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From The Vine

Late Fall 2018

Harvest 2018 Wrap Up

Cabernet Sauvignon grapes - Rutherford Estat

Around mid-summer we saw the first sign that harvest season was near: veraison! Veraison is when the red grape varietals start to change color from green to purple. We started seeing veraison in our vineyards towards the end of July. 

Veraison of Pinot Noir grapes - Anderson Valley Estate


Night harvest of Sauvignon Blanc in early September - Rutherford Estate

Harvest began at our Rutherford Estate with a late night pick of Sauvignon Blanc on August 26th. We pick Sauvignon Blanc at night because the cooler temperatures keep the grapes firmer and more stable, which is optimal for processing and fermentation. Our Sauvignon Blanc vineyards were picked over period of about one month. 
Our team was on the move with a lot of ground to cover as our Anderson Valley Estate harvest of Chardonnay started on September 6th.  

Anderson Valley Estate Winemaker, Stephane Vivier checks the quality of the Chardonnay grapes in the harvest bin after they have been picked .  

Stephane does a daily tank walk to quality check each tank of Rosé of Pinot Noir as it ferments.

Next up: all of our Napa Valley reds! 

Early morning Merlot harvest - Rutherford Estate

Peter’s Vineyard Sangiovese with leaves removed for an easy pick of the fruit zone.

In early October, it was time to harvest our Merlot and Sangiovese. We have Merlot planted at both our estates, and the Sangiovese is all in Peter's Vineyard, located on our Mayacamas Estate, at 1000ft.
Prior to harvesting the grapes, our crew goes through the vineyard and removes all leaves in the fruit zone. They do this so that no leaves mix with the fruit in the large bins, allowing for a cleaner pick of the fruit.
Cabernet Sauvignon is always last to be harvested, as this grape varietal takes the longest to ripen. We harvested our Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards up until the 1st of November, with the Cabernet Sauvignon at our Rutherford Estate being the final pick. 

Arturo, crew lead, keeping bins clear of leaves during a morning pick of Cabernet Sauvignon - Mayacamas Estate  

Cabernet Sauvignon, Mayacamas Estate

Cellar Master, Isaac loading grapes into the crusher/destemmer. 

Crushpad - Mayacamas Estate Winery

Winemaker, Justin Carr, and intern, Ben Buckingham, on the crushpad, crushing Sangiovese, harvested from the Mayacamas Estate vineyard. Grape clusters are loaded into the crusher destemmer, to separate the grapes from their stems. 


Post destemming, the berries and juice are headed into fermentation bins. 

Small batch fermentation begins. 

November 1st, the last day of harvest.


Our 2018 Harvest Crew

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From The Vineyard

Early Summer 2018

Anderson Valley


“We have always been intrigued by the dramatic climate and geography of the Anderson Valley, as well as the region’s potential to make pure expressions of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay...we jumped at the opportunity to plant a stake in this incredible place.” -Chris Hall

Our Anderson Valley tasting room is now open at The Madrones, a boutique resort in Philo, California. The tasting room is a great spot to start exploring Anderson Valley, which offers plenty to discover. (Hint: See our interview with Anderson Valley local and Tasting Room Manager, Mark Mendenhall, below!)

Since we acquired the estate back in 2015, we have been looking forward to providing visitors to the Anderson Valley with an opportunity to taste wines close to where the grapes are grown, bringing the experience full circle.

Our Anderson Valley Estate is located just a few miles away from the tasting room, in the west, or “deep end". The Estate is 145 acres, with 69 acres planted with Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris. It is an idyllic property, with the Navarro River forming the southwest border, and the Pacific Ocean nearby bringing in cool sea breezes. The marine layer blankets the vineyard, creating the ideal terroir for estate-grown Burgundian varieties.

This vineyard is named Tanbark Mill Vineyard, named to honor the past where a tanbark mill was in operation in the late 1800's. The Tanbark Mill Vineyard showcases diverse terrain and soil types, producing some exciting wines. There are three primary soil types across the vineyard. Feliz loam, which is the primary soil for our chardonnay vines, and the deep Pinole loam and the more compact Perrygulch loam for the Pinot Noir. All three of these are the namesake for our designated Tanbark Mill Vineyard wines. 

Burgundy native, Stéphane Vivier was brought on to the Long Meadow Ranch winemaking team to produce our Anderson Valley wines. Stéphane’s goal is to put the best expression of the region into the glass and create wines that represent the story of Long Meadow Ranch and the Anderson Valley in a way people can connect with.

When you join us at our Anderson Valley tasting room, you will experience flights of our Anderson and Napa Valley wines, which can be paired with house-made products and local cheese. Guests can also taste and purchase our estate grown organic olive oils from Napa Valley and Long Meadow Ranch provisions.

Later this year, we look forward to offering an exclusive Anderson Valley Estate Experience. The guided journey will take you through our estate’s Tanbark Mill Vineyard to explore the rolling hills and diverse soil types. The experience will conclude at the tasting room to taste our Tanbark Mill Vineyard wines and enjoy small bites.

The Long Meadow Ranch Anderson Valley tasting room is open Thursday-Monday, with Tuesdays and Wednesdays by appointment. For details and reservations, please visit our Anderson Valley page

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FROM THE WINERY

APRIL 2018

Bottling: Reflecting the Vineyard and Winemaker’s Vision

The guiding principle behind bottling wine is to capture the character and flavor at the very moment the winemaker has finished cellar aging. We want to capture the wine in that state without uncontrolled and undesirable effects on the wine during bottling (like oxidation). It is no simple task but we devote a great deal of attention and focus to this.

Aging Beautifully: 

For most of our wines, we also want them to develop in the bottle. Once we have captured the wine’s character, the biggest effect we can have on the wine’s development is through closure choice.

For red wine, our preference is to use natural cork from Portugal's cork forests. Every one of our corks has been prescreened to ensure a high-quality appearance and the absence of trichloroanisole (TCA). TCA is a naturally occurring chemical compound in cork that results in 'cork taint', an undesirable aroma that detracts from the fruitiness and character of wines. 'Cork taint' can smell and taste like wet newspaper, cardboard, or chlorine. To avoid this, our corks are soaked in ultra-purified water, sealed in a jar, and then smelt by a trained sensory panelist. Yes, every single cork.

For most white wines, we are looking for a very limited and controlled amount of oxygen to be introduced into the wine during bottle aging. With this in mind, we select a closure with a low and consistent oxygen transmission rate (OTR) - enter the stelvin screw cap on the Long Meadow Ranch Sauvignon Blanc. For our Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir Blanc, and Rosé, we like the slightly higher OTR effect of cork.

Labeling: 

Have you ever tried to attach a sticker to a moving object and get it straight? Now try that on a round bottle! The bottling lines will move between 60 and 120 bottles per minute, the pace depends on multiple bottle styles, corks, and capsules. Bottle packaging and bottling lines have a personality of their own and behave differently on different days, they need constant monitoring, adjustment, encouragement, and a little luck.

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FROM THE FARM

February 2018

If you asked our agricultural team their thoughts on January and February, they’d say, “Is it March yet?!” The year started off with stormy weather and heavy rainfall, which is great news for our vines and farm but makes for cold and wet conditions around the ranch. While we are busy pruning the vineyard (removing last year’s growth from the dormant vines) it’s our livestock that’s buzzing with life around the Ranch. 

POULTRY 

This month we welcomed one hundred chicks to our ranch. What does the future look like for these chicks? They will spend the next few weeks in the brooder until they have enough feathers to move to a transitional coop with an outdoor run. When they reach 3-4 months old, they will join our main flock of laying hens in our state-of-the-art chicken coop at our Rutherford Estate. They’ll dine like queens on farm scraps from the organic fruits and vegetables we grow for our restaurant and farmer’s market. Their pasture access rotates weekly through the young fruit orchard planted adjacent to the coop. In the fall, they will clean up fallen fruit which aids in breaking fruit pest cycles. That fine cuisine is filled with nutrients and produces deep orange colored egg yolks. While we enjoy their eggs, their manure will be a vital part of our composting program, adding a nitrogen-rich component to the base of horse manure, shavings, and farm waste. 

HORSES

We are grateful to have three Haflinger draft horses on our ranch, as well as three Norwegian Fjord Horses and a handful of saddle horses. Our Fjord Horses thrive in our working farm environment and have recently, lead by our livestock manager Sophia Bates, been focused on integrating draft power into our vegetable production operations. They have been learning new tasks incrementally and brushing up on older skills, so they can be useful in the production fields of our Rutherford Estate. Their tasks this season include cultivating row crops, as well as tillage for cover crop seeding, and lots of work in the potato patch - furrowing, cultivating, hilling, and digging. Get the inside scoop below from Sophia.

HIGHLAND CATTLE

We’re proud owners of one of the largest folds of Highland Cattle in California. These pasture-raised cows, heifers, and calves call our 600-acre Tomales Station ranch home. We are just a few short weeks away from the beginning of their calving season. Calves romp alongside their mothers as they learn to graze on the nutrient-packed forage of the Tomales coastline while growing strong on rich mothers’ milk. They are weaned in the fall after their mothers are rebred and need to retain the extra calories to grow a new set of calves. The majority of the calves stay in Tomales until their second season until they move to fresh pasture in Ferndale and Petrolia to finish on premium grass. The grass season on the coast in Humboldt County is longer than in Tomales, allowing us to lengthen our beef harvests into fall, ensuring that we offer consistent and fresh beef for our restaurant and farmer’s market.

In 2017 we selected a new bull calf from one of our top cows. In case you missed it, we asked our friends and family on Instagram to help us with a name and we have put your suggestions to a company vote. Meet, Chewie!

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FROM THE VINEYARD

September 2017

Harvest kicked off at our Anderson Valley Estate at the end of August and was completed by September 18th (save for the late harvest Chardonnay which will be picked in the next few weeks). Cool nights in early summer, heatwaves (especially the one over labor day weekend), and hillside vineyards all played a part in making the 2017 harvest unique. We caught up with our director of agriculture and our Anderson Valley winemaker to get a peek into how this vintage is going.

We harvest Chardonnay and Pinot Noir at night because it’s cooler and the grape quality is better when they’re cool and crisp.

Winemaking starts with farming. How do our farming practices set up up for success?
Joseph Hardin, director of agriculture (JH): Our organic, sustainable, integrated farming system relies on each part of the ranch to contribute to the health of the whole. Timing also plays a large role in harvesting the highest quality fruit. 

When the heat wave came through Anderson Valley in the middle of August, how did that affect our fruit?
Stéphane Vivier, Anderson Valley winemaker (SV): Through the heatwave, the vineyards held up very well; our fruit looked really good. We knew the pick date was going to change, we just had to watch and check often to determine by how much. The biggest impact was that we had to speed up picking from a two to three-week stretch to picking everything within ten days. That was intense!

JH: Basically, we’re dancing with mother nature and she’s always in the lead.

How will this translate to wine?

SV: From the extremely cold spring and early summer nights (temps dropping to 40 degrees) to the heat waves at the end of summer, the weather this year led us to a longer bloom time and smaller clusters and berries which resulted in a lower yield with fantastic quality of fruit. The wines will be a little more powerful this year but with the same vibrancy and freshness as prior vintages.

So once you’ve determined the fruit is ripe and ready for picking, how do you decide where to start?

JH: We pick on a lot by lot basis and keep each lot separate throughout crush and fermentation until blending takes place. We want to make sure the juice is good before we blend certain blocks together because you can’t ever un-blend.

Can you tell us a little bit about where we are in the winemaking process for a few of our Anderson Valley wines?

SV: Sure, we harvested our Chardonnay the first week of September. After spending 3-6 days in stainless steel tanks for primary fermentation, we moved it to 25% new French oak barrels for secondary fermentation where it will stay for 12-18 months. We harvested the Pinot Noir during the first week of September. It is finishing right now in tanks and heading to secondary fermentation in 25% new French oak to age for 12-18 months.
The Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir Blanc was also harvested during the first week of September. The Pinot Gris had 6 days fermentation in stainless steel tanks and is now finishing fermentation in oak (no new oak) for 7 months. The Pinot Noir Blanc had started fermentation in stainless steel and is currently aging for 7 months in 5% new oak.

What are your overall feelings about this vintage?

SV: The Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are showing great freshness compared to 2016. The Chardonnay is showing a lot of floral character and elegance. It will be accessible and balanced at an earlier age compared to the last two vintages which needed more time in the bottle. The 2017 vintage will be more old world/old school wine, which is really great. The wines are going to be mind-boggling!

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WHERE WE ARE

February 2017

ANDERSON VALLEY ESTATE

Our Anderson Valley Estate, in Mendocino County, stretches over a diverse mix of elevations with the Navarro River forming the southern boundary and cool sea breezes from the Pacific bringing the marine layer through our vines.

Located in the west or “deep end” of the Anderson Valley, approximately 100 miles north of San Francisco, our estate has 69 acres planted to Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris.

With the Navarro River to the southeast and close proximity to the Pacific Ocean, a natural marine layer blankets the vineyards and creates terroir ideal for our estate-grown Burgundian varietals to mature slowly and ripen to the peak of their varietal character.

The mix of elevations, natural mixed forest vegetation (Coast Redwood, native oak varieties and Douglas fir), and diurnal temperature swings consistently at 40 to 50 degrees, we produce wines from our Anderson Valley Estate that are driven by the personality of the terroir with the muscular tannins of the Sonoma Coast combined with darker fruit tones of the Russian River.

Anderson Valley has evolved greatly since the 1850’s. Once its mainstay, apple orchards have almost completely been replaced with vineyards that produce some of the world’s best wines. We are thrilled to be a part of this up and coming wine region.

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