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90% and Counting: Harvest Update #5

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Last time I wrote we were about 70% through harvest and now that 70 has turned into 90! We are now roughly 90% through our harvest and should be 100% done by the end of the month. For us to be through with harvest before Thanksgiving let alone November is almost unheard of, but we’ll take it considering how good of a year it has been.

As of now we are about a week out from having all of our grapes picked. There is, however, a slight chance of rain next week, which could slow things down a little, but it doesn’t look like it will linger so we should be right back on track. It’s always a relief to have all of the fruit picked, because from that point forward the ball is in our court and we can focus on producing the best wines possible.

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Another reason we are ready to get the last of our grapes picked is the cold morning weather we have been experiencing. A couple days ago we had a 67-degree temperature swing in our Whale Rock Vineyard from a morning low of 28 degrees to a high of 95! We are known for temperature swings here but that takes the cake! Luckily, our frost fans have kept us from having any significant damage during these cold spells but we are all ready to be able to shut them off, as they are a bit noisy.

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Overall, as I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, the colors in our fruit have been very good this year and we have had our highest sugars yet from the Whale Rock Vineyard. This means the wines will be richer in color and flavor and more accommodating from a winemaking standpoint.

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This past weekend we celebrated and survived another Harvest Festival Weekend, and thanks to all of you who came, it was a great success. We had one of our best turnouts in years and hundreds of people got their feet wet and sticky in our grape stomping bins. Another big hit were the grape samples on display for tasting and the live music by Soul Sauce!

Next time I write we should be all done with this crazy 2013 harvest, in the mean time, Keep Calm and drink Castoro wines!



70% and Counting: Harvest Update #4

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In the last harvest blog I pointed out that we were half way through with harvest. We are now roughly 70% there and the fruit continues to look really good. I probably sound like a broken record by now but the truth is we are having a great year and we don’t take that for granted. I can confidently say that all of the fruit that has come into the winery has been great with particular lots, such as our Whale Rock Pinot Noir, looking really really spectacular.

Today we have been doing more picking in the Whale Rock Vineyard, which is part of the “Templeton Gap” and we have harvested our first Grenache Blanc and first significant vintage of Grenache. We were able to harvest Grenache last year but the first harvest was very small. I’m particularly excited about the Grenache because I thought our first vintage was delicious and we are pretty much out. (I think I’ve got a bottle saved somewhere).

The Whale Rock vineyard is really something special but it doesn’t necessarily come easy. This Vineyard has a rolling landscape and temperatures and soils can change drastically in a matter of 50 yards or less. We haven’t had any significant frost damage yet but we have experienced frost in the lower parts of this vineyard, which has resulted in some areas ripening at a slower rate. To put it in perspective, we have already picked all of our Blind Faith and Hog Heaven grapes, which are on the East Side of the appellation. Within the Whale Rock Vineyard we have been selectively picking only the ripest pockets and we are maybe half way there.

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Tomorrow’s forecast calls for a slight chance of rain and although we desperately need the precipitation it isn’t ideal during harvest. If it does rain we can’t pick and there is always the possibility of bunch rot when clusters get damp. It doesn’t look like we will have much of an issue with this small front but you never know. Once our grapes are all picked we hope it rains like crazy!

As I mentioned at the end of the last blog, Harvest Wine Weekend is almost here and we’ve got all kinds of festivities in store. For more info visit our website HERE and come on out to celebrate this beautiful time of year with us.



Wine of the Month: Merlot!

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October is here and that means we have a new Paso Robles Wine of the Month! This month’s wine is Merlot or as the wine man puts it, “The Pit Bull of American Wines.” Merlot is one of the wines we have been making for over twenty years and as a result we have seen the wine transform, mature and come in and out of popularity. From the days when Merlot was a top seller to the days after the movie Sideways when Merlot took a major hit. This wine is truly a part of the California wine heritage.

As part of my job I get to travel around our beautiful state and taste our wines with a very diverse audience. The best part about it (aside from selling wine) is getting feedback and having a dialogue with all of these people. Often times when I have our Merlot with me people will say things like, “ehhh I think I’ll pass on Merlot, I’m just not really a Merlot drinker,” or “I’d love to try the Merlot but I just can’t sell it anymore,” and finally (my favorite) “I’ve been drinking your Merlot for ages and I love it!”

It’s important to note that people can be easily influenced and when a popular movie about wine portrays Merlot as “unsophisticated” people adopt that mentality. Instead of letting this mentality get me down, I like to look at it as a challenge and an opportunity to set the record straight. Our Merlot is one Dam Fine Wine and it’s a wine we are proud of! When I get the people who tell me they aren’t interested I always encourage them to try a small taste and keep an open mind. I assure them that our Merlot is not a “flabby” wine and in fact is a very structured, solid wine. Nine times out of ten (no lie) the result is two thumbs up! People are almost always shocked at how smooth and complex our Merlot is. One guy even told me our Merlot is “the best Cabernet he ever had.” At first I didn’t know how to respond to that comment but what he meant was that our Merlot contained structure and nuance often associated with a wine like Cabernet Sauvignon.

I know that probably seems like an odd interaction but it has always stuck with me. This wine does not mess around and “flip flop,” it knows exactly who it is. It is the “Pit Bull of American Wines” (you gotta watch the video) and deserves to be enjoyed. In honor of the Paso Robles Wine of the Month our 2009 Merlot (which is almost out of stock) is on special until it is gone for good!

Take my word and give this American classic a try!

I invite and look forward to your feedback.