Napa Valley Harvest has Begun!

44a86-boxes_Yes, indeed, and about two weeks ahead of “normal,” whatever that is.  It’s interesting that the Santa Rosa paper (Sonoma) reported this before the Napa papers – what’s up with that?

The first grapes were harvested on August first, destined for Mumm Napa Valley. It’s typical that the bubbly producers start ahead of still-wine producers because they pick the grapes at slightly lower sugars than everyone else – which is a discussion in itself.

What’s really interesting is that a friend, who was talking to one of the winemakers at Robert Mondavi Winery, said that they harvested some Sauvignon Blanc on the first. Now that’s early!! We think of Sauvignon Blanc as a late August/early September variety.

Why is crush early? Because of a really warm spring and early summer. It really pushed things along, just as it would the tomatoes in your back yard. Great year for tomatoes, here, by the way – they love the heat and are sweet as candy! Yum! Continue reading

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Today’s Wine Word: Green Harvest

dyer_gr_harvest

“Drop crop”… “Green Thinning”… “Green Harvest”… Whatever you like to call it the term is literal and refers to removing green, immature clusters and dropping them on the ground. It may seem a bit obtuse to be removing perfectly viable fruit that isn’t even mature yet, but it’s often done in the name of flavor intensity and it can happen at several times during the growing season.

The first round may be just after flowering and fruitset, which typically happens in mid to late May. Winter pruning and springtime shoot thinning are done with certain yields in mind. If the vines are overly generous on any given year it’s smart to thin out the excess so the rest can ripen properly and be flavorful, not diluted in taste. Continue reading

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Most Wines Don’t Improve with Age

One of the greatest wine myths of all is that “older is better.” Here’s a brief explanation:

Do you like to bottle age your wine or is it “Down the hatch!” for you?

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A Little Wine-Grape Trivia

As we see the grapes turning from green to purple, how about a little grape trivia?

What’s your favorite bit of wine trivia?

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Today’s Wine Word: Phylloxera

Image

With all due modesty, dontcha just love this photo? When I saw this vine displayed it confirmed something I’ve felt for nearly my whole life: that dormant vines are beautiful – they’re Mother Nature’s sculptures!

And, as an educator I love the graphic depiction of how virtually all wine grapes, world-wide, are grown.

As of the 1860s, vitis vinifera (European grape varieties – wine varieties) have to be grafted to American rootstock in order to survive. Yes, even in Europe.

Long story, short: Back in the 1800s, as French varieties came to the U.S. American varieties went to France. Some of the American cuttings that went to France carried a nasty pest, phylloxera, with them. Continue reading

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Moscato Mania

Once in awhile I like to check the search data to see what you really want to know. And, what came in first? “What is Moscato.” Here’s a little info:

Do you have a favorite Moscato brand or Moscato pairing? Help us out!

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What is Dry Wine?

no sugar

I was checking search data on the blog, hoping to find out what it is that you really want to know. The top search over the last several months is on “Moscato.” I’ve got a post on that coming right up.

What came in second? “What is dry wine?”

Okee dokee. That’s a pretty good question because it’s not cut and dried – pun intended 😉 – dryness is relative.

While, in the rest of the world dry is the opposite of wet, in the wine world dry is the opposite of sweet. I’ve noticed that a lot of folks who want to appear sophisticated about wine make a point of saying that they don’t drink the sweet stuff. Well, let me tell you, they’re missing out on a whole lot of fun because some of the most exquisite and sought-after wines in the world are sweet wines done right! Continue reading

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Decanting Wine as Entertainment

Did you know that decanting the wine is a form of entertainment here in the Napa Valley? Given that we don’t have much to talk about around here but wine and food – and food and wine – it shouldn’t be too surprising 😉

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July 6, 2013 · 7:53 pm

What Makes Wine Smell Musty?

Question from Kristy: What makes the wine smell musty? Can it still taste okay?

Reply: There are a few different reasons the wine might smell musty. And, you decide if it tastes okay. Here are some possibilities:

Maybe you chemists or microbiologists can enlighten us with some other causes?

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Selecting Low-Acid Wine

bottles on shelf

Question from John: My wife and I enjoy wine but increasingly she is effected by high acid. Are there any specific brands that you would suggest that are low acid taste good reasonably priced? Both red and white? Thanks for your help.

Reply: Hi, John. Thanks for writing. I’m afraid that wine is acidic by nature. Virtually all of the world’s wines fall between 2.8 and 4.0 on the pH scale.

Pardon my digression, here, for those unfamiliar: On the pH scale, zero is acid (battery acid), seven is neutral (water) and 14 is alkaline (lye, Drano). W

Whites are most often between 2.8 and 3.6 and reds between 3.3 and 4.0. The higher the pH the more bacteria-friendly the environment, meaning an increased risk of spoilage, so this is simple reality for winemakers. Above 3.8 and color stability is compromised. Plus, of course, the wine tastes better when the acid is balanced.

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