Saturday, December 31, 2011

May 2012 Be Golden

Peju Tower by Afshin Atapour, December 2011

A guest took this stunning photo of the Peju tower yesterday and passed it along for our use. Who needs a white winter when you can have a golden one?

Production has been shut down between Christmas and New Year's, so there hasn't been much to report from the wine-making side. 2011 Whites are resting quietly in their tanks and barrels until Sara begins to taste and blend them sometime in January.

The tasting room has been poppin', however; the Valley seems fuller than usual with holiday passers-through. First day of rain in a long time yesterday, but it was more of a sprinkle than a downpour. Actually, the weather has been incredible these past couple of weeks. I love snow, but there is no denying the effect that so many days of sun throughout the winter takes on my psyche. I'd go so far as to say it's universal. Evolutionary, even. But I don't know how p.c. my theory is, so I'll save it for another time. The incontrovertible fact is that the sun makes people smile, feel good, and relax.

Peju is open tomorrow, New Year's Day, so come on by for a taste of something special! And with that, I'll sign off with the promise of writing you again in 2012. Hope everyone has the best New Year's Eve ever tonight! Party tiime! (Safety first.)


Hot air balloons sailed directly over my head as I stepped out of my front door this morning.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Good Night Sky

What do you see?

Nature made art in the sky as the sun set over the Napa Valley this evening. Sometimes it's good to stand on your head for a fresh perspective. Or if you're at work and/or wearing a skirt, to flip a photo around so that you force your brain to actively organize what you're seeing as though it's seeing for the first time. And so that you force yourself to look carefully, to see what's actually there. Sometimes I forget to look with intention at what's around me and I allow my brain to recycle old material to create my present reality. We would exhaust ourselves trying to practice this intentional sensory awareness all the time, but at least once a day starting today, I'm going to make sure I practice what I am now referring to as Intentional Sensory Awareness, ISA for short. One thing I learned while living in France was that if it has an acronym, it's legit. So, ISA. Fifteen minutes. Everyday. I might start over a glass of the 2007 Peju Cabernet Sauvignon I have waiting for me at home. Yum. 

This is actually one of the reasons wine is my beverage of choice. There is so much going on in every bottle of wine, and every sip is unique in its experience, so it invites this kind of simultaneously acute and expansive sensory awareness, no matter what kind of person you are or how many bajillion things you just did earlier that day. Wine brings us home in ourselves, inviting us to be fully present and to enjoy our senses. I think I'll go have that glass right now! When was the last time you felt fully present in your senses? 

Cheers & Good Evening! 


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Frosty Was Here

Another beautiful morning in Napa Valley. By 10 am, the radiant sun in the clear, blue Californian sky has melted away the frost. Late risers would never know it had been there. This is only the second time this year that I've seen frost and this time I caught it! Here it lives in temporary eternity on the internet. 

On December 13, it's 53 degrees Fahrenheit in Rutherford, CA. What is the weather like where you are and what will you sip tonight to stay warm?
Happy Winter and Happy Tuesday! Cheers!

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Harey Vineyard Amble

The vineyard is spectacular today. On my mid-afternoon, head-clearing stroll, a huge hare appeared about 20 rows away from me. He leapt casually out of a row of vines and paused, staring in my direction with an air of mischief and invitation before bounding away behind the next row. Naturally, I jogged on tip-toe past the rows between us with my camera at head height until I neared where I thought he might be. Slowing to my stealthiest step, I peered around each vine until finally discovering him halfway down a row of Estate Cabernet. Now with camera pressed firmly against my face, I crept down the row like the Grinch stealing Christmas. Surely, he was welcoming my advance. Despite the unavoidable crunching under my feet and the approaching shadow of my giant figure, Mr. Hare didn't flinch, didn't move, didn't budge. For some animals, this might be explained by the defense tactic known as 'playing dead' or 'camouflage'. Although the latter is conceivable-- he blends pretty well, don't you think?- he definitely knew I knew he was there. He beckoned me closer.

And then, like so many handsome hares before him, just as he had me under his spell and drawing near, he darted through the grapevine and off into the wilderness whence he came. Fare thee well Mr. Hare. It was fun while it lasted!

Hare one minute, gone the next.

Well, folks, that concludes today’s adventures here on the Crush Chronicles. This evening is the company holiday party, so I am off to help prepare. A wonderful weekend to all!

Birds, too.

Hanging on/Hanging out.

One Cluster Left Behind.

One cent shipping special today through 12/11 for purchases of 12 bottles or more. Cheers!  Call with questions: 800-446-7358

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

No More Monkeying Around in the Cellar for Me

From Friday: 
Today, I write to you from my brightly lit desk in the very tame upstairs offices. Actually, ironically, I just heard a cacophony of high-pitched hollers from the other end of the offices. Sounds like a big sale came in, woo-hoo! The holidays are an exciting time for Patti, Jess & Christina who take care of phone sales. Anyway, it is the first Friday in two months that I've had to iron before clothing myself presentably, and that I’ve come to work to spend the day wielding the almighty mouse and keyboard. Slightly different strengths required than those for wielding the heavy hoses and 20-gallon buckets of juice in the cellar. I am in the office today because finally the seasonal work requiring so many extra hands has come to an end. There is still much going on for the full time cellar workers, but they've got that under control. We drained our very last tank yesterday to press and barrel down today- Cabernet Sauvignon from one of the later-ripening blocks on our Persephone Vineyard. Almost all of the leaves have fallen off the vines, which are now dormant and will remain so until spring when the weather warms, rousing the vines out of their winter stillness to begin again to do what they are meant to- to photosynthesize, to pull nutrients out of the ground to create leaves and eventually to flower and to bear fruit. 

'Dormancy', as defined by Wikipedia, is "a period in an organism's life cycle when growth, development, and (in animals) physical activity are temporarily stopped. This minimizes metabolic activity and therefore helps an organism to conserve energy." ( My organism can relate to that.

Dormant Vines on Peju's Rutherford Estate
 Next week Winemaker Sara, Assistant Winemaker Joe, and Production Planner Sheri will begin tasting through the 2011 whites to see how the now two-and-a-half-month-old wine is tasting, and to start thinking about how they’ll want to blend it in a month or two. Blending involves systematic tasting through barrel-aged versus tank-aged lots, lots in French versus American and new versus neutral oak, and then blending varietals with any combination of these variations. I love how winemaking involves doing science with your taste buds. 

Most of the work that’s going on in the cellar these days is to take care of the older vintages of reds that were laying low in their barrels while Harvest's new crop, like a needy newborn sibling, took all of the attention. Mostly, it's the topping I mentioned in a a recent blog post that the crew is busy with now. On a monthly rotation, the crew will bring all of the hundreds of barrels in our Estate cellar out to the crush pad to make sure the headspace in each barrel is at a minimum, lest the wine breathe too much oxygen and lose its youthful vigor.

Naked Vines Soak Up the Winter Sun
And as the vineyard rests for winter, the sales team springs to action for the most wonderful time of year for us humans! It is certainly true that some of the best gifts in life are free. But wine is always a great gift too. Cheers!

Brittany Starr for Peju Province Winery

View from Peju, December 2011