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: 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.