Monday, February 1, 2016

02/01 KAREN HUNT, HUNT MCKAY, KADIEM CELLARS, KATIE MURPHY, ALEXANDER VALLEY VINEYARDS

KAREN HUNT – PARNER, HUNT MCKAY – NEWEST PROJECT, KADIEM CELLARS


Three friends, a passion for wine and a love of working and creating together fueled the ultimate development and launch of KaDieM Cellars. As with most passionate and creative endeavors, KaDieM has been a project requiring ultimate patience, perseverance, dedicated commitment, continual learning and overwhelmingly satisfying results.

It takes almost four years to develop a Napa Valley Cabernet from grapes in the vineyard to wine ready to sell.  After finding the right vineyard for our grapes, in addition to numerous lunches, dinners and cups of coffee, we work together on both the actual making of the wine and the operational fundamentals that go into running a business:  Of primary importance is managing our growing customer list.  We spend hours designing, choosing and ordering all the packaging elements for each vintage.  We walk the vineyards, harvest the grapes, purchase and check all the barrels.  In the background we update and renew all the required permits and licenses, maintain our website and pack and ship orders. The milestones of accomplishment and progress are compelling.  KaDieM Cellars continues to be a labor of passion fueled by friendship, lots of hard work and ultimately a product that we are all so proud to be able to share with you.

We launched our brand as KaDieM, the phonetic spelling of our initials pronounced KDM. Our logo, three wine glasses entwined, is a symbol of our friendship, the celebration of our families and a toast to our passionate endeavor to create remarkable wines from the Napa Valley.

After two highly rated and sold out vintages, we gained some unwanted attention from a very large, low end wine producer on the East Coast threatened by our success.   With the foundation of our partnership focused on friendship, family and brilliant winemaking, the choice to change our brand KaDieM or face years fighting of litigation and expense was an easy one for us to make.

With our 2011 vintage, we are so excited to launch Hunt McKay, the combination of Karen and Danna's last names, Hunt McKay is the same great wine, made by our partner and winemaker Michael Trujillo from the same Morisoli Vineyard Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon grapes under the exact standards upon which KaDieM Cellars was founded. You'll find the label, 3 entwined wine glasses and of course the wine to be exactly what you experienced under the 2009 and 2010 KaDieM label.

Our Vineyard
Hunt McKay Cabernet Sauvignon is 100% Cabernet from the Morisoli Vineyards in the Rutherford Bench appellation of Napa Valley.  Family owned and managed for over 100 years, this 53 acre vineyard consistently produces fruit exhibiting ‘Rutherford Dust’ characteristics. This ‘Dust’ is the terroir or soil of the Rutherford appellation of Napa Valley, and has come to reflect an enduring commitment to quality and ecologic harmony.  Wines from this central area of the Napa Valley are recognized worldwide as some of the finest wines ever made in California.

ABOUT KAREN
At the age of 6, Karen Hunt discovered her selling passion with her lunch money, a few Tootsie Roll Pops and willing customers in her classmates from elementary school.

Karen wanted a pair of red lace up Buster Brown shoes to better fit in with her first grade classmates, but felt badly asking her Dad for new shoes when she saw that he had a hole in the sole of his shoe where he put a dry piece of cardboard every morning.  So she used her $0.25 lunch money to buy 12 Tootsie Pops, each costing 2 cents plus 1 cent for tax. She sold them to her classmates for a nickel.  The next day, she took the $0.60 from the previous day’s sales plus her $0.25 lunch money and bought more Tootsie Pops, again buying them for 2 cents and selling them for a nickel.  She continued this with her lunch money and her profits, day after day.

Within days she had  worked her way into taking orders for specific candy that would fill special requests from the children at school.  Although she was called to the principal’s office three times and asked to stop selling her lollipops on school property, Karen continued the Tootsie Pop caper until she had $60 – and then a new pair of shoes for her Dad and the red lace up Buster Brown’s for herself.  This focused persistence is the defining characteristic of Karen’s career in sales management.

Selling has been the cornerstone of Karen’s more than twenty year career.  Since graduating from college in her hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, Karen has traveled across the U.S. and Europe selling everything from M&M’s and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, to coffee.  Following her passion, Karen moved to the Napa Valley in 2000, without a job in the wine industry but determined to find one so she could work and live her dream.

Karen has worked over ten years in the wine industry, as Vice President of Sales for both Charles Krug and Francis Coppola Winery and now as President of DAOU Vineyards and Winery.  She has not only solidified her love for wine, the wine business and the Napa lifestyle, but her broad sales responsibilities have allowed her to develop relationships across all channels of the business across the world.  She spends most of her time in the marketplace, with customers, seems to know everyone and continues to form new relationships daily.  As a founding partner in Hunt McKay, Karen looks forward to talking with customers, hearing their stories and in return, sharing the plans for building Hunt McKay – one bottle and one customer at a time.

WWW.HUNTMCKAY.COM 
WWW.KADIEMCELLARS.COM 


KATIE MURPHY - ALEXANDER VALLEY VINEYARDS  

Alexander Valley Vineyards is located on Highway 128 in northern Sonoma County, 75 miles north of San Francisco, 6 miles from the sleepy town of Healdsburg and 16 miles from Calistoga in the Napa Valley.

Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley was mostly prune orchards and pastures when, in 1962, Maggie and Harry Wetzel purchased a large portion of a homestead built by Cyrus Alexander, the valley’s nineteenth century namesake. Here, in a rural community of family farms and ranches, the Wetzel family settled. They raised livestock, cultivated bountiful gardens and restored Alexander’s original home, making it the center of family life. With an eye to their neighbors in nearby Napa Valley, the Wetzels boldly planted premium grape varieties, among the first in the area. Then the family built a small winery and Hank Wetzel, oldest son of Maggie and Harry, produced Alexander Valley Vineyard’s first wine in 1975.  His wife Linda set up the books and managed the winery office.  AVV quickly established a reputation for estate grown wines with distinctive varietal character. Acclaimed for luscious Chardonnay and elegant Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley Vineyards brought recognition to the appellation and became a leading winery in Sonoma County.

Today the Alexander Valley is a prominent appellation known worldwide as the source of rich, age worthy wines. As the twenty-first century begins, the Wetzel Family Estate grows fourteen grape varieties, on diverse sites stretching from the banks of the Russian River up onto the hillsides. Each grape variety is matched to a specific soil type and exposure. Vineyard Manager Mark Houser and Winemaker Kevin Hall work as a team to maximize fruit flavor in the vineyard and to create balanced wines that capture the grapes’ varietal characteristics.  Barrel fermentation and aging take place in the cave, where the cool, constant temperature and high humidity are ideal for aging wine. Winemaker Kevin Hall explains, "Inside the cave the ambient temperature varies only 5°F from summer to winter, from 63° to 58°.   AVV's cave reaches deep into a hillside adjacent to the winery, for a total of 25,000 square feet.

2016 marks the family’s 54rd year on the historic property and will be the winery’s 42nd vintage.  The 3rd generation of the Wetzel Family produces award winning wines that are sold throughout the United States and was voted Sonoma’s Best Winery in 2011 by Bay Area wine lovers. Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Merlot constitute over one-half of total production.  Other varietals include Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Cabernet Franc and Syrah.  Proprietary wines include CYRUS, our limited production Bordeaux style blend, Gewurz, and our trio of Zins: Temptation Zinfandel, Redemption Zinfandel and Sin Zin, our voluptuous Alexander Valley Zinfandel.

CYRUS  
Our six hundred acre property was the homestead of valley namesake Cyrus Alexander.  When he rode into our valley in 1840 he called it the "brightest and best spot in the world".  He chose this spot to build his home and raise his family, and many years later we would do the same. This wine is our tribute to the man, the region and the very best of the vintage.

In 1995 Hank Wetzel produced the first vintage of CYRUS, Winemaker Kevin Hall carries on the tradition with the 17th release of CYRUS.  He selected 10 distinctive lots of estate Bordeaux grapes for this vintage: Cabernet Sauvignon with exceptional concentration, purity & lush       texture; Cabernet Franc with finesse & depth; Merlot for texture & structure; Petit Verdot for vivid color & richness and Malbec for deep color & depth.

Light and late are the two words most often used to describe the 2011 vintage.  A wet winter and spring delayed bloom and heavy rain at bloom hindered the fruit set decreasing grape yields dramatically.   A cool summer prolonged the growing season and harvest started later than    usual.  The overall effect was great flavor development at lower than normal sugar levels resulting in balanced wines at lower alcohol levels.

After harvest each lot was fermented and aged separately for 12 months, then blended to   showcase the vintage and aged for an additional 12 months in French oak barrels so that the flavors could meld together.  Additional bottle aging allowed the blend to become seamless.  The 2011 has terrific color and expressive aromas of cassis, red cherry, berry, red and black plum along with toasty oak and vanilla.  This is a complex wine with flavors of dark fruits, spice, vanilla and cocoa powder.  There is good structure on the finish along with a classic elegance and silky dimension as well.  This wine is always limited, we produced 912 case of the low yielding 2011 vintage.

WWW.AVVWINE.COM

Monday, January 25, 2016

01/25 KATIE GRASSINI, BRADLEY LONG, GRASSINI FAMILY VINEYARDS, DANIEL DAOU, DAOU VINEYARDS & WINERY

KATIE GRASSINI, CEO & BRADLEY LONG, WINEMAKER - GRASSINI FAMILY VINEYARDS

The Grassini Family winery is as singular as the wines crafted inside. Borrowed and adapted from 17th century southern European approaches, the winery itself is embedded in a prominent hillside with the rear opening into spectacular wine caves. (The Romans stored their wine in catacombs, while the French used abandoned creyeres from which limestone had been excavated.) The caves ensure humidity and temperature control, while using a fraction of hydrocarbon or electrical energy sources.

All the wood in the winery is reclaimed antique fir, having been milled from timbers discovered recently in the Columbia River. The timbers were used in the late 1800s to move materials downriver to lumberjack camps.  These same reclaimed timbers were used to build the handcrafted bar in our tasting room in the Wine Collection of El Paseo in the historic Presidio Neighborhood of downtown Santa Barbara.

The entire winery and vineyard is solar powered and the water used for irrigation is from the estate’s well-fed lake.  Additionally, all water used in the wine production process is reclaimed and used to irrigate all of the landscaping surrounding the winery.  With a constant eye towards sustainability, both history and the future will be served.
"Patience is a Necessary Ingredient of Genius."

The vineyard management works tirelessly and closely with our winemaker to ensure that every vine in the vineyard gets the kind of personal attention that will allow each precious berry to ripen to perfection.

High-density planting, vine crop reduction and hand-training and careful timing of the pick come together to produce the soft tannins and overall balance of the structure, vineyard acid levels, beautiful aromatics, and an elegant mouthfeel in the resulting wine. Each lot from the different vineyard blocks is then fermented separately in small batches to ensure proper fermentation temperatures. As in the vineyard, patience in the wine caves pays off. Both red and white wines are allowed to spend leisurely and generous amounts of time in barrel in order to mature and reach the sought-after balance. When all goes well, our wines accurately express the unique character of this special estate and those who work there. In the Cabernet-based wines, this approach results in the inherent power and richness of the Cabernet grape being balanced with the finesse and elegance that define its character. In the whites, all of this work is intended to capture the typical freshness and liveliness of the Sauvignon Blanc grape and balance it with concentration and depth.

HAPPY CANYON – THE HEART OF SANTA YNEZ
Northwest of Santa Barbara lies the 40-mile-wide Santa Ynez Valley. At the valley’s eastern edge is the appellation Happy Canyon, an area blessed with warm days and cool marine influences with few variations. Nestled on ridge and valley, as the quintessence of this rarified wine-growing region, is where you will discover Grassini Family Vineyards and Winery—a tranquil refuge where all the conditions necessary for great wine happily converge. The location is just inland enough so that a north-south mountain range blocks the Pacific coastal breezes, preventing them from cooling the canyons. While certain grape varieties need substantial warmth during the day to mature, all vines benefit greatly from respites provided by cool nights. The combination of the extreme temperature swings between day and night make Happy Canyon unique and ideal for growing Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc grapes to optimum ripeness and quality.

Some believe terroir makes the wine. When the Grassini Family decided to plant vines on the property the family had owned for decades, they called upon Jeff Newton and Larry Finkle, the talented creators of Coastal Vineyard Care, to help them realize their dream. The vineyard would be placed in the best, and most experienced, of hands. Ben Merz, the vineyard manager, provides daily direction to the entire team. Ben planned and planted the vineyard in 2002.

Vineyard foreman Manuel Cardoza and his dedicated crew do all the heavy lifting that makes it all possible. Manuel and his crew planted every vine on the estate and it is their dedication that has helped create one of the vineyard jewels of the renowned Santa Ynez Valley. In keeping with the Bordeaux tradition of the estate, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot varietals complement the Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc. In fact, unique Cabernet clones, tended by hand, enhance the exceptional wines produced on the estate.

WWW.GRASSINIFAMILYVINEYARDS.COM



DANIEL DAOU - WINEMAKER & CO-PROPRIETOR, DAOU VINEYARDS & WINERY

The Vision - Two Brothers: One Dream
Daniel and Georges Daou are committed to producing collectible, world-class Bordeaux style wines to rival those of the most respected appellations in the world.

Their appreciation for quality wine was nurtured throughout childhood, in France, where their father enjoyed good wine with every meal. Daniel and Georges came to appreciate great wines as young adults, and their passion for the fruits of the vine has grown stronger with every passing year.

Georges & Daniel Daou: A Little History
When it came time for college, the two brothers set sail for San Diego, California to attend UCSD, where they graduated with degrees in electrical and computer engineering. After college, the enterprising brothers formed DAOU Systems, where they developed intranet technologies for the medical industry. In less than ten years, the company became one of the top five IPO’s in the country. Throughout the years of building successful technology startups, Daniel never lost his appreciation for wine and his desire to produce it. He began to intensively study winemaking and viticulture, working with great winemakers and learning everything he possibly could about the fine points of producing premium wines. He and Georges soon began a new professional venture that was far closer to their hearts than the technology industry: crafting world-class wines that married the elegance of the French wines they had grown up with, and the concentrated flavors of California wines.

In 2007, Daniel and Georges’ search for the perfect terroir led them to the west mountain Adelaida area of Paso Robles in California. There, they found land that had been part of the historical Hoffman Mountain Ranch Vineyard; land that fit their very strict criteria. They wanted the kind of terroir that could grow Cabernet Sauvignon and other red varietals to rival those from the world’s best wine appellations. The combination of high elevation, cool marine influence, southeast and southwest sun exposure, and high-concentration calcareous-lime soils was exactly what they were looking for. As an added bonus, the one hundred acre property had over seventy farmable acres, making it one of the larger vineyard sites in the Adelaida region.

The property, now nicknamed DAOU Mountain, has expansive views of the luscious countryside. On a promontory rising above the valleys and canyons of this bucolic landscape now stands a stunning, Spanish Colonial style winery and tasting room. At the heart of the winery hangs a bell, dated 1740, that was recovered from a monastery in Spain. This beloved, beautifully painted iron piece was forged before the founding of the United States.

OUR STORY:
In the golden, oak-studded hills of Paso Robles’ acclaimed west side, not far from William Randolph Hearst’s magnificent castle, there is a man with a Homeric vision. His name is Daniel Daou and he is devoting his life and every imaginable resource to creating, first and foremost, a Cabernet Sauvignon that rivals the very best in the world. Gracefully perched atop a stunning promontory at 2,200 feet, the DAOU Spanish Colonial style winery is embraced by a tangible serenity. Hawks wheel and bank while the all-day sun caresses close planted rows of lush, emerald green vines. The 100 percent calcareous soil makes no sound as it parses out nourishment and only a gentle breeze flows up through the Templeton Gap from the Pacific Ocean. The quiet is bewitching; you want to lay down roots here, just as the seven-year-old vines have done. But the sense of peace belies the serious industry at work on this 212 acre estate. No effort is spared to create the luscious varietals and blends that flow from this limited production winery. This kind of synergy happens rarely: superlative climate and terroir, super intensive vineyard culture, and cutting edge viticultural practice. You’re more likely to find it in Bordeaux than Central California. Coupled with the infectious passion and gracious, family style hospitality of the Daou brothers, Georges and Daniel, the result is pure magic. The kind of magic that comes in a bottle.

ABOUT DANIEL J. DAOU - WINEMAKER & PROPRIETOR
You could say that all of Daniel Daou’s aspirations for his ideal vineyard and winemaking experience have been reached.  The confluence of geography, climate, viticulture, and opportunity has allowed him to become the winemaker he always wanted to be. Winemaking is far more than just a job for Daniel. It’s a highly contagious passion, particularly for Cabernet Sauvignon, that is reflected in his wines. Although his prime motivation is passion, his background as an engineer informs his every decision as a winemaker. Daniel goes to extraordinary lengths, such as employing methods only used in producing first-growth Bordeaux, to ensure that his wines are balanced with nonintrusive tannins to provide structure for the full bodied fruit while the wine matures, first in the barrel and later in the bottle. In the vineyard, he walks a fine line by letting the grapes struggle, yet never crossing over to the point where the vines would shut down.

Often, friends and fans of his wines describe Daniel as a man both charismatic and passionate, yet always ready to listen to others. He is seen as a committed member of the community whose drive and resources will take Paso Robles to a whole new level. For Daniel, putting his cherished family name on the bottle means everything. What’s inside the bottle must warrant that privilege, so every day he thinks about how to ensure the level of excellence he expects from his wines.
“It's rare to have all the elements needed to achieve perfect balance and ripeness in a terroir. We found all these elements on our mountain and work hard to capture that magic from vineyard to bottle” – Daniel J. Daou

WWW.DAOUVINEYARDS.COM

Monday, January 18, 2016

01/18 JAMES HALL, PATZ & HALL, DON SCHROEDER, SEA SMOKE

JAMES HALL – OWNER/WINEMAKER, PATZ & HALL

Patz & Hall was founded in 1988 by four talented individuals - Donald Patz, James Hall, Anne Moses and Heather Patz. Together, they have turned Patz & Hall into one of California’s most highly regarded wineries, with a celebrated portfolio of single-vineyard Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines.

WINEMAKING
At Patz & Hall, our approach to winemaking champions quality at every stage of the process. From our partnerships with the finest vineyards to the custom-made French oak cooperage used to age our small-lot Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs, we bring together an array of artisan and cutting-edge techniques to create benchmark wines. In our state-of-the-art winery—which was designed exclusively for producing Chardonnay and Pinot—we apply a consistent winemaking style that allows us to find the voice of each vineyard and vintage, while achieving exceptional quality year after year.

OUR WINES
For over 25 years, we have remained committed to handcrafting small-lot and single-vineyard wines, with an exclusive focus on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Produced using grapes from storied vineyards in the Napa Valley, Russian River Valley, Mendocino County, Sonoma Coast and Santa Lucia Highlands, these benchmark wines embody our passionate approach to winemaking, and the diversity of world-class California winegrowing.

ABOUT JAMES HALL
Since 1988, founder and winemaker James Hall has guided the Patz & Hall winemaking program, instilling it with his own boldness, imagination and trademark perfectionism. Combining a belief in great viticulture, traditional winemaking practices, and the judicious use of innovative techniques, James has earned a reputation for crafting dramatic benchmark Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs that balance vibrant power with vineyard-inspired depth and sophistication.

The son of an English professor, who was also a wine enthusiast, James developed an early appreciation for fine wine during travels with his family to Europe in the late 1960s. While studying liberal arts at the University of California, Santa Cruz, James met Anne Moses, and together the two began exploring their shared interest in wine. Though not part of his curriculum, James started studying winemaking textbooks in his spare time. Inspired, he transferred to the University of California, Davis, to study viticulture and enology. Eager to experience the hands-on work of winemaking, James took his first winery job at Felton-Empire in 1981, where he was able to learn from renowned winemakers Leo McCloskey and Patrick Mahaney. “Leo was the scientist, obsessed with unraveling the mysteries of wine, Pat was the craftsman, meticulously working with the raw materials. It was a remarkable experience learning these complementary approaches.”

In 1983, James joined Napa Valley’s Flora Springs Winery and Vineyards as assistant winemaker. There, he spent four years developing his expertise crafting barrel-fermented, small-lot Chardonnays. While at Flora Springs, James struck up a close friendship with sales manager Donald Patz, and the two soon discovered that they shared a similar philosophical approach to wine and winemaking. In the spring of 1988, while working as the winemaker and estate manager for Honig Winery, James teamed up with Donald and Heather Patz, and Anne Moses to make and release Patz & Hall’s inaugural Napa Valley Chardonnay.

As Patz & Hall’s winemaker for over a quarter century, James has built lasting relationships with such renowned growers as Larry Hyde, Charlie and Bud Chenoweth, Gary Pisoni and Lee Martinelli to create an acclaimed portfolio of single-vineyard wines. At the same time, he has designed and implemented cutting-edge equipment and procedures, including a custom punch-over device, in an effort to constantly enhance quality. A master of his craft, and a widely respected veteran winemaker, James is regularly asked to speak about artisan winemaking.

WWW.PATZHALL.COM


DON SCHROEDER – WINEMAKER, SEA SMOKE

Our estate vineyard is located in the world’s southernmost - and sunniest - Region 1 microclimate, which has the coolest temperatures for grape growing. The Pacific Ocean fog funnels across our hillsides each afternoon, creating ideal growing conditions

Our Pinot Noir vines are planted on south-facing hillside bluffs, in ‘transition zones’ characterized by rich clay soils, aiding us in our quest for quality. This is where Pinot Noir finds its most sublime expression.

Our entire vineyard is farmed biodynamically, because nurturing the soil and vines without harsh chemicals is the right thing to do for the land and for our customers. Sea Smoke’s unique combination of sun, fog, soil and meticulous farming results in wines that are lush, elegant and expressive.

OUR STORY
While our small team would love to take credit, if there’s a star in the Sea Smoke story, it’s not a person, but the rare and magical property that for years local vintners coveted for its potential to grow great Pinot Noir. In 1999, this land in the heart of Santa Barbara’s Santa Rita Hills AVA became Sea Smoke Vineyard. Located on south-facing hillside bluffs, our Sea Smoke Estate receives plenty of sunshine – but then, so does most of California. What makes our vineyard truly special is its shallow clay soils, south facing slopes, and the layer of marine fog (sea “smoke”) that travels up the Santa Ynez River canyon each evening, cooling our vines. This cooling influence makes extended ‘hangtime’ possible prior to harvest – allowing flavors and tannins to fully mature, while still maintaining lovely acidity. This results in wines that are lush, elegant and expressive.

Because we are an estate winery and the California equivalent of a ‘Monopole’, we do not buy or sell grapes. Our obsession with Pinot Noir has its roots – literally and figuratively – in our estate vineyard, and our obsession is apparent in the way we farm. We strive for low crop yields and small grape clusters, so our vineyard is planted with ten top-quality Pinot Noir clones on vigor-reducing rootstocks. Every one of our vines receives individual care and handling from our vineyard crew at least eight times a year – every single vine. Since our estate vineyard will hopefully outlast us all, we decided to be good stewards of the land: we have been farming sustainably for over a decade, and in 2013 we went beyond organic and began farming our entire vineyard biodynamically.

Because lab tests never tell the whole story, we ultimately rely on our taste buds to decide when to begin harvesting individual blocks. The east and west sides of each block are usually picked at different times, for example, and after hand harvesting, grapes are chilled overnight, pre-sorted, de-stemmed and then carefully table sorted. Meanwhile, we evaluate the clonal characteristics and tannin profile of each and every harvested block, tailoring our corresponding fermentations accordingly. We keep each block and clone combination separate throughout fermentation and aging. This helps us develop a deep understanding of the characteristics of each vineyard block, observing how each responds to specific barrel profiles in our cellar, and ultimately gives us an array of flavors and characteristics to draw upon during blending.

Since our wines are made in limited quantities and can be difficult to find, Sea Smoke allocates to members through our List. The List is fair and uncomplicated. Joining The List guarantees an allocation once activated. Unlike wine clubs, we require no minimum purchase commitment or cost to join.

WWW.SEASMOKE.COM