Happy Wife, Happy Life… “Yes Dear”

   “YES DEAR” – On October 5th Jenifer and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. Gerry and Rosie just celebrated 63 years of “Marital Bliss”. The advice they have always given us is to say “Yes Dear” and “I Love You” to each other as much as possible. I share that advice and enjoy each time I see a couple on our property exploring our beautiful grounds in anticipation of their wedding day. I challenge the groom-to-be to see if he is worthy of the bride’s love. “What are the two most important words to a long term and successful marriage?” I ask. It is amazing some of the responses are: “I’m sorry,” “I apologize,” “you’re right,” “I do.” The smart ones say “Yes Dear”. I explain that if you say “Yes Dear”, you do not have to say those dreaded aforementioned words. I immediately turn to the bride-to-be and say “It is just as easy for you to say Yes Dear as it is for him”. Marriage is indeed a 60-60 relationship.

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My wife and many of her friends, my sister Libby and sister-in-law Deanna love Rombauer Chardonnay. It is oaky, smoky, smooth, and of course very expensive. Jenifer had asked several times, “Why don’t you make a Chardonnay I like?”  So as any good husband would do, I asked our winemaker that very question. He said our existing Chard was the style he preferred to make and he felt it expressed the true characteristics of the chardonnay fruit. I asked if we could possibly make a Rombauer style Chardonnay. He said to get a bottle and he would dissect it chemically. He worked his chemistry magic and then uttered the dreaded words no husband wants to hear: “ We can do it, but it’s going to cost you.” Dang it, of course it is, I said. Isn’t it always the case that if your wife wants something? He proceeded to tell me that we will need to do barrel fermentation, preferably in French Oak (big bucks) to bring out the soft vanilla notes. We will need to do malolactic fermentation to bring out the butter notes. We needed to age it longer to give it better mouth feel, as the list went on and on. Of course my direction to him was “Get er done, happy wife equals a happy life.”

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He worked with the ladies of Wilson Creek and Jenifer taste it throughout the process. The first vintage was amazing. Jenifer was so happy and so proud. The first year we made the Chardonnay Jenifer’s way, I was at the tasting bar with a couple and broke out an unlabeled bottle. I explained how it was created to please my wife and he excitedly said “Oh my gosh, You have to name it Yes Dear! Wow, he was spot on and the rest is history.

All was good in the world, but not for long… The next year the winemaker missed a key step. He did not get my wife’s input or any Wilson ladies input of approval before bottling. He just bottled and labeled it Yes Dear. Whoa is me. Jenifer was not happy. The Chardonnay that was made was incredible and the wine writers, judges and critics loved it. I mean they really loved it. It won all sorts of awards. But it just was not the style my wife liked. So now we make sure that we get Jenifer, Libby and Deanna to put their stamp of approval on the Yes Dear wine before it goes into the bottle.

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We now make two styles of Chardonnay, one labeled “Yes Dear” from Happy Wife Vineyard, and the other Chardonnay whatever style the winemaker sees fit.  So if you want a soft, easy drinking Chardonnay and just want to make your wife happy with a fun label, buy a bottle of the Yes Dear and tell your spouse

I LOVE YOU…..                 

Cheers! 

Bill Wilson

Cellar Notes…from the Winemaker

 

I was fortunate enough to wiggle in some vacation time at the
end of the 2015 harvest, being as small as it was. Even more fortunate
to be on the “Enchanted Rhine” river cruise with a number of Wilson
Creek wine club members. We were cruising down river and drinking
wine. “What do you think of this one?” was commonly asked of
me by our California wine drinking friends as they struggled to
understand the wines.
Winemaking style in Europe is quite different then that of
California, being more acid based and food driven, and less fruity
than the California style. As a result of this revelation or in some
cases confusion, I began comparing wine to pizza.
We are all very familiar with pizza, there is the New York style
having thin crust and the Chicago style with thick crust as well as
the California style with all types of unusual toppings. Pizza truly
reflects on the region of its inception for example: Hawaiian pizza
with ham and pineapple. Pizza reflects on the regions temperament,
ethnicity and favorite ingredients. We may have a style that we
prefer but we can also appreciate the other styles. As Americans we
look at pizza as a whole meal and feel that we own it. Yet pizza is
Italian, and it’s made and viewed quite differently there.
Wine is very much the same as pizza in this respect. In Europe,
wine is viewed a an integral part of the meal. It reflects on the
temperament, growing conditions, and viewpoint of the region.
The soil minerals, sunshine and the flavors come through in its
wine. As a result, the wines have pronounced acidity followed by
fruit. They tend to be lower in alcohol and thinner in body. These
wines truly shine with a nice lunch or dinner as the French and
Germans think it should.
The world of wine is as vast as the wine growing regions
themselves. Styles, flavors and approach to winemaking is a true
reflection of that uniqueness. Similar in respect to pizza with thick
crust or thin, tomato sauce of white, and the vast amounts of
toppings that are offered.
I found myself anxiously awaiting the next stop along the
Rhine to try its wines and order pizza with anchovies!

Explore With Us

We, as wine enthusiasts, have a certain passion for life.  A passion for having unique experiences, making discoveries and then introducing and sharing those discoveries with our friends and family.

We in the wine business are a lucky bunch. We have the delightful responsibility of keeping abreast of trends in the industry. This often requires us to travel to different regions visiting vineyards, meeting with fellow winegrowers and tasting wines. Small wineries like to help each other by sharing what we’ve learned.

We really don’t see each other as competition, but rather brothers in arms trying to battle against Mother Nature in the vineyards and tame the mysteries of biology in the cellar. We know that there’s plenty of space in the world for great wines from different places. We all share the common bond of trying to emphasize the uniqueness of a particular varietal, grown in a particular place.

It’s this last idea, a particular varietal, grown in a particular place that is the cornerstone of a new series of wines we’re bringing exclusively to our Wine Club members. As part of our education we’ll blind taste five wines from five regions. For example we’ll taste Chardonnay from our estate, from wineries in Santa Barbara, Monterey, Napa and Sonoma.

What we’ve learned over the years is that there is no single best Chardonnay. There can be many best Chardonnays, just from different regions. Each is a unique expression of Chardonnay because of the terroir from the place it’s grown and the way that the winemaker chooses to emphasize that terroir.

A vineyard view of the Santa Rita Hills.

A vineyard view of the Santa Rita Hills.

Our new Explorer Series of wines will give our Wine Club members the same chance we at the winery have had to examine wines that are grown in other regions. Behind the scenes we’ve been partnering with growers and a custom crush winery up North to grow grapes and produce wines to our specifications. We’ve been making these wines at the highest quality level to deliver to you archetypal examples of a particular varietal, grown in a particular place. Each wine will be only be available for a limited time in limited quantities and then we’ll move on to another varietal from another place.

Greg sifting sediment during a coastal county trip.

Vineyard Manager Greg sifts sediment with his hands during a coastal wine country trip.

Gus sampling wine on coastal trip.

Wilson Creek’s Winemaker, Gus, sampling wine during a recent trip to the coastal wine country.

You will have fun comparing and contrasting the wine with a wine we already make here from our estate, like Chardonnay. In your special release July shipment you’ll get our 2014 Russian River Valley Chardonnay which is an archetypal cool climate Chardonnay. This wine will be exciting to compare to our brand new barrel fermented 2014 Family Reserve Chardonnay from our estate. We bottled both of these wines this past May and we think they’re both going to blow you away!
In other cases we’ll share with you a wine we don’t, or can’t, grow here at Wilson Creek – like Pinot Noir. Our Mediterranean climate isn’t well suited to growing Pinot fruit, so we’ve sourced some of the best stuff out there from Santa Rita Hills in Santa Barbara. The cult wines from this region are some of the most highly rated and you’re going to love our 2012 Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir.

It’s taken us some time to get these wines together and you’ll see more of them in the fall. Without giving away all our secrets, get excited to taste things like intense and powerful Petite Sirah from the Sierra Foothills, crisp and fruity Sauvignon Blanc from Santa Barbara, Sparkling Shiraz just in time for the holidays, and even an Oakville Cabernet around a year from now.  We hope you join us on this journey of exploring great wines from great places!

Craftsmanship & Craft Wines

“Without craftsmanship, inspiration is a mere reed shaken in the wind.” -Johannes Brahms

For those of you who have been able to join us for a tour of the winery and vineyards, you know that we describe ourselves as a “Craft Winery.” For those of you who have not yet gone on a tour, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR??  The tours are about an hour in length, with numerous tastings for the same price as a normal tasting. A great deal and a great deal of fun!
Craftsmanship in winemaking is the artistic approach to making wine that achieves a unique expression in not only sensory qualities of  taste, smell and texture, but recognizes that the process encompasses and influences many aspects of community and ecology. Craft wines tell a story about where they came from and the people who made them. It may be impossible to define exactly what a craft wine is, but here are some aspects of people and place:

Authenticity: Family wineries are all the rage with marketing folks who want to put a personal touch on a business. This is an aspect that I don’t have to explain to anyone who has been to the winery. Gerry and Rosie Wilson, the elder statespersons of hospitality, infuse this place with such warmth and caring that it is not only a defining characteristic of the winery experience, but they make working here like having your coolest grandparents at work every day. The entire family works and plays here all the way down to Sarah Wilson, daughter of Mick and Deanna, who is our summer wine and soils lab assistant (at 9 years old and is a darn good assistant).

Passion: We are passionate about what we make because we know that you are passionate about what you drink.  We also know that you share our passion when the wine education classes, pairing events, and dinners sell out. Like us, you can’t learn enough about wine.

Character: Our wines have character because they are made by a collection of colorful characters. Come by and say “hi” to the winemaking or vineyard team and you will see what I mean.

Place: We are not making lowest common denominator wines to please the middle of the bell curve of the mass market. We make the most beautiful expression of Temecula Valley wines that we can and, in the process, expand the definition of what is possible from Temecula vineyards and cellars.

Community: Our definition of community is encompassing to include not only all of the people in our region but the ecosystems that support us all. Our commitment to biologically sustainable vineyard practices are specifically targeted at the improvement of wine quality, but are also part of our long-term commitment to being valuable contributors to the sustainability and improvement of quality of life for all of our fellow community members.

I hope you can come join us for a glass of the 2013 “Yes Dear” Chardonnay which is developing a beautiful smooth texture, our 2013 Muscat which may surprise you by its amazing bouquet but is drier than most Muscats, the new Duet which has been getting rave reviews from our cellar tastings, or our rich blend of fruit and soft tannins from the 2011 Malbec. The vineyard is setting fruit nicely this year, the cellar is flowing with great wines, and the winemaking team is overflowing with our enthusiasm for the opportunity to share our passion of the people and place we express by sharing a glass of wine with you.

Wishing you warm days and cool nights, Greg, aka, Bioman

Weather and Wine

March 2014 Vines

“Whether the weather be fine, Whether the weather be not,

Whether the weather be cold, Whether the weather be hot,

We’ll weather the weather, Whatever the whether, 

Whether we like it or not.” -author unknown

 

We will weather even this lack of weather. As much of the rest of the nation digs out under feet of snow with arctic temperatures, those of us in Southern California are happy with unseasonably warm temperatures, and sunny days. That is unless you are a viticulturist who, like Gene Kelly, love singing in the rain.

We are classified as a Mediterranean climate, as are many of the worlds’ premier wine regions, with hot summer days, cool evenings and the majority of rainfall in the winter months. Average rainfall for Temecula is 14.4 inches with 84% falling November to March. To date, we have only received 2.43 inches when the historical average is 10 inches and almost all of it came in a single event from February 27th to March 1st. However, we have drip irrigation so “Why the long face, Plowboy?” I am asked. The winter rains play a vital role in the ecology of the semi-arid soils especially irrigated soils. Over the dry months salts tend to build in the upper areas around the root zones. The winter rains dilute and flush out excess salts and move nutrients into the root zone. Fortunately, we have added thousands of tons of mulch and organic matter to our soils over the last year. This, in conjunction with microbial treatments and natural additives, like humic acids, are compensating and making what could have been a poor year into a challenging year with prospects of a modest decreased yield but continuing improvements in the grapes and wine. For those of you who joined us for the Wilson Creek Wine Academy class on pruning, you got a hands-on demonstration of how we are managing our canopy to keep quality in the forefront.

The cellar, however, is having a great year. Our new winemaker, Gus Vizgirda, jumped in with both fee and bugle a-blazing. I am not kidding! Gus calls the crew to lunch, back to work and ends the day with bugle calls, so please stop calling Dept. of Wildlife with displaced moose sightings.

So while I am still praying for a late rain and Gus is practicing his bugle calls, the wines this year are better than ever and the future looks so bright that we are walking on sunshine (am I mixing my pop music metaphors?)

We look forward to seeing you at the winery.

– Greg “Bioman” Pennyroyal

 

Bacchus Loves Biology

Environmental Sustainability and Improved Winemaking

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Greg Pennyroyal, who Bill Wilson, of Wilson Creek Winery, dubbed “Bio-Man”, is the Enology and Viticulture Coordinator at Wilson Creek Winery & Vineyards.

At Wilson Creek Winery and Vineyards we recognize that environmental sustainability and improved winemaking go hand-in-hand.  In a major new initiative, winemaker Etienne Cowper, and owners, Bill and Mick Wilson, have created a new position of Enology (winemaking) and Viticulture (wine grape growing) Coordinator.  Traditionally Vineyard Manager and Assistant Winemakers have been separate positions.  Etienne Cowper realized the best way to elevate winemaking in the Temecula Valley was to bring the art and science of winemaking more directly into the vineyard. To that end Greg Pennyroyal, a former medicinal plant agronomist (crop scientist) with over 25 years experience in biological agriculture, was chosen for the unique position of Viticulture and Enology Coordinator, to increase the biochemical complexity and consistency of the grapes through increased biological techniques of vineyard management.  In just six months vineyard cultural practices have changed substantially.

Cowper and Pennyroyal have reduced synthetic fertilizer inputs by 50% and will be using 100% sustainable biological nutrient inputs in the vineyard in one year. Cover crops of oats, barley, peas and vetch have replaced the valley’s standard practice of between row tillage and wild flowers have been planted to attract beneficial insects. This not only reduces erosion but the peas and vetch will provide natural sources of nitrogen for the grapes. In-row herbicide use is being reduced by 75% with the addition of seaweed extracts, and fish emulsion to increase the herbicide effectiveness and most importantly, to decrease the time for natural decomposition of herbicides by up to five times. With improved microbiological soil balancing and natural nutrient supplementation it is the goal of the vineyard management to eliminate all herbicide use within two years.  We are also switching to a program of all natural fungicides. Powdery mildew and bunch rot are a major problem in all grape growing regions. We are now employing natural fungicides including dormant oils, sulfur, calcium carbonate, and biological inoculation. Often, natural fungicides are not strong enough to stop fungal infection so we are initiating a program of compost tea foliar feeding (feeding plants through the leaves as opposed to the roots) which will not only minimizes the need for synthetic chemical fungicides but also improves the density and complexity of the fruit leading to improved wine quality.