November 12, 2009

Wine Country Days 3 and 4

The morning of day three I was moving a bit slow.  While I laid around and enjoyed the peaceful quiet of the vineyard the Senor and brother-in-law went with our friend Bob to "punch down" the wine for a wine-maker friend of Bob's.

(Brother-in-law observing Bob punch down the wine.)

(The Senor punching down the wine.)

"Punching down" is done to keep the fermenting wine and skins mixed up during red wine fermentation.  As the wine ferments, the skins rise to the top of the tank and form a thick "cap."  It is important to break up the cap a few times a day to increase the extraction of color and flavor and to prevent the cap from drying out and/or developing bacterial problems.  A punch down means the cap was manually pushed back into the fermenting wine using an instrument that looks like a huge potato masher!

Our first stop on Day Three was Michel Schlumberger Winery.  This is a beautiful winery set back in the hills of Dry Creek Valley.  Our host, Francesco, was charming, knowledgeable and down-right funny.  The facility is not only gorgeous but is completely organic and is home to sheep, chickens and bees.  They also have an organic garden on the property.  According to Francesco it is not surprising to see mountain lion, bobcat, deer and many other wild animals roaming there.  On top of all this they produce first class wines that I love!

When we finished at Michele Schlumberger it was lunchtime and we had just enough time to pop in to The Ravenous for bite to eat.  The Ravenous is located in a funky old house in Healdsburg and the food was, well let's just say I was once again in "foodie heaven"!

Next, Sandy had arranged for a taste and pairing at Jordan Winery.  The Jordan facility sits high on a hilltop and is absolutely stunning.  Jordan is known for their "tradition of fine wines" and the tastings did not disappoint.

The remainder of the afternoon we tasted wines from the Longboard, Seghesio, Mauritson and Dutcher Crossing Wineries.

While at Mauritson we had the opportunity to meet the wine maker, Clay Mauritson.  Despite this being the busiest time of his year he was generous enough to take time to talk with us and share his passion for wine making.  It was so refreshing to speak with someone who holds such a love for what they do every day.  The Mauritson zinfandels were fabulous and, again, a case or two will be showing up on our door step any day now.

Our last night in Sonoma county we all convened on Willi's Seafood and Raw Bar.  I can't tell you what a pleasure it was to spend the evening visiting with these dear people.  Bob and Sandy and Bob and Cathy are truly some of my favorite folks and to have the opportunity to spend time with them in this amazing place was priceless.  As we shared small plates and glorious wine it occurred to me that our visit was drawing to an end and I was overcome with emotion.

Bob and Sandy are the ultimate host and hostess.  Bob met us on the deck Friday morning with mimosas.  The Senor, brother-in-law and I enjoyed our last morning on the vineyard deck while he and Sandy were busy in the kitchen whipping up breakfast.  After breakfast it was time to load our things and drop by one last winery before heading to the airport.  Bob had shared a bottle of Limerick Lane with us the night before and wanted us to see their facility before we left.  Limerick Lane's 1023 is a blend of Syrah and Zinfandel and is totally lush and fabulous and, yes, three magnums have already shown up on our door step.

Bob and Sandy escorted us to the airport.  Once again, I was overcome with emotion.  I'm terrible with good-byes and there simply were no words to adequately express our gratitude.  So we said our goodbyes, not knowing when we will see one another again, but knowing when we do it will be just like it was yesterday.

1 comment:

Charlie said...

Have you considered swapping out your wine punch-down with the pneumatage process instead?

It's by far the the best way to automate your cap management in single or multiple tanks and also efficiently aerate you juice during fermentation to eliminate the formation of hydrogen sulfide and mercapatans