Last year when we filled up the vats to the very top, after fermentation was just about finished, the vats started talking. Well, they started to go glug, bloob, glug, glug... We were very amused by this, and I am so happy that they are doing it again this year! Check it out.
We're headed to Turin this weekend, well a long weekend - Thursday - Monday!- for the bi-annual Slow Food Fest, as I like to call it, otherwise known as the Salone del Gusto. We went four years ago and it was absolutely amazing . Imagine a huge trade show with groumet products as a theme. There are small artisanal food producers from all over Europe, with an obvious focus on Italy, and a huge "enoteca" with great wines from all over the world. You can also participate in all kinds of seminars and taste workshops, but since I didn't sign up in time, we're just going to stock up on some delicious food products. Last time the Italians were all laughing at us as we walked out loaded with all sorts of bags and boxes of goodies. I guess for them these things are more readily available, so they found it amusing that we bought so much!
I'll tell you all about it when we get back! Ciao ragazzi!
I just got back from a great weekend in Nürnberg, Germany, where I was pouring our wines at a big tasting sponsored by our German importers K&U. This is the first time I've done this sort of event as a producer. I've done many others in the past while working for Kermit Lynch and for Coaltrain, but this was a bit different.
The atmosphere was great. Several producers from southern France showed up, as well as some from the Jura, Alsace and Bordeaux. Everyone was so nice and so much fun. They happily offered advice and pointers and gave honest opinions of our wine, all quite positive, luckily! The turn out was amazing! They estimated around 1000 people over two days.
I was sandwiched between Stéphane Tissot, an abosultely amazing producer from the Jura, and a group of producers from Bordeaux. With each of them having at least ten wines to pour, poor little me stuck in the middle looked pretty meek with my one little bottle to sample. We tried lining up three or four bottles on the table to make it look more important, but that just created confusion. People thought there were 4 different wines to taste. As Stéphane's table was so popular, he started telling people that they shouldn't miss out on tasting my wine, so that sent more people my way. Stéphane Tissot is a bit of a super-star winemaker these days, and with good reason. It's rare to meet a person so passionate about what he does. He is whole-heartedly dedicated to organics and bio-dynamics and loves to talk to people about it. Always pushing the envelope with his wines, he poured two new dessert wines he is making and talked openly about future projects.
Then there were my new best friends, all of the winemakers/growers from the south. Pierre Clavel of Domaine Clavel, Joel Foucou, of Plan de L'Om, Nicolas Croze another Côtes-du-Rhône producer, Isabelle and Remi Ducellier of Chemins de Bassac, Luc Bettoni of Domaine Les Eminades, and finally, Remy Pedreno of Roc d'Anglade. Everyone was full of encouraging words and advice. They were all so much fun to spend the weekend with. We tasted each others wines, tasted some German and Austrian wines, and at the end of the day all we wanted to do was drink beer! Thankfully Martin Koessler (co-owner and founder of K&U) had thought of this and brought in some mini-kegs of a friend's micro-brew. Yum!
There was much more than wine at this event. Organic artisan bread, an heirloom seed producer, a pasty chef and more were present. Martin and Dunja's business is based on wine, but they also have wonderful vinegars, mustards, pasta, honey, jam etc. from all over Europe. It's an amazing place to visit. I can't wait to return next year!
Our good friends Lou and Lisa Bieker were visiting this week from Colorado. Imagine what we did?? Put them to work! Two days here, one to see the sights and one to participate in winery fun! Luckily for them, the mourvèdre is our smallest vineyard and this year we got pitifully low yields, so it went pretty quickly. Be sure to note their snazzy winery wear!
In other news, we are shipping La Gramière to two more states next week; Minnesota and Oregon, If you are in one of those states and you want to try a bottle, contact the distributors ASAP. They have each ordered only 15 cases to start. That won't go very far!
That's how the pick up went this morning. Even the truck driver complimented us on the set up!
This is all thanks to my amazing husband Matt. He spent a lot of time thinking about how to make it better. First, on Saturday he poured concrete in front of the garage door so that when the pallet mover (for lack of a better term) finally got out the door, the wheels didn't get stuck in the dirt before it got to the road. Then, he stacked several layers of random planks of wood that we had lying around to make a base for a piece of plywood he cut to fit the space between the pallets and the door. Thus we ended up with a perfect slope for the pallet mover to descend (and then be pulled back up) to the pallets awaiting shipment to Berkeley. This is just to remind you all, that even though I write this blog, and sometimes it may seem that I do much of the work myself, that without my most amazing hubby, none of this would be possible! Last week while I was off with my cooking class we "virtually" (over the phone) celebrated our 6th anniversary, tonight, as he sits on a plane headed for Shanghai (for his day job, which is financing our "dream" ) I think to myself, "how lucky am I? " Here's to Matt!
That's what I bet a lot of you have been asking yourself these days. I do have a legitimate excuse. I just got back from my yearly week of eating and drinking with Joanne Weir. Every year Joanne brings a group of "students" to cook with her for a week in Provence. I have the wonderful job of planning all of our activities outside of the cooking classes. This year the group was particularly good at following her recipes, because everything turned out perfectly, and I think I ate more last week then I usually do in a month. We drank lots of great wines, including La Gramière. Just imagine, I get paid to do this! One of the participants would ask, every time I poured him a glass of wine, "Is this yours? " and when I said no, he replied, "I don't like it." Let me tell you, flattery will get you EVERYWHERE!
We stay at a beautiful place called Blanche Fleur, which I highly recommend if you're ever in the area. For a whole week we have the place to ourselves. We cook a lot, visit several markets, and taste and drink a lot of wine. It's such great fun. If you like cooking and want to visit Provence (or Spain or Italy) I think you'd have a blast!
Joanne is going to do her best to promote our wines (note the label stuck on her chef's coat!)
Now back to sticking stickers on boxes for Kermit!
Yup! It's a very busy time as far as shipments go. On October 2nd we shipped 60 cases to Colorado and then on the 6th, 50 to Germany. Our garage, where the wine is stored (in a temperature controlled setting, of course) only has river rock on the ground. At bottling we leveled the palates and then stacked the wine on case by case. This poses a problem when it comes to moving an entire palate though, no way to get a fork-lift in, or even a pallet mover. Hmmm. We built a platform for the pallet-mover to roll on and placed an empty pallet on the ground. Then we put a second empty pallet on top of the first, and subsequently re-stacked all 60 cases onto two pallets for the Colorado shipment. In Europe the standard wine box only contains 6 bottles. As you know, in the US, it's 12 bottles. So for US customs we had to tape two boxes together in order to say that there were 12x750ml bottles equalling 9 liters of wine in each box. More fun with tape here at La Gramiere!
Of course when the transporter arrived, he didn't have a pallet-mover like he was supposed to, so we had to go borrow one from the village garden store. Luckily they could do without it for awhile! When we rolled it in and it wouldn't fit under the slats! The pallets were too low! UGH! We finally got the first one out with a little prying and tugging, then the second one was much easier. Luckily the truck driver was super nice and more than happy to try every option in order to get them out! I won't even go into the pick-up for Germany. It's another funny story, but too long for this post!
On Monday they are picking up 4 pallets, 200 US cases, or 2400 bottles, heading for Kermit Lynch's store in Berkeley. Needless to say, we are spending the weekend working on our paletting techniques!
Most of the vineyards around here are harvested with "grape picking machines" I put this in quotes, because the grapes aren't really picked, they are wrenched and battered off the vines, along with everything else that happens to be in there, lots of leaves, vines etc. Seeing a vineyard after it has been harvested is like seeing it after a hurricane has passed through. Poor vines! Most of the leaves are gone, the stems are left looking like the boars have come through and eaten every last grape. It's something that I would never want to do, but it's a way of life around here, costs of labor are high and it's more economical to use machines, especially for the cooperatives. The other day our neighbors were machine-
harvesting the vineyard across the street from our house, so I went to check it out. I even got a ride in the end! Pretty amazing. The steel rods move up and down to beat the grapes off the stems, they then fall onto conveyor belts that bring them to large bins on each side of the machine. Someone sits on top and pulls out the branches that are broken off the vines so that they don't get stuck and cause the machine to jam... Just thought you might like to
Time to press! This week we pressed the Syrah and the first of our Grenache. Here are some cool pictures of the process: 1) The juice coming out of the press. 2) the press mat (called a scortin - I think that's how you spell it) which used to be made of jute, but are now plastic. The color is beautiful at the end of the cycle. You place one on the bottom before you put the skins in and one at the top once the press is full. 3) A bin full of skins ready to go into the press. 4)This one is of the "cake" that you end up with after it is done pressing.