these grapes produce, are part of our program of offering special bottlings, of limited distibution, of interesting and unusual wines.
Recent DNA analysis has shown that Primitivo and California’s Zinfandel are genenetically similar. Zinfandel was, until this discovery, a grape of mystery, and its origins unknown. Primitivo or Zinfandel, the Joughin Vineyard has produced exceptional wines year after year.
Winemaker’s comments: 2011 was a small concentrated vintage due to poor fruit set in the spring. This is the 11th crop from the Joughin Vineyard, as vines become more mature the level of concentation and depth increases.
To Order: www.sbwinery.com
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.
Winemaker’s comments: 2010 was an excellent year for both Syrah and Grenache. A very cool summer with heat at the end of September. Cool climate spice with fully ripe flavors. A synergistic blend which highlights the best of each varietal.
Suggested Retail Price: 38.00
To Order: www.lafondwinery.com
Rising in the middle of the western Santa Ynez Valley, the Santa Rita Hills are the distinguishing feature of our AVA, home of Lafond Vineyard and a wonderful area to grow Riesling.
The long, very cool growing season of this area is exemplified by February bud break and September harvest, a long period for vine physiology that creates wines of intense concentration and balanced acidity.
Riesling’s allure over that of other white wine is the necessary precision and attention to detail that goes into making this wonderfully versatille noble grape maintain its racy acidity and interestingly complex flavor profile.
In Alsace and Austria Riesling is traditionally made into a very dry wine. Winemaker Bruce McGuire has experimented over the years with different levels of sweetness, measured by residual sugar, from dry to late harvest style.
Lafond Vineyard is home to about 15 acres of Riesling. This dry Santa Rita Hills designated bottling comes from an old block which gives the wine great depth and concentration.
Winemaker’s comments: 68% from 38 year old vines. These lend structure and density while the young vines provide aromatic brightness.
Suggested Retail Price: 20.00
To Order: www.lafondwinery.com
Winemaker Bruce McGuire is punching down and stirring one of our many macrobins. They hold 1 ton of grapes, regular picking bins 1/2 ton.
Bruce uses extended maceration, which is keeping the fermented wine with its skins for several weeks and sometimes months, until a balance has been reached between evolving tannins and phenols. A determination made by sampling. The bins must be stirred twice a day to maximize contact with skins and sediments all of which increases the complexity of flavors in the wine.
Depending on the outcome, some will be bottled as stand alone wines and others will be used as components in larger blends.