Posts Tagged 'Cabernet'

The 2009 Crush Has Begun

Vitex agnus-castus or Chaste Tree -  The tree has wonderful purple spiked flower clusters and grow on new wood.  This one needs to be pruned back some more but my green bin was full and it is too woody to break down in my home compost piles.  In a few weeks, I will trim back the spent flowers and prepare it for winter and a wonderful 2010 summer bloom.

Vitex agnus-castus or Chaste Tree - The tree has wonderful purple spiked flower clusters that grow on new wood. This one needs to be pruned back some more but my green bin was full and it is too woody to break down in my home compost piles. The books state that vitex should be treated like a buddleia or crape myrtle to get maximum bloom. I think it needs a lot more cutting back than either of those species. In a few weeks, I will trim back the spent flowers and prepare it for winter and a wonderful 2010 summer bloom.

While I was chopping back an out-of-control vitex and playing with my compost pile yesterday, Tom and his Pool Ridge Winery gang were starting the 2009 crush.  It is amazing that we are already at that time of year.  Everywhere I turn, I see clusters of grapes waiting to be plucked from their vines and hauled to a winery.  People who are often traveling around the globe can be found at home in Sonoma County from late August to mid-October because they have to be here for harvest and the subsequent crush.  In fact, that was about all that was talked about at the birthday party we attended yesterday afternoon at the edge of a young chardonnay vineyard.  Well, all except the baby pictures that I had to take along.

Tom and his friends were making wine with sauvignon blanc grapes that come in earlier than most of the other varieties of the area.   The winegrowers at the party were discussing Brix of 19 to 22 with hopes that the weather remains mild and that we do not see rain or high temperatures for the next month.  What is a Brix?  Brix is a measure of the sugar in the grapes.  Sugar content translates to alcohol in the wine.  If the grape has a Brix of 20 at crush, the wine will have an 11% alcohol when ready to drink.  There has been a trend over the last decade to harvest reds at Brix of 25 to 27.5.  That means that they stay on the vine longer and are exposed to the whims of Mother Nature at this often unstable time of the year.  That puts every grower at risk which is not ever a positive prospect.

Picking at Tzabaco Rancho Vineyards in Dry Creek Valley

Picking at Tzabaco Rancho Vineyards in Dry Creek Valley

The wine grape market was another topic.  Tom is always looking for great grapes to make his wines.  Yesterday he was up at Dry Creek Valley at Tzabaco Rancho Vineyards.  In past years, he has had a difficult time finding grapes of the quality he wants because they are all sold to commercial wineries who buy large quantities.  While there are a few grape growers who hold back part of their crop to sell to the Tom Shulas of the world, most do not have the luxury to support the amateur winemaker.  This year is very different.  The economy has impacted the sale of high end wines and wineries are cutting back on grape purchases.   Some are asking to delay payment and others are just not taking grapes that they would have in the past.

Every day I read something that says this economy is turning around.  I experience the surge of activity in the real estate market.  I remain positive about the future.  All that said, until farmers can sell their crops and workers have jobs, the recession goes on.  With the abundance of grapes available for Pool Ridge Winery, I can just say “Let them drink wine!”

Wine Tasting in Dry Creek Valley

Tasting at Sunce Winery

Tasting at Sunce Winery

Fran at Porter Creek

Fran at Porter Creek

Today was a fun day of taking friends from Hawaii, Texas and Louisiana around our favorite wineries.  We covered the Russian River and Dry Creek appellations which are only minutes from our home in Forestville.  We focused on small, local wineries that give fabulous personal attention to tasters.  The day started with a visit to Sunce Winery.  The staff is fabulous in the tasting room and once they discovered that we had serious wine groupies in our group they took us into their barrel room.  The tasting continued with full explanations until I pointed out that there were other places to go and we had spent over an hour at our first winery.  The second stop was Porter Creek Winery which gives a new definition to “small”.  The tasting room is a very small, old barn behind the vintage family home.  The next venue was Armida Winery with fabulous views and great wines.  There is a wonderful deck shaded by oak trees where we had a picnic lunch. 

After lunch we stopped in at one of the great winery experiences ever – Preston Winery.  Preston is known for their organic vegetables, bread oven and olives as well as Rhone style wines.  It is always a favorite.  From casual farmstyle to Italian elegance we traveled to Ferrari-Carano Winery.  Meticulously groomed gardens and bronze statuary lead to one of  the best wine gift shops in Dry Creek.  Our final stop was at Moshin Winery with the welcoming hummingbird.  Moshin is known for pinot noir and they have a few other great offerings.

We finished the day with dinner at Zazu on Guerneville Road and Willowside Road west of Santa Rosa.  A fabulous time was had by all.

Wine Country is spectacular!

Today I drove to Napa with a client to look at property.  While I am a huge fan Sonoma County and our wines.  Napa has a definite appeal to many.   The weather is a bit warmer but that brings roses to bloom sooner and cabernet sauvignon to the perfect ripeness.   The report of sales for Q1 was published today.   Sonoma County sales volume is about 4x the sales in Napa County.  Historically the cost of homes in Napa were more than double.   For the first quarter of 2009, the average sales price in Napa County was $386K as opposed to $300K in Sonoma County.  What does this mean if you are looking for a home?   It means that the sales are being made at the low end of the market and there are homes below $386,000 in Napa and below $300,000 in Sonoma.   It also means that not many homes are selling in the higher price ranges.  This is good news for buyers of luxury homes in both counties.  If you are looking for a country getaway or a retirement Shangri-la, come to the wine country of Northern California.  We are experienced REALTORS who can help you find exactly what you are dreaming of.


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