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Harvest Update from Winemaker, Nate Weis. August 31, 2015
POSTED 9/1/2015 6:09:50 PM
The weather last week started out mild. However last, Wednesday and Thursday got up into the 90s in most of the North Coast and Friday afternoon, and it pushed into the high 90s in Oakville. A bit of precipitation may materialize this weekend, but a barely measurable amount fell which was not concerning. In fact, we often notice an increase in ripening after these sorts of events, the theory being that a small amount of rain rinses dust off the leaves and allows more efficient photosynthesis. The long-term forecasts call for more of the same and even those meteorologists who dare provide 30-day forecasts have clear skies through mid-September, for what that’s worth. Keep in mind these are the same forecasts that predicted Friday would only reach the mid-80s (whoops!).Read more ›
Harvest Update from Nate Weis: August 24, 2015
POSTED 8/26/2015 7:55:46 PM
We managed to escape the heat last weekend and early this week and water was used wisely to keep canopies healthy and grape berries hydrated. The forecasts now call for a stable period of seasonal temperatures well within the ripening and vine function ranges, although we are keeping our eyes on the possibility of showers next weekend (August 29th). The beginning of this week we saw the return of a thick and stubborn marine layer that took a long time to burn off: a welcome homecoming in our eyes.
In the fields, flavors are progressing in all varieties, but there is a sense of tranquility as sample chemistries, like the weather, are stabilizing and offering the opportunity for patience. An interesting marker of this vintage is surprisingly small berry sizes. Pinot noir has a well-documented tendency towards producing hens and chicks (clusters with berries of different sizes and levels of maturity. Normal sized berries are the “hens,” smaller berries are the “chicks”) but it is especially prevalent in many vineyards this year. We’ve coined the term “chicks and chicks©”. It’s catchy, we know.Read more ›
2011 Alexander Valley Cabernet Blending Story
POSTED 7/21/2015 10:33:45 PM
The 2011 vintage was challenging in Alexander Valley, as it was for all Northern California winemakers. As a winemaker, these are the kinds of vintages that push us to think creatively and make wines that truly show the mastery of our craft.
In January 2012, as our Associate Winemaker, Christiane Schleussner and I prepared to present our proposed blend to our President and CEO, David Duncan, we were a little nervous. First of all, there is always a plan, an anticipated case quantity. The plan is based on producing acreage, crop estimates for each vintage and historical performance of vineyards. And we have a clear understanding: the Director of Winemaking has the final say as to what goes in the blend. Nevertheless, we work from a place of mutual respect, admiration and consensus. All that being said, to propose a blend that is about 60% of plan seemed like it might be a hard sell. To illustrate our choices, we also made up a blend that would take us to full capacity.Read more ›
Nate Weis, Winemaker
POSTED 7/2/2015 8:37:23 PM
Although he toyed with the idea of becoming a pilot or firefighter, Nate Weis’ decision to pursue winemaking seemed almost inevitable. A Napa Valley native whose father is also a Winemaker, Nate grew up with wine on the table and a drawer full of t-shirts emblazoned with winery logos. His first job after graduating with honors from UC Santa Barbara with a BS in Biopsychology/Neuroscience was as a “cellar rat.” Nate remembers, “My dad suggested I make sure I actually liked winemaking before heading down that career path. I loved that first harvest, so I packed my bags, dropped my application for UC Davis grad school in the mail and went off to Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand.”
Nate spent the 2003 harvest at two New Zealand wineries, and when he returned home he worked one harvest before starting grad school. After earning his MS in Viticulture and Enology, he was hired as a Cellar Master, and then spent two years as an Assistant Winemaker. In 2008, Nate was hired by Marchese Piero Antinori to be Winemaker for Antica Napa Valley, where he made Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Merlot. He also served as Winemaker for Aril Wines in Napa, a small ultra-premium producer of Cabernet and Syrah.Read more ›
The Oak Cooperage
POSTED 5/14/2015 5:17:36 PM
We have exciting news to share! We have acquired full ownership of Missouri-based A&K Cooperage, becoming the first North American winery to own and operate an American oak cooperage. We had purchased a 50 percent interest in the cooperage in 2000, and saw full ownership as an opportunity to maintain exacting barrel-making standards and secure a consistent supply of aged stave wood. The cooperage will now be called “The Oak Cooperage.”
“We are excited to extend our philosophy of innovation and constant improvement at every step of the winemaking process to The Oak Cooperage” said President & CEO David Duncan, who notes this acquisition will allow our winemakers to control quality standards such as the selection, aging and toasting of our American oak barrels. “Having control over our oak barrel needs and production makes complete sense from both an excellence and cost control standpoint.”Read more ›