Posted by: Thomson Vineyards | July 12, 2010

Ready to Rock

The now infamous winemaker of the 2009 Pinot Noir Throwdown submitted his walk up song request today, via SMS text, after reading about himself on winebusiness.com. At 8:22 a.m. to be specific, just 15 minutes after the Wine Business Daily News dropped in his inbox. His chosen walk up song of the day: For Those About to Rock AC/DC. I countered with Let It Rock by Kevin Rudolf, clearly a divide among the generations and even clearer a divide between grower and winemaker philosophies. This week is all about unity though, the uniting of two valleys over one varietal in Carneros – the only AVA to span Napa and Sonoma counties.

Here’s a quick roundup of what’s going down in the vineyard and in the wine industry this week:

Hand Farmed Since 1938

– Speaking of spanning generations, we had a huge win Sunday in the vineyard when The Farmer agreed to put down his hand hedger and call in a mechanized hedger crew. That’s right The Farmer is adopting mechanization due in part to his Old Baby Boomer Farmer status and right shoulder; a recent trip to New Zealand is responsible for revolutionizing The Farmer’s way of thinking and vineyard technology. While many other countries have adopted mechanical tools and tactics to farm more efficiently, we’ve been paralyzed in Napa by labor and currently a labor shortage. Therefore, I’m on a mission to adopt a strategy that merges hand labor for the vineyard practices which require skill (such as pruning, budding and grafting) and instituting mechanization methods where it make sense. We’ll also outsource the equipment and crew when possible to ensure capital expenditure costs remain low. Recently, 96 points was awarded to a Cabernet Sauvignon produced through integrated mechanization and hand labor, proving that operations efficiency and financial sustainability can still produce a “hand crafted” wine although not completely farmed by hand. You can read about this feat in Wines & Vines. If you’re an avid reader of this blog however (all two of you) you’ll know that at Thomson Vineyards we utilize a rating scale of 1-4 forcing the judge, individual or otherwise to essentially lean one way or another. You’re also welcome to adopt my wine rating system, “I like it, or I don’t.” But enough about gold stars.

– San Joaquin Valley (SJV) buyers are in ‘da house. On a recent vineyard part sourcing trip to the beautiful St. Helena I chatted it up with A & J Vineyard Supply guys while we determined if the trellis part The Farmer insisted he could get 100 units for at under $20 was even available let alone still made in 2010. The guys told me SJV buyers were in the valley cleaning up and cleaning out. They hadn’t called me, and I still have 40T of Chardonnay available. Apparently I spoke too soon. Sure enough one rang me up on Friday to schedule an appointment early this week. Just like the Carneros wineries and sourcing a last minute location for the PinotNoir Smackdown on July 15, the hometown wineries seem to be slow on the grape buying uptake as well. One is the marketing department, the other is finance. Deductive reasoning tells me that only two departments are actually working at the moment in the wine industry, those are the viticulturists/growers and the winemakers/bottling mechanics. Go figure! It take a village to … well, you know the saying I won’t bore you with the California  wine industry collectively uniting. We’ll start small and focus on the unification of Napa and Sonoma first.

The Crux of Carneros Anaba Winery

– Finally lets talk a little bit about the hometown Carneros hero of the week. Anaba Winery, stepped up to the plate and will host the team Thursday July 15, 5-7 p.m. for the Ultimate Twitter Taste Live Event; Napa and Sonoma unite under one roof, at one time, over one grape. Register online, bring a bottle of Pinot Noir and a mobile device to Tweet; get ready to meet some of the most infamous winemakers, growers, and consumers in Carneros!

I visited Anaba Winery’s Tasting Room last Saturday and let me tell you, from the deli sandwich at Carneros Deli beforehand, to the wrap around porch, including the a-may-zing Viognier and Pinot Noir wines, let’s not even get started about their incredibly tech savvy in a friendly authentic type of way tasting room staff – Aaron and Gretchen. Owner John Sweazey has something to be thanked for beyond hosting this sure to be legendary event; that’s continuing to honor the spirit of Carneros farming, agriculture and community. The old farmhouse that now serves as a tasting room, renovated, the land cleared and green initiatives and practices installed. It has a wind turbine! I hear he’s even a fan of the Millennial generation, employing Millennial Winemaker Jennifer Marion. Sure, sure it all started out as a little tasting of Pinot Noir where we’d all politely sip and Tweet about the flavors, aromas and color of Pinot Noir. Maybe @winetonite @suburbanwino and @sipwithme stepped it up a notch and declared it a “Smackdown” Maybe I got a little out of hand threatening to end direct shipping to Georgia if Carneros was  forgotten about yet again. But it starts and ends with the hearbreak grape, the one growers live and die for and winemakers toss and turn over. And is starts and ends in Carneros. Register for the 2010 Legendary Pinot Noir Live Carneros Event Here.

Disclaimer: This post was signed, sealed and delivered to one INFAMOUS winemaker at 10 p.m. tonight for his approval. He makes a damn fine Pinot (so he says) and will bottle Thomson Vineyards Carneros ’09 Pinot Noir July 22 & 23. The Farmer or I may be on site for QC purposes. I did not get first right of refusal on label artwork which concerns me, but this is about the wine people! Not marketing. Standby for notes, maybe video from the bottling line. In the meantime, I’ll vouch for his Chardonnay out of Thomson Vineyards BRAVIUM block. Ready to Rock on a shelf near you late 2010.

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