It’s that time of the year when winemakers start tripping all over each other as they hurry to get wines racked and bottled before the onslaught of vineyard maintenance takes over. Three winemakers sharing a facility can be problematic so we’ve all chosen a day of the week to concentrate our winemaking activities. It probably doesn’t mean much to anybody outside of our Blended family but Monday’s are now reserved for Medeiros Family Wines, Tuesday is the La Vie Dansante’s property, and TASS gets all day Friday. Wednesday and Thursday are still there on a first come, first served basis.
It looks like the weather may finally be changing to summer (even though it’s raining outside as I write this). The rains are forecast to go away this coming week and we’ll all start to concentrate on the vineyards which this time of the year means spraying. Each year more and more of the vineyards are moving towards “organic” – which is a good thing. The downside is that to be organic we use Stylet Oil and Elemental Sulfur to battle with mildew and neither of them have a lasting effect. That means that they both kill mildew spores on contact but only for the existing bloom. The next batch will grow unimpeded unless we spray again, every 10 days or so.
This is also wine walk season. Gilroy on April 13th (Willow Glen too), Morgan Hill on April 27th, Los Gatos on May 4th (Hollister too), and Saratoga on May 11th. We still haven’t heard where each of the wineries are pouring but expect to find all three wineries at Gilroy, TASS and Medeiros at Morgan Hill, La Vie Dansante in Los Gatos and Saratoga.
Today dawned sunny and warm. We know there’s more rain on the way, but just for a moment we can see the promise of spring. We feel rejuvinated, anything is possible, and everything is right in the world. This is a time of rebirth in the vineyards as the vines begin their annual cycle. We look to be about 4 to 6 weeks from budbreak but the cover crop is up and thriving so we should have flowers any day. This is a truly magical time of the year to stop by the tasting room and enjoy a glass of wine in the sunshine. Days like today are definitely on our list of top five reasons we love this life.
It’s been a slow start to the year, we’re hoping it’s just the weather being a bit dark and gloomy. The good news for winemakers is that all of this rain means we can’t get out into the vineyards (too much mud) so we’re concentrating on affairs in the cellar – the wines are getting lots of love and attention. In fact this is the first time all three winemakers can say they’re completely caught up on the day-to-day stuff and able to work on putting wine in to bottles.
This should also be the first year we have the time and resources to concentrate on our tasting facilities. We’re thinking…improving the landscaping, finishing the Tasting Room ceiling, rebuilding the outdoor bar. Who knows, we may even get to those long delayed pavers!
…insert Noah/Ark joke here…
and then the rains came down. It’s been a wet spring so far here at Blended and we couldn’t be happier. The vines really need all the water they can get in the spring to help them through our long, dry summers. The fact it’s also been cold is a bonus. Cool weather now lets the vines stay dormant longer which means a later bud break and less chance of a late frost killing harming the crop. The vineyards may be under water, and the parking lot might be a bit damp, but we’re still open. The Tasting Room is warm, dry, and cozy so stop by and try the wine stylings of our three winemakers any Saturday or Sunday from noon to 5pm.
Well, our “vacation” is over and it’s time to get back to work. Both TASS and Medeiros Family have wine club releases in February, TASS on the 16th (his first!), and Medeiros Family on the 23rd. Check their websites and social media channels for more information. Blended is also hosting the second La Vie Dansante Wines Symposia – “From Grape to Glass, a Wine’s Journey” on Thursday February 21st from 6:30 to 9:00 pm. Tickets are available in the Tasting Room or at La Vie’s online webstore.
All three winemakers have been working hard on bottling during January and February, hoping to get ahead a bit before all of the excitement in March hits us. In March we’ll have the La Vie Dansante Wine Club social, Hop ‘N Vine, and the Wineries of Santa Clara County Spring Passport.
And so we start another year. This is the beginning of our third full year open and we think we’ve got the pattern pretty much nailed. The winemakers are busy in the winery working on the 2016’s and 2017’s. The 2018 wines are all snuggly put away for the next several months. January is the time all of the bookkeeping get’s done in preparation for paying all of those Excise and Usage taxes. Not our favorite time of the year but satisfying in it’s own way.
The Tasting Room is coming along, the walls are done and progress is being made on completing the chair rail – anybody want to help install several thousand corks? The ceiling is still open but should be finished fairly soon. We were promised some free insulation that hasn’t yet shown up. No hard feelings, but it means a bit of a delay while we set aside the money we need to purchase it.
We’re working on the events calendar for the coming year. Each of the wineries will have four release parties, together we’ll do a spring and fall party. We’re planning on another Holiday party in December and of course there’s the La Vie Dansante Wine Symposiums each month. All of these should be on this page (look over to the right) and will be updated as things firm up.
Thanks for all of your support last year and we’re looking forward to rewarding you with lots of fun and excitement – and great wine – in the coming year.
And then December just disappeared…
I hope everybody had a fantastic holiday season. Ours here at Blended was so busy we didn’t even get a chance to update the website!
Harvest should be over… but it’s not this year. There’s still lots to do before we close that last tank or barrel and take some time off. The Tasting Room is undergoing some changes with the seaso; the swamp cooler which provided a cool breeze all summer has been replaced by the patio heater, the halls are being decked with holiday decorations, and candles provide a gentle glow. Also it’s time for new wines – be sure to try Medeiros Family’s new Cabernet Sauvignon (and watch for the release of the new Saudade) and La Vie Dansante’s new Syrah.
Holiday hours for each of the winemakers have been announced – check their websites for up-to-the-minute news and changes. La Vie Dansante Wines will be open Thursday through Monday in November, including the Friday after Thanksgiving. All three winemakers plan to be open every Saturday and Sunday. La Vie Dansante will be closed December 24th through the 28th but other than that December is business as usual.
It’s October and Harvest 2018 is still going strong. In fact we’re all only about half-way through when in a normal year we’d be talking about wrapping things up and taking a little vacation time. This was such a cool summer that all of the fruit seems to be coming in about three weeks late which will drive harvest all the way to Thanksgiving. The other impact of a cool season is to drive the fruit quantities down. In order to get the clusters to ripen in a cool year we drop a lot of fruit – fewer clusters mean the plants have a greater share of resources for each cluster. Where this all comes together is that even though this is a particularly long harvest, it’s not a very big one so all of the winemakers are spending a lot of time standing around looking at each other. A very strange season indeed.
Since everybody is busy with harvest there hasn’t been a lot of work put into the grounds or events. Next up on the schedule is our Annual Holiday Party on the evening of December 21st. This year we’re bringing in live music in Jason Cade, a fantastic singer/songwriter from the Fresno area. We’ll also have holiday goodies to enjoy and special wine deals to celebrate the season. Watch this website, our member wineries websites, and Facebook for more information as we get closer to the date.
Around here we have a love / hate relationship with the month of September. On the love side September marks the beginning of harvest. The time of the year when we get to ignore all of the day-to-day tedium like paying bills and writing social media posts in favor of making wine. There is nothing we’d rather do than make wine. On the hate side this is the most accessible month for organizations to host events. The weather cools off and the kids are back in school. September is both the national and California Wine Month. It’s wine club releases and Taste of Morgan Hill. Every school is having their fund raisers. Finally, there’s the Wineries of Santa Clara Valley Fall Passport.
Don’t get us wrong, we love all of the opportunities to interact with our guests and make new friends, but it can be a grind. So if you see us around the winery with dark circles under our eyes and looking a little worn-out, dont worry, were just a little tired and it will pass… in December…when harvest is over.
Look out, here comes harvest! The grapes have all started to change from green to red and the birds have begun to take notice. That means we’re only about six weeks from picking and the beginning of harvest. But first there’s the last of the bottling to do and the winery to reconfigure for fermentation. We’ve pretty much grown into every available square inch of the winery building but for harvest we’ll need to find some room somewhere. That means a lot of stacking and squeezing. Some of the wines will be double-checked and tucked in for a winter’s nap. We’ll see them again next January as we dig out from all of the new wines.
This is a month that is normally pretty lax in the winemaking world. Spring bottling is over and harvest is coming but still far enough away that we can ignore it and relax. We’ve been using the time to improve the grounds around the Tasting Room. We’ve doubled the grassy area next to the Tasting Room and brought in more lawn games; Cornhole, Ladder Golf, Giant Jenga, Lawn Darts, and more. We’ve also moved most of the picnic tables to the older grassy area and added umbrellas for a little shade. In front of the Tasting Room you may notice we added bark and some beautiful flowering plants to the two planters. Finally we’ve added head-trained grapes to each of the half-barrel planters along the edge of the picnic area. All-in-all we think things are starting to come together and we’ve got a beautiful setting in which to enjoy the wines of our three winemakers.
Like we said above, harvest is coming. (Reminder to self, source “Harvest is Coming T-Shirts”!) What that means at this time of the year is a lot of cleaning. Then we’ll test everything and then clean everything one last time before the grapes arrive. The first grapes, Chardonnay, can come as early as the last week of August but things really get rocking in the first couple weeks of September. This is the fourth harvest at Blended – can you believe it? – and things have become pretty routine. Our expected production for this harvest is somewhere around 7,500 gallons of wine, or just over 3,000 cases between the three labels.
Blended is still open every Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5pm for La Vie Dansante Wines, Medeiros Family Wines, and TASS Vineyards & Winery. On the weekdays, specifically Monday, Thursday, and Friday, the Tasting Room becomes La Vie Dansante Wines. That means you can still purchase Medeiros and TASS wines by the bottle but the tasting list is only La Vie Dansante Wines. The tasting fee is still $10 (refundable) for five to six wines poured by owner and winemaker Jeff Fadness. Come in during the week, relax, and share some wine with him.
As they say, “the best laid plans…” Despite all of the bottling mentioned below in “May” we’re still not done. It looks like two days more for both La Vie Dansante and Medeiros. The firm goal is to be completely done by the end of June so we can clean the winery up for the fall fun. Probably a little more bottling in August – 2017 whites – money permitting and then it’s on to harvest preparations.
As of this moment harvest is probably running a couple of weeks late due to the unusually cool weather this year but if there’s one thing we’ve learned in the past three years at this location it’s that trying to predict harvest while still in June is a complete waste of time. Regardless of the current state we’re going to go out on a limb and guess Harvest 2018 will start during the second week of September… just like it always does!
If you haven’t been out to the Tasting Room recently you’ve missed some pretty big changes. The games area has doubled in size and will soon become the main picnic area. We’re planning to re-work the area in front of the main Winery building into a more intimate picnic setting by changing out the big picnic tables to smaller bistro tables. We’re also getting close to closing up two more walls in the Tasting Room to give us a more finished look and provide additional spacing for merchandise and graphics to tell our story. It will probably take until the end of the summer to finish, but stop by soon to see our progress.
The month has somehow escaped us without an update. You didn’t miss much, bottling, bottling, and a little more bottling.
It’s warming up and the entire vineyard is in budbreak as nature starts another cycle. Now if the rains would just stop. Ok, not really. Rain is wonderful and will have no effect on the crop for at least another 30 days so bring it on nature.
The winery has been a frenzy of bottling as Ted and Jeff trade off day’s using the equipment. Between them they’ll bottle around 1,500 cases of wine in April alone. Sadly, most of that won’t be ready to taste until this fall so have patience.
You might notice a lot of dirt moving around behind the Tasting Room. This is due to the Summer’s family preparing the ground for a new peach and nectarine orchard. An added benefit to us is that they’ll be moving the fence line soon which will bring the future Bocce Ball courts onto our side of the fence as well as doubling the size of the grassy picnic area near our games lawn. Great, more grass to mow every week!
The big news this month is that La Vie Dansante Wines is extending their pouring hours to include Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays! Beginning on Monday March 5th, La Vie Dansante will be open for guests from Thursday through Monday – 5 days a week. You’ll be able to stop by for a wine tasting or a glass of wine and enjoy our beautiful Gilroy summer afternoons. Only the wines of La Vie Dansante will be open for tasting and glass sales on weekdays but you’ll be able to purchase Medieros Family and TASS wines by the bottle if you like.
It’s time for the Wineries of Santa Clara Valley’s Spring 2018 Passport! There’s a couple of changes this year… first, the Friday night event has been moved to Coyote Creek Golf Course and expanded to include more than 24 wineries and 14 restaurants. There is a $15 up-charge to the base $45 Passport to attend the Friday night but it’s well worth the price to enjoy all of the food and wine pairings. The second big change to Passport is that your book will be good for the entire month of March. You can take the Passport book to any participating winery (on a day they’re normally open) and receive a free tasting. At Blended we’ll be happy to comp Passport holder a full tasting of our winemaker’s wines and extend our “Friends and Family” discounts on any wine purchased during your visit. Tickets are available online at: Spring 2018 Passport Tickets and a Blended, a Winemaker’s Studio after March 2nd.
Normally we think of February as a chance to escape for a week or so and relax prior to things getting busy again in March, but no this year. This year we’re using it to knock some of the bigger projects off our to-do list.
First up is the “proof-of-concept” for the pavers that we plan to lay all around the Tasting Room. The plan is to do the approach to the Tasting Room in two parts, the first part between the planters, and the second part between the planters and the front door. If that goes well we’ll move onto the Outdoor Tasting Area between the Tasting Room and the Restrooms and finally finish up (sometime next fall) with the area in front of the Restroom doors. It’s a huge project that will cause a lot of mayhem so no promises on how fast we’ll move into it.
The second project is to refinish all of the picnic tables. The plan is to pull all six of the big tables apart, plane down the wood to get rid of the hideous flaking off paint, then reassemble them and oil them well so they can withstand the summer sun. We figure about 8 hours per table so one hard week for two people.
Finally, we want to build a “Games Area” in the grass to the west of the Tasting Room. Initially the games will be: Cornhole, Giant Jenga, and Ladder Golf. Horseshoes may follow soon after depending on the Game Area’s popularity. Of course all of the games will be DIY, made right here on the property to go along with our “Rustic” approach to the winery.
It’s a bright, shiny New Year and we have lots planned to entertain you, educate you, and help you escape from the real world for awhile.
This year we plan to host many more events than we have in the past. We’re starting to get our feet under ourselves and so it’s time to grow. A couple ideas in the works are: “Movie Nights” where we show a film on the big screen and serve wine, popcorn, and snacks. Wine Classes each month here on-site so we can enjoy the ambiance of the winery (and pretty much unlimited wine). Music (and possibly food trucks?) on the weekends. Let us know how you like to relax at your favorite winery and we’ll see about working it into our schedule.
The first event on our 2018 plan is the “Blended Barrel Tasting Event” to be held on Saturday, January 27th in the winery building. Each of our winemakers will be presenting a barrel of wine they expect to bottle in the next year for your approval. Each barrel will be paired with a small bite and the winemakers will be there to pontificate on their winemaking philosophy. It should be a fun time and a great way to get a peek behind the curtain of the winemaking process. Tickets are $20 each and wine club discounts apply.
If you follow us on social media – and if you don’t, why not? – you probably saw that we’re making progress on the Bocce Ball Court. Right now it’s not much more than a very level mud pit but we have high hopes for the spring after the base rock and oyster shell is put in. The other thing that you haven’t yet seen evidence of but is actually happening is that we’re installing pavers on the Tasting Room approach, the Outdoor Tasting area, and hopefully (if we have enough) in the area around the Palm Tree so we can install the firepit and benches. We lucked into a source of approximately 15 tons of Pavers (maybe 2,000 sqft?) that were headed to recycling. We talked the contractor into rerouting them to us instead and now all we need to do is buy a truckload of sand and install them! Ok, it’s more than that but we’ll get it done!
Happy Holidays from Blended!
It’s the end of the year and after a flurry of work the last couple of weeks the winemaking is all pretty much done until next year. That doesn’t mean the winemakers haven’t been busy. There’s pourings, dinners and parties every week in December. They’ve also put together the first ever Blended Holiday Wine Collections – a box of three wines: La Vie Dansante’s 2014 Syrah (sold out!), Medeiros’ 2014 Saudade, and TASS’s 2015 Pinot noir – all for only $85. That’s 15% less than you’d pay if you bought them individually. Want a white in the mix? There’s a version with La Vie Dansante’s 2015 Roussanne instead of the Syrah.
Around the Tasting Room it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas with candles, lights, and decorations everywhere. There’s a bunch of new La Vie Dansante merchandise just in time for Holiday gift giving. Stop by on Friday the 22nd from noon to 7pm and check it all out. As as special present to our Wine Club members, your membership privileges have been extended across all three brands. That’s right, on Friday only you’ll receive your Wine Club discounts all all wine and merchandise regardless of the brand. Friends who have yet to join a wine club will also receive a holiday present in the form of 15% off any mixed case of wine. Pick and choose from among all of the wines, buy 12 or more and receive 15% off your purchase.
We’ve had a lot of fun this past year and made many great friends. We hope you’ll stop by for a glass of wine before the new year to help us celebrate the end of another trip around the sun.
One day we three winemakers looked around and realized… welp, that’s it for 2017 – Harvest is officially over! Yes, there are still a million small things to do along with catching up on all the stuff we’ve been putting off “until after harvest”, but for the most part the season is complete.
It was a strange harvest (aren’t they all?). With all of the water in the spring we were expecting a bountiful, easy harvest but the cooler than normal summer broken up by extreme heat spikes conspired against us. As we came into the home stretch, where the grapes gain most of their sugar and flavor, we were hit with a 120 degree day in the vineyards. This basically shut down the vines. Vineyard managers all hurried to irrigate, hoping to keep the canopy (leaves) alive and prolong the ripening. They saved the plants but the water dropped the sugar concentration and raised the pH, two not so good things for making wine. In the end 2017 didn’t live up to it’s early promise and we winemakers struggled to use all of our knowledge and art to produce our wines. Not to worry though, as always good winemakers will take what’s given to them and make good wines.
Can you believe the holidays are here already? The second week of November is the winter wine club release for Medeiros Family Wines. A week later La Vie Dansante Wines releases their winter wines. Before you know it we’re at Thanksgiving and all of the Christmas Parties in early December. You know you’re going to be giving wine as a gift, stop by Blended and stock up!
We’ll be open normal hours the weekend after Thanksgiving, closed Christmas Eve (Sunday), and then open normal hours New Years Eve Weekend. Look for emails and Facebook posts telling you about our Christmas Eve-Eve party on Saturday the 23th. Last year was a blast and now the secret’s out so this year should be huge!
Ok, to be fair… half-past October. Today is the 20th of the month and harvest for the three winemakers is just beginning to run down. Ted has all of his fruit in and is almost done with fermentation. He’ll be pressing and barreling down next week and then he’s done. Ron has one more pick to accomplish so he’s about two weeks from putting a pin in the 2017 harvest. Jeff has three whites remaining to bring in, Roussanne, Grenache blanc, and Picpoul blanc, which should all be ready in the next week to 10 days – just before the big rains. His hope is to have everything done fermenting and barreled down by his birthday in mid-November
A few small changes around the Tasting Room this month. A shelf, the beginning of the wine cabinetry, has been added behind the bar. We think the extra room to store and display bottles is a huge wine… I mean win. The outdoor Tasting Area is looking better these days now that the carport is back to sheltering the forklift from the elements. It it’s place are a number for Shade Sails suspended by 7×19 galvanized wire. Lights are coming soon and more sails will be added next spring.
Oh no, where did September go? Poor month, you were gone before we got to know you.
On one hand this is an “off” month, it’s slow around the winery and the vineyard. In the winery all of the bottling is (should be) done and it’s still too early to start cleaning up for crush. In the vineyard the fruit has started to turn colors. There’s maybe one more spray to do but all of the thinning and leave pulling is pretty much done and it’s too early to start testing for ripeness. This is our one last chance to take a day or two off before we settle into the harvest routine of long days and longer weeks.
On the other hand there’s ALWAYS stuff that needs attention before crush starts. Mostly it’s a lot of planning (guessing) about how many tons of grapes to expect and where we’re going to put the new wine. This is also the last push for offsite events as Gilroy and Morgan Hill host their end-of-summer festivities. Gilroy has a Car Show coming up in the middle of this month, next month is Taste of Morgan Hill, and The Wineries of Santa Clara Valley will be hosting their Fall Passport in October.
The vineyards are still looking stellar although as I write this it’s 85 degrees and high humidity outside which is a perfect recipe for mildew so we’ll need to keep and eye on that. We’re seeing veraison in all of the varietals here at Blended. Within the next two weeks everything will be purple – well, except the chardonnay of course. Next we’ll see the berries start to soften and get sweet as the acid is burned off for energy. We’re about 5 weeks from the first fruit hitting the crush pad. I would expect it to be Medeiros Family chardonnay since it’s an early ripener. Following that we’ll be looking for La Vie Dansante Grenache and Syrah in mid-September.
Curious how busy we are around the vineyard and winery these days? So busy that it’s already the middle of July and we’re just getting time to update the website!
Things have settled in to a nice groove around here… three winemakers all aboard and pouring, the grapes are looking fantastic, the weather is beautiful, and other than the normal squirrel “infestation” things are about perfect. And then we remember we’re about six weeks until harvest.
Blended now has an Online Wine Shop, find it under “The Wines” in the menu at the top of this page. Currently only La Vie Dansante and TASS wines are listed but Medeiros Family wines should be coming soon. One small issue is that except for La Vie Dansante wines the wine club member discounts aren’t working on the sales site. You can purchase wine but it won’t recognize your member discount. This is due partially to some work needing to be done at our end but also some background programming that needs to be completed so we’re not sure how long it will take.
Interested in joining one of the three wine clubs? Find information and an online sign-up process under “The Wines” in the menu at the top of this page as well. That part works perfectly.
Can you believe we’re half-way through 2017 already? If you think that’s amazing… as I write this the puppy and I are hiding from the rain outside. That’s right, rain. In June! In California!! Normally this is where we’d all say “thank God, we can really use the moisture” but this year, not so much. It was so wet this spring that the vines are going crazy. Last week we mowed down the cover crop – for the third time this season. Usually we only do it once, sometimes twice, but never three times. Today we got about halfway through hedging. “Hedging” is when we go through the vineyard and clip each cane down to about four feet long. This helps balance out the leaves to cluster ratio and opens up the canopy to let the wind blow through. The vines have been so vigorous that the canes were almost 7 feet long and were starting to drag on the ground.
We’ve been continuing on improvements to the tasting experience. Last month our third winemaker, Ron Mosley from TASS, joined us in the Tasting Room and this month we’re working hard on the landscaping leading up to the Tasting Room. Nothing fancy – remember, we’re “Rustic” – just a couple of planter boxes and crushed granite to walk on instead of weeds/mud. We’re also going to keep the grass in front of the winery building, in the picnic area, and in the oval in the parking lot green to help provide some relief from the summer heat. It means a lot more time mowing each week but we think it really helps the scenery. It’s been pretty hot a couple of weekends already. It’s not so much the air temperature as there has been a complete lack of wind. We’re working on it. Not the lack of wind, not much we can do about that, but we’re planning to add an evaporative cooler in the Tasting Room to circulate cool air.
June and July are pretty slow in the winemaking side of the business. We’re cleaning, bottling, and starting to think about Harvest 2017. There’s that huge list of chores that we’ll “get to before next harvest” to start on but we can put it off for another few weeks. Hey, it doesn’t seem right if we’re not panicked!
If you haven’t stopped by recently grab a picnic lunch and come on down. Ted from Medeiros Family Wines has released his 2014 Merlot and 2014 Saudade. The Saudade this year is predominately Cabernet franc and it really stands out. Jeff from La Vie Dansante released his “Spring Rosé” this week. It’s based on Mourvèdre and is light, crisp, and perfect for the hot summer afternoons to come.
Happy Mother’s Day from Blended!
We made it through April which is always a busy month with start of the wine walk/stroll/stumble season. The Tasting Room has been busy – not too busy, just busy enough to be a blast to be around. Lots of happy people enjoying the efforts of our winemakers.
Speaking of winemakers, it’s finally happened! We’re trilled to welcome Ron Mosley of TASS Vineyards and Winery to our Tasting Room. If you haven’t had the opportunity to taste his wines stop by Blended soon to try his excellent 2015 Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot noir and 2015 Cabernet sauvignon.
In the Cellar May means a winemaker’s fancy turns to thoughts of bottling. Jeff at La Vie Dansante recently bottled his 2016 Mourvèdre Rosé, 2016 Grenache Rosé, and his first two non-Rhone red blends, Stage Left and Stage Right. Ted at Medeiros Family hasn’t shared his bottling plans but several large stacks of glass arrived last week so somethings up!
We’re working hard to improve our guest experience so if there’s something that would make you visit more enjoyable don’t hesitate to mention it. Several weeks ago a young lady was looking or a place to charge her iPhone and now…voila, we have a multi-plug charging station available. If we’re missing something it sometimes means we haven’t gotten to it yet but other times it means we just haven’t thought of it.
The 2017 growing season has fully kicked-off with the entire vineyard in budbreak. All of the water last winter has done wonders for the vines which all look very healthy going into their period of most rapid growth. If anything this year we’ll need to carefully pull in the reins on the vines so they don’t get to vigorous. An overly happy vine doesn’t feel the need to concentrate on reproducing which leads to inferior fruit.
Finishing the Tasting Room is moving ahead of schedule. We fully expected to go through this year with the status quo but the sudden availability of a pallet of cedar plank-ends and some quality design time mean that the first wall is complete and plans are in motion for the remainder. I’m guessing we’ll have the walls finished in a couple of months and then we’ll move on to the ceiling and fun stuff like artwork.
We’re still awaiting our third winemaker joining us in the Tasting Room. Ron, if you’re reading this, come on buddy we miss you! All kidding aside, Ron planned to be ready in mid-March but has run into a couple of snags that slowed him down. We’re still saying “any day now” but now we’re saying it with more confidence.
Jeff’s moved wine classes Blended up a burner – maybe not on the front burner yet, but off of simmering in the back. The first class should be announced in a week or so and be scheduled for late May or early June. The topic will be be around how to do wine tasting properly, i.e. sound like you know what you’re talking about without sounding like an … whatever. We’ll try wines, talk about how to categorize them, what causes certain flavors and colors, etc. Stay tuned for more information.
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: email@example.com.
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.