Pamo Valley Vineyards

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Ramona Tasting Room Settles in Old Town…

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Today Mike and I went to a business appointment in San Diego. On the way back I suggested taking the Old Town exit and meander around the touristy area for something to do. Actually, we wanted to go see William and Tammy’s new tasting room at Hacienda de las Rosas that they opened in April 2008.  We called first just to make sure they were open.  William answered and said, “sure we’re open, come on over!”  So over we went. 

 

What a beautiful setting, located in the Plaza del Pasado in the heart of historic Old Town. Music was playing, the sun was out, people where about, bright flowers blooming. You couldn’t have picked a better day. Although I understand it’s like this often. The ambiance is inspired by 19th century San Diego life with costumes and products from that time period.  William was decked out in a costume fitting right in the theme of things.

 

His lovely wife Tammy met him on her lunch break to help greet and serve the customers.  I can tell you this, the tasting room had a constant flow of people and William and Tammy treated every guest equally with gracious attention. Their enthusiastic passion for the business and its guests was infectious. They were both eager to show us their huge custom hand-carved pine bar, absolutely beautiful. 

 

Off to the right of the tasting bar was a seating area of tables made of wine barrels with skins of snakes (?) on top of the wine barrels covered by a piece of heavy round glass.  Very interesting, a conversation piece to say the least!  This was a nice bright area with lots of windows to sip on your glass of wine and do a little people watching. 

 

Off to the left was another quaint room – their artist gallery and wine accessory gift area.  William was quick to show me the archway leading from the tasting room to the art gallery, “Look up, my daughter painted the mural of grapes and vines you see on all sides of the archway.”  It was nicely done and very feminine, definitely artwork of a female.

 

The wine was presented in such a way that you receive a tasting flyer, which gets a red stamp each time you’ve tasted each of your five choices of wine. Our favorites were the 06 Rosa Blanca (yes, a pink wine) and the Princessa champagne. When ordering the Romance (sauvignon blanc) Tammy says her husband makes her ask for this wine “with attitude” as she proceeded to pronounce R-O-M-A-N-C-E with a sexy rolling RRRRR. We purchased a bottle of wine, complete with two complimentary Hacienda de las Rosas wine souevenier glasses, our tasting flyer with a history of the california missions on the back all put into a nice gift bag.

 

Another item of interest is that they welcome other local San Diego County wineries once a month to showcase their own wines.  They call it “Guest Wine of the Month”.  What a fabulous way to expose and support other local wineries! This month’s guest winery was Woof N Rose Winery of Ramona.

 

We had a very pleasurable experience with William and Tammy and are very happy for them and their new venture. We’ll be back with friends and family in tow!

 

Hacienda de las Rosas is located at the Plaza del Pasado, Juan Street Entrance in Old Town, San Diego CA. They are open Mon-Thurs 11:30am – 7pm, Fri-Sat 11:30am – 9pm and Sun 10am-7pm. For more information about Hacienda de las Rosas visit www.haciendadelasrosas.org.    

      

Right side up…

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Let me introduce a good friend and fellow winemaker in San Diego County as my guest blogger today. I asked Erik Humphrey, owner of San Pasqual Winery (urban winery located in Pacific Beach) to touch on a topic relating to his winery and that, he did.  In his humble opinion, Erik explains his theory of storing wine ‘right side up’. Thanks Erik!  Jennifer

Wine, Upside Down?

Around my winery, visitors have noticed that I store my cases of wine right-side up. They wonder why I don’t store them upside down to keep the liquid wine in contact with the corks to prevent them from drying out. After all, any wine cellar, from the 6-bottle home counter top fridges to large caves in Bordeaux, will have bottles laying on their sides to keep the corks moist, right?

Well, here’s the theory I subscribe to: unless you’re aging a 20 year classic, direct cork-to-wine contact is not necessary to maintain the integrity of the closure. I have three reasons for this belief and for why I just stack my cases onto pallets right-side up.
 
The first is that our wines, like 90% of the wines on the market, are made to be enjoyed sooner rather than later. As we sell out of inventory, our wine sits right-side up for a maximum of a few years. The reality is that our release are not cellared by the buyer for a significant period, but is consumed not long after purchase. We do have a big cab that I recommend to cellar for 7-10 years, but everything else is pretty much good to go out the door.

The second reason is that if you look at the ullage, the little pocket of air between the wine and the cork, you can see that there is a lot of moisture in there. I see little beads of condensation on the sides of the bottle and on the underside of the cork. Also, considering the surface area of the wine in relation to that confined space, there is a high ratio of liquid to air. Depending on ambient temperature, this creates a condition of very high humidity in the ullage, probably above 90%. Things (such as corks) do not dry very well in such humid conditions. Anyone who was ever been on a tropical vacation and hung a bathing suit on a patio chair to dry knows- that sucker is still a little damp even after hours. The fact that our location is near the coast so the outside humidity is a little higher helps, too.

And the final reason is for safety. Upside down cases of wine are very unstable. They are top-heavy and topple easy. With our humble winery space, I don’t need any more factors contributing to the mayhem of winery operations (operations at our place are like a tiring game of tetris—schlepping pallets and equipment around to make space for work).

So, while it doesn’t hurt to keep wine in contact with your corks, it is not needed for most cases, especially in considering efficiency of winery operations. I do admit that in my own home cellar, I keep my nicer bottles on the side—then again, I know that they’re going to be sitting there for a while. Enjoy your right-side up wine!

Erik Humphrey, Winemaker
San Pasqual Winery

For more information on Erik and his winery visit www.sanpasqualwinery.com.

Will 2008 Northern California Wines be Smokey in Flavor?

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According to a news story from Northern California, 2008 wine grapes may have a smokey tint to their smell and taste.  Due to all fires and resulting smoke over the previous few years in the region, wine grapes have been absorbing a healthy amount of smoke.

Australian researchers say it only takes a few hours of dense smoke to change how the grape tastes. The country has gone though several years of major wildfires which have affected their wine grapes.

For the full story, check out KTVU’s site.  Also, watch the movie (to the right of the story) – very interesting!

 

 

Latest on the Ordinance…

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FORUM: New ordinance benefits backcountry
By Pam Slater-Price – County supervisor | Tuesday, July 22, 2008 1:21 AM PDT

Last month, my colleagues and I voted 4-0 to approve an interim ordinance that relaxes the permit requirements faced by small vintners who wish to open tasting rooms and retail outlets at their vineyards.

Answering the concerns of residents, we also approved commissioning an exhaustive study to determine the environmental consequences of a Boutique Winery Zoning Ordinance.

The study could take up to two years to complete, and I expect it will conclude that a tiered-winery ordinance will have no significant negative environmental impact.

We’re not envisioning massive operations, with tour buses and traffic choking the public and private roads of our backcountry. Our intention, rather, is to provide an incentive for agriculture and business to succeed.

Thanks to modern irrigation techniques, grapes are a low-water crop. During some months, the vines require no watering at all. In our agricultural zones, that’s good land use.

For some potential winemakers, however, county requirements are understandably sour grapes.

In the past, land use regulations have required small vintners to obtain permits through a public hearing process that can take a year to complete, with an initial deposit of nearly $15,000. Additional environmental analysis could increase that cost by thousands more. Those fees alone are tough for small vintners who are just starting out.

Under our new interim ordinance, the same, thorough review process takes place, but vintners producing less than 12,000 gallons per year can obtain permits from the county planning director at a fraction of the time and cost. Larger operations would face higher levels of regulation.

The new ordinance allows smaller wineries to sell their products directly to the public. All the wineries could sell by direct mail, telephone and through the Internet.

Wineries on private lanes would be obligated to pay their share of road maintenance.

Neighboring counties have seen tremendous benefits from the expansion of wineries. As it has expanded in recent years, wine country of the Santa Ynez Valley has contributed significantly to Santa Barbara’s economy and regional identity. The impacts, by and large, are positive.

I support a resurrection of the once-thriving wine industry in San Diego County’s agricultural zones for various reasons. Wine country can provide another convincing reason for tourists to come to San Diego County. Our tourism industry needs that diversity.

Also, if growers can’t make a living off their land, the acreage becomes vulnerable to development. And if agriculture is gone, I can guarantee you the next crop will be houses.

To conclude, I understand the worries of backcountry residents, who rightfully cling dearly to undeveloped space, peace and privacy.

But turbulent economic headwinds are bearing down on our agricultural community. To keep agriculture and the resultant open space a part of San Diego County’s future identity, we must take action now to help growers thrive and prosper.

The actions we took are the seeds of the future.

Pam Slater-Price is county supervisor for District 3.

20 days later…

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This is me celebrating the growth of our new vineyard on Black Canyon Rd., Ramona. I’m holding up a Primitivo grape which will be in the bottle and available for drinking in the year 2012-2013.  Wine making and grape growing requires much patience!  Notice the before and after pictures of this vineyard planted just 20 days ago. See the green foliage peeking out and latching on to the bamboo stakes climbing to the second line of wire where they will eventually seperate, each cordon (left and right) will grow about 4 ft long.

 

 

 

 

 

Netting the Grapes…

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Veraison has begun!  The grapes have stared the process of turning purple and the sugar levels are rising. You don’t want the birds to find any early ripening grapes, they can ruin your crop in a heartbeat.  Yesterday we had a team lined up and started the process of netting our vineyard on Burma Rd., Ramona.  Four of us began at 7am. It was an interestingly cool and foggy morning which made it nice to work in.  The actual netting (we use extruded netting which is very light weight) was rolled over the top of 500 plants in less than 2 hours.  It was tough for the guys to hold the roll of net (which felt like several hundreds of pounds when rolled up in a 7 ft wide, 5,000 ft long roll) up over their heads and walk each row.  While they were doing the hard work, I replaced all of the old emitters with new ones and plugged all the holes in the irrigation line that were no longer needed.  We gave the vineyard a full day of much needed water.  Mike weed whacked the rows and in between each plant.  Weed management is crucial in vineyards and always seems to be the most difficult of tasks.  Once the netting had been placed and stretched over the vines, everyone went through and sealed them underneath with hog rings so as not to allow any openings for critters or birds to get in.  The clipping and sealing underneath is very time consuming. We only managed to complete half the vineyard yesterday after running out of hog rings. The supply store doesn’t open until Monday so we will complete the job then.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Silver Medals!

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Last night was the 2nd annual Lum Eisenman Ramona Valley Wine Competition at Cordiano Winery in Ramona.  This was a local wine competition with 52 wines being entered. Several Bronze medals were awarded, 4 Silver and no Gold. Guess who won the Silver?  Pamo Valley won 3 Silver medals!  The highest scoring was the 06 Estate Syrah with a total of 87 points (90 would have been the gold). 07 Cabernet Sauvignon got 85 points and the 07 Syrah got 82 points!  Not a bad showing.  And more great news, our winemaker John York scored the 4th Silver medal with his very own 07 Cabernet Sauvignon from Hellanback Ranch Vineyard – waytogo!

 

My Other Hobby…

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While we continue to finish the trellising structure on our new vineyard, I keep busy with my other gardening hobby. I get total satisfaction and enjoyment out of watching my flower and vegetable garden grow in our shaded black clothed room. I like to plant from seeds and watch them develop.  Eventually when they are mature enough I will put them in the ground in the garden up by the house.  Here I’ve planted some herbs, sweet basil (top) and cilantro (bottom) only a week or two ago and they are already sprouting. My second batch of lavendar and first batch of mint are a little slower to appear.

And of course my favorite of the mixed tomatos (bottom left)!  No salmonella in these babies!  Although I did find some nasty tomato hornworms in my tomatos planted in the garden yesterday. I picked off about 20 of the nasty critters and sprayed the plants with some bug killer.  Looks to have solved the problem for now.

 

 

 

 

  

After work, work…

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I wanted to show a picture of the actual ‘test’ Salvia Splendens planted in our vineyard. Again, we only planted 4 of them and we planted them on the inside of the endposts (for this side anyway).  I believe for the opposite side we will plant them on the outside of the endposts.  It’s a ‘space’ issue. 

Anyhow, after work yesterday I was on a mission to finish my red ant killing.  We have a serious (well, not too serious but serious enough) ant problem in the vineyard.  John told us about some ant killer that’s like food granules and you sprinkle it around the ant hole and they take it down the hole and it wipes out the nest’s in that area.  So sure enough, that’s what I did and that’s what the product did! The product is from Spectracide called Triazicide. 

 

We noticed while walking the vineyard last night that there appears to be some kind of minimal moss growth around the water area.  We are watering about an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening.  With this heat, we cant afford not to water them in fear of losing them. Especially at this young of age.  So we got a hoe and started to lightly plow around the vine to loosen up soil and it looks to be fine.

 

Overall the vineyard is turning out to be a great project for us.  It’s been very cooperative and we hope it remains to do so!  Mike is still working on getting those t-posts and the tension wire up, it’s a big job!  See the progress?

 

 

 

 

     

T-posts, Tension Wire & Annuals…

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Just when you think the plants are in the ground, the job is finished too, right?  Not so.  Mike and his brother Rick are out there in the heat attaching metal brackets and tension wire to the end posts so that we can raise the irrigation line up and off the ground about 3′. This will allow the emitters to drip directly over the plant, not to get clogged by the dirt (laying on the ground) and for easy access of mowing when the weeds start to appear (if they do).  I mentioned in an earlier post that I had a vision of lavendar plants at the end of each of the posts.  Well, I happenned to be at a garden center today and found Blue Salvia Splendens (some type of native sage from Brazil?). Anyhow, they fit the description I was looking for (purple, soft and feminine) and were right in my price range.  I picked up 4 out of the 38 that I will eventually need. I wanted to plant a few and see how they did before investing in the whole 38.  This is a picture I got off the internet, arent they pretty?!  I love them. I will monitor the 4 I have in the ground and if they appear to have taken off, I will purchase the remaining balance.