Author Archive

What’s a Brix?

Measuring Brix isn’t just important for winemaking. The consistency and quality of premium canned tomatoes (such as San Marzano) relies on careful measurement of the Brix of tomatoes at harvest (to determine ripeness) and in the final product (to determine sweetness and thickness). Here we proudly present “What’s a Brix?”, written by my wife Teri, and featured on page 67 Ken Forkish’s fabulous new book, The Elements of Pizza.

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The Clones of Clos Electrique

The remarkable wines produced from the Clos Electrique terrior owe their unique qualities to amazing clones of Pinot noir that I collected and planted in the Dundee Hills in 1984. This writing is an homage to the pioneering efforts of early winemaking pioneers Paul Masson and Martin Ray as well as succeeding generations of Californians who kept alive the Burgundian Pinot noir clones and the stories about them.

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Why Donald Trump Hates Oregon Pinot noir

It has come to our attention than Donald Trump vociferously denounced Oregon Pinot noir at a recent campaign rally. We sent our team of crack reporters out to garner the details.

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The 2013 vintage saved… by a website

In the fall, as grape clusters are nearing their state of perfection, it is rain and the temperature associated with it that I keep a vigilant eye on. Depending on the year, “the ripe zone” for Pinot noir can range from several days to 2 weeks. In the latter part of September 2013, The University of Washington Department of Meteorology predicted a major storm rolling into Oregon. Thanks to a heads up from their website, we scheduled picking for 5 consecutive days, and brought our grapes in just before several inches of warm rain nearly destroyed the 2013 crop.

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Dry Farming in a Hot, Dry Year

The growing season for 2015 was the hottest and driest on record, yet because grape vines are actually quite hardy and adapt readily to harsh conditions, our dry farmed grapes fared just fine.

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Send in the Clones!

The next time that you are wondering why one vineyard produces lofty mind boggling wines and another right near it does not, consider the clones!
In Burgundy, the most famous vineyards are composed of an enormous number of different clones within the same small plot of land. The idea, worked out over centuries, is that a vineyard which possesses the most genetic variation will produce wines of the greatest complexity.
Fortunately many of the old clones brought to California by pioneer grape growers still persist in select vineyards across California and Oregon.

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What Makes a Vintage Fabulous?

Whenever a vintage like 2012 gives us beautiful fruit to vinify, discussion often revolves around “why?”. The truth lies in the vagaries of the weather. A tiny crop due to unusually warm spring weather resulted in wines of high intensity. Cool autumn nights preserved acidity while warm daytime temperatures resulted in grapes with perfect ripeness. While the intensity on these young wines makes them seem a bit “un-Pinot noir-like”, they will show their mettle as they age. Because the 2012 vintage is exceedingly small, don’t hesitate to invest in it now.

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Why Nebbiolo?

While Nebbiolo and Pinot noir share many traits in common, both from an esthetic and geographic point of view, you cannot use techniques developed for making Pinot noir in the production of Nebbiolo! So I go to northern Italy to learn how to make Nebbiolo just like I went to Burgundy many years ago to learn how to make Pinot noir.

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Summer on the Tractor

It is 5 a.m. The eastern sky is showing that a new day will soon be upon us. The tractor is in place, sprayer attached, ready to roll. It is time to get up and continue my summer battle to prevent mildew in the vineyard..

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Bee Positive

The answer to the collapse of honey bee colonies turns out to be fairly straight-forward: profligate use of a class of insecticides known as Neonicotinoids. These chemicals are extremely toxic to bees; they are water soluble and therefore systemic in the plant and do not break down quickly in the environment; millions and millions of pounds are being pumped into our environment each year. You can take personal action to help protect the bees and prevent living in a world that exists solely on gruel.

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