TIMES HAVE CHANGED!
Sound familiar? We’ve all heard that phrase a lot lately.
Our first vintage of wine at our former winery, La Jota Vineyard Co was 1982. That was the time when those of us living in Napa Valley knew most of the brands, not anymore.
If you are old enough to remember, California wines at that time were a step child to the French. There were few Italian wines, a few Spanish, hardly any South American and very few Australian/New Zealand wines! No Two Buck Chuck, either! Wine Spectator was a newspaper print ”rag” and a new guy by the name of Robert Parker had just appeared on the scene. Yes, how times have changed!
The quality has gotten better and the wines different, no more “gritty” tannins! As Bill and I look back we feel we have witnessed real change in the wine industry from the way wines are produced and marketed. Internet sales have changed the face of selling. I used to be able to make an appointment with the restaurant wine buyer or retail shop . Now you need to email and get on a waiting list for an appointment and then text to confirm when you do get an appointment! Oh well!
Wine will always be a beverage of choice and enjoyment. After all, it’s been around for over 2000 years. I wish I had a crystal ball to see the future! Do you have any ideas what that might be?
After checking the fruit in the Doña Margarita vineyard at Marimar Torres Bill sat down with Marimar Torres herself to chat about the Sonoma Coast appellation and how soil and climate play a big factor in the final grapes we get from her vineyard. Bill talks about how his wine from the same vineyard compares to the wine Marimar makes from that vineyard. It’s worth watching to the end for the out take!
Bill usually takes a trip out to see how all the vineyards are progressing in late August. August 24th he visited Saltonstall, West of Petaluma in the Sonoma Coast appellation. Sam Saltonstall and Bill chatted about how the grapes were quite a bit behind where they usually are at that time. Veraison had begun but many of the grapes still have to change color.
After leaving Saltonstall Bill took the long and curvy road up to Cazadero very close to the Sonoma Coastline. High on the ridge line is Gard and Lori Hellenthal’s vineyard which was surprisingly further ahead than the one he’d just left. Veraison was nearly finished. Their neighboring grape growers include Hirsch and Marcassin. Gard’s daughter Elisa is helping out this vintage and it was great to see another family business hard at work.
Our first Wine Club Extravaganza, hosted by Bill and Joan at their beautiful home on top of Howell Mountain. A great time was had by all and we look forward to enjoying many more events with our club members in the future. One of the highlights of the evening was a 1995 Hellenthal Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir and it was fun to taste our Anniversary La Jota Cabernet Sauvignon 1998 against our newest W.H. Smith Cabernet Sauvignon 2008-they were both sublime with the Braised Short Ribs.
It’s been about two years since we first opened a tasting room in Calistoga. We’ve loved having a spot to meet and greet our fans from near and far after many years without that opportunity. But now we’re going bigger and better – What’s the saying?- Go Big or Go Home!!
We’re thrilled to have T’Anne, our terrific multi-talented daughter, show you around our new spot at 1367 Lincoln Avenue -right on the main drag through town. She’ll be happy to host you in person so come on by and settle in at our bar or in our window nook to taste some or all of our new releases. You simply can’t miss us!
We’ve been wanting for some time to figure out a way to communicate with our fans without getting on a plane and burning up what’s left of the ozone layer. So as of today, May 4th, 2011, we’ve decided we’ll keep you up to date with what we’re doing at W.H.Smith wines via our new blog when we’re not in your neighborhood. We’ve got a lot of exciting things planned including video of our annual Mother’s Day Brunch at the winery and the launch of our newly moved tasting room in Calistoga that T’Anne is feverishly working on as we type this. We’d love you to join us online in your pjs or dressed to the hilt and always at our Tasting Room. It’s gonna be a lot of fun for us as well as for you.
We had a great time with everybody on Saturday. It was a little gusty but there was a lot of warmth to go around. Everyone got to try their hand at sampling 2010 Saltonstall Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir and 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon from our Estate Vineyard on Howell Mountain out of barrel. The few kids we had there had a blast including the two that climbed inside one of our tanks. We look forward to sharing many more of our events with you through this new blog.