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.”
Stacy De Fino, the Diva behind the WinoBee blog, has highlighted Cuvaison in her recent post featuring wineries applauded for producing ethically responsible wines.
Read this nice article by Paul Franson on "Building for Visitors and Sustainability," and watch the accompanying video below!
This past Sunday wrapped up another exciting Club Cuvaison Holiday Gathering in the Calistoga Wine Cave.
We were graced by the presence of over 80 club members from all over the country, including the congenial Bruce and Lupe (pictured below), who visit us every year from Chicago, and are some of our biggest fans on Facebook!
(Thanks for being a part of our event Bruce and Lupe!)
Winemaker Steven Rogstad and wife Virginia were also present.
Steve always makes a point to mingle and carouse with club members.
(Wine Club Members and Steve at right)
(Steve and wine club members)
What about the wines? Tell us about the wines!
Well, since you asked …
According to Christina, the at-times esoteric 2009 ATS Chardonnay was the true show stopper! This particular club exclusive wine is produced in very limited quantities, and scarecly available for tasting. In fact, it’s only available in the Collector’s Selection hoilday gift pack right now.
Trying our ATS Chardonnay can be a unique opportunity; like viewing a mountain lion in the wild – it doesn’t happen very often, and when it does … you have to seize the moment!
(Christina w/ Two Estates, ATS Chardonnay and Diablo Syrah)
One of the many benefits of being a club Cuvaison member is having access to our more limited and exclusive wines, like the Two Estates, Diablo Syrah and the ATS Chardonnay. In addition, you get to enjoy special pricing on these wines.
(Jamie Glidewell and Mary Pencek)
More news is that Jamie Glidewell has returned to the Club Cuvaison as Wine Club Sales Manager. We are so excited, and know the wine club is in good hands with Jamie at the helm. The entire team; Danette, Laurie and Christina – are at your ready for placing orders and answering any club or Cuvaison related questions you have.
(Wine Club Rock Stars Christina, Jamie, Laurie and Danette)
In conclusion, a BIG THANKS to everyone who was able to join us for the Holiday Celebration
in the Cave. We hope to see you again at our club event in February!
The entire photo album is available for viewing on our Facebook page. Click here!
SAVE THE DATE!
Tasting in the Cave
Sunday | February 12th, 2012 | 1pm – 3pm
"Another late harvest kicked off in a small way for Cuvaison on the 21st of September, with fruit just trickling in over the first four to five days.
It ramped up in a big way when long range forecasts predicting rain firmed up early last week. We have been pulling in fruit as fast as we can. For example, on Sunday we crushed a record 57 tons of Pinot Noir and 60 tons of Chardonnay. Thus far we’ve done, 313 tons of Chardonnay (estimating another ~160 still to pick). Ninety seven tons of Pinot Noir, and 8.6 tons of Sauvignon Blanc.
Yields have been quite low, and there has been a real concern about the rains. We’ve been using the Pellenc Optical Sorter again this year (or as National Sales Manager Steve Richards calls it, “the Pedunk a Lunk”) to great effect, and it has been a life saver in terms of processing speed.
The light rain produced 0.22 inches of rain so far, with more expected through Thursday. High pressure will then fill in, but it does appear that our winter cycle may be beginning, or - “Welcome to California, it’s the new Oregon.”
Along with the Chardonnay, we still have our Merlot and Syrah, as well as all of Mount Veeder and Bald Mountain yet to come… Hopefully the sun will dance for us over the next three weeks and we will get it all picked in good shape.
Lastly, we did press off the first fermentor of Pinot Noir today, and it is mighty tasty, with good color and extract… boo yaa!
Cuvaison interns are organized by CAEP (a host organization that connects students and professionals with global paid internships). The applicants specify what they want to learn, the varietals they are interested in, the region of California they want to work, and the size of winery they are interested in.
Cuvaison’s Assistant Winemaker Matt Sunseri, receives the applications and selects candidates based on their profile and interest in winemaking. On occasion, candidates may choose the winery they are most interested in working at.
This year’s harvest interns each hail from very different places around the globe, yet they share a unifying interest in learning more about winemaking and improving their English, except of course for Josh the Australian, who already speaks English. .
Meet Our Interns!
Eleanora from Italy
Ines from Uruguay
Firmin from France
Josh from Australia
When asked what they anticipated to be their greatest challenge while working crush, each intern shared a unique response. Ines’ concern is on learning new lab techniques, while Eleanora dreads washing tanks. Josh is concerned with driving on (what is to him) the opposite side of the road, and Firmin is concerned with his ability to communicate in English.
All of Cuvaison’s interns are excited to experience harvest in Napa Valley. It will be fun to see how their relationships evolve and what new insights they have to share in the weeks to come.
Winemaker Steve just announced harvest starts tonight, 1am!
The 2008 Brandlin Cabernet Sauvignon Is one of ...
"18 Outstanding Napa Cabernets!"
"This well-structured red is marked by a tight, flinty, minerally edge, yet nonetheless offers a complex core of dried berry, roasted herb, sage and cedar. Ends with the tannins giving the flavors traction. Best from 2012 through 2022."
James Laube, Wine Spectator, August 1, 2011
Retail Bottle $90
Mary and Joelle tasting the Cuvaison 2006 Merlot and 2009 Zinfandel Mount Veeder - both
recently added to the tasting flights!
Have you ever wondered where those seemingly crazy-illustrious adjectives come from on tasting menus? While we cannot speak for other wineries, we do know each wine poured in our tasting room is examined through tasting, seeing, smelling and swirling.
Both Joelle (Hospitality Manager & Wine Educator) and Mary (Director of Retail Operations) have completed wine immersion and sensory courses at the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, and together they collaborate on writing these notes.
The serious connoisseur knows it takes years of “study” and tasting to cultivate an ability to identify the more subtle components of wine so don’t feel bad if you’re not picking up on the smoky tea, tobacco or plum.
Thought we'd share this nice write-up on Cuvaison by Robert Whitley of "Wine Talk With Robert Whitley":
Last week Club Cuvaison members from near and far joined together for the unique opportunity to experience the view of our Carneros vineyards from the Tasting Room at sunset.
Think sunlit vines, green rolling hills as far as the eye can see and GREAT WINE!
Cuvaison Wine Educator & Hospitality Manager Joelle Kurrus made an excellent effort coordinating this magical experience. Guests tasted through Signature and Winery/Club Exclusives and enjoyed savory pulled pork sliders, pork ribs and horseradish coleslaw catered by Cochon Volante of Sonoma.
Our hard working bottling crew in action!. Way to go team!
What else would you expect from a Club Cuvaison “Mayo” celebration? Here are some of the highlights from this year’s festivities hosted in our quaint Guest house located at the edge of our Carneros Vineyard.
The Guest House was brightly decorated before guests arrived - Latin rhythms of guitarrons and trumpets piping in the background. Ernie and Laurie (our new wine club associate) greeted guests at the front door and distributed mustaches for those who … needed them. That said, they were quite popular amongst the women folk.
|(From left to right: Club Cuvaison Laurie, George Kilbourne and granddaughter Lauren)|
|(From left to right: Jamie and Mary and the 2010 Vin Gris of Pinot Noir)|
Cuvaison’s 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, 2009 Carneros Chardonnay, 2009 Mariafeld Pinot Noir, 2009 Block F5 Pinot Noir and 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Mount Veeder were being poured and guests were greeted at the door with a taste of the newly released 2010 Vin Gris of Pinot Noir.
|Catered by Villa Corona|
A variety of sumptuous south-of-the-border inspired cuisine was served buffet-style for Club Members. Villa Corona (who has catered this Cuvaison club event for years) prepared a special sea bass, carnitas and grilled chicken “taco bar” along with perfectly crisped homemade taco shells and fresh guacamole, sour cream, salsa, cilantro and shredded cheese as toppings.
Aside from the usual carousing, eating and drinking we had a piñata, but they just don’t’ make them like they used to. After a mere two blows, a fierce (and nameless) Club Cuvaison member knocked the sweets right out of the piñata Joelle had taken careful measures to hang from the eaves.
On the second blow the piñata fissured at the neckline leaving the head dangling only by a thread; anticlimactic yet funny. (see image of the “burro slayer” at the top of this blog post). Of course the piñata candy innards were distributed amongst party goers (and the Juicy Fruits proved to be a righteous accompaniment to the Mexican fare).
This was Cuvaison’s ninth “Mayo” celebration in a row. Some attendees have been coming every year, and this year we saw new faces as well – such as this couple relaxing with some Vin Gris in the hammock. Now, they know how to do it right!
<< View Photo Gallery of this Event Here >>
Red-wearing revelers frolicked at our Chinese New Year celebration and banquet held in our Calistoga wine cave this past Sunday.
Cuvaison Estate Wines Hospitality Manager and Wine Educator, Joelle Kurrus’ efforts made this year’s Club Tasting in the Cave event unforgettable.
For starters, the cave was decorated from head to toe with lighted Chinese lanterns and other celebratory trimmings. Visitors were transformed into a Chinese New Year fantasy realm just ten yards inside the cave entrance where a stoic yet peaceful Buddha, banked by apple blossom branches and red backlighting, welcomed guests and “set the mood.”
Other Chinese New Year themed decorations lined the cave’s hallways, table tops and place settings. “Pop-pop snappers” (fuse less firecrackers for children – in this case, adult children) were disbursed at the check-in station, along with chocolate coins (traditionally given to the young) and “lucky money bags.”
The Club Cuvaison office designed a variety of games including numerology and an American card game called “Murder” interpreted to our Chinese New Year celebration event.
Soft tunes hand picked by Joelle reverberated throughout the cave and beneath the backdrop of people carousing and laughing.
The food! The wine!
Guests were greeted with a glass of Cuvaison 2009 Carneros Chardonnay and then the group migrated into the main dining hall and invited to choose where they wanted to sit. The different faces of Cuvaison hosted each table and included Suzanna, Mary, Jamie, Dan, Stephanie, Steve Rogstad and Joelle. The amazing cuisine was catered by the acclaimed San Francisco restaurant Yank Sing.
Guests were first served a first course of honey glazed walnut salad, accompanied by Cuvaison’s 2009 S Block Chardonnay. Perfectly paired!
The second course consisted of a variety of dim sum (shrimp dumplings (I still have dreams about these), chicken mushroom dumplings, pork and shrimp sui mye and snow pea shoots dumplings) and Cuvaison’s 2008 Carneros Pinot Noir. Also perfectly paired!
The third (and heartiest) course included a generous portion of chicken chow mein, Mongolian beef, honey walnut prawn and Peking ribs. beef with the Cuvaison 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Mount Veeder wine.
The evening was topped off with Chinese confections including fortune cookies, coconut cream rolls, sesame balls and pour of the Cuvaison 2008 Espiritu port-style dessert wine.
A good time was had by all, but there’s still debate as to which table had the most fun. We’re pretty sure that Jamie’s might have had a little more fun.
Watch a short video of Cuvaison Estate Wines sorting their 2010 Pinot Noir on the brand-new state-of-the-art Pellenc “Vision.”
This de-stemmer/sorter machine features a high speed camera that sorts roughly 1000 berries per second.
The winemaker teaches the machine what to keep and what to get rid of, and it does so by learning the shape (round berries) and color (black berries), etc.
Then the machine excludes (through a well directed micro blast of compressed air) any berries or stems that are not wanted.”
These days our vineyards are like a gentle flowing carpet of deep velvety green. The days are long and despite the higher temperatures found in most parts of the Napa Valley, our Carneros Estate remains comfortably cool with breezes off the bay. We simply could not resist hosting a spontaneous summertime event for our wine club members.
We had over 190 Club Cuvaison members RSVP. Most of them hailed from the San Francisco Bay Area, a few from Chico and Los Angeles and even some from as far away as Chicago and Iowa.
Let’s start with the food. The food was … delicious. For meat eaters, the highlight was hand crafted sausages made special by Napa's artisanal charcuterie, The Fatted Calf. These sausages were infused with our very own 2008 Carneros Pinot Noir wine and were amazing!
Fresh seasonal fruit salad and roasted potato salad with whole grain mustard also made for a nice accompaniment to our Carneros Estate flight of wines being poured.
The evening was filled with cheery conversation while guests sipped and swirled our Vin Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel, Carneros Chardonnay and Carneros Pinot Noir. New and old friends mingled while the sun slowly slipped towards the horizon, casting an almost ethereal golden hue across the landscape.
It was stunning. For those who were not able to make it this time, we hope to see you on your next visit to Napa Valley!
<<Click here to view Event Photos>>
You’ve attended business meetings all week. You’re overseas, far from your family and you miss sleeping in your own bed terribly. The good news is that your flight is on time and you depart tonight. The not-so-good news is that you’ll be hard pressed to find a respectable glass of wine in the air.
If you’re flying Singapore Airlines, you will never encounter this problem. Awarded “Best Global Airline” by Condé Nast Traveler, Singapore Airlines and its passengers demand quality and reliability. And this doesn’t stop at their Business Class wine list.
Singapore Airlines boasts a distinguished panel of wine experts who perform a bi-annual “blind” tasting of up to 1,000 wines. Wines are judged on appearance (color and clarity), bouquet (or “nose”) and palate (taste). The panel also assesses the wine’s suitability for drinking on board an aircraft where the atmosphere tends to be drier. Out of the 1,000, only 15 wines are selected for all classes of service (first, business and economy).
That being said, Cuvaison Estate Wines is honored to announce that our 2008 Carneros Chardonnay Napa Valley is now being poured on Singapore Airlines in Business Class … around the world. Simply put, Singapore Airlines is committed to serving the best on board and Cuvaison is delighted.
Now, meet Singapore Airlines’ Panel of Wine Experts:
Global Wine Consultant, Steven Spurrier, from the United Kingdom
(Consultant Editor to Decanter Magazine and President of the Circle of Wine Writers, author of several books)
Master of Wine, Jeannie Cho Lee , from the United States
(a wine judge who contributes regularly to Decanter, Wine Spectator and Revue du Vin)
Master of Wine, Michael Hill Smith, from Australia
(wine consultant, wine judge, writer and broadcaster, awarded prestigious Order of Australia for his contributions to the wine industry)
Photo credits: Singapore Airlines website