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In a rare, quiet moment during the 2014 harvest season, Annette Dennigmann, our Wine Club Manager, sat down with Winemaker Jeremy Weintraub. Jeremy holds a Master of Viticulture and Enology from UC Davis and has worked on the North and South Islands of New Zealand, in Italy, and in St. Helena California. Now settled on the Central Coast, he has been with Adelaida Cellars since 2012.
Q: What was the first fruit that arrived for the 2014 vintage?
A: We picked a small portion of chardonnay for its bright and energetic potential. Last year we split our 3.8 acre chardonnay block into three separate parcels that differ in slope, aspect, and elevation, enabling us to pick across a range of flavors.
Q: 2014 marks the 50th anniversary for the HMR Pinot Noir vines. How does the age of the vines contribute to the wine?
A: The fruit from older vines produce wines of greater depth and complexity than do their more youthful counterparts. The differences are not quantifiable. You simple know it when you taste it.
Q: We have a new baby on board, the concrete tank. How does this differ from stainless or barrel? What will this bring to the wine?
A: We're planning to use this tank for fermenting and aging grenache noir. Concrete tanks highlight the purity of the fruit inside and also, compared with, say stainless steel, allow for rich flavor development. Unlike oak, concrete imparts no toast character or tannin.
Q: What impact of challenges has the California drought had on this harvest?
A: Incredibly, we haven't seen any negative effects of the drought. Our farming plan now and into the future is to severely ration the amount of water we deliver to our vines, with the dual goal of making more interesting wine and conserving this precious resource. While drought is a major concern for us, our vines so far have weathered it well.
Q: When did you begin your career as a winemaker? What do you like best about your job?
A: I started on Long Island, driving a tractor for a family owned vineyard and then working harvest in the winery. What I loved then is what I love now: tasting fruit in the vineyard, smelling fermenting tanks, getting incredibly sticky, and sharing those long days with like-minded people.
Q: What changes have you made in the vineyards since you started?
A: Beginning 2013 we stopped spraying herbicides and we moved to organic fungicides, such as mineral oil, from synthetic sprays. Being good stewards of the land has always been a priority for Adelaida Cellars. It's essential for the long term success and health of your farming operations.
Q: We have three interns that we added to our already amazing production team for this year's harvest. Could you tell us a little something about them?
A: We have an intern from the University of Bordeaux, France, an intern from the University of Udine, Italy and a recent graduate from the University of California, Davis. The interns are hardworking and serious. Plus they are making us some delicious meals!
The Summer Newsletter was created throughout the late spring and early summer months of 2013. With notes from the Winemaker Jeremy Weintraub, insights from Resident Wine Educator Tony Hermann, and from National Sales Manager, Paul Sowerby, a lively review of our cellar wines, it is a work that incorporates the many voices of Adelaida. Also included is a recipe pairing for Grilled Swordfish, a list of our most recent wines, notes on our new 2011 Pinot Vineyard Series, and a list of upcoming events.
The cover photo is of one of our newest additions, Liam the llama. He came to Adelaida in March with his big black coat, thick and matted, from the cold winter months. His face, warm and friendly, boasts dark eyes and lengthy lashes, giving him the appearance of a big flirt as he greets our guests. At the winery, Liam's job is to protect the sheep and he acts the part by being on constant watch. In times of trouble or simply to play, he is always quite the show with his long loose strides and lengthy neck gaining momentum as he removes the sheep from danger.
Click below to see our 2013 Summer Newsletter. Cheers, Sunni
With the strong belief that the best wines come from the best fruit, we have begun making a series of major investments in all of our vineyards (HMR, Anna’s, Viking, Michael’s and our newly planted vineyard.) Our two key goals are that every bottle of Adelaida wine represents our vineyards and that our farming practices ensure the long-term vitality of the vineyards.
For starters, we are doing away with herbicides. While convenient, cheap, and certainly effective in the short term, herbicides are unnecessary at best and at worst they disturb the natural habitat of beneficial insects, among other things. To combat weeds, we have purchased a cultivator that cuts weeds in the vine rows without harming the plants.
Next, we are looking to build up the soil health by choosing cover crops that match each ranch and each soil type within each ranch. The cover crops will provide nutrients, erosion resistance, and a home for beneficial insects. As part of this program we will introduce organic compost into the vineyard in the winter.
We are taking a closer look at vine nutrition. As the saying goes--and with some caveats--struggling vines make great wine. This adage has its limits, of course. We don’t want to kill the vines, but we also don’t want them fat and happy. So, we will be measuring the vines’ uptake of nutrients at critical points during the growing season—bloom and veraison—to determine whether they require supplemental micronutrients. And we will also be measuring how much water the vines are seeing by using a pressure bomb.
In the spring of 2013 we planted 23 acres of new vines comprising Zinfandel, Alicante Bouchet, Grenache and Carignan. They are on a steep hillside facing south. We will head-train these plants—that is, they will grow up without a trellis-- and we will farm this area without irrigation.
Finally, we have retained Daniel Fischl of Eartrumpet Consulting to help guide us to reach our goals. Daniel is an experienced viticulturist with clients in Australia, China, Italy, Israel and Napa. His current and former clients include Screaming Eagle, Harlan, Bond, Aubert, Peter Michael, and David Abreu.