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!

 


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…)


New Wildlife Photos

Wildlife - Halter Ranch Vineyard

That is indeed an elk.

 

An aspect of our sustainable program are the wildlife corridors kept intact by installing an extra 16000 feet of fencing when the vineyard was planted.  The corridors allow deer and other fauna to get through the vineyard to 1300 acres of oak and wildlife preserve that remain undisturbed but for the occasional exploratory trip from our staff to insure no humans are occupying the back portion of the property for sinister purpose.  Recently Lucas Pope installed wildlife cameras at 2 watering holes within the preserve.  Included here just three out of 350 photos taken by one of the two cameras over the past 6 weeks.  Most of what we have seen thus far are deer and birds, but as you can see, a few more rare and shy critters have made appearances as well.   (more…)

0 items - $0.00
View Cart ›
Checkout ›
Cart message goes here...