Fruit set is underway and everything is looking great in the vineyard!
On our Carneros Estate vineyard Chardonnay and Pinot clusters generally set about 50 to 100 berries per cluster depending on the clone and how good the set is. In 2013 we have experienced a very nice set with some shatter (hens and chicks) in Chardonnay.
Shatter is when, usually for environmental reasons (rain, cold, too hot, too windy) the flower does not fertilize and it falls off the cluster which leads to fewer berries/cluster and less yield. Some varieties like Malbec for example are very prone to shatter. Hens and chicks isn’t exactly the same thing, though weather can make it more prevalent. In hens and chicks some flowers set normal size berries (Hens) and some berries don’t produce a seed and are very small (chicks). Our Old Wente Chardonnay is the most common example of this phenomenon.
Overall it’s shaping up to be a good vintage from a quantity standpoint.
The Carneros Vineyard is in full bloom and early stages of fruit set, where the fertilized flowers turn into grape berries. Bloom this year has been running about 2 weeks to 18 days ahead of last year which portends an early start to harvest. In other words, the cellar crew should not be planning any labor day festivities. The Brandlin Vineyard on Mount Veeder has just begun bloom in some of the blocks, but is typically 3 weeks or so behind our Carneros Estate. Otherwise it’s been a stress-free year so far with no frost or strong disease pressure. The biggest worries have been the relative dryness of the year and the strong presence of gophers, voles, and deer wanting to munch on our vines.
Many Club Cuvaison members have already seen our new labels and logo, but we want to share the new design with our many friends and fans who have not. We've kept the iconic Cuvaison arch, but updated it with an artistic display of the word Cuvaison. The new design also features new font to represent the dynamic and modern evolution of the Cuvaison brand.
We are excited to unveil our new Cuvaison label design. The new label reflects a true expression of our elegant wines while representing the modern, artful, and authentic vision displayed in our tasting rooms.
The Cuvaison Estate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are 100% estate grown wines that represent the unique and certified sustainable vineyard site which is our home in the heart of Carneros. Each wine is meticulously hand-crafted from vineyard blocks that have been vinified separately, chosen by Winemaker Steve Rogstad for the distinct characteristics each brings to the final blend. Complex, multi-layered, and highly nuanced, our estate wines represent uncompromised farming and winemaking from vine to bottle.
Our Single Block wines are sourced from distinct blocks within the Cuvaison estate vineyard that have the rare combination of climate, soil and aspect to yield fruit that is consistently outstanding year after year. These individual blocks produce “stand alone” wines that need no blending. Limited in production, they represent the highest and most complete expression of fruit from our Carneros estate.
Visit our Tasting Rooms to check out the new look and taste our delicious wines!
2012 Cuvaison Solitaire Sauvignon Blanc
Our Sauvignon Blanc all comes from a singular, diamond-shaped block in our Carneros Estate. We ferment the wine in stainless steel at a cool temperature to capture and retain all the bright gooseberry, lemongrass and fresh citrus tones of this variety. Although aged on its lees to soften and enrobe the wine, it doesn’t go through malo-lactic fermentation as we want to retain the crisp minerality and vibrant acidity that is the focus of this "solitaire" wine.- Winemaker Steven Rogstad
2011 Cuvaison Estate Syrah
The hills of our Carneros Estate Vineyard are marked by shallow clay soils, barren land that restricts vigor and restrains energetic varieties like Syrah from their naturally, over productive tendencies. This is critical for two reasons; it allows Syrah to ripen in the chill of Carneros and it gives concentration and character to the ensuing wines. Our 2011 Syrah is just such an example. Smokey, peppery, jammy nose, with black cherry, blackberry and lavender notes. On the palate the wine is silky with spice and round tannins supporting the dense fruit and lively finish.
- Winemaker Steven Rogstad
2011 Brandlin Zinfandel Bald Mountain Vineyard
Limited Production, New Release
A shy vintage the 2011 Bald Mountain Zinfandel exhibits a complex mix of floral, fruit and earthy tones. Despite some fall rains, the sheer slopes of this mountain site effectively concentrate each berry. The general rich, jammy texture of this Zinfandel is accentuated with violets and rose petals, loganberry, boysenberry and a hint of soy and forest floor.
- Winemaker Steven Rogstad
Bud break began in early March in a few blocks, and we are seeing more and more blocks across the vineyard lighting up in bright little leaves of green. We’ve seen nice even growth in the young shoots and are hopeful to have a decent yield after last year’s bumper-crop. We should start seeing bloom here in Mid-May, for which we’ll have our fingers crossed for pleasant weather as this is one of the trickiest times of the year for the grapevine. Too hot, too cold, or wind and rain can all affect the crop size and how challenging it will be to maximize quality.
Due to the dry winter, our vineyard team has mowed much of our organic cover crops so that our vines will get all the moisture they need without competition. The cover crops will be disked or tilled in to provide nitrogen and improve soil structure. Here's a before and after shot to see the difference.
2011 ATS Chardonnay
Our 2011 ATS Chardonnay boasts the taut, sinewy structure of Chardonnay from our Old Wente blocks, blended with a soupçon of the floral dominated Dijon 809 clone. The Inviting aromas of nutmeg, almond and Brioche with shimmering honeysuckle and apricot tones invite you in, but it’s the supple, rich mouth feel of the wine that hooks you. A full-bodied, richly textured wine the ATS Chardonnay blends stone fruit freshness with crisp acidity, creating a long-lived impression that will keep you coming back for more.
2011 Cuvaison Estate Pinot Noir
Another cool vintage coupled with a late season engendered this seductive, elegantly-styled Pinot Noir. Raspberry, wild strawberry, pomegranate, and lilac notes, gently spiced with aniseed, sassafras, and a touch of juniper berry. On the palate the wine showcases structure over bombast -- bright acidity, clean fruit, and graceful tannins linger in the memory.
On February 10th we lost a dear friend by the name of Chester Brandlin. You will recognize the name being the same as our Brandlin Cabernet and here is why: Back in 1998 we were informed that a very special property was for sale in the Mount Veeder district of Napa Valley, which was owned by Chester Brandlin. We knew it was special due to the incredible Zinfandels from the site, which were produced by Peter Franus. We negotiated with Chester for many months but it wasn’t about price; he wanted to make sure we would protect the environment that his family had nurtured since the 1920’s when the 10 acres of zinfandel were first planted. Once purchased by Cuvaison, we planted 38 acres to Cabernet, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, while maintaining the old vine zinfandel.
Once we heard the rich stories about the Brandlin family, which dated back to their arrival to Mount Veeder in the 1870’s, we knew we had to do something to bring homage to this great family. They had grown wine grapes that entire time but never had their name on a label. While they made wine, it was only for their personal use with the rest being sold to wine producers. Chester told stories of his family taking grapes by wagon all the way to San Francisco before there were motorized trucks. 2003 was our first vintage of Brandlin Cabernet and I’ll always remember handing Chester that first bottle with his family name on it. We were all a bit teary that day.
You can read Chester’s obituary here.
Mornings in Napa are icy and cold, with frost blanketing the ground. Thankfully, the bright yellow mustard seed flowers are popping up between the vines and announcing the coming of spring. Cold mornings dissipate to brisk, sunny days here in Carneros, and the mustard seed is a joyful burst of color against the contrasting bare vines and blue skies. Plan a visit and see for yourself!
To our friends in the Boston area, we invite you to join Winemaker Steve Rogstad for a lively evening filled with amazing wine and food at the Boston Wine Festival. Wine dinner will be held at the Boston Harbor Hotel on February 21, 2013 at 7pm. Tickets are $145.00 per person. We hope to see you there!
Buy tickets here.
Learn more about the Boston Wine Festival here.
Everyone says that harvest is a lot of work, but you don't really understand it until you live it. Take it from first-time harvest intern Adam Gordon.
Twelve-hour days, 7 days a week, is a whole lot easier said than done. Often young interns are attracted to the wine-industry for the romance of winemaking or the glamour of wine country. They are passionate, educated, and eager to dive right in and get dirty. The physical demands are grueling, but the payoff is worth it.
Adam is a 24-year-old graduate from Purdue University whose passion for wine was sparked when he attended lectures taught by the Court of Master Sommeliers. Bit by the wine bug, he acquired Level I Certification from the Court of Master Sommeliers and founded a wine club at Purdue called the Purdue Wine Appreciation Society. While earning his BS in Hospitality and Management, he dreamed of moving to Napa to truly experience the famous wine and food culture. He set his sight on the prestigious Advanced Culinary Arts program at the Culinary Institute of America, located in Saint Helena, California.
During the program, he became the president of the CIA wine club. He experienced high-end aged wines and gained the knowledge of pairing food and wine. After completing the program, he worked as a line cook at Bottega restaurant in Yountville, thinking he wanted to work in the restaurant industry. But after a while, it was the upcoming harvest that naturally piqued his curiosity.
Adam heard about Cuvaison Estate Wines from an advisor at CIA who recommended Cuvaison as one of the best wineries to work for and learn from. After interviewing with the Winemaking team, he was very excited to be offered a position as a harvest intern for 2012! Along with three other interns -- Karan from India, JP from South Africa, and Elise from France – Adam was about to discover firsthand how much work goes into making wine…
What made you want to work harvest?
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned?
What is your most favorite or most challenging task?
If you could have any job in the wine industry, what would it be?
What surprised you the most about harvest and about the wine-making process?
What was the high and low of harvest?
Would you work another harvest?
"One of Cuvaison's best basic Pinots in years,
this is charming with its dry, crisp structure,
silky elegance and fine flavors of raspberries,
cherries and toasty oak...”
-- Steve Heimoff, Wine Enthusiast
Winemaker Notes by Steven Rogstad
A tremendous year for Pinot Noir in Carneros, La Nina conditions set up a long cool growing season with just a few bumps on the way. Our 2010 possesses vibrant notes of cherry, raspberry, and pomegranate with hints of allspice and sassafras. On the palate the wine is quite dense with both red and black fruits, especially cherry and boysenberry coming to the fore. The coolness of the wine really forges the finish with fine tannins and bright minerality to the long aftertaste.
At 10 pm on September 11, 2012, several crews began harvesting Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes from our estate vineyards in Carneros. Crews worked tirelessly until 4 am, bringing in 31 tons of Pinot Noir and 32 tons of Chardonnay! The grapes look fantastic and we are all very excited about this year's crop!
Watch as the team sorts and processes the Pinot Noir grapes
As our vines enter veraison (the onset of ripening) phase of the growing season the anticipation and anxiety begin to heighten. While much of the US has been plagued by heat and drought, the Coastal region of California has been basking in almost perfect weather. As grape growers we measure the warmth of our seasons by Degree Days (a measure of hours that the vines are photosynthetically active). In 2004, the last "warm" vintage we experienced in Carneros, we were already at 1400 hours on today’s date, August 9th. This year we are art 1200, which is identical to the cool but superb 2009 vintage. In fact the degree days for the last three years are almost identical and they were all "cool" vintages. So this mean’s things will be perfect in 2012, right? Here’s where the anxiety creeps in as we still have at least a month before Harvest starts and then 4-6 weeks of picking fruit, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed that we dodge any extreme heat or heavy rains and bring this vintage in smoothly.
Up on Mt Veeder it’s a little more challenging to compare data as the closest CIMIS weather station is in Oakville and not really indicative of conditions at Brandlin Vineyard. Most of Napa Valley proper is in full veraison so they are definitely experiencing a warmer vintage then Mt. Veeder. The last two seasons we harvested Brandlin in November and I feel pretty confident this year we’ll have things wrapped up before Halloween, a few weeks earlier than the quite cool preceding years.
So at this time I can report that the hygiene of the vineyard is excellent, crop levels are in the average yield range and we will be making our final "color thinning" over the next few weeks to leave behind the best fruit we can.
--Steve Rogstad, Winemaker
We were so excited to host our Annual Carneros BBQ this year! Club members and close friends enjoyed delicious BBQ courtesty of Cochon Volant "Flying Pig BBQ", paired perfectly with several Cuvaison Estate Wines, including our 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Mount Veeder, 2010 Chardonnay, and 2009 Carneros Pinot Noir! Members enjoyed the food, the view, the company, and of course, the wines! During the event, guests were treated with exclusive tours of our facility, from the vineyard to the tank room to the barrel room. Everyone had great questions and learned a lot about how Cuvaison wine is made. Thank you to everyone who came for making this such a stellar event! Can't wait until next summer!
This Friday, May 4th The Peabody Orlando is hosting a special dinner event featuring Cuvaison wine. Check out what's on the menu!
2010 Cuvaison Chardonnay
Tasmanian Sea Trout
Octopus Escabeche, Charred Greens
Crispy Purple Potatoes
2009 Cuvaison Carneros Pinot Noir
Florida Rock Shrimp Caramelle Pasta
Sea Beans, Chorizo and Bell Pepper Broth,
2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Sauvignon Mount Veeder
Grilled & Braised Duo of Veal
Watercress Puree, Golden Beet Vinaigrette
Braised Gruyere and Parsnip
Mash, Prune & Cinnamon
2009 Cuvaison Brandlin Cabernet Sauvignon
Dense Choclate Cake
Melting Ganache Raspberries
Toasted Pistachio Gelato
2006 Cuvaison Carneros Merlot
The Peabody Orlando
9801 International Drive
Orlando FL 32819
Earth Day is just around the corner and Cuvaison, celebrator of all things green, is giving back.
Starting now through Sunday April 22nd, we will donate 5% of total sales* to the Napa Valley Vine Trail.
The Napa Valley Vine Trail is a local grass roots organization working on designing, constructing and maintaining a 44 mile scenic multi-purpose paved hiking, biking, walking trail system which will connect the entire Napa Valley. Cuvaison is especially in favor of this organization’s efforts, because it will enable Napa Valley residents and visitors, to experience the valley while reducing our collective carbon footprint, reducing traffic in the valley, and encouraging people to get out and enjoy the outdoors!
Click here to learn more about Cuvaison’s commitment to sustainability.