Lots of excitement around the winery these days. It looks like the rains have gone and spring might actually have arrived. It’s still really cold at night and we aren’t showing any signs of impending budbreak (Fresno reported budbreak last week!) but you can feel it in the air, summer’s just around the corner.
The big news this month is the promised debut of TASS Vineyards and Winery. Ron has assured us that he intends to pour for Passport and then continue on every weekend thereafter in the Tasting Room. I’ve heard rumors that the first wines are a Pinot noir and a Cabernet sauvignon blend.
Progress continues on the Tasting Room and the grounds. The stage was completed last month and the base rock for the outdoor Tasting Area has been installed. Right after passport we should see the walkways and approach to the Tasting Room take shape. Landscaping comes soon after with grass and trees to plant. We’re still thinking about what we want to do on the interior of the Tasting Room but Jeff’s getting antsy so I’d predict some progress there this month as well.
Time… there’s just not enough of it for everything we want to do. March kicks off a busy event season with an offsite pouring (Hop ‘N Vine), then WSCV Spring Passport. April has Morgan Hill Wine Week and May is Gilroy’s turn. In between that we’re planning to work out a music schedule for Blended that has somebody playing at least every other weekend. If you know any serious amateur (or cheap professional) musicians who are looking for a venue for their craft let us know at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
First an update on the wine classes. We still want to get them started in early March but things have gotten pretty busy around here and we haven’t gotten the reservation sheet ready yet – so stay tuned.
We’ve started the landscaping around the Tasting Room. Like most projects around here it’s probably going to be a long slow process but we’ll get there. First up is to create a stage area outside the Tasting Room so we can comfortably accommodate musicians. We plan to be done by Passport weekend (March 18-19). We’re also starting to grade the area between the Tasting Room and the Restrooms and install a rock base. The current grass looks wonderful now but it’s really just weeds and will die off in a couple of months. After we get the Tasting Room area complete we’ll move on to the picnic areas. Hopefully we’ll have most of the heavy lifting done by mid-summer.
This is pretty much the last month to get the little stuff done around the winery. Next month starts a summer filled with wine releases, wine club events, wine strolls, and wine weeks. It’s going to be a busy summer!
Oops, almost forgot… we got a puppy. We Got a Puppy! We Got a PUPPY!! Her name is “Noe” which is short for Noelani, a Hawaiian word meaning “heavenly mist”. Since January was one long wet slog we thought the name is pretty appropriate. Noe is about 14 weeks old (born around the first of November) and a mix of Border Collie and Aussie Shepard. She’s a sweetie so stop in and say “Hi”, we know she’d love to meet you.
Happy New Year! It’s time to get serious about planning out the coming year. This will be the first full season of Blended being open and there are a bunch of exciting things coming up.
– Our third winemaker, Ron Mosley should be joining us in the Tasting Room in the next couple of months. He has wine in bottle and labels on order so now it’s just a matter of bringing it all together.
– If you’ve been in the Tasting Room recently you might have noticed that Jeff from La Vie Dansante Wines has posted a list of upcoming wines – one a month for the next 8 months! Also, Jeff’s first wine club release is scheduled for February 18th.
– Ted of Medeiros Family Wines is planning a wine club release of his own the following weekend. His “vacation” is over and he can be found everyday in a vineyard getting a jump on spring pruning.
– In the mood for some wine education? The first course in the Blended Wine Academy will cover “Wine Appreciation and Tasting” and is scheduled for early March and will be open for registration the first of February.
The Tasting Room is all decorated and Christmas music is – softly – playing in the background. The fire pit has been lit there’s a general feeling of relaxation in around the winery. It’s the perfect time to stop by and hang out with the winemakers who can usually be found in the Tasting Room with a glass in their hand(s).
Winemaking has eased up for the year, Ted with Medeiros Family is done racking and all of his 2016’s are in barrel. Jeff at La Vie Dansante uses a slightly different approach and does his first racking in January. TASS has moved some wine around and plans to bottle in the next couple of weeks so we should see Ron’s wines available in the first quarter of next year!
Even though the weather is cold our attention is turning to the winery grounds. In the next month or two we plan to do most of the rough-out work on the landscaping – while the ground is soft! This includes four new (well, new to us) picnic benches arriving in December which means we’ll need to grade the new picnic area and start talking about what we’d like to see for landscaping. Exciting times.
Cleaning, cleaning, and more cleaning; that’s what winemaker’s do in November. Oh, and go on vacation. Unfortunately all of the Blended winemakers are still in the “start-up” phase of their wineries which means no rest, even in the “off-season”. Jeff is frantically bottling (should have been done in August), Ted is getting ready for his fall wine club release and poor Ron is struggling through the fun of logo/label design and social media. These days running a winery is about much more than just grape growing or wine making.
The “Tractor Shed” is complete… well, mostly. The exterior is pretty much done but the interior will need some work over the “off-season”. This fall we’ll be turning our focus to landscaping. Don’t worry, we plan to keep the rustic feeling we all love, just with more flowers and fewer weeds.
All of the winemakers are a little over halfway through harvest – projected finish is around Jeff’s Birthday on the 16th of November. Everyone’s totally exhausted and any freetime is spent sleeping (or doing laundry) so there’s not much else going on around the winery this month.
The shed continues to progress. All of the exterior trim is in place and the only major task remaining is the roofing. Ugh, 800 square feet of composite shingles to haul up and hand nail. We should be able to cross that project off the list by the first week of November.
Some new furniture is enroute to Blended. We traded several barrels for bar stools. They’ll be “rustic” to fit in with our overall feeling but they’re sturdy and you’ll be able sit down knowing you’re being supported by re-purposed barrels that until recently held the wine you’re drinking!
The weather continues to be cool in the South County, what looked like an early harvest back in June is now looking like it’s going to drag on into late October. The first grapes are on the pad right now with more and more arriving over then next six weeks.
We’re within about three weeks of having the “Tractor Shed” weather-tight and painted. The barn doors were fitted last week and it’s starting to look like a real building. We’re expecting to work on landscaping over the winter and have a whole new experience available in the spring.
All three winemakers are starting to feel the anxiety of the upcoming harvest. There’s lots of wine to be bottled to free up tank and barrel space as well as the normal worries like “do I have all the chemistry I need?” or “do I have enough fermentation bins?”. This year nature has dealt us another unique worry “will my grapes taste like smoke?”. The Soberanes fire burning in Monterey county is now over 58,000 acres and being fought by over 5,000 firefighters. Every morning the winery and vineyards have been blanketed by a blanket of smoke and fog. It’s still too early to tell if it will be a serious issue for us and we’re trying hard not to think about it.
Walls are up on the “Tractor Shed”! If you don’t believe me check out the Blended Wine Studio Facebook page for updates as we progress. We’ve got a long, long way to go but we’re on track to our first milestone of having the building weather tight before harvest begins.
All of our winemakers are incredibly busy in the vineyards and winery. Jeff at La Vie just bottled his 2014 Rose of Grenache and expects to have it available in the Tasting Room in early August. Ted from Medeiros Family has caught up on bottling and is concentrating on his vineyards as we head towards harvest in September. Ron at TASS is incredibly busy getting wine bottled so he can join the others in the Tasting Room sometime in August. He’s also working overtime in his vineyards because he’s been down a man since May.
Construction is continuing with the walls about to go up. We’re not going to pin down a completion date but we’re confident we’ll be inside before the harsh California winter hits!
The Vineyards are looking like we’ll have a great year. The fruit set – the amount of fruit on the vines – looks excellent which is a relief after the wind and rain we had during the Cabernet Sauvignon flowering.
Construction on the tasting room began late last month… but we had a little set-back so we decided to take a couple of weeks and start again. The good news is all of the issues have been cleared up and we’re looking forward to making some decent progress in May. No promises but we hope to be “indoors” before harvest starts in September.