Vineyard: Bud Break

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Bare lines of vines, a coo of a pigeon in the distance, and the crackling of footsteps as a vineyard manager passes through the rows in the morning light. He has done this many mornings, but his steps stop as he notices something different. There it is…light green, soft, even a little fuzzy…it is a bud.

Each year we eagerly wait for bud break to occur. This is when the vines push open leaves much like other plants during the spring. Dormant vines awake when daylight and temperatures increase, which encourages the vines to pull up stored water and macro-nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) from the roots to the limbs. This up-flow of water and nutrients push open the buds. You would think that after leaves push open that it would mean photosynthesis would occur immediately, but it does not. It takes the vine a little bit of time, leaves the size of about silver dollars, before that process begins.

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One of the most important parts of bud break is that it is a measurable starting point for the vineyard. We can actually start the clock for when pivotal moments will occur. For instance, we now know we are about 150 to 200 days away from harvest depending on the grape variety. It seems like this then would mean that bud break itself is actually a markable date, but it’s not that simple. This is still farming, which means everything is variable. When bud break occurs depends on a few things. Each terroir is different. And you can probably guess, each variety of is different.

A cooler terroir means that bud break will be later, while a warm terroir like in Paso Robles, CA will have an earlier bud break. In Paso Robles, we have seen buds as early as February. Although for us this year (2018) we are running a little slower as we have had a cooler spring. Each year is different! Another factor is micro-terroir. The difference between locations of vines in a single vineyard will even come into play. A hillside vine will have bud break because of its elevation, but a lower valley vine will still be dormant. Lastly, varieties will have bud break at different times. In our Adelaida Vineyard, our  Malbec and Cabernet Franc had bud break first, but the Cabernet Sauvignon hit the snooze button. As you can see, there are many variables that go into this and this is just one part of the vine cycle!

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While there are variances in the cycle, one consistent thing is temperature. Vines are very dependent and particular about temperature. Vines prefer gradual temperature increases for bud break, but they don’t always get that. Sometimes they get awoken from slumber with a warming trend and then hit with a freeze. That is why vineyards have tall fans to help with frost protection. A freeze will damage the cellular tissue in the leaves and the leaves will then turn black. It’s awful. This then kills the growth for your year and can sometimes decimate a vineyard. Bud break is basically the infancy stage of the vine. You want to protect it because the leaves are soft and fragile at this stage, much like you would with a newborn (and well, we all know parenting doesn’t stop there). So, that is the one thing all farmers can count on is frost season and the need to be vigilant.

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We have a mobile, quieter fan it’s so cool. Contact us if interested.

After bud break, we now watch as the leaves begin to grow (obviously). Photosynthesis will begin at a certain point and once that happens the shoots of the vines will really take off as the vines will receive something that they love, much like humans, carbs! Up next is flowering, so stay tuned.

Happy Friday and hopefully this gave you something to think about while you sip your wine…cheers!

-Cecily

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Rain in the Forecast – Time to Pair

With more rain in the forecast, at least in some parts of the country, it means staying in. Here’s some fun pairings for staying in this weekend!

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2014 Zinfandel paired with Games – The lighter body, raspberry notes, and playfulness of the Zinfandel will pair perfectly with game time.

We love games in the family. Chinese Checkers, Bananagrams, Yahtzee, Scribblish…there’s too many! One fun game to check out is Bubble Talk, which is like Apple to Apples but with photos. A fun twist is to add some personal old photos to the stack for more laughter…the more embarrassing and ridiculous the better. Another game that we love/hate is Clue. We love it because it’s a classic, but some of us hate it because SOMEONE always wins (David Parrish, no fair Professor Plum!).


2013 Petite Sirah paired with Reading – The moody Petite Sirah will lend itself to a thoughtful and quiet time with its large palate of purple fruit and rich tannins. It will give you something to think upon, just like a book.

Growing up my parents read a lot, but unfortunately, I never got into reading quite like they did. My parents, David & Lynn, love reading mysteries and James Herriot books because the stories remind them of our farm life. After meeting Ethan, my interest for reading has grown. We sometimes read together and there is something so idyllic about it for me. We usually read something for personal growth like C.S. Lewis. Lately, I can be found with my nose in a book about bread…there are so many bookmarks. The great thing about reading is that it can be for groups, solo, and with wine!


2013 Cabernet Sauvignon paired with a Blanket & Fire – The Cabernet will be another great lingering wine for the palate with its black cherry and cocoa notes making it perfect for savoring the moment. This might even be perfect with some cheese…make a picnic by the fire with maybe some gouda, charcuterie, and bread.

This is almost a duh, but there is nothing like watching the weather with a cozy blanket and a warm fire near by. I like to pull my two fur ball dogs into the blanket, while we sit on the floor and watch the wonderful drops of rain. It’s peaceful and relaxing…something we all can use in our busy lives.


What about a white?! Okay, okay. So, I’d say get to cooking or baking with the 2015 Sauvignon Blanc. I find this to be my cooking wine as it gets my creativity going with its lightness and brightness. Maybe make a pizza from scratch, or learn a new recipe.

Lastly, all that’s missing is music…what’s your jam in the kitchen? I must be an old soul as I listen to a lot of acoustic guitar, instrumental music, and a little French cafe. My go to for a rainy day is Dave Brubeck.


Whatever your plans are for the weekend, may they be enjoyed and stay dry!

-Cecily

 

Meet: Lynn Parrish

We wanted to revisit getting to know our team as Parrish Family Vineyard is very much what it is because of our team. So, here’s your chance to learn more about them!

First up, Lynn Parrish, who is an owner and has been an integral part of the team behind the scenes.

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What do you love about Paso Robles?
That it is thriving and growing, but still has that small town appeal.

Where is your favorite spot on the Central Coast?
My home in Creston where we planted our first vineyard (1995). It’s a little slice of heaven.

What are you passionate about?
Any project I tackle be it gardening, work on the ranch, or during the winter months some kind of craft work. And, of course, my 30 year long passion of weight lifting!

How do you take your coffee?
Black in the morning and half-and-half with sweetener in the afternoon.

What is your favorite dish?
Almost anything cooked in a slow cooker.

What is one job you’ve had before that would surprise people?
I was a firefighter for the US Forestry during the summer breaks when I was in college.

What is your favorite family tradition?
Celebrating the 4th of July at our place in Creston down at our little lake.

What is one of your favorite memories at the winery?
When David and I single handedly made our Cabernet Sauvignon in 2009.

Wine & Christmas Movies

Cheers!

Happy Thursday!

It’s almost the weekend and I thought it would be a great time to share some fun pairings, but not the edible kind, more like the feeling kind. The holidays are (for the most part) very warm and fuzzy with wonderful family traditions….a twinkling tree, warm cookies, joyful symphonies, glasses of cider or wine, and Christmas movies. Christmas movies were a staple in our house and we had a list we would faithfully watch every year. We still do even if my parents and I aren’t under the same roof. So without further ado, here are a few of our favorite movies paired with our wines:

2013 Sauvignon Blanc – How the Grinch Stole Christmas, 1966

2016 Estate Rosé – Love Actually, 2003

2013 Silken Blanc – White Christmas, 1954

2014 Zinfandel – The Santa Clause, 1994 & Home Alone, 1990

2013 Petite Sirah – Christmas Carol, 1951

2012 Reserve Silken – While You Were Sleeping, 1995

2013 Reserve Silken – Miracle on 34th Street, 1947 

2013 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon – It’s a Wonderful Life, 1946  

It looks like I’m going to be busy with this list! What would you pair with your favorite Christmas movie?

Cheers!

Cecily

 

Serving Wine

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Happy Friday!

The seasons have surely changed here in Paso Robles with cloudy skies, showers, and autumn leaves. It’s definitely gotten chillier. With the drop in temperatures, it brings up what temperature is recommended to store and serve wine at? We get this question quite a bit in the tasting room, so with Thanksgiving just around the corner it makes sense to serve up some tips in preparation. I’m sure there have been moments of “How to serve Cabernet Sauvignon” when planning for the holidays, well at least this girl has.

Our PFV Wine List:

Sauvignon Blanc: 45˚-50˚ F for serving

Chardonnay & Viognier Blend: 50˚-55˚ F for serving

Rosé: 45˚-50˚ F for serving

Zinfandel (cool grape,lighter style): 55˚- 60˚ F for serving

Petite Sirah: 60˚- 65˚ F for serving

Cabernet & Petite Sirah Blend: 60˚- 65˚ F for serving

Cabernet Sauvignon: 60˚- 65˚ F for serving

Of course some prefer 40˚F white wine, or 70˚F red wine, and that’s totally fine. It reminds me of Blast From the Past with Christopher Walken’s character preferring Dr. Pepper warm, while most of the public prefer cold. Everyone has his or her preferences and that’s what makes wine like art, it’s subjective.

Wine Storage

For wine storage, the recommendation for long term storage is 55˚F. If you do not have a wine fridge (understandable), I generally recommend a regular fridge over a dark closet because wine ages 4 times faster in those conditions. What does this mean? It means that it will loose structure, color, and could possibly develop faults. I just wouldn’t plan on long term storage in a regular fridge.

Hopefully this information was helpful. We hope that your Thanksgiving is filled with warmth, love, and memories. I feel so thankful to have my family, good food & wine, and a home as I know that not everyone has these things. If you are looking for a way to give this season, we work with Must! Charities and Paso Robles has a free meal at the Centennial Park on Nov 23rd that needs support. And lastly, there is a wonderful wine event to continue the support of Santa Rosa/Napa/Sonoma in December!

Cheers & Blessings,

Cecily

 

Northern CA Fires

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So many heartbreaking events occurring that it is difficult to keep up, but now the fires in Santa Rosa, Napa, and Sonoma are hitting home due to our colleagues and friends being affected. Words simply do not suffice during this time, but we are praying for all of you up North. Ways you can help currently:

Redwood Empire Food Bank

Meathead Movers in SLO and Fresno are collecting donations till Sunday, 10/15

SLO County Go Fund Me for NorCal Fires

Paso Robles Wineries Donating $1 per Bottle during Oct – See the List

Napa Valley Community Foundation

Sonoma County Resilience Fund

Mendocino Community Foundation

Items & Volunteers Needed for Evacuation Center at New Life Christian Fellowship in Petaluma

CA Fire Foundation 

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all the first responders helping us across the state. Your bravery is unparalleled.

With love and support,

Cecily

When to Harvest?

Happy 1st Day of Fall Everyone!

It has truly been an interesting year for the 2017 harvest season in Paso Robles. We started out, well, hot and heavy because it was in the triple digit heat for about two weeks in August. We harvested our Sauvignon Blanc, which was not too early, but the Syrah and Zinfandel were not far behind it.  It looked like we would be done with all our harvests in late August and early September, but the heat spell broke with the scent of rain and blustery winds…monsoon weather. We didn’t get the rain and crazy microburst that Santa Barbara did, but the temperatures finally fell below the 100’s, which all plants and creatures, including us humans appreciated.

September showed up with the 70’s and 80’s, which meant a slow down in the fruit ripening. As you can see, grapes (most agriculture for that matter) are affected by temperature. More heat means faster ripening. Less heat means slower ripening. At this time, we are waiting on harvests, but how do we determine when to harvest? Here’s a breakdown…

Brix – We test the brix (sugars) of the grapes with a tool called a refractometer. Generally, the winemaker will have a number he/she wants as a target for each variety of grape. This is decided upon what the variety will become as a wine. All wine grapes have to come into the winery with sugars for the yeast to eat, otherwise no fermentation can happen. On the other side, when fruit has more sugar it means less acidity, so there’s a balancing act. We still need acidity in wine to help formulate the structure. Once we reach the desired brix, it brings us that much closer to harvesting. That said, it isn’t the only factor we consider in pulling off fruit.

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A club member uses a refractometer to see the brix of the Cabernet at our Harvest Party 2011.

Feel – We use the feel of the grapes to determine if they are ripe. This is a lot like at home when you have a basket of strawberries in your fridge, you will not only use the appearance, but the feel to determine if a berry is ripe to eat (or too ripe). So, this is true with grapes, we take note if the skins are soft and velvety as a sign of ripeness.

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Ethan analyzes the berries of the Cabernet Franc. – 2017

Seeds – We also look at the seeds as they help show how ripe the grapes are. The seeds should be brown in color and crunchy. The pulp of the grape should easily separate from the the seed when it is ripe. There are some seasons, like this current one, where we may have to harvest without the seeds being 100% brown because the flavor, brix, and feel say otherwise.

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David is reviewing the seeds of the Cab. – 2017

Taste – Taste is a huge factor for determining when to harvest. There have been times when the brix were at the desired number, but the flavor wasn’t. Flavor may be one of the most important factors because how the fruit tastes as a grape will impact the way it tastes as a wine. If we pick fruit that is too green, it will show up in the wine’s palate. If we pick fruit that is too ripe, it will mean very high sugars, no acidity, and heaviness (syrup-y) for the body of the wine. Of course for a port, you would want high sugars, so it does depend on a winemaker’s intent. For drier wines, we do not want green or over ripen fruit, but instead balance.

The Elements – If it’s going to rain, sometimes it means that we have to harvest to avoid mildew and rot. This does depend on the variety, weather temperature, and wind. There have been years where some rain didn’t make a difference, but others sadly did.

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2017 Cabernet Sauvignon

As you can see, it isn’t one factor that determines when to harvest, but many. That is why intuition, knowledge, and goals will ultimately determine when each variety should be harvested because some years it won’t be clear. Lastly, being in Paso Robles, the special thing is we talk with other wineries about harvesting. We learn from each other, which fosters a unique community of respect and care.  So, with that, happy harvest to all our fellow wineries and vineyards out there! See you in December.

-Cecily