Tasting with Carnivores

Carnivore - Red Dragon

Dionaea – The Venus Fly Trap


For the past few weeks we’ve been experimenting with a Carnivorous Garden in the Halter Ranch Tasting room.  Dedicated readers may recall our fruit fly post from around this time last year.  For this harvest season we’ve taken mitigation efforts to a new level by incorporating some carnivorous flora in our multi-pronged fruit fly deterrent effort.  (more…)

Ancestor Dinner 2013

Halter Ranch Vineyard

2011 Ancestor Estate Reserve


Each October we choose one evening to pause harvest and dress up the old Smith family barn for the Ancestor Release Dinner.  This past Saturday marked the presentation of the 2011 vintage with a delectible coursed meal provided by Lido.  We have made the Ancestor Estate Reserve each year since 2003 and it typically is composed of our most concentrated and expressive red lots.  The 2011 blend is 49% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Petit Verdot, 6% Malbec.  It spent 14 months in French Oak.  60% of the barrels were new and 40% had been used to age wine at least once previously.

As a vintage, 2011 is particularly exciting as it marks the first year we made wine in our new gravity fed winery with Kevin at the helm.  Due to cool weather throughout summer 2011, we made only 324 cases of this absolutely delicious wine.  As a result, it is available only to Wine Club Members at this time.

What follows is a photographic journey through the appetizers, courses, and wine at this year’s Ancestor Dinner.


Coveting Cotes de Paso


Cotes de Paso - Halter Ranch Vineyard

Covetous photo courtesy of Sarah Forstner


There are moments with a glass of wine when I’ll be sipping along my merry way and all of a sudden a certain clarity will enter the scene.  As if a group of notes in a musical piece all suddenly meld into one unified tone that causes the world to vibrate with exuberance.  What I’m really saying is, sometimes about halfway through a glass of wine I’ll realize that the experience has transcended the normal level of enjoyment and achieved the sublime.  Before I get carried away in amorphous and esoteric description, let me provide some context.  (more…)

Bonding Over Breakfast


Breakfast - Halter Ranch Vineyard

Fresh Cherry Tomatoes

Breakfast - Halter Ranch Vineyard

Death Wish Coffee

Breakfast - Halter Ranch Vineyard

Eggs, Happy Acres, Bacon, and White Truffle Oil



Wine, Vines, Superman, and Sunlight



The effect of all the movie buzz lately has been a rekindling of my childhood fascination with the Man of Steel.  Wine is my profession, stories are my hobby, and much can be said about the comic world’s sun empowered demigod, but it is unlikely anyone will deny there is an abundance of story and mythology–both great and terrible–surrounding him.  It is with myth in mind and storylines all aswirl I here embark on an exploration of how Superman relates, in my brain, to wine.




It is at the intersection of human, plant, and super-person interactions with the sun that I begin associating Superman more with a plant than with a human.  Similar to the Man of Steel, the ways in which plants interact with energy from the sun are varied while human interaction, at least when it comes to our anatomy, is focused in Vitamin D conversion. Starting with the basics, Superman gets his power from our bright yellow star.  He was born on a world with a dimmer red sun, and so, similar to the way plants absorb sunlight and photosynthesize, Kal El‘s body processes sunlight and makes him strong, impervious, capable of flight, and other stuff depending upon which book you’re reading in what time period.  Grapevines also process sunlight, absorbing it through their leaves and using the energy derived from it to grow and ripen fruit.  The intention, whether or not the vines are aware of it, and I like to think that they are, is to create delectable, juicy, seed-filled treats irresistible to the animal kingdom so that birds, humans, deer, coyotes, chickens with super hops, and as much other fauna as possible will consume, process, and deposit grape seeds across the wide earth.

2012 Cotes de Paso Blanc and Brunch Casserole

Brunch - Halter Ranch Vineyard

Feeling Brunchy?


In the spirit of summertime and the phenomenon that is Brunch, we offer this recipe and pairing suggestion for the opening of June.  The recipe will require:

8 (preferably farm fresh) eggs, 1/4 pound black forest ham or a similar quantity of marinated artichokes hearts (or an even split!), 8 slices of thick country bread, 8 oz. Mild (or as you like) Cheddar, 4 cups of milk, 8 slices of thick country bread, 1 teaspoon mustard powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper

Slice the bread into 1 inch chunks and place at the bottom of an oiled 9 x 13 x 2 inch baking pan.  Grate the cheese and slice the ham or artichoke hearts and layer them on top of the bread.  Then, in a large mixing bowl, vigorously mix eggs, salt, pepper, mustard, and milk until they are smooth before pouring the entire mixture into the pan.  Cover the casserole and let it sit refrigerated 8 hours.  When you are ready to experience brunch bliss, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and bake the casserole for 1 hour.  Serve with a chilled glass of 2012 Cotes de Paso Blanc for immediate nirvana.  (more…)

2010 Côtes de Paso – Let Me Count the Ways

2010 Côtes de Paso and Pairings

2010 Côtes de Paso and Pairings


Friday of last week we held our annual Bridge Dinner, pairing our wines with delicacies prepared by Julie Simon of Thomas Hill Organics. As always the food, atmosphere, and wine were absolutely stellar. There was one pairing however, that struck a particular chord among the Halter Ranch Staff. The wine industry is flush with excellent pairing experiences, but occasionally a wine and it’s companion dish shine so brightly in concert we cannot help but gush about it.  (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…)

Pairing Appetizers With Pier 46

Lindsey B, Sarah, Tony, Christina

Pier 46 and Halter Ranch


This past Wednesday morning we had the opportunity to apply our culinary expertise while discussing sustainability with Tony DeGarimore of Pier 46 Seafood Market in Templeton.  For this momentous occasion our own Sarah Forstner selected three simple appetizer recipes to pair with 2012 Halter Ranch Rose and the soon to be released 2012 Sauvignon Blanc.  Tony generously provided some delectable  treats to flesh out the project and we lept into the kitchen with abandon.  (more…)

Tasting 2012 Rosé and 2011 Synthesis

2012 Rosé

2012 Rosé preparing to enter the line up


Our 2012 Rosé is unique in the history of HRV pink.  It represents one of only 2 wines we’ve produced that come in at less than 14% alcohol (the other being 2009 Cabernet Franc).  The shift toward lower alcohol and higher acid in the rosé is intentional.  We have found it maintains its delicious bright red fruit character quite well while the bracing acidity provided by Picpoul Blanc makes it even more delectable with food.  We cannot wait to share it with you.  In the meantime here are our notes:

2012 Rosé is composed of 68% Grenache, 15% Mourvèdre, 12% Picpoul Blanc, and 5% Syrah.   Immediately the nose is bright and bursting with red fruit in the cranberry, raspberry, and strawberry spectrum.  On the palate the texture is light but mouthfilling with that thirst quenching quality rosé has the potential to achieve so welll.  Acidity is present but not overwhelming.  As the wine opens notes of passionfruit, guava, grapefruit, and sour cherry begin to emerge.  A delightful cranberry grapefruit zip swoops in on the finish leaving the palate fresh and awaiting the next sip.   (more…)

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