One of the most frequent questions we're asked as a wine producer and grape grower is how the drought of the last 4 years has affected the vineyard overall. Interestingly, it's not just about the water in Napa's case, or in most of California's wine country for that matter. Common sense says that if you irrigate you should be mitigating the effects of a drought. However, without actual rainfall to push the nutrients in the top layer of the soil down into the root zone the soil quality can suffer. Having an equal or greater effect are the warmer winter temperatures we've experienced over that few winters in addition to the lack of rain. Without cold enough winters to kill of pests such as the Glassy Winged Sharpshooter, you'll see an increase in Pierce's Disease, which is spread by the Sharpshooter. (Coincidentally, it's having the same effect on the Bark Beetle's population surge, responsible for the plague of Oak tree deaths throughout the state.) Additionally the warmer weather has induced far earlier than normal bud break for the last couple of vintages, which while it makes for a more relaxed autumn for winemakers, it increases the window for frost damage at the beginning of the growing season.
All this being said, there is a positive side, in that the lack of water forces the vines to grow deeper searching for water, and thereby stressing the vines. This in turn produces smaller fruit of deeper concentration and complexity and by extension, greater wines. So paradoxically, while we've been pained by this drought, we're also being rewarded with some of the best vintages on record. How sustainable this is is yet to be seen, but 2016 should be an interesting vintage given our substantial rainfall this past winter after 4 years of vine stress. Stay tuned!
In a typical year we would be just finishing up our harvest season but, this was not a typical year by any means. We picked our grapes in the 2nd week of September, a new record for us. We were not alone in this, most vintners across the valley were picking in early/mid September with most being done by October, which is when harvest would normally be ramping up.
Not only was this our earliest picking season in our vineyard's history, we also held a very low yield-also like many others in the valley. But, don't fret--although we weren't as plentiful as usual, our grapes were stunning and we know they will make a beautiful 2015 vintage!
Lastly, another new change for us this year is that we are now custom crushing our wines in the amazing facilities at Arkenstone in Anguin. Our winemaker Dawnine could not be happier with our new crush home!
We were so excited to be in our new facility and harvesting some beautiful grapes that we wanted to share some great photos captured by our winemaker, Dawnine Dyer and our Sales Team BLR Wine CO. (photo credits to Susan LaRossa).
Men working the vineyard:
Shining a light on the grapes:
Getting bins to the truck:
Dumping the bins into larger sorting bins:
Headed home after a long morning:
Grapes making it to Arkenstone:
To the destemmer:
We can't wait to taste the 2015 in bottle in a couple of years!
20 super star chefs along with 4 amazing Napa vintners converged on Meteor Vineyard this past Saturday for another successful Family House Event. Family house serves as a "home away from home" for families of children with life-threatening illnesses by not only providing physical comfort but, also emotional support. These families therefore can be near their child without financial concerns. Family House hosts a yearly cabernet tasting, dinner and auction called Cabernet for Connoisseurs with all proceeds going to the charity. This is the second year in a row that Meteor has participated as host and vintner in the chefs lot, a lot we are happy to say brought in over $100,000 in donations for Family House!
Meteor always enjoys hosting and participating in this amazing event, and this year was no exception. We wanted to share some preview photos of the event with our Meteor Family (more to come):
A few of the chefs and volunteers laughing and cooking meats:
Up close on said meats:
Guests, chefs + vintners gathering for great conversation, delicious food + wine:
check out this porchetta--inside + out:
close up of vintner, Lee Hudson:
Meteor owner, Barry Schuler in the kitchen with Chef Michael Chiarello:
end result, deep fried pork hot dog with spicy bacon jam + pickled veggies on a homemade potato bun:
Chef Stuart Brioza of State Bird Provisions + The Progress enjoying some wine from the vintners while cooking:
Friendly knive fight to close out the amazing evening!:
As most of you know, Meteor Vineyard owner, Barry Schuler, has a wide array of hobbies, interests and skills.
For those of us who know him closely, we always like to follow along and see his newest tech toys or adventures in cooking on his social media platforms.
We thought it might be fun to share some stories via Barry's Vine account to get a peak into the day in the life of our techie vintner here at Meteor Vineyard!
His most recent vine shows Barry enjoying a day of flying one of his high tech toys while spending a summer day on the East Coast (Click picture to be taken to Vine!):
His most recent foodie vine has us craving this cheesy sausage goodness (Click picture to be taken to Vine!):
We agree with Barry, making your own fresh tortilla makes all the difference when cooking homemade Mexi dishes (Click picture to be taken to Vine!):
I don't know about the rest of you but I am a huge breakfast fan and there is NOTHING better than a perfectly cooked breakfast "sammi" (Click picture to be taken to Vine!):
Cooking with family is what it's all about, Barry is always happy to share recipes, especially with his daughter (Click picture to be taken to Vine!):
Ever the fan of new technology, Barry shares the Oculus with grandpa Phil, I wonder what game he is experiencing?? (Click picture to be taken to Vine!):
He has us wanting to dance in the bright lights, big city with this last vine of neon fun (Click picture to be taken to Vine!):
And those are just a FEW of his most recent vines, click link here to view his past vines and keep up with those to come! We promise, it's always chock full of fun and surprises!
Spring is not only a beautiful time among the vineyards, it is also a beautiful time in the valley itself. Although, we must admit, our vines are looking quite nice right now.
Spring is the best time to walk amongst the vines (with a great view towards the vineyard house).
The Meteor Vineyard property is not only home to these stunning cabernet vines, it also houses a handful of happy chickens.
The chickens enjoy their home next to the Meteor gardens, that produce tasteful vegetables, lettuces and fruits throughout the year.
It's always relaxing sitting among the flowers, garden and vines.
Or among the native grasses underneath the Meteor Lone Oak and looking across the property towards the mountains.
Change perspective and look at the lone oak from the Vineyard House, over the Meteor fig trees.
So, don't forget to look around and smell the roses this spring, or Meteor kumquat trees like this one (you can even take a sweet bite, if you want to!)
This year marks the 10 Year Anniversary of our inaugural release! To celebrate, we're digging into our private stash and releasing a limited amount of our inaugural Meteor Vineyard Estate from the fantastic 2005 vintage. We cordially invite you to open a bottle of either of our 2005s and think back on your world 10 years ago.
2005 was known for Katrina, Colbert and the Plame Affair but what did it mean to you? The birth of a child, a special union, or even a sensational news story? Let us know by opening a bottle of this liquid time capsule, then sharing your 2005 stories with us here in the comments section.
We have slowly watched spring awakening across the Napa Valley in the last month or so. The acacia trees started their bloom last month along with full blooms of mustard throughout the vineyards. The site of acacia’s blooming signals to growers that it’s time to prune, and quickly after that the vines are awake again.
Thankfully, our winter began with a heavy amount of rain, followed by a dry period, then another rainfall, leaving us in our current dry state. The first of the rains in December wetted the soil profile but then the warm, record breaking January heated that water in the soil. The soil temperature then rose higher than normal causing the vines to be tricked to start growing sooner than they should.
Waking up from their short winter dormancy we have seen early pruning among the vines, and early bud break across the valley. January was a record dry month for the area, creating this necessity to prune early. Pruning during dry periods actually keeps disease pressure quite low and it is ideal to prune in late January or February. If you prune too early, say December (as some vineyards have been forced to do), you have to protect the cuts with fungicide. It’s better to delay pruning as it is better for disease resistance and can delay bud break.
Early spring and pruning have shown early bud break in certain vineyards in the area. Some bud break has been apparent as early as January this year, when March is more typical. When pruning and the “wounds” start to bleed natural sap this is an indication that the vine is already active.
Luckily, local growers are all used to inconsistent growing seasons, keeping them on their toes, and allowing them to use techniques learned along the way to keep up with whatever the season and soils throw their way.
One thing farmers will have to keep an eye on with early spring is nighttime low temperatures. If necessary, they will need to mow cover crops to ground level to allow the sun to warm the vineyard floor during the day. This will help keep cold air away from buds during the early morning hours, therefore assisting with frost protection, which is the biggest concern with an early spring.
Growers just have to continue to stay flexible and follow the weather, soil and vine needs. Meteor Vineyard, being a producer of only Cabernet, does not always see these same issues. We may be a week or two ahead of last year but we did not have to prune or see bud break a month ahead of time as in other places across the region.
We are always ready and excited for all the challenges the growing season begins and we are looking forward to 2015!
February is one of my favorite months in the Napa Valley, why? Because it's Napa Valley Restaurant Month!
Some of the finest restaurants from all around the valley offer discounts and tasting menus to sip, eat and enjoy all month long. The possibilities are endless with the array of fine wine, crafty cocktails and tasty delights to partake in.
Whether you're craving a low-key pizza night, or a fine dining experience there are so many different menus and restaurants to explore this month.
Might I add that Cabernet goes well with a plethora of foods being served on these delightful menus. Make sure to check out Meadowood, Auberge, Solbar, Bardessono, Bouchon and Brannan's specials during restaurant month and get a bottle of Meteor Vineyard!
For a list of all participating restaurants and deals click here.
Hooray! Direct to consumer shipping is now open for the state of Massachusetts. The Wine Institute and Free the Grapes have worked hard to bring the direct shipping issue to light and getting into Massachusetts (after a decade long fight!) has been a big step forward.
Learn more about what this means and the steps taken to get there by clicking here.
Now, a winery holding a federal basic permit may obtain a Direct Wine Shipper License and ship up to 12 cases of wine per year to an adult resident of Massachusetts for personal use. Obviously this new permit law has some downsides and restrictions such as this but we are very excited to be able to ship to clients in the beautiful state of Massachusetts!
It is projected that the value of wine shipped directly to the state of Massachusetts will be $77 million within 3 years.
What state would you all like to conquer next?
This Friday, February 6th marks the 20th annual Cabernet for Connoisseurs event benefiting Family House. Family house is a not-for-profit organization, which offers temporary housing to families of seriously ill children receiving treatment at the University of California, San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospital.
Qualifying families live more than 50 miles from UCSF, and many live at or below poverty level. Family House accommodates over 100 families per night and serves over 2,000 families each year. They rely solely on sponsorships and contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations. The Cabernet for Connoisseurs event provides the revenue needed to support Family House for one year.
Please visit Family House’s website here to learn more about their charity and the families they have helped over the years.
Last year Meteor Vineyard had the pleasure to host a fantastic lot with 12 Bay Area Michelin Starred chefs. The event was a huge success, bringing together foodies and chefs from across the Bay for a chef’s potluck. Check out some photos of our fun last year:
This year, we will again be hosting a chef’s potluck in September and this is one for the books! Check out this description:
“What happens when at least 20 of the Bay Area’s top chefs come together to eat, drink and party? Twenty couples (or 40 guests) will spend the afternoon and evening of Saturday, September 12, 2015 at Tracy and Barry Schuler’s amazing Napa home for an unprecedented event of exceptional food, with wines from Meteor, Arietta, Hudson, Pahlmeyer, and the Aldorotys. It’s a food and drink extravaganza you will never forget. Arrive around two in the afternoon to sample pizza from the wood-fired oven prepared by eleven-time World Champion Tony Gemignani as you sip cocktails by Bar Agricole. Watch the chefs wield their knives throughout the day to prepare some of their favorite dishes. Don't miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the cooking and camaraderie that only happens when great chefs take a rare day off from their restaurants to party! Chefs include Melissa Perello of Frances, Stuart Brioza of State Bird, Rolland Passot of La Folie, Nancy Oakes and Bruce Aidells of Boulevard, Mourad Lahlou of Mourad, Thomas MacNaughton of Flour + Water, Charles Phan of Slanted Door, James Syhabout of Commis, Taylor Boetticher of Fatted Calf, Belinda Leong of B. Patisserie, Ken Frank of La Toque, Doug Stonebreaker of Prather Ranch, Tony Gemignani of Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, Jim Dodge of Bon Appètit, Richard Reddington of Redd, Steve Litke of Farmhouse Inn, Sean Massey of Morimoto, Ari Rosen of Scopa, and Mindy Beebe of Quince. (Chefs may be subject to change.) Donated by Tracy and Barry Schuler, Paige and Jason Pahlmeyer, Cristina and Lee Hudson, Caren and Fritz Hatton, Karen and Neil Aldoroty, Susie Heller, and the amazing Bay Area chefs.”
We look forward to participating in this amazing auction on Friday, if you can’t make it to the auction click here for a proxy bid and bid on your favorite items in the catalog to benefit Family House, our one of a kind chef’s experience will go fast!