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.
(Left to right: Luciano Armellino, Steve Rogstad, John Smylie, Nicole McLean, Carol Klincke, Steve Richards, Merritt Woodington and Jay Schuppert)
This photo was taken last week at our Brandlin Estate Vineyard atop Mount Veeder.
Cuvaison President Jay, Winemaker Steve, National Sales Manager Steve and CarrieAnne helped immerse our five new additions to our national sales team, introducing them to Cuvaison’s culture and philosophy.
Help us give a warm welcome to Luciano, Carol, Nicole, John and Merritt!
This team represents in total, well over a hundred years of wine industry expertise that is sure to get Cuvaison and Brandlin wines onto more of your local fine wine shops and favorite restaurant’s wine lists.
We celebrated bud break in our Carneros and Brandlin Estate Vineyards in early March.
Now, the vines are slowly filling in with fresh young bright green sprouts. The cover crops between the rows are already quite robust, offering a colorful melange of flowers including winter peas, calendula and mustard.
Our vineyard crew is busy "chopping" (i.e. cutting all the grass) and getting ready
to turn the weeds over to ease the competition for water over the course of the year.
We have our own opinions about Steve’s wines and are pleased
these highly regarded publications agree!
2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Mount Veeder
2009 Carneros Pinot Noir
“Lush scents of kirsch emerge from the initial dark and juicy flavors. This is sleek and soft, its tannins layering mineral detail over the velvet texture. A rich pinot to serve with roast squab.”
Wine & Spirits | February 2012
“Stars of a great vintage”
4 out of 5 stars, the highest rating awarded for Napa Valley
“Special Pinot Noir Edition
We are proud to share this glowing 92+ point review awarded by the Wine Advocate, to our 2009 Brandlin Cabernet Sauvignon. Nice job Steve!
Read Antonio Galloni’s elegant review on this vintage:
"'The 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon is a very pretty wine, but it needs time in the glass to open up. Dark cherries, plums, licorice, flowers and grilled herbs are some of the nuances that emerge from this mid-weight, gracious Cabernet Sauvignon. This isn’t a blockbuster, but rather a wine built along more classic lines. I really like the balance here. It appears there is significant upside, as the wine keeps getting better and better with time in the glass. In 2009 the blend includes 14% Malbec, 3% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc. Anticipated maturity: 2013-2024. Telephone (800) 253-9463 and (707) 942-2460."
The '09 vintage will not be released until Spring 2012.
Right now, it's cold and wet in our vineyards. Pruning is in full swing, and our committed vineyard crew is braving the elements, while expertly grooming the lifeblood of the 2012 vintage; our vines.
For the cane-pruned blocks, this years’ canes are being selected while unwanted wood is being trimmed away. In the spur-pruned blocks, initial cuts are being made and the unwanted wood pulled out of the trellis wires. Final cuts will be made closer to budbreak, which usually occurs in March. Canes will be tied to the fruiting wires sometime next month.
With the recent rains, we're also hurrying to capture irrigation water to use for this year’s vintage!
Meet the latest addition to Cuvaison; Carrie-Anne Kunkel. Carrie-Anne will support domestic sales in addition to international sales, which includes export, cruise-lines and airlines. We asked Carrie-Anne to share what she likes about Napa, where she’s from and what she’s most excited about in respect to her new Sales Coordinator role. Read on!
“I really enjoy waking up to the beauty of Napa Valley; Rolling hills, Redwoods, Oak trees, and the occasional hot air balloon are all in my drive to work. I also enjoy immersing myself in the Napa wine community. Everyone is really interesting and comes from all places and backgrounds to pursue their passion for wine.
I grew up in Half Moon Bay. In high school, I was a surfer, competitive swimmer, and water polo player. I was also in a couple of musicals including 42nd street. I traveled a lot at a young age with my sister and mom because she was a Pan Am flight attendant, so I was privileged to see world.
B.S. in International Business from SF State. My continued thirst for culture shock and travel was my trigger to develop an international dimension to my career.
I am most excited about learning the global wine marketplace and developing lasting relationships with our importers and brokers abroad. I am also interested in learning more about all aspects of the Cuvaison’s operations as I interact with other departments.”