As many of you know, our tasting room and vineyard are actually about 8 miles away from each other. Confusing? Why yes, it can be. Especially since we are now considered to be located in 2 separate AVAs. What is an AVA? An American Viticultural Area is a grape growing region distinguished by the Trade & Tax Bureau that can range in shape and size. This is a very similar concept to the European appellations of origin or the Italian Indicazione Geografica Tipica. How ever, our AVAs do not control the blending and wine making methods that we use. Also, it truly only signifies the location the wine grapes were grown for that bottle. And, to top it off, only 85% of the grapes making up the wine had to have been grown there. But, don’t be alarmed. Yes, here at Hearthstone we remain 100% estate and we use only our grapes for our wine making. Our 40 acre vineyard is located in what is now considered the Adelaida AVA where we share a fence line with friendly and organic Tablas Creek. Is that a helpful reference? But, to come taste this estate grown delicious wine you will need to find yourself in the Paso Robles Willow Creek AVA. Our tasting room is nestled between Dover Canyon (home of the big dog and great Zin) and Denner Vineyards (pioneers in healthy water conservation). Now some of you might be wondering “why all the fuss?”. Well, these new AVAs will actually help the budding wine connoisseur. Don’t get me started on the various microclimates, water tables, and soil types happening in Paso Robles. That is for another blog. But, long story short, we have so many different types of possibilities in terms of resulting textures, flavors, and colors in the numerous varieties growing. Each AVA will produce these different personalities accordingly because of its natural surroundings. And now, instead of being confused, you can read a Paso Robles wine label and know what you might expect in the resulting wine based on the AVA you read.
We have seen this every so often, where between tastes, a customer will rinse their glass with water. Now that we are truly experiencing the effects of our severe drought here at Hearthstone we have become a bit more aware of water consumption. Our friends over at Stillwaters Vineyards offer some wonderful advice on reasons not to use our water for glass rinsing and also what you should do instead. Here is the link to their blog and you can read it below. http://www.stillwatersvineyards.com/2013/07/give-your-glass-a-rinse-with-wine-not-water/
Give your glass a rinse with wine, not water.
We see this is a lot in the tasting room and at offsite tastings, people rinse their glass between tastes with water. Although this isn’t a huge problem, (sometimes you really want to drink water), it definitely can change the taste of the wine you are about to receive. Rinsing your glass with water will dilute the wine, can leave a chlorine taste or aroma in the glass and possibly even change the alcohol content. The residual water left in the glass will change the texture of the wine, alter the finish, and you will have a hard time getting the wine to coat the glass to evaluate the legs.
What should you do instead? Remember that there is no real need to rinse between tastes. Most wine tastings are designed to taste from lightest to heaviest. The composition of the small remainder of wine that is left in the glass is more similar to the wine that you are about to taste than water would be. If you still feel the need to rinse, you can “prime” your glass with the next taste of wine. Ask your server for a very small sample to rinse your glass then dump and ask for your full taste. They will appreciate that you are asking for a proper taste of their wine.
Cheers and enjoy your next wine tasting!
Fall 2014 Wine Club Tasting Notes
2013 Roussanne – Toasted buttery cream with accents of cinnamon and pear. This great aperitif has a balanced and lingering finish. 14.8% alc.
2010 Grenache – This Grenache makes an elegant entrance on to the palate with cranberry chocolate. Its lean acidity dries the mouth, brushing the teeth with a wash of blackberry-peppered jam. 14.6% alc.
2010 Sangiovese – Sour black cherry melds with dry tannins – continually dusty – just holding on to the teeth. Rustic and earthy, this red begs for food with its taut acidity. 14.5% alc.
2010 Zinfandel – This wine is refined yet plump, and leads to a memorable finish. The deep ruby color hints of a nose filled with ripe blackberries, cracked white pepper, and clove. The minute subtlety of an array of flavors and the balanced acids leave a lingering finish. 14.7%
2010 Lodestone – 60% Syrah, 22% Grenache, 18% Mourvedre- Fragrant aromas of dark fruit lifted by notes of fresh flowers and smoky minerals. Sweet and velvety but precise, offering anise and a touch of black pepper. Closes on a spicy note, with good finishing clarity and sappiness. 14.8 alc.
2010 Fireside Claret -50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot-This wins has a nose of cherry cola, cedar and violets- likely from the Cabernet Franc. On the palate it is more bright with lively flavors of raspberry and cherry with a bit of truffle and dried coconut. 14.2% alc.
2010 Cabernet Sauvignon – Enjoy dark smoke and a plume of rich dark cocoa on the nose. Bold oak and acidic tannins with a black fruit and walnut character linger on the finish. Enjoy now or in the next 10 years. 14.5% alc.
For those of you that watched our video last harvest about sorting fruit by hand, here is a quick explanation about what happens to that fruit once it is sorted. Pictured below is our grape destemmer. Although winemaker Paul likes a little green growth in with the fruit for added tannic acid we don’t want an entire tree falling in there. Once reaching the end of the vibrating sorting table our fruit falls into the cylinder below. Paddles spin inside of the machine so quickly that the fruit is forced through the holes leaving the foliage behind. A little green is still attached to the berries, and sometimes Paul will throw a bit more in as well. After being destemmed the fruit goes down yet another vibrating table. This table is designed to allow berries smaller than your desired size to drop out of the crop (raisins and unripened green berries). And now the very best is left for winemaking. The grapes will then fall into a big bin full of dried ice where we will begin controlling its fermentation.
With the end of summer in tow we are experiencing delicate and warm breezes, crisp and clean air, and beautiful sunsets coming earlier each night. Come enjoy all of these comfort qualities of the harvest season on our patio from 5-8pm while sipping fine wine and munching on tacos catered by Los Robles Cafe. Musical ambiance will be provided live by Wind & Waves. Tickets are $10/person and $5/club member. Our most recent evening on the patio sold out early so be sure to RSVP by either calling the tasting room or emailing me at email@example.com
On August 30th from 5-7pm join winemaker Paul Ayers at a vertical tasting seminar as he opens our Fireside Claret (Cab Sauv, Cab Franc blend) vintages ’04-’11. Tickets are $40 and will include a bottle of our Fireside Claret in the vintage of your choice to take home. Light appetizers of gourmet cheese will be served. Please purchase your ticket at our website before August 25th. We will sell out. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact the tasting room.
Pictured is a great example of zinfandel experiencing veraison, transitioning from green to purple. Zinfandel is notorious for wanting to ripen unevenly, with one side ripening first and then the other following. This is why shoot thinning is so important for a zinfandel vine. Removing excess foliage allows sun to evenly touch the grape clusters allowing for more even ripening.
Veraison can last for several months depending on the local climate. During this time the grape is developing sugar, acid, tannic, and mineral structures making this phase in development crucial.
Climate and variety plays the deciding roles in ripening a grape and the date of harvest. In hot climates grapes may be harvested as soon as 30 days after veraision if they are a soft skinned berry. Much cooler climates can take as long as 70 days after veraison to fully develop, especially if the berry itself is thick skinned. Last year we harvested in October across the board due to a beautiful weather pattern of warm sunny days and cool nights lengthening the growing season.
For those of you who joined us last weekend for our July 5th tri-tip bbq, you’ll remember it was a fabulous hit so we will be doing another event on August 2nd from 5-8pm in much the same fashion. On that note, we also sold out of tickets on the 5th, so for our mid-summer dinner be sure to RSVP ahead of time. We will be cooking up kabobs(vegetarian, chicken, or shrimp) and other sides for $10/plate, $5/club members. To enhance the ambiance, we will be joined by pianist Brett Mitchell. You can reserve your ticket by contacting the tasting room at (805)238-2544 or firstname.lastname@example.org
As usual, this first summer month was a hot one. But, we still had a lot of fun. We would like to give a big thank you to everyone who came out to the tasting room and kicked off our summer vineyard series. Beginning again on July 11th we will be learning more about how a grape ripens and why that is important to wine. Contact the tasting room for details on the package. Also, Monday June 30th is the last day to place a wine order to be shipped.