Category: Wine 101
One year ago, on earth Day 2020, at the beginning of the Covid-19 shut down, I stood in the vineyard under clear skies, a complete lack of smog with the snow-covered mountains in the background so clear as to almost seem like I was looking at them through binoculars. I mentioned that events like this allow us to give pause and think about the potential quality of life for ourselves and all beings if we learn to make better decisions through a better perspective.
The cellist, Yo-Yo Ma, as a young man, auditioned for the first time in front of Pablo Casals, perhaps the most famous cellist of all time. After he audition Pablo Casals told the young Yo-Yo Ma his playing was good and then offered some advice. He said that he sees himself first and foremost as a human, secondly as a musician, and finally as a cellist. He then he added but don’t forget to make time for baseball.
Earth Day is not necessarily about the earth but rather, what does it mean to be human? The word “human” comes from the Latin “humus” referring to the earth or soil. We still use the term humus to describe the living organic fraction of the soil. The Greeks knew that we are not from this earth we are of this earth. Modern life often leaves us separated from the natural world, separated from our origins.
Change your perspective, change the outcome.
One year ago, I asked why are we so willing to settle for this lower quality of life? What we do to the earth, we do to ourselves, our children and all our fellow creatures large and small. If we have the perspective that we either can have a high quality of life or a robust economy that is the choice we will have. If we have the perspective that we can have a robust economy because of our demand for a high quality of life that is the choice we will have.
As we return to the “new normal” I hope we return a little more human, a little more empathetic, a little more true to who we are, where we came from and where we are going.
I look forward to a future of regenerating ecosystems, economies, and communities where we can enjoy a baseball game under crystal clear blue skies with a glass of regenerative wine.
All the best for Earth Day 2021,
– Greg and the Vineyard Team
Dear Somm, how is a Rosé wine made? I see so many and their colors are so different. Why? – C. Watkins, Royal Oak, Michigan
This past summer, and now this fall, are times to experience the beauty of a good Rosé wine!
Firstly, a Rosé can be made from most any red grape. I have tasted Rosés from Nebbiolo, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Merlot, etc. This last summer we released a Cabernet Rosé that was tasty. It’s all about the skin contact. The color in a red or Rosé wine come from the anthocyanin pigment in the red grape skins. The more skin contact with the juice results in more pigment. One method of Rosé winemaking is maceration which is the time of skin contact with the juice. The longer the maceration, the more color will be in the skins. With a red wine, during fermentation the maceration can be from 5-15 days. With Rosé wines the maceration can occur prior to fermentation called a cold soak. The skins stay in contact for 6-12 hours in a chilled tank so any native yeast does not kick-start fermentation. The pink juice is then pumped away from the skins and then fermented in another tank. A Rosé wine is typically fermented cooler (at 42-48 degrees) vs. red wines ferment hotter at 80-100 degrees. A cooler fermentation retains the delicate flavors in a white or Rosé wine. This method is popular in Provence and Languedoc-Roussillon regions. The other method is called Saigneé (Sawn-yay) which is based on the French word for “bleeding”. The winemaker will bleed off about 10% of the juice from the red skins during fermentation. The remaining 90% creates a more intense red wine. The 10% of the bled wine is fermented separately into a Rosé wine. Typically, this method will produce a Rosé wine that is darker pink than the maceration method. We do both methods at Wilson Creek. Maceration will yield a lighter wine with more perfumed aromatics and delicate flavors. Saigneé will produce wines that are richer and darker in color.
Mick Wilson is a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers as well as a Certified Specialist of Wine with the Society of Wine Educators.
Drink Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month
As you may know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Each of us knows a friend, sister, aunt, mother, daughter, or grandmother that has been affected by breast cancer. Wilson Creek Winery is joining the fight by donating a portion of the proceeds of each bottle of Rosé of Cabernet or Custom Labeled Rosé Sparkling Wine to an organization close to our hearts, Michelle’s Place Cancer Resource Center.
Michelle’s Place Cancer Resource Center was created as a dying wish of Michelle Watson. Michelle was a 26-year-old victim of breast cancer. As a Temecula resident, Michelle was frustrated with the lack of local resources available to her while facing the challenges of cancer treatment. Sadly, Michelle succumbed to her disease on July 23, 2000. In the wake of Michelle’s passing came a mission of service to make it easier for others touched by this unrelenting disease. Family, friends, and the community have come together and created a mission to serve the local community.
- People, people, people! Goldens light up and smile when they see people. A day wine tasting is about the connections with friends and family, not just good wine. So, like a golden, love others unconditionally and, if need be, quickly forgive a friend if they get mad at you (a wet kiss is optional).
- Sniff, lick and move on: Drink the kind of wines you like. Be alright with that. If someone wants you to drink something totally different, maybe give it a lick/taste and then kindly decline. To give our retriever some medicine we put a small pill in her dinner. She would eat everything and leave just the pill in the bowl. Now THAT is a good palate.
- Take short sniffs. Why do dogs do this? We humans take big, long sniffs. Dog’s noses have 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses. We have about 6 million. Try taking 2-3 quick sniffs of a glass of wine and see if you can detect more aromas. You’d be surprised.
- Take a nap. Could this be the secret of contentment for dogs? After a busy day of wine tasting, a nap can recharge your batteries. A recent study says a 20-30-minute nap is the perfect length.
- Drink water: Dogs seem to lap up a lot of water. When you drink wine, the rule of thumb is to drink a 12-ounce bottle of water for every glass of wine. You will enjoy the day (and the next morning) much more when you are hydrated.
- Lie down in the shade when you can. There’s something about finding a spot of grass in the cool shade. Don’t rush from place to place. Maybe just chill out at one location for a bit.
- Wear your dog tags. Bring your I.D. to each place. Don’t leave your wallet or purse in the car (break-ins happen). And if you drank too much and get lost, someone can check your “tags” and call someone for you.
- Let someone feed you. When wine tasting, enjoy a lunch at a nearby restaurant. Let someone do the cooking and serve you!
- Don’t drive. Dogs love to be a passenger. If you have been drinking, get an Uber or have a designated driver. This way you don’t end up in the dog pound. If you are the passenger, maybe stick your head out the window a little bit. Why not?
- Leave your worries at home for the day: Dogs aren’t anxious about tomorrow, or what they will eat, or where they will sleep. Dogs exist in the now.
- Don’t just go to the inside of tasting rooms. Walk through a vineyard and look at the vines, the soil, the birds. Take it all in. Breathe. Chasing rabbits or digging for gophers is optional.
– Mick Wilson
Believe it or not there is a right and wrong way of storing your wine! Wine is a very delicate thing that can easily be turned into vinegar… ew no thank you!
So you want to save your wine for a special occasion or a rainy day, here are the do’s and don’ts of storing wine at home.
Temperature control is super important. At the correct temp between 50 – 58 degrees your wines will be happily resting for as long as you’d like. If you don’t have a cool and dark wine nook or wine fridge, you can always keep them in your closet. Attics, garages, and above the washing machine are all off limits. Don’t keep your wine in the kitchen unless you have a wine fridge (away from the dishwasher). We say this because too much temperature fluctuation can cause your wine to become cooked and also speed up the aging process.
You always want to store bottles on their sides. If they are screw cap then you don’t have to worry about that, because the purpose is to keep the cork from drying out. If the cork gets dried out, too much air can get into the bottle and lead to oxidization. Once wine oxidizes there’s nothing you can really do to save it.
Follow these tips and you’ll never have to worry about your wine going bad, whether you’re opening a bottle for tonight’s dinner, next week, or a few years down the line.
Harvest is officially over for us, and all of our delicious grapes have made it through crush and into their tanks to start fermentation! I think I can speak for our Vineyard and Winemaking team when I say “phew!”. They have been working so hard to make sure we produce the best wine possible for this 2017 vintage, and things are looking great so far.
So, while over 300 tons of our crushed grapes begin fermentation, we figured we’d explain how this effects the next crucial process of winemaking.
There are six main categories of wine, all produced in slightly different ways. We are currently in the first phase of producing these different types of wine by the way we treat the grapes during fermentation.
Six main categories of wine:
WHITE: Wine made by crushing grapes and separating the juice from the crushed skins.
RED: Wine made by crushing grapes and macerating the crushed skins with the juice for an extended period of time. (Fun Fact: Most grapes have clear flesh. Red wine is made by leaving the crushed red skins in with the grape juice during fermentation).
ROSÉ: Wine made by crushing grapes and macerating the crushed skins for a very brief period of time. It could also be made by blending white and red wines together.
SPARKLING: Carbonated wine made by trapping carbon dioxide produced during alcoholic fermentation.
DESSERT: Wine made by arresting fermentation and keeping some residual sugars, resulting in a wine that is sweet and fruity.
FORTIFIED: Wine that is higher in alcohol, caused by fortifying the wines with neutral-flavored spirits.
After these basic steps are made during the fermentation phase, the real artistry of winemaking begins. So many methods can alter the profile of wine, including:
- How long the grape skins are left with the grape juice during and after crush
- If it is aged in steel tanks, oak barrels, or both
- If it is a blend of multiple grape varietals
So as you can see, our winemaking team still has a lot of work ahead of them over the next few months. Luckily for them, it’s the fun part experimenting in the wine lab with different varietals, blends, aromas, and flavors.
Stay tuned for our 2017 vintage! It’s sure to be a great one.