The Employee Garden

HR_Garden

If you’ve been out to the winery recently you may have noticed something besides grapevines covering our beautiful landscape – the Halter Ranch Employee Garden. In the past we have had a small summer garden but this year we increased it to a quarter acre. We sat down with our Assistant Winemaker Molly Lonborg, and asked her some questions about the garden.

Molly, can you tell us about the Employee Garden and how it started?

We have a quarter acre plot of land that we have decided not to plant to grapevines, but instead leave for an employee garden to benefit all the staff. We generally plant a summer garden, and seed with cover crop in the winter, although we have planted some parts of the garden in the winter as well. Halter generously purchases all the starts and garden foundation needed to plant a successful garden. Although the specific vegetables and varieties vary each year we always have a good range of plants to provide a delicious harvest.

HR_Tomatoes

What’s currently planted in the garden?

This year we have 32 tomato plants; 18 different varietals, predominately heirloom plants with a few hybrids. Three different types of basil, including lime, amethyst, and genovese, pole beans, eggplants, peppers and squash. Zucchini, patty pan, kabocha, butternut and spaghetti. We have five different types of melons plus flowers. Adjacent to the employee garden is also an employee fruit orchard with peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums, cherries, figs, pears, apples and pomegranates.

Halter Ranch Peaches

Do staff take the produce home or is it used for communal meals?

Anything harvested from the garden is fair game for all staff members to take home. We encourage staff members to spend time in the garden helping plant, weed and maintain the plants in exchange for a bounty of vegetables.

HR_Basil_Amethyst

In the summertime many of us (myself included) will just bring bread and mozzarella, and harvest basil and tomatoes from the garden for caprese salads. If we have extra produce we will bring it to the tasting room and give it away to visitors; occasionally we will put an optional donation jar out and collect money to give to the food bank. If we have overgrown vegetables like zucchini or over-ripe tomatoes we will feed them to our flock of chickens.

Halter Ranch Basil Pesto

We try to do fun activities from extra bounty from the garden that include and benefit all the staff. For example, our basil is growing very well at the moment and since we still have some time till the tomatoes are ripe, we decided to cut back some of the basil plants (which will only benefit them in the future as they will double in size), and have a pesto making party. We cut back four out of our nine basil plants, brought in pine nuts, garlic, and blenders then used our Halter Ranch olive oil to create a big batch of fresh pesto. The four plants created ten one cup containers that were distributed to staff to use fresh or freeze for a later time.

Above you can see the staff growing basil and then making it into pesto for their lunches, yum!

Halter Ranch Melon

Do all staff pitch-in to work in the garden?

Usually yes! It can be difficult to get every staff member to help (especially because we have a lot of part-time people that only work on the weekends), but I send out staff-wide emails when we have workdays. This year when we planted our garden we had a lot of staff from the tasting room, production, admin and vineyard all pitch-in. After the planting we had a big potluck breakfast to thank everyone for the work.

Thank you Molly for all the great information about the Halter Ranch

Employee Garden – way to go team!


A Taste of 2012 Tempranillo

Tempranillo - Halter Ranch Vineyard

 

This past Saturday we began a soft release of our first 2012 red.  Also a member of our new Silver Label Reserve line up, this fresh red is ripe for knocking off socks. (more…)


Seeing Pink – Paso and Provence

 

Pink - Halter Ranch Vineyard

The Last Tasting

 

Last Friday the Halter Ranch Winery team sat down to taste a series of pink wines (also known as Rosé) from Provence against our own 2013 HRV Rosé.  The goal was to see how our Rosé stood up to the old world cousins who are credited with stylistic influence in its creation and color.  What we found may shock you.   (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

 

 


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


Holiday Preparations

20131203_123412

 

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

IMG_4964

 

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.

 

IMG_4967

(more…)


Tasting through Tuscany, Bandol, Côte-Rôtie, and Paso Robles

Tasting - Halter Ranch Vineyard

A line up of 1.5 Liter friends

 

This past week we had the opportunity to take a tasting journey through 6 delicious and distinct wines from around the world.  The first third of the tasting included 2 wines from France.  A 2010 Domaine Tempier from Bandol and a 2005 Levet “Chavaroche” Cote Rotie.  The middle third was a comparison between our 2011 Côtes de Paso and Denner’s 2011 Ditch Digger.  The final third included a 2004 Justin Isosceles and a 2010 Fontodi Flaccianello Sangiovese.

The Tempier, a Mourvedre based blend that exhibited a hint of Brettanomyaces on the nose and palate, offered lush spicy fruit just beneath the surface and these latter qualities became more apparent as the wine opened up.  The Côte-Rôtie is Syrah based and was distinctly spicy and earthy out of the bottle.  Some brambly red fruit began to arrive as more air arrived to open things up.  Tasting our Côtes side by side with Denner’s Ditch Digger was very interesting given the similarities between the two blends.  Both are composed predominantly of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre, but the Côtes has a little Tannat in it and the Ditch Digger contains some Counoise and Cinsault.  Both blends were notably fruit forward but the Côtes seemed to lean more toward spicy red fruit while the Digger tended more toward the dark plummy end of the spectrum.  Judging from our own wines, the 2004 vintage was very warm and the ripeness of the 2004 Isosceles seemed to support this.  The wine was distinctly dark and viscous when compared with its compatriots up to this point.  Our final taste was the 2010 Sangiovese which was probably the staff favorite among the  larger format bottles at first taste (the Halter Ranch and Denner tastes were from more standard 750 ml sized bottles).  It was relatively fruit oriented compared to the Bandol and Côte-Rôtie while displaying enough acid and tannin to pair well with food and potentially cellar for 5-10 years more.

Expect similar posts as our staff tasting journeys continue.  As always, thanks for reading and cheers!

 

Tasting Room Glasses

The Tasting Room Team


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…)

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