A Bit of the Joy, Making it Easy with Holiday Wine Specials!

I’m one of those people that believes holiday music on the radio shouldn’t start until at least the day after Thanksgiving. In fact, this expansion of the Christmas season into October (and September) purely for marketing reasons is really starting to bring me down. It takes the punch out of Halloween and Thanksgiving.

But once the stuffing is put away and Uncle Ralph is sleeping on the coach, I’m good to go with the holiday decorations and a few carols in the background.

This overall approach to the season is also how I do my shopping for gifts. The golden period of shopping in terms of my stress to perfect gift ratio is about three weeks before Christmas Day. Any later than that, and my stress level increases exponentially each day. (And I refuse to do my last minute shopping at the AM/PM.)

It’s with this in mind that we’ve put together a selection of interesting holiday specials here at the winery. There’s really something for every wine lover here, and you’ll be able to hit that perfect Zen-inspired (or Zin-inspired) period of shopping where the planets align and you know you’ve found the perfect gift. (Please note that we’ve made a couple of changes since the email last week! The Cab Franc Collection got cooler (but only 18 collections exist), and the Holiday Stock-up has its real price (instead of the one I listed while in France!))

Of course we have the wines in the tasting room from which to choose, but here are the unique offerings we have from December 1st through the 24th.

The Holiday Stock-up – This section is purely to help you prepare for all the holiday days (or is it “daze”?) The Holiday Stock-up is 4 bottles of the 2015 Hillside Zinfandel and 4 bottles of the 2016 Hillside Shiraz/Cabernet and 4 bottles of the El Tinto Lot 38 at just $140* ($130* for Club Members). (Regularly $200)  The concept is that you need to have a selection of great wines for both friends and family during the holidays. Or maybe the wine is just for you and Santa. It’s your call!

The Cabernet Franc Collection – This is truly a unique opportunity to purchase something special for that someone special. This selection is only available as a quartet, and contains one bottle each of four selected vintages aged in our own cellar. The wines are the 2013 Signature Cabernet Franc, 2014 Signature Cabernet Franc, 2015 Signature Cabernet Franc, and the 2016 Rucksack Cellars Cabernet Franc. This vertical of Cabernet Franc is for those adventurous souls who live life. But as mentioned above, there are only 18 of these collections available. Get yours soon!
$100* ($95* for Club Members).

The Californian – One bottle of the 2015 Hillside Zinfandel and one bottle of the 2015 Signature Zinfandel.  At $40* ($35* for Club Members), this is a steal for expressive Zins that represent not only our area, but California as a whole. Both wines are tasting amazing, with dark briary palates and a softer texture. These are great as a gift or a little something for yourself!

The Santa Special One 375ml bottle of the 2009 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon with its sultry rich texture to relax before dinner, and one bottle of the Non-Vintage Port, Lot 21 for sharing with Santa!  $28*  This might even get you off the Naughty list and on to the Nice!

The Stocking Stuffer – For a stocking stuff, you know it has to be small, amazing and thoughtful. And you really can’t do any better than the 2009 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon in a half bottle (375ml). It fits perfectly in a stocking and will surprise even the most snotty wine connoisseur out there. Just $18* per bottle for this perfectly cellared wine!  

*Yep, you got it. Plus Tax!

So come to the tasting room or order the wines to be shipped. But most importantly, get your shopping done easily and timely for those perfect people in your life. And then you can enjoy the holiday season in a stress-free and happy state of mind (the way it used to be before starting the holiday season in June!).

Happy Holidays!

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Success of the Apple Hill Farmers (and the Impacts)



Follow Apple Hill on Facebook and Instragram @ AppleHillOfficial!

As most of you probably already know, this group of small farmers known as the Apple Hill Growers attracts a huge amount of agri-tourists (people interested in apples, wine, apple pies, Christmas trees, blueberries…essentially anything grown on the land) to our region. In fact, this area is the largest agritourism draw in the United States, getting somewhere near 750,000 people eating caramel apples, drinking wine, and choosing pumpkins each year.

You most probably also know that the majority of these tourists come and visit during the fall harvest season. Not only is there fresh fruit picked straight off the tree during this time, but the fall colors can be spectacular. Although the popular ‘harvest season’ starts in late August and finishes in December, the focus for many agri-tourists is October. Continue reading

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A Glimpse Into Our Bordeaux Cruise

As many of you know, we’ve traveled to France quite a bit (probably more than our fair share). But when it comes to Bordeaux, we’ve only experienced this region through wine, not physically on the ground. That’s why traveling and tasting through Bordeaux was our #1 choice with a river cruise.

If you’re on the fence about traveling to France (maybe you don’t like amazing food, or maybe incredible wines just aren’t your cup of tea, or maybe industrial parks are more to your liking than century-old villages), I thought I’d give you all a bit more food for thought about this cruise.

St. Emilion vineyard and medieval ruinLet’s start with an introduction to one of the villages we’ll be experiencing…Saint Émilion.

Situated on a hilltop, St.-Emilion was designated in 1999 as a UNESCO World Heritage site. This charming village is the heart of the Libournais district; gratifying to the eyes and the palette with its world-class wines and gastronomy.

Located on the right bank of the river Dordogne, Saint-Émilion is a must-see medieval attraction. Intriguing Romanesque architecture and ruins are abundant here. The village’s namesake is from an 8th century Benedictine monk who made his home in a nearby forest.  Take the opportunity to visit the Monolithic Church, the oldest of its kind in Europe, and the Roi Tower, which dates back to the 13th century.  Continue reading

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Lackolacktochardtonitis and Madroña’s 2017 Signature Chardonnay

2017 Chardonnay - SignatureHave you ever heard of the physical condition Lackochardtonitis? We hadn’t until about 2014 when the number of cases we saw in the tasting room sky-rocketed. The really worrisome development, however, is when Lackochardtonitis morphs into Lackolactochardtonitis, and this is exactly what we experienced in 2015 during the drought years.

Both Lackochardtonitis and Lackolactochardtonitis exhibit the same symptoms: sweaty palms, dryness in the mouth, a smacking in the lips and a general sense of confusion when told we’re sold out of Ch

ardonnay. The difference between the conditions is that Lackolactochardtonitis comes with more disbelief and a ‘hair-pulling-out tendency’ of frustration by customers when there is no Signature Chardonnay available. Continue reading

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Kick-off Harvest Dinner 2018

August 25th

Join us for a beautiful evening in the vineyard as we celebrate the start of Harvest.  A relaxed evening with a scrumptious BBQ dinner, the sounds of the Doubleshots, and beautiful views of the vineyard.  Listen to the dulcet tones of Paul as he waxes and wanes over the challenges and rewards of the 2018 growing season, as well as the what we are looking forward to for the harvest.

Tickets are $65/person $60/club members.  Tickets are available online or by calling the winery.


Mexican Corn Bruchetta
Red Pepper Hummus with Tri-Colored Chips
Olive Tapenade

BBQ Ribs with wine-infused BBQ Sauce
Green Bean, Corn and Tomato Salad
Mustard Tarragon Potato Salad
Garlic Bread

Frank Vitt’s Walnut Brownies

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A Bordeaux Opportunity

Chateau Kirwan 1996 labelEven if you don’t happen to be going on the cruise to Bordeaux with us this November, I hope you don’t mind hearing a bit more about it all. The fact is, I get quite a few questions about the tour while in the tasting room. Ironically, one of the questions I get directed to me as the winemaker is, “What is your responsibility on cruise?”

OK, so here’s the deal. I wouldn’t really call it a “responsibility,” but instead an “opportunity.” When we signed up to host the cruise to Bordeaux, we chose this region (rather than The Danube or Paris or…) partly because we make so many different Bordeaux varieties. But the other reason was that this is a region we wanted to learn a lot more about.

So here comes the “opportunity” as I see it. With the hosting of the cruise, we have been asked to conduct three seminars and host a wine dinner. This is one of those unique opportunities where we get to learn, teach, experience and have fun all at the time. Continue reading

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“Seriously, why are you farming organically?”

I thought this would be a question we’d be getting all the time. Yes, it’s more expensive. Yes, the vineyards have more weeds. Yes, we have to worry about weather patterns a bit more. No, I can’t tell anyone that you can taste the difference.  So naturally, from a purely American business point of view of maximizing profits, I thought we’d be constantly answering why we chose to jump off the cliff and choose a natural way of farming.

Ironically, all we really hear is, “Good for you!”

DSC_8751As I’ve mentioned before, spring is the time of year when I, myself, question the whole organic notion in our vineyards. Our farming life has enough stresses and strains to worry about that adding in just one more thing, farming naturally, really can put me over the edge. The biggest concern this time of the year is weeds!

Recently as I drove down the road, heading into some of the most beautiful wine regions of California, I truly envied the pristine aspects of their vineyards. The vines were immaculately pruned, mustard flowering in the rows, and not a single weed under the vines. It’s a picture-perfect scene. Continue reading

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