Like most small, family-owned businesses, we find ourselves in particularly challenging times. Just a few short months ago, who could have imagined the changes we would see in both our personal and professional lives? Terms such as “Winemaker Dinners” and “Enjoy sipping the rosé on the front porch” have been replaced with “Shelter in Place”, “Social Distancing” and “Chef Walter’s Take & Bake”. Instead of introducing the latest released wines and tasting current vintage gems in the tasting room, we have transitioned to Facebook Live and Zoom meetings. The entire staff at Le Vigne is incredibly appreciative to everyone who has participated in the Virtual Tastings and have enjoyed briefly sharing your kitchen, livings room and creative Zoom backgrounds these past two months.
We truly pride ourselves on being a family owned and operated winery and have been blessed for many, many years to have some of the most loyal customers– or family as we prefer to refer to you–in the entire industry. Many of you visit 10, 15 and even 20+ times a year, entering the tasting room and sharing hugs and stories with our staff; We sure hope that it won’t be long before we get back to semi-normality and can share more of these moments with each of you.
Talking of the tasting room staff, we have strived to keep as many of our team members employed as possible and for that we thank each and every one of you who has picked up wine at the winery, shipped cases all over the country or purchased one of Chef Walter’s Take & Bake meals these past few weeks. With your ongoing support. we will do everything in our power to make sure that the same great team and smiling faces, albeit behind masks, will be here in the coming weeks as we slowly move to open the tasting room once again.
The winemaking and cellar team have a plethora of projects to keep them busy at this time of year, between maintaining the vineyard and preparing for bottling season. The vineyards, oblivious to all that is happening in the world, were previously pruned and bud-break occurred across each of our estate vineyards several weeks ago. Shoot growth is occurring rapidly and the vines are becoming dense with leaves. During a process appropriately called suckering, at least one pass will be made through every row of vines to manually remove the pesky energy suckers that grow on the trunks of the grapevines around this time of year. So far (knock on wood), the weather is predicted to cooperate and provide good conditions for this vulnerable stage of grape vine growth. Initiation of canopy management will be upon us before we know it!
Our Arbequina olive trees, used to produce Le Vigne’s spicy and rich estate olive oil, are currently being pruned to prepare for olive harvest which will occur near the end of October or beginning of November, before the first frost of the year.
Bottling of the 2018 red wines is also around the corner and the winemakers have been diligently working to continue the tradition of producing expressive, high quality wines. They are painstakingly tasting the wine contained in each individual barrel, taking detailed notes, and assigning grades to choose only the best for our Vineyard Series wines. Once the grades are assigned, the blending trials for Nikiara, Cuore della Vigna, and other blends can begin. As this is being written, Terry and Anthony are in the lab using graduated cylinders, pipettes, and other nerdy glassware to accurately and precisely measure a little bit of this and a little bit of that, recording the specific percentages of each component for each trial blend. They will work on the same blend for days to weeks, only stopping when they are confident that the best possible combination suitable for the finished product has been found. It is truly amazing the difference that a seemingly minute change in the blend composition can make. Patience is absolutely a virtue when it comes to assembling the best blends!
Terry and Anthony are also working hard on barrel evaluations. While assigning grades to each individual barrel, they take notes on the effects that the different coopers and oaks have on the wines. Questions asked include “How well did the oak integrate?”, “Which oak worked well for which varieties?”, and “Is there any oak that produced unexpected results?”. They targeted specific coopers and specific wine lots to decide if we will use the same oak for 2020 or try something new. If you ever get the chance to speak with Terry about oak barrels, ask him about his spice rack analogy. To paraphrase his words: “just like a chef needs an extensive and high-quality spice rack, a winemaker needs a diverse selection of coopers and oaks.”
When we do finally get the green light to open for business, things may be a little different, at least at the beginning. Whilst the finer details are still being worked through and communicated, it appears highly likely that we continue to practice social distancing around the winery for a period of time, limit group sizes and ask all team members and visitors to wear masks (we promise to let you remove your mask when seated for tasting….lol). These and other changes will be applicable throughout the local wine community and most likely all wineries across California. Though it may be a slightly different experience from the past, we assure you that we cannot wait to welcome you to the winery, whether it be for your first or twentieth visit of the year. Until then, cheers
Le Vigne: Our home; where family and friends gather for Great Wine, Gourmet Food & Good Conversation!