What a difference a year – or two – makes!
After two years of “challenging” harvest – wet springs, followed by fruit shattering heat waves, followed by early rains – this year’s harvest is headed for the record books as about as ideal as possible.
Production across the board is way above the last two years, and above the most optimistic predictions of even a few months ago. Even more important is the quality of the fruit. Growers and winemakers alike are raving about the purity and intensity of flavors. We processed more than 1100 tons of fruit this year, up from 700+ in 2011. In fact, we turned away a number of offers of grapes, as wineries throughout the county (and the state) found themselves with full tanks and barrels.
Our staff, led by winemaker Evelyn White and ably assisted by general manager Mike Martini, put in the 12 – 16 hour days week after week to get the job done correctly. Cleanup has begun and our hats are off to our talented and dedicated production staff!
So what do we do during the chaos of harvest? We party! First we poured our DOUBLE GOLD MEDAL/BEST OF CLASS 2011 Russian River Valley Chardonnay at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair. The next weekend we hosted our annual fall President’s Club party; and we ended the month with a harvest party!
How do we start this month? The Russian River Wine Road’s Wine and Food Affair, where we will pair our 2011 Russian River Valley Pinot Gris with a spicy sriracha chicken. Also check out this month’s Mike Kitchen featuring Garlic Tarts.
There’s more going on. Our new sales manager Paul Young was off on his first outing – to New Orleans, and followed that with a quick visit to Southern California. In the winery we are making our plans and budget for 2013, and the energy and enthusiasm are palpable!
With the harvest over and things returning to normal, it’s a great time to stop by for a glass of wine. Kaitlyn and crew will help you enjoy the bounty of our special place.
President, Taft Street Winery
Judged by renowned wine critics and sommeliers from throughout the country, the Sonoma County’s Harvest Fair is one of the most exciting and prestigious California wine competitions. With over 1,000 of the County’s finest wines submitted, we are truly excited to be recognized as one of the best!
We’ll be pouring this award winner at the Harvest Fair Wine Pavilion on October 5, 6 & 7. Be sure to get your tickets early and stop by our booth for a memorable Taft Street experience.
Can’t make it to the event? We are pre-releasing the 2011 vintage to our friends and family during the coming holidays.
Be the first to order this Double Gold Medal winner today!
The time is now! The Taft Street harvest for 2012 begins Wednesday, September 5th, when our first grapes arrive. This year the honors go to Russian River Valley Pinot Gris and Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. In another week we’ll be in full swing. So far everything looks good, including the weather report!
Winemaker Evelyn White prepared for the harvest by pouring our wine at the Sonoma Wine Country Weekend – Taste of Sonoma, held at the MacMurray Ranch on Saturday, September 1st. This is perhaps Sonoma County’s premier wine showcase, and thousands of oenophiles attended from all over the country and beyond. The Taft Street wines were a real hit, with the 2009 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir and the 2010 Russian River Valley Chardonnay especially praised.
The fun continues at the winery. We enjoyed our fourth successful concert with the music of the Rhythm Rangers, and will conclude our series by bringing back Bottle Shock on Sunday, September 30th. This week we will host a dinner for the folks of the North Bay Biz Magazine; and on Thursday, September 27th we will roast a whole pig from farmer/vintner Lou Preston in our barbecue smoker for the judges and officials of the Sonoma County Harvest Fair. The following day is the Harvest Fair Awards Dinner, and our concert concludes this very busy month!
President, Taft Street Winery
In this video, Wine Oh TV’s Monique Soltani makes a Grape Escape to Taft Street and Baletto to check out all our summertime favorites.
The official kick off to summer is this weekend. Memorial Day means it’s time to bust out the barbecue, pack a picnic and break out a bottle! With the switch of seasons, many people are taking a walk on the lighter side, and nothing quenches your thirst for summer like a refreshing bottle of white wine!
Who wudda thunk? Thirty years ago, on April 1,1982 six intrepid travelers left the confines of the garage on Taft Street in Oakland, and journeyed north to the soon to be famous Russian River Valley.
Here we began making wines from local vineyards, and immediately discovered the suitability of Chardonnay to local soils. Sauvignon Blanc , Zinfandel and Merlot were added to the mix. Later Pinot Noir was found to fit perfectly into nearby vineyards.
So here we are today – older if not wiser, and experienced in the seasonal changes and challenges of the wine business. Everyone here at Taft Street shares a common thought – we all are convinced we have picked the perfect job, and we wouldn’t change it.
The vines are starting to push, though heavy rains during March slowed things down a bit. While the rains relieved growers of the threat of drought, there is still another month of frost season.
In the winery Evelyn and crew are gearing up for spring bottlings. Our new twist top machine arrives at the end of the month, and this year we will use it on clients’ bottlings, as our 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, Rose of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris have already been bottled.
March was a busy month. Evelyn and I spent a week in the New York market, where we opened accounts with the folks at Vision Wine Brands. Then Mike Martini and I were off to Chicago with the Sonoma County Vintners’ Association for a trade tasting. We were fortunate to pick up new distribution in the Chicago area – welcome Platinum Distributing!
This month I’ll visit the Boston area to work with the good people at Café Europa – our Massachusetts distributor.
On the home front, our sales team of Clayton and Mosha continue to rock and roll. New accounts are opening weekly, and we now have almost 400 restaurants and wine shops on our California accounts list!
Our Tasting Room has reopened – better than ever. The architectural firm of Tierney Conner Design came up with a simple yet elegant restructuring of our Tasting Room space and surrounding grounds. It is now more fun than ever to enjoy a glass of Taft Street wine. We experimented with 200 guests on April 1st, and an overall thumbs up was the verdict. We’ll have special events throughout the year and we’ll keep you posted. Look for some “Street Music” in the coming months.
As Spring gets into gear there is even more reason to visit us. The hills are still green, the weather is quite comfortable, the crowds are yet to come, and we’ve prepared a terrific venue. Join the fun!
President, Taft Street Winery
- Gold – 2010 Sonoma County Rose of Pinot Noir
- Gold – 2009 Russian River Valley Riesling
- Silver – 2008 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
- Silver – 2008 Russian River Valley Garagistes Chardonnay
- Silver – 2008 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
- Bronze – 2009 Russian River Valley Chardonnay
- Bronze – 2008 Russian River Valley Cobblestone Vineyard Zinfandel
- Bronze – 2009 Alexander Valley Merlot
No doubt about it – we are in the thick of it. It is now raining lightly and we expect continued wet weather over the next several days. We enjoyed a picture perfect September, with day after day in the mid 80′s; but things changed quickly over the weekend. Last week was our busiest of the harvest, and this week we expect the hectic pace to continue. Most of the white grapes, particularly Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, have been picked. A fair amount of Pinot Noir from warmer regions is already in, but a large amount of fruit remains on the vines. Many growers are “spraying and praying.”
All the grapes we had under contracted are currently fermenting. While we didn’t always receive as much fruit as we wanted, the quality of the fruit appears excellent, and we are confident Evelyn will produce some knockout wines from the 2011 vintage.
Another Harvest Fair – another slew of ribbons. Our 2010 Russian River Valley Pinot Gris won a GOLD MEDAL; and SILVER MEDALS went to our 2008 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009 Russian River Valley Chardonnay, 2008 Russian River Valley Chardonnay Garagistes, 2010 Sonoma County Rose of Pinot Noir, 2008 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, and 2009 Russian River Valley Riesling.
It’s a busy month for everyone at the winery. Yesterday we hosted a reception for wine clubs in western Sonoma County. On Sunday, October 9th, we will have our fall President’s Club party – this time in our new picnic area. Two weeks later, on October 23, we will host our annual Harvest Party. Kaitlyn and Greg are in full party mode. I’ll be off to Colorado and Massachusetts for fall tastings, and the folks in the cellar have more than enough to do in the weeks ahead.
If you are planning on attending one of our upcoming events, we are looking forward to seeing you. Any time you are in the area you are more than welcome to drop in for a taste of two of our award winning wines.
Cheers to Harvest 2011!
President, Taft Street Winery
Here’s the Gold Medal Wine Club review of our 2008 Russian River Valley Chardonnay
We will be serving this for Winter Wineland. Come on by for a taste.
- 1 1 pint shucked clams (or 2×6.5 ounce cans minced clams)
- 4 ounces bacon, diced
- 2 potatoes, peeled and diced
- ½ cup chopped onion
- ½ cup chopped celery
- 2 ½ cups milk
- ½ cup cream
- 3 tablespoons flour
- ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ teaspoon saffron threads
- salt and pepper
- Drain clams; reserving liquid. Add enough water to liquid to measure 2 cups. Set aside.
- In a saucepan crisp bacon; dice and set aside. Add reserved liquid, potatoes, onion and celery to fat in saucepan. Cook about 15 minutes.
- Stir in clams, 2 cups of milk and cream. Stir remaining 1/2 cup of milk into flour; stir into chowder.
- Cook 2 minutes. Add Worcestershire sauce, saffron, salt and pepper. Sprinkle bacon on top.
Try this with 2007 Russian River Valley Chardonnay Garagistes or 2006 Mendicino Ridge Pinot Noir Garagistes. You’ll be glad you did!