Posted by: Thomson Vineyards | October 19, 2011

Would You Rather?

Remember that old game you played around the campfire, the reflection of firelight leaping off your buddies glowing faces, each armed with a Silver Bullet in one hand and an oozing chocolaty marsh mellowy s’more in the other  – Would You Rather…?

Today, we’re going to play that very game and turn up the heat on the Winemakers.

Would You Rather…

Be delivered 10.5 Tons of sporelating, hot pink, botrytis laden Carneros Chardonnay at 23 brix, 3.5 pH, .6 TA?


Be delivered 10.5 Tons of clean, apples and tree fruit flavor Carneros Chardonnay at 21 brix, 3.5 pH, .6 TA?

It’s not become uncommon for me to receive emails, blog comments, have in-person interactions where people tell me I’m harsh. Opinionated. Feisty. It’s fine, judge away. To me, it’s either one or the other. So, I draw a line in the sand and I stand by it. So should the winemakers.

2011 Vintage: Stand By Your Decision

While the media debates if the 2011 vintage will make or break “California Style” wine programs due to an abnormally cool season, low yields, even lower alcohol…

And the marketing arms of this industry fire back that every single cluster is perfect and every single day is beautiful in the Napa Valley…

Growers are actually in the field – labor, macrobins and sleep are all scarce and they are sweating bullets with sauna like temperatures and 45-80% humidity; canopy that appears to be healthy but brix that haven’t moved off the line in 2 weeks; and most are mixing up potassium nutrients in spray tanks coupled with their favorite fungicide (Switch, Elevate, PHD, Vanguard) to stimulate what little is left in the vines energy stores and kill the developing gray and green mold on most red varietals…all of this on October 19 as morning temperatures dip into the cool 50s.

You Winemakers are being forced to make decisions. All of you need to stand by them and the Growers who are delivering you the cleanest, highest brix, fruit we possibly can.

So I ask you, Would You Rather? Backstory and third-party certified ETS lab results to follow…


  1. “Harsh. Opinionated. Feisty.” Sums it up pretty well 🙂

    I don’t always agree with your approach, but your message is always clear and well presented.

    There is sadly too much politics in wine. I like what I like, and particularly in whites I want them bright with clean acids, so I will go with the 21 brix any day. But I don’t wish for a vintage that forces that on growers. I wish every vintage was a growers dream and people could make whatever style they like.

    My preferences aside, I want people who make their living in the vineyards to do just that, make a living. All these opinionated bloggers who have no stake in the outcome of a vintage need a reality check.

    It can be a heartbreaking way to earn a living.

    One final question of my own. If we believe in terroir, is ignoring what a vintage is trying to a winemaker by forcing the grapes to do something they are unable to do, really ignoring the terroir as well?

  2. Anyone who is “downstream” in a product is apt to profess disdain about those suppliers who are “upstream” and how their choices/diligence/misfortune makes the downstream job harder. Happens in every industry.

    The tune changes when the stream dries up…

    Appreciate all of the good work, sleepless nights and passion you put into (y)our fruit.
    Lightheart Cellars

  3. give me low brix and fruit character everyday sweetheart. -Clint Eastwood

  4. I’ll take option B at 21 Brix please!!!

  5. 21 brix, any day of the week. Keep up your writing. The industry can always use a reality check.

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