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!
Checking in with a quick catch up post harvest here at Meteor Vineyard!
Meteor harvested all 3 of our clones (337, 4 and 7) last week, just about a week ahead of the 2013 harvest. The wines are currently in fermentation at the winery.
The light rains we received right before harvest always causes slight panic, however the rains only seemed to effect the grapes in a positive light.
For some time the tannins seemed resolved, with no bitter or green characters. This observation is now supported by phenolic analysis in the tanks where tannins are strong but the bitter compounds are low.
Our winemaker, Dawnine Dyer, and the whole team are looking forward to a beautiful 2014 vintage.
Just a quick update into the 2014 Harvest here at Meteor Vineyard.
We will begin to harvest our 337 clone this Wednesday, quickly followed by our clone 7 on Friday. Winemaker, Dawnine Dyer, is still keeping a close look at clone 4, which has slowed down considerably but, continues to have the best looking vines on the property. This will bring our harvest just over a week ahead of last years when we picked on September 26th.
Last Analysis brings in the following brix numbers:
Dyer says at this point "the fruit is firm and really picture perfect." The Meteor Vineyard team is excited for a great 2014 vintage in the making.
"The contrast between the mahogany color of the mature canes and the blue/black is the berries is classic Meteor!"- Dyer
Check in next week for a full update on our Harvest! We look forward to sharing the journey and the wines with you.
The Perseid showers, our cabernet sauvignon namesake here at Meteor, are in full effect right now.
The showers will be on full display between August 10th and August 13th with Tuesday the 12th being the peak viewing day.
Every 133 years, comet Swift-Tuttle swings through the inner solar system, leaving behind a trail of dust. When the Earth passes through, the dust cloud particles hit the atmosphere at 140,000mph and burn up in streaking flashes of light, creating the spectacle known as the Perseids.
A very bright and dramatic supermoon is accompanying this year’s Perseid showers. Normally, with a dark and clear sky you can see more than 100 meteors an hour. However, this year, with the supermoon in effect beginning Sunday the 10th, there might be some issues viewing the showers.
A supermoon is when the moon has reached the point in its orbit that is closest to the Earth, known as perigee. This specific supermoon will be up to 14% bigger and 30% brighter than other full moons during the year and is 31,000 miles closer than when it is furthest away from Earth.
The presence of the supermoon wipes out the black, velvet backdrop that is necessary to see faint meteors, therefore causing us to see less meteors than usual.
However, the debris stream left by the comet Swift-Tuttle, which produces the Perseids, is wide, so shooting stars will make an appearance. Also, the Perseids are known to be rich in fireballs that can be as bright as Jupiter or Venus that will remain visible despite glare from the supermoon. The Perseids have actually been referred to as the “fireball champion” of meteor showers, as you can see more fireballs from Swift-Tuttle than any other comet.
Director of the Society for Popular Astronomy's meteor section, Tony Markham, urged skywatchers to stay optimistic.
"The Perseids are rich in bright meteors and so many Perseids will still be seen despite the moonlit sky background," he wrote on the SPA's website. "You can minimize the effect of the moonlight by observing with your back to the moon – possibly viewing the Cassiopeia/Cepheus/Ursa Minor area. If possible, keep the moon hidden behind trees or a nearby building."
He also noted that at this time of year the moon is relatively close to the horizon, leaving most of the sky dark and also suggests looking at an area of sky 20 to 30 degrees away from the Perseid radiant – the spot near the constellation of Perseus that the meteors appear to fly out from.
The best time to view the showers is right before dawn, so get your blanket and stay up late, or set your alarm for early morning, to view this beautiful shower.
Not only does climate change effect our water, soil and therefore our grapes, it also has had an effect on our wine materials, more specifically, corks.
Weather patterns have been continuously shifting with volatile seasons and a steady increase in temperatures throughout the world.
Wine bottle corks are created by the protective outer layer of bark surrounding the quercus suber oak trees, which grow only in southwest Europe and northwest Africa. As if late, corks have not been as high performing due to weather changes, that cause the cork bark to become thinner and thinner.
A group of researchers at the University of Lisbon analyzed the composition of high-performing trees and low-performing trees. They came to the conclusion that the difference between them was that the high-performing trees had heat shock proteins, which are compounds that help the higher performing trees deal with environmental stresses such as drought and high temperature spikes.
The low-performing trees had lower levels of these heat shock proteins causing them to produce thinner bark (which cannot be used for higher quality corks). Due to the low levels of the compound plus the addition of phenolic compounds that show up in response to weather and environmental stress, the cork itself therefore has more lenticular channels.
These channels are very undesirable in wine corks as they have a high tendency to let oxygen through, therefore causing a bottle to become corked. A great and intact cork will safeguard a wine’s taste while aiding in its aging process while these thinner corks can and often do taint a wine’s flavor.
This new development poses some issues to the cork industry that already face concerns due to companies creating alternative closures to wine bottles already, such as synthetic wine stoppers or metal caps. Problems have arisen with both of these alternatives; screw caps are not sustainable and are therefore not biodegradable while the plastic closures are made from petro-chemicals, also not biodegradable.
There has been talk of cloning the trees with the high levels of protein, or adding protein supplements to the low-yield trees. This type of solution wouldn’t come into fruition for another decade or so as a cork oak needs to be 25 years old before it can produce an annual cork harvest.
With a steady decline in cork production, we will see an increase in prices forcing the wine industry to move to cheaper alternatives. Therefore, wineries may start looking to move away from the cork altogether for the long term.
So, are you stuck on the highly desirable cork, or will you move to a newer alternative?