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.”
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!
Last year, Cuvaison President Jay Schuppert conducted tastings with the Napa Valley Vintners at Vinexpo in Hong Kong. Vinexpo is an expansive showcase held in Hong Kong every other year, and features producers from all over the world, representing the best products in the wine and spirits industry.
Jay Schuppert had the opportunity to meet with Debra Meiburg, Master of Wine, wine journalist and wine judge. Recently, Debra started a video series called “Meet the Winemaker.”
Now, we all know Steve Rogstad is Cuviason’s Winemaker, but in Steve’s absence, Jay stepped in to talk about what makes Cuvaison so unique. We hope you enjoy this short video!