Night Picking – A Journal in Photos

Picking - Halter Ranch Vineyard

Cool Grapes


This is just a taste of the awesome activities we partake in late at night during harvest season.  Welcome to the latest update on our staff vineyard project.  The three teams–New Kids on Block 3, Oscar’s Grouches, 21 and Holding–have all successfully harvested their respective vineyard blocks as of this morning. (more…)

Block 11 Historical Society



Last Thursday we harvested Block 11 Syrah which is one of two remaining blocks from the 1996 MacGillivray planting four years prior to Halter Ranch becoming Halter Ranch.  The pick began at 12:30 am on Thursday September 12 and carried on until 6 am.  12.2 tons of fruit were delivered to the upper crush pad at a temperature of 52 degrees Fahrenheit.  8.5 tons of Syrah from Block 11 were destemmed and combined with 1.5 tons of Viognier from Block 35 and will comprise our Syrah/Viognier coferment for 2013.  The remaining syrah clusters were destemmed and will be fermented separately.  Beyond the excitement of being one of the first red blocks to be harvested this year, 11 is special because it represents an abundance of both Paso Robles and Halter Ranch history.

In the middle of Block 11 sits the Ancestor Oak.  This ancient Quercus agrifolia (Coast Live Oak) is one of the two largest trees of this particular variety on the planet.  Rows of vines were planted in a radius around this huge tree to twelve foot spacing.  The wider rows in this block allowed the MacGillivray family to drive their normal (as opposed to vineyard specific) tractors up and down the block.  Syrah planted to 11 is the Estrella clone which originated in the vineyard of same name on the east side of Paso Robles.  The cuttings themselves were sourced from the now famous James Berry vineyard back in 1996.  Jim Smith gave the MacGillivrays permission to take cuttings from his vines prior to pruning.  Due to the cost of rootstock and grafting, the cuttings were planted on their own roots as opposed to being grafted to new world rootstock.  A quick aside: due to the risk of soil bound pests such as phylloxera most plantings of the last century are grafted to the root portion (rootstock) of vines from the new world that has resistance to said pests and is acclimated to the soil on this side of the Atlantic.  In Block 11’s, cuttings from the established James Berry vines were not grafted, but stuck directly into the soil to sprout their own roots a testament to the vigor and enthusiasm of grapevines!

Expect to see Block 11 as one component in our core Syrah for 2013.  Given the history and high fruit quality from these 17 year old vines, this block  may eventually join the ranks of our reserve line-up alongside Ancestor, Tempranillo, Block 22 Syrah, and Block 41 Cabernet Sauvignon.



What’s Happening

Happening - Halter Ranch Vineyard

Fog from Lion’s Crown


As usual there is a lot happening at the ranch this week.  What follows is a quick photo journal highlighting a few of our multitudinous activities as we prepare for harvest 2013 and other Fall events.  The photo above was taken during a recent outing with Lucas pope onto the wildlife and oak preserve just north of our vineyard.  This 1300 acres maintains habitat for indigenous wildlife.  Access to this land for deer and other critters is provided via a network of wildlife corridors through the vineyard.  (more…)

Halter Ranch Vineyard – Frequent Questions


Thanks Madelyne! - Halter Ranch Vineyard

The Old Victorian Farmhouse from Adelaida Road


Every few months we tasting room and tour staff accrue a group of  questions that crop up repeatedly in our interactions at Halter Ranch.  The following post is devoted to answering the top 9 of these questions so that they are accessible in the e-sphere.  For the record, we love being asked and having the opportunity to answer questions about this wonderful place and the philosophy behind it, so please keep asking and we’ll keep doing our best to provide answers! (more…)

The Garden and Vineyard All Abuzz


Tempranillo - Halter Ranch Vineyard

2013 Tempranillo


Anticipation among the HRV crew and within the vineyard itself is palpable as we near the opening of Harvest 2013. What follow are a few photos in and about the vineyard taken by tasting room superstars Jess Warren, Kim Potvin, and Sam Flynn.  (more…)

Rosé Musings and Upcoming Events


Halter Ranch Vineyard

Men Drinking Pink


Think of your palate as a fingerprint, in fact, think of everyone’s palate like you would a fingerprint.  That is, wholly unique and subjective to you and them.  So while we might occasionally reach consensus and agree about what is good or bad, we likely fall at different points along the continuum of those concepts.   We bring this up as the result of a recent series of comments in regard to rosé on the Halter Ranch facebook page.  The gist of the discussion was that when pouring rosé in the tasting room we  find a percentage of customers will initially wave it off, saying:  “I’m not a rosé person.”  This is disheartening both as wine lovers and as advocates for Halter Ranch because we know as the result of our own journeys in wine that while not every wine is for every person, a huge part of the overall experience and excitement (at least from our perspective) is the opportunity to experience something new.  Further, the possibility that the new thing will alter your perspective in a wonderful way.  With this in mind it is difficult for us, and we suspect, for many in the wine industry to hear the words “I am not a rosé person” or “I am not a white wine person” because there is so much diversity within “rosé” and “white wine” it is likely that while one may not always like the majority, there are probably many wines within each category that one would enjoy or at least find interesting.  With this in mind we encourage the world to open its mind to new experiences in wine and otherwise, enjoyment can come as easily from something new and different as it may from something pleasant and predictable.  On that note, below are a few upcoming events


Upcoming Events


Forks and Corks

The Forks and Corks Festival will be taking place here at the ranch on July 6. A plethora of beverages stored under cork will be served in our historic barnyard alongside delicious eats prepared in the pit (barbecue pit) and garnished with pitted fruits. This is, without question, an event to set your sights on. Proceeds will benefit worthy local non profit must! charities.  For details and tickets check here:

Real Men Drink Pink

On Sunday June 23 the second annual Real Men Drink Pink event will be taking place at Star Farms.  Music by the English Beat, delicious rosé from 20 of the top producers in Paso Robles, and an overwhelmingly excellent time await!  Check it here:

Lessons in Shoot Thinning and Fruit Selection

Shoot - Halter Ranch Vineyard

Eusebio Working Magic


During our weekly visit to Block 33 Merlot as part of the HRV Special Projects Program vineyard foreman Eusebio Rico and viticulturalist Lucas Pope offered us advice and lessons as the processes of shoot thinning and fruit selection begin.  We watched Eusebio work a few vines to see how it’s done.  While his hands flew across the trunk removing leaves, unwanted clusters and shoots, he gave us a quick rundown of which clusters to keep (the more developed, evenly spaced, and sun protected ones taking priority) and which leaves to remove.  (more…)

Halter Ranch Special Projects Division


Block 33 Merlot

Looking down the rows in Block 33 Merlot


As we alluded to on our facebook page earlier this week, new and exciting special projects are underfoot in the vineyard.   The tasting room and winery staff have split into three teams (each headed by a member of the winery staff) and each team has been assigned a few rows from three different portions of the vineyard (Team A Block 21 Cabernet Sauvignon lead by Darren, Team B Block 3 Malbec lead by Molly, Team C Block 33 Merlot lead by Oscar).  Each team will take their rows through the winemaking process from shoot thinning, through fermentation, and finally to blending.  All squads will have access to assistance and advice from viticulturist Lucas Pope, winemaker Kevin Sass, and vineyard foreman Eusebio Rico, but the idea is that final decisions and methods will fall upon the squad itself to enact.  (more…)

2012 Côtes de Paso Blanc. Yes.

Blanc - Halter Ranch Vineyard


As of May 1 we’ve begun pouring the 2012 Côtes de Paso Blanc in the tasting room.   Having spent a few days with it we can say without reservation: this is one of the most delicious white wines we’ve yet produced (those of you familiar with our white wine will note this is a somewhat more than merely bold statement).  At first scent it shows the delightful minerality we’ve come to expect from Côtes Blanc with touches of tart lemon, granny smith, and honeydew.  On the palate it is medium bodied with an absolutely inspiring acidic zest.  Grenache Blanc again dominates the blend at 58% with smaller quantities of Roussanne (18%), Picpoul Blanc (16%), and Viognier (8%).  In concert with its 2012 vintage cousins, CDPB shows remarkable brightness and lush fruit while remaining somewhat restrained with regard to alcohol (13.5%).  Flavors here run the gamut from briney mineral, forward toward spice, on to citrus, and beyond through ripe stone fruit as it opens.  CDPB will pair impressively with…well…itself…and nearly everything else  (more…)

Organic Discussion in the HRV Tasting Room


Organic Discussion - Halter Ranch Vineyard

Spring blossoms


I recently had a conversation in the tasting room with a very pleasant and well spoken group of customers who were interested in the role of organic certification in wine.  After discussing I was left with the sense that both sides of the conversation were left a bit confused as the result of impressions we each held about the truth and meaning behind certification.  What follows is an exploration of the distinctions between organic, biodynamic, and or sustainable.  You will find that I have bias toward one of the programs, and this is something I am willing to both admit and accept.  I welcome commentary so please don’t be shy about offering your own opinions, questions, or suggestions in the comments section following this post.  (more…)

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