Halter Ranch Vineyard Debuts New Summer Concert Series

Halter Ranch Vineyard is excited for the lineup of its new complimentary Summer Concert Series, starting this Friday, May 19, where guests can pair award-winning wines with an impressive range of local music.

Guests can enjoy this series, which takes place one Friday night a month from 5.30 p.m. to 7.30 p.m., from the Tasting Room Patio, while taking in spectacular views of rolling hills and vineyards. To spice up the experience, food will be available for purchase by a different local purveyor each month.

Halter Ranch Tasting Room Manager Tony Quealy said the Summer Concert Series is something we have had in mind for some time. “When we built our new Tasting Room we had in mind these types of events. We hope patrons come and experience the relaxed ambiance of our patio, enjoy the music, wine, food, and beautiful views.”

The concert lineup includes:

Friday, May 19 – Beyond the Bridge (food by Torres Family Catering)

Friends Sam Keating Flynn, Kevin Finnesey, Christiana Newcomb, Aaron Kroeger met through music, bonded over music, and now play music together. Beyond the Bridge provides a lively collection of covers and original music.

 

Friday, June 16 – REWINED (food by Hurricane Kitchen)

Vocal duo Emily Smith and Rolf Gehrung deliver their craft effortlessly. Singing their favorite Country, Rock, and R&B songs old and new, REWINED is sure to transport you to the time that you first heard that song. Hailing from the Central Coast Wine Region, REWINED has established themselves as the must-see acoustic duo. Think of a cross between Bryan Adams meets Kid Rock singing with Sheryl Crow & Colbie Caillat in a folk/country/r&b sorta way and that’s REWINED.

 

Friday, July 14 – Kenny Taylor Band (food by What the Truck)

Kenny Taylor was born in the heart of Minnesota but grew his sound out of California making him one of the industries best-kept secrets! Bringing his songs to the West Coast and captivating audiences with his honest and infectious original music. The Kenny Taylor Band was formed in 2012 and includes Central California natives Chris Broemmelsiek, Albert Sanudo Jr. and Mr. Leigh Lossing.

His ability and style bridges generations! Being inspired early on by artists like John Lennon, Dave Matthews, and Ben Gibbard and having an intense immersion in loads of 90s pop.

 

Friday, August 25 – Bear Market Riot (food by Hurricane Kitchen)

In 2014 Kirk Nordby and Nick Motil met at a songwriter showcase in San Luis Obispo, CA. Over a bowl of gumbo the two conspired to busk together at the Baywood-Los Osos Farmer’s Market. Upon agreement that two beards are better than one, they became Bear Market Riot.

Bear Market Riot is Power-Folk Americana from the California Central Coast. A duo blending everything from folk to R&B into an infectious sound that could only come from two bearded men playing seven instruments while keeping the dance floor satisfied. Nordby and Motil captivate audiences of all-ages with tight harmonies, catchy originals, and an arsenal of high-energy originally interpreted covers.

 

Friday, September 15 – Burning, Bad & Cool (food by Grilled Cheese Incident)

Burning, Bad & Cool is a vocal oriented trio that performs southern fried soul, gospel and blues music dipped in thick, sweet harmony. Here is a band with two great lead vocalists and the perfect third complimentary voice. First, ‘Burning’ James Scoolis brings his soulful vocal style and slings lead, slide and rhythm guitar playing on his Stratocaster. Second, there is Jimmy “Cool” Conroy on his hybrid Taylor acoustic with his incredible deep baritone voice. Jim is so exceptional that he has been referred to as “the voice” in the press. And finally, there is “Bad” Billy Baxmeyer on bass and vocals. These three voices blend so beautifully that you can not help but take notice.

Complimentary tickets can be reserved through www.halterranchconcerts.brownpapertickets.com


Spring in the Vineyard

Spring is upon us and across the ranch vine buds are breaking signaling the start of a new growing season. This is one of the busiest times of the year for our vineyard team. Mowing, planting, shoot thinning and under-vine cultivation are all at the forefront of springtime activities.

Halter Ranch Grenache Block 1

Block 1 head-trained Grenache bud break. Photo by Zeb Little.

 

 

The first official bud break was experienced in Block 1 head-trained Grenache on March 13. To date everything has woken up except Cabernet Sauvignon, which has been slow to rise from its winter slumber.

Block 70 cane pruned VSP Grenache – almost at the complete opposite end of the ranch to our Block 1 Grenache. Photos by Zeb Little.

 

Vineyard Manager, Lucas Pope, said 50% bud break was experienced over two weeks ago, putting us two weeks behind last years’ growth. “This season is shaping up to be similar to 2013/14 for bud break dates. We are currently in the process of protecting our vineyards against the possibility of frost. Late winter rains are typically followed by frosty conditions. We are at a vulnerable time point because the tender green shoots are sensitive to even the slightest frost conditions.”

Mowing of our 281 acres of vines. Photo by Zeb Little.

 

To mitigate frost impact, the vineyard team mowed the 281 acres of vineyard on the property. Alternate row mowing was completed on hills, specifically in the Syrah blocks, to draw moisture from the soil. Flat blocks or valley floors, which are most susceptible to frost, were mowed each row as a means for passive frost protection. This is done by lowering the vineyard floor away from the canes of the vine.

Alternate row mowing. Photo by Zeb Little.

 

The vineyard team has also converted from cordon pruned vines to cane pruned vines. The difference being cane pruning promotes new growth each year with a healthier canopy and more fruit. Next in the vineyard is replanting missing vines across the ranch and shoot thinning to control crop levels and promote healthy vines; shoot thinning redirects the plants energy to where you want it to go.

Luckily, Vineyard Manager, Lucas Pope, now has a little extra help from new Assistant Viticulturist Zeb Little. Zeb, who started at Halter Ranch in August 2016, transitioned from the winemaking team into the field and is now responsible for vineyard observation, data monitoring, and undertaking our SIP Certification processes and management.


Healthy on You cooking class recipes with Halter Ranch wine pairings

In January 2017 Halter Ranch partnered with Samantha Binkley from Healthy on You in Rancho Santa Fe for her Healthy Girlfriends Getaway Cooking Classes, the classes were a hands-on cook-and-eat with a four course menu paired with Halter Ranch wines.

Healthy on You cooking classes combine luxury and simplicity in an intimate and enjoyable environment. Guests learn kitchen basics and how to prepare healthy gluten free meals, helpful kitchen tools and must-haves to make cooking easier and enjoyable, and simple tips to make eating healthy on busy week nights a breeze. 

Below are the recipes from the cooking classes and the wine pairings, we hope you enjoy!


Lemon Sole Pinwheels Stuffed with Fresh Crab, Artichoke and Spinach

Paired with the Halter Ranch 2016 Rosé

This is a surprisingly easy meal to prepare and the results are visually stunning. If you enjoy fish as a part of you healthy living lifestyle, this recipe is a game changer. It’s low calorie, delicious and fast. 

Ingredients:

Serves 4

4 large skinless lemon Sole fillets

6 oz.  lump crabmeat picked over for any shells

1 cup artichoke hearts

1 cup fresh spinach chopped

1 tbsp. onion minced

1 garlic clove minced

1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

2 tbsp. low fat mayonnaise

¼ cup breadcrumbs

1 tsp. chopped fresh tarragon

¼ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. ground pepper

Zest of 1 lemon

1 tsp. Healthy On You® Fish Lovers Spice

4 thin slices of lemons Slice

Fresh dill for garnish

Preparation:

Pre heat oven to 350F.

Coat the bottom of a medium sized sheet pan with olive oil and place four slices of lemons on the pan where you will place each roll of fish. In a medium sized bowl start with adding the artichoke hearts. Using a wooden spoon, break up the artichokes so the leaves are separated and there are no lumps. Add the crab, spinach, mayonnaise, breadcrumbs, onion, garlic, tarragon, lemon juice, lemon zest and salt and pepper. Combine well divide out into four parts.

Separately, lay your fish flat and season lightly with salt and pepper. Spoon the crab mixture onto the larger end of the fish. Gently roll the fish making sure the mixture stays inside. Place the rolled fish seam-side down on top of the sliced lemon, repeat for the other three fillets.

Once in the pan, spray with a light coat of olive oil, sprinkle the Healthy on You ® Fish Lover’s Spice on top of all four pieces of fish. Place in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. Garnish with fresh dill and more lemon slices.


Watercress and Parsley Soup with a Poached Egg

Paired with the Halter Ranch 2015 Grenache Blanc

This recipe is great for an easy week night meal-so healthy and filling too. It’s packed with antioxidants from the highly nutritious watercress. You can omit the egg, use vegetable stock and substitute the unsalted butter for more olive oil for a complete vegan meal. 

Ingredients:

Serves: 4

2 tbsp. olive oil

2 tbsp. unsalted butter

4 cups torn watercress, rinsed and drained

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

1 sweet onion chopped

2 small russet potatoes peeled and chopped

2 cups celery ribs, chopped

4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth, plus more for thinning soup

1 cup coconut milk

4 small eggs

1½ tsp. sea salt

½ tsp. freshly ground pepper

Preparation:

Melt the butter and oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; reduce heat to medium-low, and sauté, stirring occasionally, 8 minutes or until onion is tender. Add potatoes and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.

Add broth, coconut milk, salt and pepper; bring to a low boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer 25 to 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Remove from heat and stir in watercress and parsley. Let cool slightly.

To poach the eggs: fill a medium saucepan about ⅔ full with water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat so the water is at a gentle simmer. Crack the eggs one at a time into a small measuring cup with a handle. Gently swirl the egg so the egg white coats the yolk. Then pour the egg into the simmering water. Swirl the loose white parts around the yolk with a spoon. Let set for 4 minutes and remove with a slotted spoon (two at a time is manageable.)

Finish the soup: Using an immersion blender, puree the soup in the pot until smooth. If you don’t have one, pour soup in two batches into the bowl of a food processor or blender, and puree until very smooth. Pour soup back into the pot to warm. If the soup is too thick, add more milk or stock. In individual bowls, add the poached egg to the center of soup.  Keep in mind if the soup is too thin, the egg will sink to the bottom. Garnish with additional parsley, if desired.


Steamed Winter Vegetables

Paired with the Halter Ranch 2014 CDP

This recipe takes eating the rainbow to a whole new level. Adding colorful root vegetables and squashes up the nutrition level and adds to the delicious flavor of this healthy vegetable side. As a base, it lends itself to all types of other flavors including garlic, soy or fish sauce, and an array of herbs. This simple version pairs great with the lemon sole pinwheel recipe.

Ingredients:
Serves 4

1 cup small Brussels sprouts (whole)
1 cup rainbow carrots diced
1 cup yukon gold potatoes diced
1 cup kabocha squash diced
1 tbsp. Healthy On You® Herbes de Provence spice
2 cups vegetable or fish stock
1 tbsp. olive oil

Sea salt and pepper

Preparation:

Thoroughly wash, clean and dice the vegetables. Note, when cutting the vegetables, make sure you keep the sizes consistent so they cook evenly. Next, using a slotted spoon or steamer basket, boil or steam the vegetables in individual batches for 3-5 minutes until cooked but still a little firm. Keep an eye on the water level so you don’t run low before you are finished.

Once all the vegetables are all steamed and set aside, heat a medium sized sauce pan then add the olive oil, and Herbes de Provence spice and let cook for one minute.  Add the stock and bring to a boil. Continue cooking uncovered, until the stock is reduced by half, then add in all the vegetables. Cook with the lid on and the flame on low for 5-7 minutes until all the vegetables are tender and the color is still bright. Season with sea salt and pepper and serve immediately.


Coconut Panna Cotta with Blood Orange Compote

Paired with the Halter Ranch 2010 Vin de Paille

This simple, yet beautiful dessert is low-cal substituting milk and cream with coconut milk. The blood orange compote is a perfect accompaniment to this seemingly decadent but light treat. Another great thing about this dessert is that it can be made up to three days ahead!

Ingredients:
Serves 4

1½ cups coconut milk (use full fat option)
2 vanilla pods split
1¼ tsp. unflavored gelatin powder (Knox brand)
5 tbsp. sugar
¼tsp. fine sea salt
6 blood oranges
2 tbsp. water
4 tbsp. coconut palm sugar
1tbsp. coconut palm sugar syrup (Wholesome brand)
2 tsp.cointreau
4 star anise pods
½ tsp. vanilla
½ cinnamon

Preparation:

Scrape the insides of the vanilla pods and set aside the vanilla bean paste. In a saucepan, add the coconut milk and vanilla, then sprinkle the gelatin over the mixture and let it rest for 10 minutes or so. Gently warm the pan (but do not boil) over low heat and add in the sugar and salt, stir gently until dissolved. Remove from flame and place in an ice bath- set a bowl over another bowl filled with ice and water, then add the mixture to the empty bowl. Stir the mixture over the iced water so it quickly cools down and thickens, (about 5 minutes) then pour into individual small glasses or ramekins ¾ full leaving room for the compote. Refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours.

To make the blood orange compote: Start be squeezing the juice from two oranges. With the other four, peel and section each orange removing any white pith and seed. Do this over a bowl so you don’t waste any of the juices. What you should have left is just the flesh of the orange. Set aside.

In a small sauce pan, heat the water sugar and syrup and bring to a boil. The mixture will begin to bubble and caramelize. When it thickens, about 10 minutes, remove from heat and slowly add the orange juice and stir until combined well. Return the mixture to the heat and stir in the cointreau, vanilla, star anise and cinnamon. Bring to a boil then remove from heat; refrigerate allowing it to cool completely. Remove the star anise before adding to the top of your pan cotta. This can be made a day ahead to save time.

To learn more about Samantha’s upcoming cooking classes visit www.healthyonyou.com


Rosé All Day

Halter Ranch Rosé

 

Okay, so I have to be honest here, pink is not my favorite color. I have always considered myself a bit of a tomboy and pink just does not fit into my color choices. However when it comes to wine it is the complete opposite. Rosé is one of my favorite wines that we make, and also one of my favorite wines to drink. The recent popularity of rosé has changed how and when we drink rosé, and has catapulted this category to a year round favorite which I absolutely love.

Picpoul Blanc grapes on the vine

 

Unfortunately rosé has been given a bad rap due to the sweet Lancers and white Zinfandels of yester-year that used to flood the U.S. market. Today we are much more fortunate to be part of a paradigm shift which has pushed wineries to produce high quality rosé, and in turn has brought you (the consumers) a wide array of delicious, dry (not sweet) wines that rival many old-world favorites, all while at a price point that won’t break the bank.

At Halter Ranch Vineyard we take our rosé program very seriously. Let me take a quick step back here and explain the three main ways in which rosé is made: there is the Saigne method, a direct press method and a skin contact method.

Block 16 Grenache harvested at night to make rosé

 

In the Saigne method grapes are harvested to become a red wine; the grapes are de-stemmed, sorted, then sent to tank for cold-soaking (the grapes are held cold for a desired period of time before fermentation is allowed to begin, a common practice in red-wine production). Usually as quickly as possible a portion of the juice is bled off (Saigne means to bleed in French) and set aside to be made into rosé. For the tank this means that you will have less juice to skin ratio, which in turn will create a more concentrated red wine. The problem with this method is that the juice you are starting off with has the DNA of a red wine, that is to say the sugar is higher and the acid is lower. Generally speaking, to make an approachable rosé the winemaking team has to add water and acid to this juice prior to fermentation.

The direct press method involves harvesting grapes that are destined for rosé, and dumping them into a bladder press, where they are pressed off and the juice is fermented.

Picpoul Blanc being dumped into the bladder press

Picpoul Blanc being dumped into the bladder press

 

At Halter Ranch we take this one step further and opt for the skin contact method. Much like the direct press method, we actually farm certain vineyard blocks for rosé, meaning we can pick at the exact sugar and acid level that will result in a low-alcohol fresh wine that does not require any manipulation. All of our grapes are hand-harvested at night and brought to the winery where we de-stem and sort the fruit prior to crushing into half-ton macro bins. The bins are left in a cold storage room for approximately 24 hours where the juice is in contact with the skins and absorbs some of the color, flavor and aroma compounds that make our rosé truly unique. After the skin contact period the bins are dumped into our bladder press where they are pressed and sent to tanks to ferment.

Rosé tank samples used for blending trials

 

Post fermentation we generally have between four and eight tanks of rosé, which results in the grueling task of blending. When we are getting ready to blend the rosé we will taste every tank on its own, then decide what quantities of each are required to make the most delicious cuvée. Because we love rosé so much, and want to get the finished product to you as soon as possible, we bottle this wine in early December so it has a couple of months to rest before being ready to consume around Valentine’s Day.

Our 2016 Rosé is made from Grenache, Mourvèdre and Picpoul Blanc. Grenache provides aromas and flavors of wild strawberry and red fruit, while the Mourvèdre brings hints of watermelon and guava. The Picpoul Blanc (which literally translates to Lip Stinger in French) brightens the palate with crisp acidity while also bringing weight to the mid-palate. The 2016 Rosé is bone-dry and comes in at 13.2% alcohol which means you can enjoy more than one glass at a time and not feel like you have over-consumed!

We released our rosé on Friday, February 10, and we couldn’t be more excited. Last year our rosé was sold out in the tasting room by September, so it’s time to say “Yes Way Rosé” and come see us to pick-up a bottle (or case) of your favorite pink beverage!

Our 2016 Rosé retails for $24 and is available through our website, by phone (805) 226 9455, or in the tasting room.

Molly Lonborg

Halter Ranch Assistant Winemaker


Las Tablas Creek is flowing again

Halter Ranch Vineyard like much of the county, experienced high levels of rainfall over the weekend and into this week. Las Tablas Creek located on the south side of the property, which travels under our Covered Bridge, is now flowing for the first time since 2011 after receiving over 10 inches of rain since January 3, 2017. The creek begins about half way down Adelaida Road and continues to Lake Nacimiento Reservoir.

This is a once in a decade storm and we hope the creek continues to flow for months to come; a nice change from the dry conditions of the last few years. During 2012, 2013, 2014 while the creek did not flow, the springs in the creek still had water on the surface providing seasonal access to animals, but even those dried up completely in 2015 due to the ongoing drought.

The water flow we are able to see is an indicator of what is going on below in the underground portion of the creek; it means the soil is fully saturated and the excess water above allows the creek to flow. The additional rain also has many benefits to the property and vineyard. The main benefit being it saturates the soil, so vines have the maximum amount of water at the start of the growing season and it recharges the groundwater. The frequency of the current storms will allow the soil to be fully saturated and fill the groundwater basins.

Halter Ranch Vineyard Manager Lucas Pope said things are looking up from the last few years with regards to rain and groundwater, having the soil saturated at the beginning of the growing season allows for less irrigation and more canopy growth.

The winery at Halter Ranch also has rainwater harvesting systems located on the roof, in the floors, and in drains around the exterior of the facility allowing the winery to capture all rainwater. Water collected beyond the needs of the facility itself is used to fill our vineyard’s irrigation pond.

Rainfall totals since 2010/11 from Western Weather Group, Tablas Creek Station:

38.18 inches July 1, 2010 to July 1, 2011

15.09 inches July 1, 2011 to July 1, 2012

14.98 inches July 1, 2012 to July 1, 2013

13.87 inches July 1, 2013 to July 1, 2014

14.2 inches July 1, 2014 to July 1, 2015

19.62 inches July 1, 2015 to July 1, 2016

17.21 inches to date since July 1, 2016

 

10.49 inches January 3, 2017 to January 11, 2017

 

We look forward to more rain in the coming months.


Halter Ranch’s Olive Orchard Produces Premium Olive Oil

Halter Ranch Olive Harvest

An increased consumer demand for premium olive oil is piquing interest in the olive orchards of Paso Robles, a key player in the California Extra Virgin Olive Oil market. Paso Robles has for some time been recognized as a premium grape growing region, and olives are just as happy in our Mediterranean environment.

Halter Ranch Olive Harvest

The west-side Paso Robles limestone soils provide ideal growing conditions for the Halter Ranch olive orchard. Our modest four-acre orchard has been developed in stages over the past few years. The original planting of Frantoio, Leccino, Maurino, and Pendolino comprise a traditional Tuscan field blend. Later, a small annex of Spanish Picual was added to the orchard. Picual is responsible for more than a quarter of the olive oil produced worldwide. The newer annex has since been augmented with Aglandau, a hearty French cultivar.

Halter Ranch Olive Harvest

Our orchard was harvested for the first time in 2015. Our second annual harvest was completed this year by our production and vineyard team on November 9, 2016. After picking and sorting by hand, the oil was milled at Kiler Ridge Olive Farm within mere hours of harvesting the fruit. After a few months of tank settling in our caves, the small-batch oil was meticulously racked, hand-bottled, and labelled. The different portions of the orchard were blended together to create our custom Mediterranean Blend. This award-winning oil is certified Extra Virgin by the California Olive Oil Council.

Halter Ranch Olive Harvest

Growth in the orchard has been so vigorous that we had to make some heavy pruning decisions this year. Dramatically pruning about half of the orchard for tree shape, we kept a close eye on the fruiting zones of each tree, and happily yielded more oil than in 2015. After milling, the pomace left over is returned to the orchard, closing the loop of our sustainable olive farming. All maintenance except for mowing, tilling, and mulching is performed by hand. Water application is minimal, and only organic compost is used for fertilization. We at Halter Ranch are delighted to produce a premium California Extra Virgin Olive Oil using the same practices that inform our grape growing and wine production.

Halter Ranch Olive Harvest

NICHOLAS MAY, Production and Shipping

Halter Ranch Mediterranean Blend Olive Oil

Bold and complex with a bright, peppery finish, this delicious blend is a perfect finishing oil for pastas, grilled meats, vegetables and salads. Our olive oil won Best of Show at the Central Coast Olive Oil Competition and Best of Class, Extra Virgin Olive Oil at the California State Fair.

The Halter Ranch Mediterranean Blend is available for purchase in the Tasting Room or online.

$16.00Club Price $12.80 (250ml)


Silver Label Pairing: 2014 Cuvée Alice and Pork Chops with Leeks in Mustard Sauce

halter_ranch_vineyard_2014_cuvee_alice

Our Silver Label Club members will have received their reserve wine shipment by now, and we hope our members are enjoying their wines. As part of their shipment, members receive recipe pairings from our Halter Ranch staff and favorite local chefs. Below is one of the recipes included from our Assistant Winemaker Molly Lonborg. It is a delicious hearty recipe, ideal for the cooler evenings we are experiencing and pairs perfectly with our Cuvée Alice.

Our Cuvée Alice wine is named in honor of owner Hansjörg Wyss’ mother, Alice Halter. This is the second vintage we have produced this reserve wine which is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Tannat. We have 17 different blocks and five different clones of Grenache on the Ranch so the source of our Cuvée Alice can change every year. With four different varieties used in the blend, it makes for an extensive blending trial for our winemaking team.

The varietals in the blend were co-fermented in order to promote an environment where the specific attributes of each varietal are able to harmonize to create a balanced, well-structured wine right out of the fermentor.

This wine presents aromas of marionberry and raspberry with flavors of red and blue fruits. Vibrant and bright on the palate this wine has supple tannins that lead to a long lasting finish. Cuvée Alice will age beautifully for years to come.

Recipe Pairing: Pork Chops with Leeks in Mustard Sauce

Ingredients

4 pork chops

2 tsp. coarse Kosher salt

2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme

1 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary

1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

2-4 bacon slices, coarsely chopped

3-4 thinly sliced leeks (white & pale green parts only)

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup brandy

1 cup low-salt chicken broth

2 tsp. finely chopped fresh sage (optional)

2 tbsp. Dijon mustard

1/3 cup sour cream

Method

Pat chops dry with paper towels. Mix salt, thyme, rosemary, and pepper in small bowl. Sprinkle seasoning mixture on both sides of chops. Let stand at room temperature 1 to 2 hours. Heat large skillet over medium heat. Add bacon and sauté until crisp and lightly browned. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to small bowl. Increase heat to medium-high. Add chops to skillet. Sear until brown, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer chops to small baking sheet. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons drippings from skillet (or add olive oil to make 3 tablespoons). Add leeks and sauté until soft, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and stir 1 minute. Add brandy, then broth and bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Return bacon to skillet; add sage and stir to blend. Nestle chops in leeks in skillet. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover; simmer 3 minutes. Turn chops over. Cover; simmer until thermometer inserted into thickest part of chops registers 140°F to 145°F, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer chops to platter. Tent loosely with foil to keep warm. Spoon off any fat from cooking liquid in skillet. Boil until all liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes, then turn off heat. Whisk in mustard, then sour cream; spoon mixture over chops and serve immediately.

The Silver Label Club is an add-on reserve level club. To be a member of the Silver Label Club you must already be a member of our Halter Ranch Club.


Silver Label Club

Halter Ranch Silver Label Club 2014 Vintage

Our Silver Label Club members will soon receive their annual Halter Ranch reserve wine shipment. This year’s shipment includes two bottles of the 2014 Tempranillo and one bottle each of the 2014 Malbec, 2014 Block 22 Syrah, 2014 Cuvée Alice and 2014 Tannat.

One of the benefits of being a part of our Silver Label Club is that our members will always be at the top of the list to receive our newest reserve level wines. Our reserve wines express the fruition of all our grape-growing and winemaking efforts and are bottled in our elegant silver label.

Read below for an introduction to the vintage and notes from Halter Ranch Winemaker Kevin Sass.

Introduction to the vintage

I’m often asked how we decide what wines are used to blend into our reserve program, and how we determine if they meet the criteria. Some of our wines are determined from the time they are planted, others by the process they go through in the winery.

For example, our reserve 2014 Tempranillo is made from a specific clone (Clone 770) isolated from the Rioja region of Spain. The 2014 Tannat and Block 22 Syrah are made using a specific winery protocol to enhance the grape varieties’ qualities. The grapes are fermented in small, new 59 gallon barrels with their tops removed. This fermentation process incorporates oak faster, a technique these two varieties can handle due to intense mid-palate weight and tannin structure. Our Malbec thrives in Paso Robles; warm temperatures ripen the grapes beautifully, and the resulting wine is fruit driven, rich and round, deserving of “reserve” status.

With 17 different blocks of Grenache and five different clones on the Ranch the source of our Cuvée Alice can change every year. With four different varieties used in the blend, it makes for an extensive blending trial. Each reserve wine has its own origin, its own story, its own path. Each has a reason to be “reserve”.

Kevin Sass, Winemaker

2014 Tannat

Tannat is generally associated with the Madiran region of France at the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains, and it is also the national grape of Uruguay. Although usually used as a blending component at Halter Ranch, for the second time in 2014 we decided to bottle 125 cases of Tannat on its own. This wine has aromas of dark brambly fruits with coffee and allspice. Bright flavors of blackberries and baking spices complement the rich, full-bodied palate which leads to a long structured finish. Drink this wine with roasted and grilled meats with reduction sauces, or on any special occasion.

2014 Cuvée Alice

When Hansjörg Wyss bought this historic property he named it Halter Ranch in honor of his mother, Alice Halter. With the second vintage of this reserve blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Tannat, we are honoring her once again with the name Cuvée Alice. The aforementioned varietals were co-fermented in order to promote an environment where the specific attributes of each varietal are able to harmonize to create a balanced, well-structured wine right out of the fermentor. This wine presents aromas of marionberry and raspberry with flavors of red and blue fruits. Vibrant and bright on the palate this wine has supple tannins that lead to a long lasting finish. Cuvée Alice will age beautifully for years to come.

2014 Tempranillo

Tempranillo is a varietal indigenous to Spain, and its name is derived from the Spanish word temprano, meaning early, a reference to the fact that Tempranillo often ripens weeks before its other red grape counterparts. This wine has aromas of graphite and forest floor, with flavors of red currants. Great acidity and a bright linear palate lead to a long structured finish. Although this wine can be enjoyed right away, we feel great about its ageability, and if you can wait, we recommend laying it down for a future special occasion. Enjoy this wine with roasted meats, charcuterie and Spanish cuisine.

2014 Syrah – Block 22

The soils of Block 22 Syrah are rich in limestone, producing grapes that maintain acidity throughout the growing season. For this wine we employ a rare winemaking technique where the Syrah is destemmed and crushed directly into brand new 59-gallon French oak barrels, where the barrel becomes both the fermentation and the ageing vessel. The fruit was cold-soaked for six days prior to each barrel being hand inoculated. Four punch downs daily helped to extract flavors and tannins from the fruit and the oak. After fermentation the wine was drained and returned back to the barrels it was fermented in. This full-bodied wine has a vibrant hue with aromas of blackberries and brambly fruits. Rich on the palate, our Reserve Syrah has flavors of black fruit with good structure and firm, silky tannins that provide a lusciously long finish.

2014 Malbec

Traditionally at Halter Ranch we blend Malbec and Petit Verdot into our estate Cabernet Sauvignon and Ancestor wines. With this reserve offering, the Malbec is able to shine with some help from its Bordeaux counterpart, Petit Verdot. Malbec’s big juicy fruit combines beautifully with the structure and depth of Petit Verdot to create a balanced, delicious wine. Aromas of blueberries and graphite lead to flavors of strawberry and rhubarb. The good acidity and fine tannin structure of this wine make it a good candidate to cellar for years to come.


Halter Ranch joins the herd

Cowvée Alice

Cowvée Alice outside the Halter Ranch Tasting Room

 

The vibrant CowParade has arrived in San Luis Obispo County. CowParade is an international moo-ving public art exhibit made up of life-sized, 120-pound fiberglass cows decorated by artists and displayed at prominent locations, before they are auctioned off for charity.

We are lucky enough here at Halter Ranch to add our own cow to the Halter herd, Cowvée Alice. Named after our Cuvée Alice reserve wine, a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Tannat, and decorated by artist Jack Foster. Foster is the co-founder of Progressive Auto Art, a high quality refinishing, restoration and auto repair company. Foster color matched the paint to our metallic wine capsules and gave Cowvée Alice a high gloss auto finish.

Cowvée Alice was unveiled at the Madonna Inn Meadows on Saturday, September 17, 2016. She arrived at her new home, Halter Ranch on Wednesday, September 21, 2016. She is now situated outside our tasting room and will be with us until May 2017, make sure you stop by for a visit and a photo #CowvéeAlice.

CowParade SLO is the county’s largest public art display with proceeds benefiting local charities. Since the initial launch in Chicago in 1999, CowParade has been featured in 79 cities worldwide, including Tokyo, Paris, New York City and London. For more information on CowParade™ visit CowParadeSLO.com


2016 Harvest Update

Halter Ranch Grenache

Grenache was the first varietal harvested this year

 

The 2016 growing season has progressed well; harvest officially started at Halter Ranch on Monday, August 29, which puts this year earlier than average. We watched with a sense of anticipation and excitement during the start of August as grapes went through veraison; shifting from green to purple signaling the accumulation of sugars, a telltale sign of fruit approaching ripeness. Over 281,000 vines will be harvested at Halter Ranch over the next two months totaling 600 tons of grapes.

Halter Ranch Grenache

Grenache being sorted after being destemmed

 

Our first varietal harvested was Grenache, Alban Clone, from Blocks 1 to 3 followed by Block 66, VNS3 Clone. Vineyard crews picked between 2am and 6am on Monday morning.

Halter Ranch Grenache Harvest

Production team removing berries which didn’t make the cut

 

Picpoul Blanc Blocks 38 and 76 were our second varietal picked and processed on Tuesday, August 30, and pressing was complete by 9am. Followed by Syrah Blocks 17 and 74 and more Grenache from Blocks 41 and 72 on Thursday, September 1.

Halter Ranch Picpoul Blanc

Picpoul Blanc was harvested on Tuesday morning

 

If we continue to see these consistently warm days and cool nights, we are looking at a compact harvest. Our yield projections are on target for an average crop of two to three tons of grapes per acre. Our improved irrigation technologies have proven again this year; we do not need to water nearly as much as we did in the past.

Halter Ranch Picpoul Blanc

Picpoul Blanc being dumped into the bladder press

 

This growing season has been a contrast to last year, even as the drought continues. Last year we had the coolest May on record causing poor fruit set and lower crops across the region. That, paired with very low rainfall early in the spring, lead to less overall growth for the vines. This year, rain came late in spring and filled the soils as the growing season started, driving vigorous growth in the vineyard. The temperatures have also been above normal with more than two consecutive weeks above 100 and daily average highs in the 95 plus range most of June and July. All the signs point to an outstanding vintage in the fields and winery.

LUCAS POPE, Vineyard Manager

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