Introducing Lucas and Updates from the Vineyard

Lucas Pope, previously of Stolo Family Vineyards and Coastal Ranch Vineyards, joined the Halter Ranch team in early April as our new Viticultural Specialist. He will be working closely with Winemaker Kevin Sass and Vineyard Foreman Eusebio Rico toward keeping our current vineyard in tip top shape, while also getting the new plantings in the ground (and growing!).


This is a picture of Lucas during the 30 seconds he spent indoors today. Busy times! Photos of Lucas in action among the vines are forthcoming.



Prior to arriving here in Paso, Lucas worked with Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cool Climate Syrah, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc (among other varieties) in Cambria and Santa Cruz. He brings with him an intimate knowledge of vineyard management and palpable delight toward working among the vines. When asked about his experiences thus far he responded:
“I am absolutely thrilled to be involved with this beautiful place and to be a part of the Halter Ranch team going forward.”
We (and the vines of course!) are very excited to have Lucas on board.

Speaking of the vineyard:

There are currently 4 crews out among the vines, shoot thinning in Cabernet Sauvignon Blocks 30 and 31 , moving wires to accommodate (abundant!) fresh growth in Cabernet Sauvignon Block 41, and planting Petit Verdot to Block 40.





According to Lucas we are in the midst of ideal growing weather. As you can see from the photos the vines (enthusiastically) affirm this. On a more ominous note, temperatures over the past few days have also been prime for mildew growth. To determine this we use an index that accounts for temperature and time, ideal conditions for mildew lie between 70 and 85 degrees for periods of six hours or more daily. To combat this we have spent the past few months inoculating the vineyard against fungal growth.

Expect a photo post later this week showing Lucas and the vineyard team in action.

As always thanks for reading and cheers!

The Narrative

Halter Ranch is in the midst of change.  Like the vines we grow and the wines we produce we are vitally, necessarily, and wonderfully alive.  We are growing roots, maturing in the bottle, breathing through our corks; just itching to be freed from our glass and poured into yours.

Intentions here have always developed with an eye toward the future.  We carefully dole out water and nutrients to our vineyard in the interest of extending its life.   The property itself is nothing if not a beautiful legacy we steward for innumerable generations to come. Each new vintage of Halter Ranch wine expresses very directly the flavor, history, and progress of this beautiful site and all these aspects contribute to the overall narrative we seek to share with you.

Toward that end…


-Rumor from the winery is that the caves (passive cooling and barrel storage) will be completed in approximately six months (Just in time for Harvest 2012)!

-In the vineyard we are placing end posts on the last few new blocks to be planted over the next month or so.

-Pruning on our 200,000 grape producing rock stars is nearing completion as we prepare for budbreak (hopefully toward the end of April and safely beyond the risk of a late frost).

-In the tasting room we are gearing up for ZinFest next weekend!

Thanks for reading!  Check back later this week for a discussion of Syrah’s many faces.

P.S.  A fun fact for those of you who enjoy sparkling wine:

Though it likely cropped up throughout history as an accidental result of cold weather during the winemaking process, sparkling wine appeared in Britain as an intentionally produced consumable good prior to its appearance in France.  This is the result of two technological developments in Britain during the mid 1600?s:  First-The British rediscovered cork (the practice of using corks to seal liquids in jars disappeared during the dark ages) before the French who continued to use simple wooden bungs as stoppers until the early 1700?s.  Second-The British also developed reinforced glass that was structurally able to contain the natural exuberance of sparkling wine.  Today’s fact was sourced from this excellent book by Tom Stevenson.

Early March Update

In the Vineyard: Pruning is nearly complete throughout the vineyard.  As of this afternoon Block 2 Grenache (dry farmed, head trained) was looking clean and ready for bud break.  That said…we’d much prefer the buds (and this warm weather) hold off to get us through the last few weeks of frost season. (more…)

Gioconda in the Kitchen

These photos are from our cooking event in the Halter Ranch Victorian Farmhouse this past weekend.  Our neighbor and baker extraordinaire Ciro Pasciutto arranged this very special opportunity for a few lucky guests to take a crash course in Traditional Italian Cooking from his mother Gioconda.

The food was a smashing success –no surprise here!–and word is that the overall experience was wonderful and unique as well.  We’ve included a gallery below in the hope of conveying, via web-mosis, an echo of the past weekend’s delectible joy.  The dishes were paired with our current series of wines and it is dangerously pavlovian experience imagine our current series complemented by zesty Italian cuisine!

Halter Ranch Vineyard – Barn Projections

The barn to the left is our primary location for large gatherings onsite.  It was originally a livestock barn for the Smith and MacGillvray families when they occupied the property.  During the restoration of the Victorian farmhouse, the barn was also retrofitted so that it remains in an arrested state, preserving the 19th century aesthetic while remaining sturdy!

We have similar plans for the silo barn pictured below.  This second barn functioned as a storage and processing facility for the barley, safflower, and other dry growing grains farmed by the MacGillvrays in the the early-mid 20th century.

Ultimately, with the completion of the new facility and the restoration of the second barn, the lower half of our property including the current tasting room/victorian/bunkhouse area will become a picnic and special event area.  It will be a year or two more, but the tasting room will probably migrate up the hill to complement the winery.  The current building may then become more of a visitor’s center or *fingers crossed* a kitchen and dining area!

A Message from Solene

Saturday, June 18, celebrate Father’s Day and treat the man in your family to a Halter Ranch winery dinner set outside in the Historic Olive Orchard!  (more…)

New Developments and New Faces at Halter Ranch

Bill is on the far right

Many of you have probably now heard that our winemaker of the past 5 years at Halter Ranch, Bill Sheffer will be embarking on new and fascinating adventures after the 2011 harvest.  The latest word is that he will spend some time honing his skill in charcuterie!  Judging from the pâté he contributed to our last staff gathering, his raw talent in this arena may be comparable to his amazing skill in making wine.  The combination is fomidable, and will exponentially increase being so as Bill continues perfecting his meat oriented skills.  We will gravely miss hogging all his talent!


So! For 2011 Bill will be working alongside our new winemaker Kevin Sass, who previously headed up the Rhone program at Justin winery. It will be an impressive year for us, breaking in the new winery facility with 2 excellent, talented, and charming artisans of the trade!

The following links to a pdf: Press Release for Kevin Sass

Seth is on the right

Additionally we have a new Tasting Room Manager, also transplanted from Justin!  A native of Cambria, Seth Engel has worked in the wine industry for 8 years.  He studied and tested through first level Sommelier and is a Certified Specialist of Wine. Seth will greatly enhance the tasting room team with his vast knowledge, enthusiasm, and deep connection to the local wine scene!

We are all ecstatic to embark on harvest 2011 with such a strong team!

A Unique Culinary Experience with Ciro Pasciuto

On Saturday May 14 our neighbor–and the creator of the wonderful rustic Italian loaves we sell on weekends–Ciro Pasciuto will provide us with a very special opportunity.  His mother, Gioconda di Nucci, is visiting from Gaeta, a small village on the Mediterranean. She and Ciro have agreed to provide a hands on demonstration in the unique culinary techniques of the Italian Coast!  Gioconda translates roughly to ‘Lady of Mirth’ in Italian and is commonly used as a nickname in reference to the Mona Lisa.

This promises to be awondrous and illuminating event so don’t miss out!

The cooking will take place in the Victorian Farmhouse here on the Halter Ranch property from 11am to 2pm and the price will be $80 per person, $64 for Ranch, and $60 for Owner’s Club Members.   Space is limited!  888.367.9977


At long last the Halter Ranch Blog is up and running. This will not replace our other social media, instead, it will act as a central location for all HRV web content.  We plan to post here regularly with new updates on our various construction projects, winemaker comments, photos, and general wine discussion. Time to drink in the fun!

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