A Walk Through the Caves with our Winemaker

 

Halter Ranch Vineyard

In the Caves

 

It has been an eventful week in westside Paso Robles:

This past Wednesday our accountant Julie Whitmore had the privilege of setting the final stone in the rock facing around our eastern cave entrance.

 

Caves - Halter Ranch Vineyard

Julie places the final stone

 

We achieved a full inch of rain with Superbowl Sunday’s storm and now we only need about 25 more to reach normal rainful.  Keep up those dances and downpour wishes for us!  According to local weather guru John Lindsey, our next opportunity for some serious rainfall is late next week.

Given how busy our schedules are, it is not often that I get to tour the caves and taste through upcoming vintages with Kevin. As such, when the opportunity presents itself I fall deep into ‘sponge-mode,’ absorbing as much information as possible to share in the tasting room and here on the blog.  Much of the discussion on this latest venture into the caves centered around the inherent variability throughout winemaking and the ways we account for that variability from vintage to vintage.  As the process begins in the vineyard each spring, every condition from the angle of sunlight, to the number of leaves on the vine, to the specific conditions of the ecosystem in and among the vines affects the final wine.  The more time I spend in the industry the more I become hyper-conscious of the vast potential for variation wine to wine and vintage to vintage.  Kevin opened by stating that vintage variation in the vineyard, coupled with experimentation in the type of oak and other fermentation vessels we use, accounts for the particular style, or more accurately, styleof wine we produce each year.

 

Caves - Halter Ranch Vineyard

Blurry Thieving

 

As I accompanied Kevin and two industry guests through the caves and listened to him articulate the fact that barrels also have a massive potential to impact the wine and huge variance themselves between forest of origin, cooper (who made them), their size, the thickness of the staves, and their toast level. Potential for variation encourages innovation both with a mind toward keeping a degree of consistency in style from year to year and in making slight changes toward continued honing and improvement of the wine we produce.  I suppose what I’m saying is that the more time I spend in the industry, seeing different choices and the effects of small details in the wine, the more I appreciate a wider variety of wine, and the more I want to share that variety with others.  Kevin states openly that a huge advantage of our operation and the philosophy behind it is the fact that we have the resources and the desire to make and wide variety of wines and to present them to our customers.  I find myself thinking that this honest truth, this innovative mindset, is a major part of what makes Halter Ranch and our wines so exciting.  In that spirit, having tasted a few of our upcoming vintages, I absolutely cannot wait to begin sharing them as it seems that with each year the overall message becomes a little more deliciously clear.

As I was typing this I received a phone call from Lucas out in the vineyard informing me that a pair of Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) were gracing the Halter Ranch Pond.  Fifteen minutes after the phone call, I caught these quick shots:

 

Caves - Halter Ranch Vineyard

At a Glance

 

As always, thank you for reading and check back next week for a look at a new and unique piece in the vineyard.  Cheers til then!

 

Halter Ranch Vineyard

Eagle In Flight


Bowl Day and Rain!

Rain - Halter Ranch Vineyard

The Rain Chain

 

Rain!?! What is that…?  It’s been so absent over the past year as to have become unfamiliar.  I know today’s focus will center around crowded living rooms in front of large HD televisions in many places, but for those of you with enough space in your vicinity do please dance a little jig and send in a mental request to the skies for a deluge.  All precipitation discussion aside, or tasting room is indeed open on this delightfully drizzly Sunday.

We can’t say that many of the staff onsite today swing too far in one direction or the other regarding the teams involved in today’s extravaganza.  That said, we have at least one ‘hawkish hyper-fan and a few Denver enthusiasts who we will refrain from naming to avoid incrimination.  Needless to say a bit of our energy today goes to support these mysterious compatriots.

In other news, we’ve begun offering charcuterie plates, both small and large (the larger is pictured below) that offer cheese, meats, nuts, a spot of fruit, delectibly warmed bread and our own Halter Ranch Olive Oil and Blackberry Balsamic.  At the moment, said plates are available only in the wine club lounge, though a few of the featured cheeses are available in the tasting room.

 

Rain - Halter Ranch Vineyard

New HRV Olive Oil and Balsamic with Bread

 

Do come visit us today whether for pre-bowl or in avoidance of bowl, we would delight in pouring for you!  And for all you avid superbowlers out there rooting for a team: luck and we hope your make-my-team-win rituals (whatever they may be-within the bounds of legality and social acceptance of course ‘ ) pan out.  Cheers!

 

Rain - Halter Ranch Vineyard

Large Cheese Plate

 


2013 Halter Ranch Rosé

 

2013 Rosé - Halter Ranch Vineyard

2013 Rosé

 

On Friday January 17 the esteemed Halter Ranch production staff bottled our 2013 Rosé.  Like its 2012 counterpart it is composed principally of Grenache (70%) with some Mourvèdre (10%), Picpoul Blanc (7%), and Syrah (10%).  Prior to bottling, we used a new cross-flow filter to remove any remaining solids and clarify the wine.  (more…)


2014 in the Vineyard

The Vineyard

View of our Vineyard from the Ridgline

 

During last week’s excursion Lucas and Eusebio discussed plans for the vineyard as we begin the new year. Contained herein is a summary of their discussion with clarification of viticulturalist lingo.

As of Monday we began the process of pre-pruning the vineyard.  Pre-pruning is when we trim down the mass of canes left from last year’s growth to prevent entanglement when the vineyard team begins more detailed pruning in the coming months.

On our younger head trained plantings of Grenache, Carignan, Tempranillo, and Tannat, which account for about 1/3 of the planted acreage, we applied some water and allowed an abundance of growth in 2013 to encourage them to establish a substantial root system.  As we prune these adolescent vines for 2014, we will cut all that abundance back to just two buds, this way the vines may focus a maximum of nutrients into a minimum of buds, shoots, leaves, and, finally, fruit.

In our more established plantings, the remaining 2/3 of our 281 acres, we will be delaying primary pruning in the hope of pushing budbreak beyond April frost. There is a degree to which we are at the weather’s mercy once the vines begin awakening in early Spring.  Typically we begin pruning in early to mid December, this year we’ve waited until January to see if it is possible mitigate that risk.

Check back next week for a new culinary masterpiece and pairing.  In the meantime, happy January and cheers!

 

Where's Eusebio

Hiking on the Ridgline

 


Happy Holidays from Halter Ranch

Holidays - Halter Ranch Vineyard

Happy Holidays and Stuff!

 

First things first:  Happy Holidays from all of us at the ranch!

2013 has been a year of intensified growth and development.  We’ve seen the release of the first few reds made entirely in the new winery, the opening of our beautiful new Wine Club Lounge on the upper floor of the facility, and so much more that I wouldn’t even know where to begin.  Beyond all the wondrous newness, and all the developments I didn’t mention here, is the reality that there is even more to come. Even as I type this from my computer at home, the air feels electric with excitement at all the potential on the horizon.

It is rare that I write as myself for the blog, but it somehow seems appropriate today.  I hope you will forgive some sentimentality throughout this post, this being a generally sentimental time of year.  My mind is boggled to note that it has now been 12 months since touring the wildlife corridor with Lucas for the first time and a full 4 1/2 years since first I set foot in the tasting room.  I am absolutely aghast and humbled by the complete privilege it has been and will continue being to learn and grow in this amazing place.

A part of me wishes there were more space to revel in such moments but I have begun to acquiesce to the reality that time does not slow down regardless of how much I desire it to and each year will speed by more quickly than the last.  There is poetry in acquiescence…but I will refrain from subjecting you to it here. Instead I’ll say, happy December, happy year’s end, and happiness overall to all. Exciting developments are in the works for HRV Media in 2014 so keep an eye here as we continue to explore, learn, and play.

Cheers in the meantime and check back next Wednesday for 14 wine resolutions for 2014 from the Halter Ranch staff, all wrapped up for you on December 25. ‘ )

 

Holidays - Halter Ranch Vineyard

Original Corktraits by Robin Mika McGee


Hobbit Stew on Friday the 13th

 

Hobbit

Preparing to stand in a long, early morning, Hobbit ish line.

 

 

We won’t deceive, there are a fair number of rabid Tolkien enthusiasts among the HRV staff.  As such, we embark on today’s Hobbit round 2 premier with great anticipation and some sidelong glances from those who have had to listen to Gandalf Groupies chatter in excitement over this next installment in the series.  Gone are the dark days between 2007 and 2012 when nary a Middle Earth premier lay on the horizon and we Tolkienites were relegated to viewing the extended editions of the first three movies marathon style in every possible combination of director’s cut and commentary.  It is with great hope and anticipation that we fantastical few don our wooden swords and elvish ears to travel the twists and turns of Desolation’s release.  (more…)


Holiday Preparations

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In the wake of ‘giving festivities we now embark on preparations for the rest of the holiday season.  Lights are being strung, the scent of pine sap hangs in the air, and the world seems aglow with warmth from ovens and fireplaces alike as Winter finally arrives at the ranch.  (more…)


Thanks and Giving

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In honor of this deeply foodie giving thanks type  week, we present a post that has been in the works for some time.  To assist in carrying us through the calm before Friday’s storm, the tasting room will be cooking up a spicy (and slightly sheepish) pleasure for lunch.  It has come to our collective attention over the past few months that a majority of our retail staff have a weakness for dishes doused in Buffalo Sauce.

With this knowledge teeming beneath surface consciousness, we have decided to cook up some Buffalo Burgers for our staff lunch today.  We’ll keep you posted as we sip our wines, and let you know which among them pairs most delectably with this only slightly guilty pre-giving pleasure.

After careful tasting and analysis the Tasting Room crew has concluded that Côtes de Paso Blanc is the best pairing for a Buffalo Style Burger with Stilton, Grilled Onions, and Kettle Chips on the side.  The relatively low alcohol and medium body of the CDPB interact well with the smoke and spiciness of the burger while allowing the tropical notes from our flagship white to truly shine.

 

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Halter Ranch Vineyard on PBS with Original Fare

Halter Ranch Vineyard

Click the Photo to visit Original Fare

 

Original Fare is a PBS sponsored YouTube series revolving around farm to table cooking.  We were offered the privilege of hosting creators Kelly Cox and Lucas Longacre onsite for a few days while they produced the show linked to the photo above.  Beyond the fact that it provides great information about Halter Ranch, the video offers an excellent quick but complete look at the various stages and processes of harvest.  Check it out and let us know what you think on our facebook page here, Google+ here, and Twitter (@halterranch).  Also please go check out Kelly and Lucas’s Original Fare website and the PBS Food YouTube Channel.


Teaming Up for 2013 Staff Wines

Halter Ranch Vineyard

Kim, Katie, Molly, Sarah

Making Wine With the HRV Staff

 

Those who have been watching the blog over the past 8 months may remember the exciting developments in our staff winemaking project.  What follows is an update on each team and their wines. (more…)

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