THE BEET

Tag archives for “Wine”


Resolution #1

Five Resolutions You Can Keep in 2018!

Fuel Your Soul 

This classic French omelet is brightened with some

fresh garden herbs and a side of LMR house-smoked bacon.

Enjoy with a glass of rosé, a bloody mary, or a mimosa with fresh squeezed orange juice.

Recipe courtesy: Executive Chef, Stephen Barber

Serving Size: 1 omelet

CLASSIC FRENCH OMELETTE

3 free-range eggs

¼ tsp sea salt and freshly ground black pepper (or to taste)

1 Tbsp unsalted butter

1 Tbsp chopped chive, parsley, tarragon

3 pieces LMR house-smoked bacon (optional)

  1. In a bowl, whisk the eggs and season with salt and pepper
  2. Add the chopped herb mixture to the eggs
  3. Heat butter in a nonstick pan over medium heat, until just melted
  4. Add the eggs and herbs and allow them to set slightly before gently pulling the outside towards the center using a spatula, allowing the space to be filled with more runny egg
  5. Once most of the egg mixture has set, tilt the pan away from yourself and shake the pan gently, moving the omelet to the edge of the pan
  6. Carefully tilt the pan towards yourself and gently bump the handle so that the omelet folds over on itself
  7. Fold over the other half of the omelet using a spatula to create a log-shaped omelet
  8. If adding bacon, preheat the oven to 375 Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with foil (for an easier clean-up). Place bacon on top of foil and bake in the oven for 15 minutes (20 minutes if you like it crispy), then add to plate with omelet (optional)
  9. Pour yourself a glass of LMR Rosé or Pinot Noir or whip up a bloody mary with our original mix and enjoy!

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Autumn 2017

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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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FROM THE FARM

AUGUST 2017

Napa Valley starts to get very busy in August as grape harvest sneaks up on us and is in full swing by September. But, before we tackle grape harvest, we are fortunate to experience a fruitful tomato season!

This year we planted 14 tomato varietals, both heirlooms and hybrids, and they are all finally ripening with the heat we’ve had in Napa Valley the last few weeks. 

Here’s a little plant 101, in case you need some brushing up…

Heirloom varieties are open-pollinated, unlike hybrids, and are often passed down from generation to generation. When the plants of an open-pollinated variety self-pollinate or are pollinated by another representative of the same variety, the resulting seeds will produce plants roughly identical to their parents.

Hybrids are created when plant breeders cross-pollinate two different varieties of a plant with the goal of producing a plant with the best traits from each of the parents. Cross-pollination is a natural process that can occur within members of the same plant species. Sungolds are, for example, a hybrid and prove that hybrids can have tons of flavor.

Now for a guide to what is growing on our farm and what you can find in our restaurant and farmer’s market:

PINK BRANDYWINE

The Pink Brandywine gets its name from its hometown Brandywine, PA. This heirloom is one of the most well-known. It has a potato leaf shape that can look like a heart. These tomatoes are super sweet and really meaty.

AUNT RUBY’S GERMAN GREEN

A family heirloom from Ruby Arnold of Greeneville, TN, Aunt Ruby’s German Green is slightly acidic and really sweet with a hint of spiciness.

BLACK KRIM

This heirloom tomato is originally from Krim, Russia and is also known as Black Crimea. Sweet, smoky, and a little bit salty, when the Black Krim gets a lot of heat it turns a violet-brown/purple-red (almost black) color. This year these are thriving in Napa Valley!

GERMAN JOHNSON

A predecessor of the “mortgage lifter” tomato, the heirloom German Johnson has a deep, acidic tomato flavor and a rich, creamy texture.

INDIGO ROSE

The Indigo Rose is commonly referred to as a blue tomato and was bred by Wild Boar farms in Napa for high levels of anthocyanins. These small tomatoes are high in antioxidants.

SUN GOLD

Sun golds are an exceptionally sweet, bright tangerine-orange cherry tomato. They are like candy with a tropical fruit flavor and are great right off the vine directly into your mouth.

BLACK PINEAPPLE

The heirloom Black Pineapple, also known as Ananas Noire, is sweet with low acid and a hearty smoky flavor.

GREAT WHITE

There are several white tomatoes, but we like the heirloom Great White. It is meaty with few seeds, and has a mild non-acid flavor and a creamy texture.

GOLD MEDAL

Gold Medal, an heirloom from Ohio, is an overwhelmingly sweet and meaty yellow tomato with red stripes.

PINK BERKELEY TIE DYE

The Pink Berkeley Tie Dye tomato was developed by Brad Gates of Wild Boar Farms. It’s a psychedelic dark pink tomato with green stripes and the flavor is sweet, rich and complex.

EARLY GIRL

Early Girl tomatoes are named as such because they bear fruit earlier than most other tomato varietals. These tomatoes are extremely popular in the US and are often found in backyard gardens.

SOLAR FLARE

Another Wild Boar Farms hybrid, the Solar Flare is luscious and meaty with a slightly sweet full tomato flavor.

PAUL ROBESON

This Russian heirloom tomato has an almost cult following for its distinctive, sweet and smoky flavor. It was lovingly named in honor of Paul Robeson, the famous opera singer and equal rights advocate.

BLUE BERRIES

A small cherry variety from Wild Boar Farms, a ripe blue berry tomato is dark purple where it received the most sunlight and deep red where the fruit was shaded. These tomatoes are super-rich in anthocyanins and the flavor is intensely fruity and sugar-sweet.

BLUE GOLD BERRIES

Blue Gold Berry tomatoes are incredibly beautiful purple and yellow cherry tomatoes. These little tomatoes are bursting with loads of antioxidants and the flavor is very sweet and rich.

PINK BOAR

These port wine colored cherry tomatoes have metallic silver green stripes with an outrageous rich, sweet flavor.

As you can see, there are so many wonderful tomatoes out there right now and there are 101 ways to use them - from a juicy BLT to a luscious sauce to a easy snack. Check out our restaurantchef’s table or farmer’s market for inspiration! 

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FROM THE VINEYARD

JULY 2017

At Long Meadow Ranch, we embrace history and quality over what’s trendy. However, it is imperative we are an economically viable company, otherwise we won’t remain a company for very long, right? After 25 years or so, a vineyard gets to the end of its usable life. Most growers remove these vineyards and replant new vines.

In an effort to preserve the aging historic vines in our Bear Canyon cabernet sauvignon vineyard and maintain profitability, we decided to modernize the trellising and pruning method.

In 1991, when we were considering budwood for the Bear Canyon Vineyard, we were looking for examples of cabernet sauvignon vineyards that produced wines that were elegant, balanced and genuinely a complement to food. We have been guided by these wine profile goals since our inception.

We were attracted to the wines produced by Heitz from the Bella Oaks Vineyard owned by Barney and Belle Rhodes. Up to that time, very few wines in the industry were vineyard-designated (the first was Martha's Vineyard also produced by Heitz), so finding expressions of wine characteristics from a single vineyard was very difficult. We chose to take budwood from Bella Oaks because of the distinctive, balanced style reflected in the vineyard-designated wines made by Heitz. We were also influenced by the dedication to fine food and balanced wines by Barney and Belle.

Similarly, we were very attracted to the wines from Jordan. The 1984 vintage was especially a favorite of Ted’s, because of its elegance and expression of Bordeaux-like character (moderate alcohol, good acid--not flabby, balanced--both oak and grape, tannins, etc.). Andre Tchelistcheff had consulted with Jordan and their style objective was to become the "Margaux of California." Andre clearly had influenced their vineyard selections. So, when we had a chance to select budwood from their top vineyard, we jumped on the opportunity. Moreover, Margaux was a favorite of Ted’s among the great wines from Bordeaux.

We have two blocks (J for Jordan and R for Rhodes) in Bear Canyon with unique field selected budwood that have been used to make our wines for decades. As you can imagine, these blocks are very important to Long Meadow Ranch.

In 2013, we started a discussion about grape quality between cane and spur pruned vines and decided to converted 4 rows of Block J to cane pruning as a long term trial to evaluate the success of this kind of change. As with just about anything, we have learned many things about farming grapes over the last 20+ years and determined that our trellising system also needed to change in order to promote even light and proper canopy management. Harvest 2014 was the first year we had fruit from the modernized pruning method and trellising.

To test the effects of these changes, we made wine from the 4 cane pruned rows and wine from the neighboring 4 rows of spur pruned vines. They were farmed exactly the same way and experienced the same conditions in the vineyard. The winemaking was also done exactly the same - barrels, cooperage, yeast, aging, etc. - so the only difference was the vine the fruit came from. Barrel tastings were done regularly to check progress and, in 2016, we did a blind tasting with our winemaking and winegrowing teams to understand the difference between the 2 wines. The result? The cane pruned vineyard wines were more delicate and fruity with true varietal and vintage characteristics, as well as lower alcohol, all resulting in a better style fit for our wines.

With these results in mind, in February 2017, we converted all of the dormant vines in Block J to cane pruning and changed the trellises in all the rows. This is a lot of work (it took our entire vineyard crew 2 months to complete the change).

First, we pre-pruned all of the vines to just the 4 best canes closest to the trunk.

After we removed all of the canes, except the ones that will be used as next year’s fruiting wood, we had to pull all of the trellis catch wires and the old cross arms (we recycled them, of course).

Then, we carefully removed the cordons as close to the last remaining spur with our canes as possible.

After the cordons are removed, we immediately painted the cuts with a fungicide. Approximately 24 to 48 hours after the cuts are made, the vines secrete a sticky sap-like goo as a natural defense against pests and disease. This goo makes a scab over the cut and pushes out anything that’s unhealthy for the vine.

Next, we laid down the new canes on the fruiting wire. We always want these canes to be around the thickness of a #2 pencil with 10 buds on each. This will also increase our fruit production, because now we have 40 shoots per vine.

We changed the trellising, so that we can better manage the canopy. When the vineyard was originally planted, it only had short trellis stakes, a system also known as California Sprawl where the shoots just fell over the trellis. When the vineyard was updated in 2006, we added the taller stakes to help the higher shoots stay upright. However, this configuration did not provide consistent light conditions - sometimes too much sun and sometimes too much shade. These trellises also only had one wire that couldn’t really hold the canopy properly, so the shoots could fall to the left and right. We couldn’t achieve optimum balance with this system.

Our new trellis system is now modernized with the tools available to us today. We reused the tall stakes and added new cross arms at different heights (12”, 16”, 20” and 24”).

We added more wires, so now there are 2 for each height and side of the vine to keep the shoots from shifting. This also allowed us to open up the center for better canopy management.

The new end posts were installed with with a really neat tractor attachment. You know how we feel about big tractors!

The final step in this process is to lower the head height of the vines. Some are taller than the fruiting wire, so they have to bend in a wonky way to reach the fruiting wire.

We want all of the fruit to be in a 12” window, so that it is consistent with uniform coverage, brix, pH, etc. This consistency results in even ripeness and delicious wine. Moving the head height is a 3 to 4 year process that we are trying to jumpstart naturally by encouraging a new cane to grow further down the trunk. We do this by scraping off some bark to allow light into the trunk to stimulate growth.

Once the new cane is established, we can remove the old trunk and voila!

We completed converting the 3 acre J Block this year and we will do the same work in the R Block when the vines are dormant. This year, we also converted Blocks 7 and 8 (6.5 acres) in Anderson Valley to new trellising. The vines were already cane pruned, however, the canes were stacked vertically (one on top of the other) instead horizontally (side by side). This configuration made for a big clump of leaves and fruit that were susceptible to mildew. In 2015, we converted 20 acres of sauvignon blanc. So, as you can see, our long term redevelopment plan is in full swing!

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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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