Now that we’re a month into the new year with the Presidential race in full swing, it seemed like I’ve had enough time to digest the 2015 business year at the winery. All in all, it was a good year with plenty for which to be thankful. I look back to the opportunities and challenges, and here are some of the highlights.
The 2015 growing season
Last year could have been a disaster. The vines started budding out in February, the earliest we’ve ever seen. We could have lost the crop to frosts throughout the spring, but alas temperatures were above normal with very little need for concern. The shortage of rain during the spring probably impacted our crop load more than anything else, giving us yields down 20-50% (depending on the variety), but the quality tastes excellent. We will always take quality over quantity.
Although negotiating the individual needs of the county, the Alcohol Beverage Control (state) and the Tax and Trade Bureau (federal) took longer than we thought, we did indeed open Rucksack Cellars in December. An outdoor tasting experience, we’ll be closed during the winter (until May or so), but it was exciting to actually sell wine from the winery location. And with our first crop of Cab Franc and Chenin Blanc coming off Rucksack’s new vineyards this year, we’ll have even more to be excited about in 2016!
The purchase of an “under-the-vine” cutting knife for our tractor is a big step in continuing the organic farming practices we started in 2011. This new piece of machinery allows us to work on the weeds under the vine rather than the traditional method of spraying herbicides. There’s a learning curve to running this, and supposedly it gets easier and easier each year, but we’re just excited to be making progress in the vineyards!
An update on the year wouldn’t be complete unless we covered a couple of the challenges we faced in 2015. If you tried to get back to our winery during Apple Hill season, you probably felt a bit of frustration making it through the gauntlet of parking at High Hill. We are continuing to work on solutions that will make it easier to visit during harvest and this beautiful time of year.
And a couple of “Goodbyes”
We said “goodbye” to Nicole in our office, Sharon in our tasting room and Mason in shipping. We wish them all a fantastic journeys for the future!
The Crossflow Filter
Once again, all of you came together and supported my dream of owning a crossflow filter for retaining every aspect of our wines. Not only does this simplify my filtering life (and thus my home life), but the wines will be even nicer as an expression of our vineyards. Cheers!
Sales in the local area
As you all probably know, our sales area is pretty much limited to restaurants and stores from Sacramento to Tahoe (with a bit in Reno and Carson City). Tammy, our salesperson, has grown this market even more as you, the locals, continue support the wineries of the region. Thank you!
Always a concern for agriculture, the drought could have caused a lot more issues for us. But with combined effort of everyone in California (with conservation) and the smart water transferring by the El Dorado Irrigation district, we made it through to this year’s rain. Hopefully the reservoirs will fill in 2016, and we all will continue to conserve!
So, 2015 was a good year with both stresses and successes. The 2016 vintage will hopefully be more fruitful with great quality, but you’ll have to check in with us for updates as the progresses. Right now it’s only wishful thinking!