The Cab Collective and Rain

Collective - Halter Ranch Vineyard

 

As we’ve discussed in previous posts, Paso Robles is uniquely suited to growing and ripening Cabernet Sauvignon.  Additionally, while Cabernet is the most planted variety in the Paso Robles AVA, it is currently Paso Rhone varieties (such as Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre) that receive most of the attention in the critical scene and from  periodicals.  In response to this trend a group of Paso wineries who produce quality Cabernet Sauvignon have pooled resources to bring more attention to this noble variety.

The Cab Collective will be holding a Gala event at River Oaks Hot Springs on April 26, 2014.  Check the website here for details.  Additionally, individual wineries will be offering dinners and presentations over the course of the weekend.  Keep an eye on our events page for details about a Cabernet Blending and Barrel Symposium to be hosted by Kevin here in our wine club lounge.

Paso is uniquely suited for late ripening varieties such as Cabernet given its consistently hot and long summer in concert with proximity to the sea and the lateral arrangement of hillsides creating a nightly cooling effect from the coast.  High daily temperature with a 40 degree cooling swing overnight allows us to take Cabernet to a high degree of ripeness while maintaining acidity and tannin that give it stability in the cellar.

In other news, we received just under 6 inches of rain over the past 10 days, bringing us to 8 inches for the year overall.  While this is still far behind the average for this point in the season, we are in a distinctly more comfortable position than we were just two weeks ago.  Keep up those rain dances!  They seem to be helping ‘ )

Next week we will be presenting a fresh new video to celebrate the release of our delicious 2013 Rose.  Keep an eye on our YouTube feed, facebook page, Google+, and Twitter so you don’t miss out and if you enjoy the video, don’t forget to click those like buttons and share it with your friends.  Until next week, happy rainfall and cheers!

 

Collective - Halter Ranch Vineyard

The Pouring Rain


Weather News

Weather - Halter Ranch Vineyard

The Weather Station

 

After much consideration and planning, a shiny new weather station has been installed along the Halter Ranch airstrip by Joe Thorp of Signature Ranch Technologies.  Given distinction between weather here on the ranch and weather nine miles east of us in Paso Robles proper, we’ve been relying on readings from Tablas Creek’s weather station up to this point.  For each mile you move away from the town of Paso Robles toward the coast you may add approximately an inch of rainfall and about half a degree of decreased temperature.  As a result we tend to average 25-30 inches of rainfall, and about 5 degrees fahrenheit less on average over the course of a year than Paso Robles proper and vineyards east of highway 101. (more…)


Prepruning and Sustainability

 

Sustainability - Halter Ranch Vineyard

Cesar in Block 28

 

Each year, in late December or early January we embark on the process of pruning the entire vineyard to prepare for the vines’ awakening in Spring.  The first step in this process is to pre prune the long canes from last year’s growth down close to the primary vine (cordon) so that our vineyard crews can go about more delicate pruning without having to deal with 3-4 feet of stiff, whipcord vine above their heads.  In the past the process of pre pruning took 2 full walking passes and 2 full tractor passes through the entire vineyard to complete.  (more…)


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

 


Bird Sightings and Event Updates

Bird - Halter Ranch Vineyard

The Winery as our Vineyard Sleeps

 

Over the past week we’ve had two vineyard hikes and were the featured wine for guest chef Suzanne Tracht’s Monday Night Supper at Artisan Paso Robles.  Suzanne hails from Jar in Los Angeles and is close friends with Chef Kobayashi. According to staff and club members who attended, the dinner was absoutely stellar.  If you haven’t yet, we’d highly recommend a visit to Jar in Los Angeles and to Artisan in Paso Robles.  Our next winemaker dinner will be taking place at Robert’s in Paso Robles on February 25.  For additional information check our events page.

Sunday’s hike took guests up the old airstrip to visit the Ancestor Oak before heading out to block 52 where guests caught a nearly bird’s eye view of the entire vineyard.  A similar hike with a slightly different route will take place on  February 15, sign up information is available here if you’re interested in partaking.

 

Bird - Halter Ranch Vineyard

Hiking up to the Ancestor Oak

 

Monday, Mitch hosted our yearly birdwatching trek accross the property where the following list was compiled by the group and generously provided for the blog by Neil Gilbert and Mary Hirsch: (more…)


Blending Trials with the HRV Staff

Halter Ranch Vineyard

2012 Blending Trials

 

As our red wines make their way through the 9 to 18 month process of ageing in barrel, Kevin periodically pulls sample blends and has the staff taste them to assist in isolating the combinations that best exhibit the qualities of fruit, acid, tannin, and overall balance we seek in wines from Halter Ranch.  This past Saturday, the tasting room staff was treated to trials of potential blends for the 2012 yet to be named Reserve Syrah and 2012 Ancestor.  Each of 3 separate trial lots were tasted against their 2011 counterparts (11 Block 22 Syrah and 11 Ancestor) for a total of 8 tastings.  Final decisions for the blends are six months out but I have included here a few random samples of employee notes from the two trials.  The identities of staff members have been stricken from this particular record intentionally.  However, if you know us and think you can guess whose notes are whose, do please have at it in the comments below.

Ancestor Blend A – Blueberries and woodchips…lush…very grippy tannins

Syrah Blend C – Toasty vanilla-y oak.  Smooth round mouth.  Lingering finish.

Ancestor Blend B – More oak [than the other two samples in this trial] less distinct fruit; oak on the finish

Syrah Blend C – A little bit spicy and acidic on the finish; prickles the tongue; raspberry on the nose

Ancestor Blend C – The most fruity aroma;  lingers on the palate; velvety

Syrah Blend A – Great nose; lighter fruit; tannin; light finish

Ancestor Blend C – This lot didn’t leave my mouth feeling as chalky as the others

Syrah Blend C – Seemed pleasantly full but left behind too much of a drying sensation

Ancestor Blend C – Full on the palate with distinctly dark fruit.  The nose opens nicely with time

Syrah Blend C – Dark fruit with distinct tannin in comparison to A and B.  This would be my pick.

Syrah Blend C – Nascar on the nose, thick on the palate, grit on the teeth, bitey on the finish

Ancestor Blend B – Pretty girl [stated with enthusiastic tone].  Fruit is deep and floral on the nose. Rubenesque. [this means plump or rounded in a pleasing or attractive way according to Merriam-Webster Online] Rich and curvy.  A finish that keeps on giving.  Hey girl, hey

Kevin will make some adjustments based on staff consensus and his own preferences before we revisit these blends closer to bottling in July.  Check back next week for 2013 Pink updates and have a smashing time in the mean!

 

Blending Trials - Halter Ranch Vineyard

Sun On The Patio

 

 


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

 


Return to the Wild

Halter Ranch Vineyard

The Wild Side

 

14 months later, we finally ventured back into the wild side of Halter Ranch with viticulturalist Lucas Pope and vineyard foreman Eusebio Rico as our guides.  The goal on this excursion was to document the locations of our wildlife cams to give context to the photos we’ve begun posting here and on facebook.  Additionally Lucas and Eusebio wanted to check the status of a well on the old Curran property which is part of the 1300 acre oak and wildlife preserve on the northeast end of the vineyard.

 

Halter Ranch Vineyard

Old Power Lines

 

While en route we discovered the skeleton of a wild pig, revisted the old harvester from last year’s explorations, and examined the state of flora and fauna after another distinctly dry year.  Below are some photos and thoughts from the adventure. (more…)


Wine Resolutions for 2014

 

Resolutions - Halter Ranch Vineyard

A Hearth-y Happy New Year!

 

Here published are 14 wine resolutions for 2014.  Sourced from the diabolically wine-centric brains of our very own staff.

1. We resolve not to judge a wine by its alcohol content or any other attribute prior to actually trying it.

2. We resolve to refrain from purchasing half bottles as they are too tempting to drink all by oneself.

3. We resolve to drink more dry Rose.

4. We resolve to refrain from purchasing ‘critter label’ wines purely based on the fact that critters are cute, and instead to fulfill our critter cuteness needs here and here.

5. We resolve not to acquiesce to the notion that a wine is better because it is uniformly composed of a single variety (i.e. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon).

6. We resolve to keep our minds and palates open to new and wondrous tastes despite not being certain whether we will like them or not.

7. We resolve not to influence our wine tasting fellows with normative terminology when they are in the midst of a fresh tasting experience.

8. We resolve to drink more Champagne and less soda.

9. We resolve to sip and fully experience, rather than simply drink.

10. We resolve to drink wine with food.  After all, nutrients are best absorbed when liquids and solids are consumed in concert.

11. We resolve to remember that while wine is how we make our living, we need not approach it as if it is work.

12. We resolve to remember to drink what we like and not feel guilty about it.

13. We resolve to continue finding new ways to share our fascinations and foster fascination in others.

14. We resolve to incite joy by keeping glasses, both real and proverbial, topped off and raised high.

Check back next Wednesday for more wildlife photos and vineyard updates with Lucas. If you feel so inclined, do share your wine resolutions for 2014 in the comments below. We would love to read them. Cheers and happy nearly new year to all!

 

Resolutions - Halter Ranch Vineyard

Huzzah!

 

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