THE BEET: news & notes from the ranch

Late Fall 2018

From The Vine | Artisan of the Month | At The Table

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

Artisan of the Month

Ashley Heisey, Vice President of Winemaking

When and why did you join Long Meadow Ranch?

Back in 2002, I enjoyed a beautiful bottle of 1997 LMR Cabernet Sauvignon in the hills high above Calistoga. Intuitively, I knew that evening, that wine and that label resonated reverence for land stewardship, endurance, and sustainability. Not one to act on intuition alone, I dug deeper for the facts on the Long Meadow Ranch website. Taking a chance, I wrote an email to Cathy Corison, LMR’s winemaker at the time, expressing interest in making wine for Long Meadow Ranch at any point in the future. The very next year, Cathy returned to Corison Winery, opening up the opportunity for me to join the winemaking team here.

What do you most enjoy about winemaking at Long Meadow Ranch?

Long Meadow Ranch winemaking strives to improve, tool by tool, decision by decision, and in its ability to achieve a reliable and worthy style expression for each wine. One of the best tools I have is our estate grown fruit. 

As head of winemaking at LMR, what is your particular vision?

We are winegrowers, so I strive to capture the full potential of the beautifully grown grapes. I focus on maintaining a full toolkit to care for the wines. This means minimal intervention and only using the right tool at the right time to the right extent. No shooting in the dark. The wines should grade us and I hope each wine would give the winemaking team an “A” for understanding what it was meant to become.

Talk about the period in 2003 of working with Cathy Corison? What impact did that have?

Ted Hall had an unusual vision for protecting the continuity of our style. He hired me to shadow Cathy for her final vintage and then take the helm in 2004. I thoroughly enjoyed the collaborative exchange over the destemmer, adjacent to the press, and with samples pulled to evaluate elevage. Cathy was an articulate and devoted teacher as I shadowed and tried to capture what had come before.

How has your winemaking evolved since you started working with Long Meadow Ranch?

Perspective should evolve. If you ask a winemaker how they think about something, it better have evolved. Primarily, I have become a student of the vineyard block. I am disciplined about not changing what is not broken. I am equally disciplined and perpetually curious about implementing change when appropriate.

What is your favorite block or vineyard at LMR?

Like children or flavors of ice cream, it is impossible to decide upon a favorite.

What can you share about the balance of innovation and consistency in your winemaking process? Are you experimenting with any “new” methods/styles/blends etc?

It’s important to remember what we learned before. One of my mottos is “only new mistakes”. However, change is inevitable and full of positive discoveries. Fortunately, the culture allows us to take risks along the way.

What do you find most rewarding about your job?

Working with extraordinarily talented and committed winemakers. I offer continuity, prioritization and technical support, but the real work is done in the vineyard, by the winemakers, and by the yeasts. Most rewarding? Fermentation and being part of a strong team.

Who do you consider your winemaking mentors?

Genevieve Janssens, Dirk Hampson, Cathy Corison and my current LMR winemaker peers.

Are there any specific wines/wineries/winemakers that influence you more than others in your approach?

I am inspired by wineries with long histories like Jean Louis Chave with 16 generations of winemakers from the same family and Haut Brion with 500 years of written winemaking history. I am motivated to participate in legacy. It’s important to build teams, structures, and approaches that will work for a very long time. It’s equally important to tack intelligently with good timing.

Are there any set winemaking goals you are working to achieve right now?

Continue to produce moderate alcohol wines in a full range of styles from our various estates.

At The Table

Harvest Cake

Harvest Cake with Grapes and Grape Syrup

Serve with Late Harvest Chardonnay, Anderson Valley, 2015

Recipe Courtesy of Long Meadow Ranch


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

2 large eggs

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup milk

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

Finely grated zest of 1 small orange

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups seedless red grapes

1-quart unsweetened grape juice

Confectioners' sugar, for dusting


Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan. In a small bowl, whisk the flour with the salt and baking powder. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with the granulated sugar until pale yellow. Whisk in the milk, olive oil, melted butter, lemon zest, orange zest, and vanilla. Fold in the flour mixture, followed by 1 1/2 cups of the grapes. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake the cake for 15 minutes. Dot the top of the cake with the remaining 1/2 cup of grapes and bake for about 40 minutes longer, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack, carefully remove the ring and let cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, boil the grape juice over high heat until reduced to 1 cup, about 25 minutes. Let the grape syrup cool to room temperature.

Remove the cake from the base and transfer to a serving platter. Dust the top with confectioners' sugar. Cut the cake into wedges and serve, passing the grape syrup at the table. Pair with Long Meadow Ranch Late Harvest Chardonnay.

Tags: recipe wine artisan vineyards winemaking anderson valley chardonnay rosé farmstead dessert fall