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@LMR (the ranch blog)

Ted Hall
December 13, 2010 | Ted Hall

#5 in Top 100 Wines of 2010!

We have always tried to avoid touting our wine scores, but we're having fun with this one.  Wine Enthusiast Magazine has named our 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon to the Top 100 Wines of 2010.  Not only that, we're #5 overall and the top domestic red wine.  We were the top-rated Cabernet Sauvignon in the fall buying guide (among many fine wines) and we were also designated "Editor's Choice."  Whew! 

Our philosophy has always been to let our wines speak for themselves.  Raters can be very fickle and we believe that our customers should enjoy our wines because they like the wines, as opposed to being told to like them by a high rating.  Our balanced, elegant, moderate-alcohol style has also been difficult for some comparative tasters to recognize - especially when a wine is evaluated in a flight of 8 wines where the other 7 have been made to be "gladiators in sniff-spit contests."  Usually the high-alcohol, highly extracted wines prevail because they attract more attention in the noisy "wine coliseum."

We believe that wine should be presented (and thought of) as food and that the appropriate wine tasting protocol should always include an appropriate food pairing.  After all, that is how the wine will likely be consumed.  (A very prominent wine critic mentioned at a meeting with Napa Valley winemakers last month that he never tasted wine with food.  Hmmm.  Most of us never consume wine without food. . .)

In any case, we are very pleased to have been chosen by the Wine Enthusiast for this honor.  Even better, we actually agree with the tasting notes.  We are starting to see a trend where wine (and food) critics are taking seriously the role a wine will play when it is poured, namely as part of a meal and paired with a particular food.  After all, caviar is probably not the pairing for a top cabernet any more than champagne is a proper pairing for a New York steak.  In that context a number (e.g., "96") cannot capture the whole picture.  It can, however, call attention to the intrinsically attractive qualities of the wine.

Maybe I am getting wiser in my old age.  We like getting a "96" and, even better, like being on the Top 100 list.  We really do appreciate having attention drawn to our wines.  After all, unless someone tries our wine they'll never know what it stands for.  

Many thanks to Wine Enthusiast Magazine.

Ted Hall
November 24, 2010 | Ted Hall

Nice Surprise for Weekend

We were very pleased to learn this morning that the St. Helena Star had named our 2007 Ranch House Red as Wine of the Week.  What a nice surprise for the Thanksgiving weekend!  We very much appreciate the Star's suggestion to visit our tasting room, too.

For those of you receiving our This Week at Long Meadow Ranch newsletter, you knew that we were featuring the wine at our farm stand this week, too.  

Previously, the Star had highlighted Ranch House Red on a list of "Best Picnic Wines under $25." So, now we have been upgraded to Thanksgiving dinner as well.

We love the local recognition.  After all, the St. Helena Star has been "Published In The Heart of the Napa Valley since 1874."

Take a look: St. Helena Star Wine of the Week

Ted Hall
November 17, 2010 | Ted Hall

Harvest 2010 in the Barn

The 2010 vintage is now "in the barn" and we are very pleased.

The winery crew is busily cleaning our crush equipment today as we prepare to return it to storage.  All of our red wines were "pressed out" ten days ago (i.e., taken off the skins). And, we have already completed moving the reds into barrels in the cave to begin the aging process. 

Our Sauvignon Blanc has already been racked (i.e., taken off the lees) several times and we are close to assembling the final blend for bottling.  It is hard to believe that we started our harvest just twelve weeks ago with the first pick of Sauvgnon Blanc (on August 30th).

The season's weather was unusual with long periods of cool temperatures punctuated with two very sharp heat spikes.  As is often the case during cool growing seasons, our grapes had the opportunity to fully develop deep, rich flavors.  The first Fall rains did not come before we were completely harvested.  While the heat caused some problems elsewhere, our vineyards were well protected and we did not suffer any significant problems, like sunburn or raisining.  In most of our vineyards, we have never seen more beautiful fruit.

This harvest was our 17th vintage.  We are very pleased with the early results. 

Ted Hall
August 30, 2010 | Ted Hall

First Day of Harvest!

We started the harvest for the 2010 vintage today. Hard to believe, but this is our 17th vintage at Long Meadow Ranch. 

We've learned a lot over the years, but every harvest is unique.  This year is no exception. 

Our unusually cool summer has most of our grapes ripening very slowly and the standard forecast among Napa Valley winemakers is "two to three weeks late."  

In the case of the Sauvignon Blanc grapes, we didn't expect to be harvesting for another week to ten days. Last year our first pick was on August 17th.  Well, last week we had temperatures of about 111 degrees in our San Mateo Vineyard over a three day hot spell.  So, the Sauvignon Blanc grapes were suddenly ready to go.

We started at dawn this morning and picked almost 14 tons of beautiful cold fruit.  Bin temperature was about 45 degrees, which reflects our very cool nights, and is great for wine quality.  Then, it was off to the winery to get it into a tank while still cool.

We "whole cluster" pressed the grapes in a gigantic press this afternoon - all 14 tons at once.   So, now the juice is safely in a tank (sparged with CO2 to protect it from oxygen) and will soon be ready to ferment.  Tomorrow it will be back the vineyards for more grapes. 

There is nothing like the anticipation of the new vintage.  We are all looking forward to seeing what this season brings us.  Right now, we're fresh and excited.  But, we'll be harvesting from now until late October.  Then, we'll be tired and, hopefully, very pleased.  

We'll see.



Posted by Ted Hall

Ted Hall
January 14, 2010 | Ted Hall

2009 Sauvignon Blanc Bottling Day

We finished bottling our 2009 Sauvignon Blanc yesterday afternoon - just five months after beginning to pick the grapes.

Time Posted: Jan 14, 2010 at 8:00 PM
Ted Hall
December 28, 2009 | Ted Hall

Shhh! Tasting Room Opens Today!

Don't tell anyone but we are opening our tasting room today.

We are very excited about opening the Long Meadow Ranch Winery tasting room in the historic Logan-Ives House, the restored 1874 Gothic Revival farmhouse at 738 Main Street in St. Helena.

If everything goes according to plan, we'll quietly open the doors to the public at 11 AM today.

We'll be offering tastes of our five wines and two olive oils and a short tour of the property. In a few weeks, we'll be offering small plate food pairings from the kitchen.

But, in the meantime, we'll share our family's hospitality and tell our story. I might even play the 1904 upright piano.

The progress at our project site, which we call "Long Meadow Ranch Winery & Farmstead," is now very visible and friends tell us how great they feel when on the grounds.

The historic house has been restored, the landscaping is largely in place, vegetable gardens are partially planted, and the organic nursery has been remodeled. The solar project is producing "juice" and we have moved into our administrative offices upstairs in the farmhouse.

The next step will be opening of Farmstead restaurant early in the new year. But, more about that in another post.

Don't tell anyone, but we would love to have you come by.

We're open until 6 PM.


Posted by Ted Hall

Time Posted: Dec 28, 2009 at 2:00 AM
Ted Hall
October 13, 2009 | Ted Hall

2009 Harvest in the Barn!

The 2009 Harvest is "in the barn" at Long Meadow Ranch.

And, just in time for the seaon's first major rainstorm.  As I write this note, we are expecting to receive 3 to 5 inches of rain on the ranch. We are very much looking forward to the rain to help refresh our vines and replenish the water table.  (Our pastures could really use the rain, too.)

We have enjoyed a remarkable harvest at Long Meadow Ranch in terms of appropriate yields and grape quality. The 2009 Vintage should be very good - as best Ashley, Frank, and I can tell at this early stage. We had a long cool growing season with no notable problems from frost, rain, mildew, excessive heat or wind.

LMR passed a new milestone this season as we were involved in the harvest of about 350 tons of grapes!

With our new San Mateo Vineyard (located adjacent to LMR Rutherford Gardens in Rutherford) providing about 2/3 of our harvest total, we were a seller of Sauvignon Blanc grapes for the first time to several ultra premium wineries in addition to providing grapes for our own production.

With about 85 tons of red grapes "in the barn" we are looking forward to the next two weeks of fermentation.  The first block to be harvested was our Merlot (about three weeks ago) and the last blocks picked were the middle and lower blocks of the historic Church vineyard, which we picked yesterday.  Because of the somewhat compressed time period for the red harvest, every tank in the winery is full.  And, the work pace will be very busy for the next few weeks as we "punch down" the caps and rack each tank before transferring the new wines to barrels in the cave.

In most of our vineyards we have already spread compost and reseeded our cover crops, so the rain will help us get an early start to refreshing our soils for the next season.

Soon we will be turning our attention to the olive harvest.  There is an interesting story to be told about this year's olive harvest.  More later.





Posted by Ted Hall

Ted Hall
September 7, 2009 | Ted Hall

Grape Harvest Underway

Posted By Ted Hall

Sauvignon Blanc Grape Harvest Although today is just Labor Day, the grape harvest is well underway. We started on August 17th and have already harvested more than 200 tons of Sauvignon Blanc grapes from our San Mateo Ranch vineyard on the valley floor. And, we probably have another 25 to 30 tons still to go.
Sauvignon Blanc Grapes Sauvignon Blanc Grapes

Posted By Ted Hall

Ted Hall
April 15, 2009 | Ted Hall

Bottling Day At LMR Debuts New Wine

Ryan McGee bottling at Long Meadow RanchOur friends from Ryan McGee, the ones with the bottling-line-in-a-truck, arrived on Tuesday evening in time to set up for today's early morning bottling of two of our most approachable red wines.  

We have used Ryan McGee for years.  We effectively share a state-of-the-art bottling line with a group of our fellow Napa Valley wineries by bringing the "bottling line in a truck" to Long Meadow Ranch about four times a year.  

Partners Andy Ryan and Brian McGee also bring their expertise and experience honed by bottling almost everyday - something we could never do on our own.

2006 LMR Merlot being filled in bottling-line-in-a-truckThe day went uneventfully with a crew of about twelve hustling empty bottles around the pad in front of the winery and loading them onto the conveyors into the truck.

And then, after the bottles are sparged with nitrogen, filled with wine, capsuled, and labeled in a blink of the eye, they are packed into case boxes and stacked onto pallets.  

After a night or two resting in the cave, the wines will be off to our warehouse. 

We bottled our everyday favorite Ranch House Red - with our whimsical cork imprinted with "Whoa!" and my favorite horse, E-Z, showcased on the label. But, the highlight was a 55-case lot of our first ever Merlot from the 2006 vintage.

2007 Ranch House Red

Last year we selected a few barrels of Merlot for a "Left Bank" blend we made for the Napa Valley Premiere barrel auction.

We loved the wine so much that we made another cuvee to savor for ourselves and to offer exclusively in our tasting room. A few lucky members of the LMR Corral Club may also have the chance to try this wine, too.

This rich, succulent wine has the wonderfully graceful mouth feel and long finish that distinguishes the wines from our ranch. The inky black color is also remarkable.

In a few weeks when the "bottle shock" from bottling is passed, we look forward to savoring this wine - probably with a grass-fed Highland steak.

Can't wait.

2006 LMR Merlot
April 13, 2009 |

Live Internet Tasting

I will be participating in a live Zinfandel tasting panel on the internet today. The webcast is being filmed at Chappellet and will be from 10:30am-11:30am. This will be, I am fairly certain, the first blind tasting panel shown live on the internet. Wish me luck!

To view the tasting please visit