It’s raining!

Winter rains are here in full force this weekend.  “We can use the rain.” The grapes and the ducks will be happy too.  The plants are dormant now, so no need to worry about water damage. Enjoy the cozy weather, and be safe if you venture out.

Here’s a photo from a vineyard in Napa Valley this weekend:


Water Droplets

Fall seems to have taken time off this year; we’ve moved from Summer to Winter.  This weekend we had a little break in the rain. Just enough time to go for a walk, enjoy the cloudy weather, and look for water droplets. Greetings from Napa Valley




Backyard Tourist: Petrified Forest

What else is there to do in Napa Valley besides taste amazing wines?  Well, if you must know, you can take a little hike through the Petrified Forest in Calistoga.  A gift shop filled with pretty stones + a self-guided tour through the discovered whole, petrified redwood trees = a nice Sunday afternoon.




Foggy Morning

Found this unpublished post from this past spring.  You can see the fog laying low like a blanket over the vineyards:

This week brought a serious change in weather – freezing nights and rainy days.


napa fog

Million Dollar Question: When to Pick?

We’re in the thick of the harvest business and after months of preparing, tending to, and coaxing fruit from these vines we come to the annual moment of truth… when to pick?


Sonoma County Zinfandel. Photo taken last week.

Winemakers across these wine-growing regions have been taking random samples of the vineyard periodically, squishing the grapes and testing the juice for sugar content and acid levels.  Mostly, we talk about brix, or the sugar concentration.  Table grapes that we buy in the super market generally have brix of 17-19.  Wine grapes are picked any where from 22 – 29. The sugar, ripeness (taste and whether the seeds have turned from green to brown), as well as acidity, and uniformity of ripening across the cluster and vineyard block very much effect the final wine.  So, at what point to pick is vital.


Backyard Tourist: Checkerboard Vineyards


This week we had a chance to visit the exclusive, literally hidden gem of Checkerboard Vineyards.  Our kind host, Beth, gave us a tour of the vineyards, winery caves (with their inviting aroma and clinically pristine walls), and tasting space.


Checkerboard’s vineyards are all estate and at high elevation.  They grow Bordeaux varietals including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc.


Each vintage is expertly crafted and cared for by hand, from vineyard to bottle.  This row of barrels holds their 2013 red wines.


Tasting space with a view of the  vineyards.  Checkerboard’s offerings are based around their showcase Cabernet – current release is 2011 and after opening up was a stunning, serious Cab, dark, rich, and lush. Tastings are by appointment only.



Backyard Tourist: Bale Grist Mill Park

Last week we went for a walk in the trees.  Once the summer weather rolls in and the rains stop for the season, anything without deep roots turns withers away in the sun.  So, it’s nice to walk among the vines or head to a park and enjoy walking amongst trees.


We visited Bale Grist Mill State Park in Napa Valley and enjoyed the breeze coming off the 36-ft water wheel.  Look!