Keep in touch with us and what is going on. Read about all the little things....
You’re all set and excited to open a bottle of wine, but when you pull the cork you find that the side that was inside the bottle is covered in little red or white crystals. Immediately you begin to wonder if this means there’s something wrong with the bottle that until five seconds ago you had every intention of consuming with abandon. But now this new discovery has given you pause. What the heck is wrong with your wine? And should you still drink it?
The short answer is that nothing is wrong and you should absolutely still consume it, but the explanation for why those crystals are there in the first place is pretty interesting. Three main acids exist in wine grapes: malic acid, citric acid and tartaric acid. Of the three, it’s tartaric acid that’s responsible for the tartness we get in wine and the acid that creates those lovely crystals. While malic acid is mostly converted to the more mellow and soft lactic acid during fermentation, tartaric acid maintains its chemical consistency. This is the acid which helps maintain a wine’s PH levels and protects it from spoiling, but it doesn’t always like to stay dissolved inside the wine.
The tartaric acid compound is very susceptible to temperature fluctuations. Chill a wine down too far and the acid will actually solidify and fall out of the solution. Have you ever gotten to the bottom of a bottle and noticed crystal shards in the wine as you poured the final glass? That’s just tartaric acid’s solid form floating around in the juice. Some people are freaked out by it, which is why they might filter it out, but it’s completely harmless to consume.
Think about it, if you don’t see the crystals that means the wine was kept at a consistent temperature, so the acid was never allowed to solidify, but you’re still consuming tartaric acid, just in its liquefied form. If the acid becomes a solid and winds up floating in your wine, and if you happen to swallow it, you’re still consuming the same compound. The perfect comparison here is that its like water that’s been turned to ice. The ice is still water, and it’s harmless, even if it has taken on a different form.
The higher quality your bottle of wine is, the more likely you are to see tartrates. That’s because on the lower end of the wine spectrum, the wine is often cold stabilized in order to filter the tartrates out. This is done by chilling the wine down to near freezing levels and letting the solidified tartrates drop to the bottom of the tank. While this process will ensure a wine’s clarity, lowering a wine’s tartrate levels also impacts a wine’s flavors and hurts its ability to be aged.
So if you find yourself coming across tartrates, either stuck to the bottom of your cork or floating around in your glass, consider it a good thing. This means the wine wasn’t over-processed and its beautiful subtleties were preserved, so go ahead and enjoy!
Ghee & I were in the Tasting room with some of our wine club members recently and we were talking about blends, we decided to experiment with blending our wines right there and then. Our creation was amazing! We had a great time and decided to host our very first blending event! …….
How would you like to create your own blend from Villa Vallecito wines?
When: Sat. March 29 2014
Where: Villa Vallecito Vineyards
Tickets: members $65.00 per person/non-members $75.00 per person
Includes: Wine for blending, appetizers and a bottle per person of your very own creation.
Please reserve your seats as soon as possible as this event is sure to sell out. Seating will be limited. We can’t wait to see what blends you come up with.Who knows your blend could be the inspiration for our next VVV blend.
For those of you that cannot attend we invite you to participate from your home, invite some friends. For an additional fee we can supply you with the wine and beakers, we will be posting pictures, and tweets thru-out the blending event. We will even be available for live feedback via facetime.
We look forward to seeing you!
This month we enjoyed a perfect afternoon at the vineyard with our wine club members. We couldn't have asked for more beautiful weather or company. We wanted to give everyone a sample of our upcoming 2012 vintages that we will be bottling in April.
Upon arrival our guests were greeted with a glass of our award winning viogner and appetizers. This was a perfect way to toast to the weather as the wine was so refreshing and crisp.
As our guests continued to arrive we began sampling our 2012 Grenache which has been sitting on american oak. The big blue fruits that are coming out in this wine have given it a lot of depth thus far. Second in line was our Cab Sauv which has an incredible peppery finish. Our payaso, which is our blend of syrah and grenache is coming along nicely too it is incredibly smooth on the palate.
Our Barbera has so much spice it was reminding everyone of the holiday season and baking. Lastly we sampled our Syrah, it is proving itself to be quite the bold wine this year and might just be bigger then the Barbera. We can't wait to see how these wine's taste when they are finished.
Everyone enjoyed soaking up the sun, the views and of course the wine! As the sun began to set on lake melones our members basked in the view. We enjoyed having everyone out and showing off our upcoming wines. We hope everyone enjoyed themselves as much as we enjoyed having you. We look forward to many more events this year!
The 2014 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition has come to a close and the tallies have been counted. The San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition is the largest competition of wines in America, and of course you know we submitted our stellar wine for them to judge. They received a record number of entries this year from over 25 states in America!
The results are in and you can only imagine our excitement when we discovered that we had been given, drum roll please….5 Awards! We hope you will help is in giving a round of applause to Ghee and Nate for creating such masterpieces. Be sure to place your order as soon as possible for these wine's! Here are the wine's that were awarded:
2011 Cabernet Sauvignon
On February 15, 2014 there will be a public tasting at the Fort Mason Center and our very own Ghee Hagedorn will be there pouring. To purchase tickets to the event, which will sell out, follow this link http://winejudging.com/event_tickets.htm. We would love to see some familiar faces, so join us in tasting wines from all over America.
We want to thank each and every one of our members. Without your continued support our dreams wouldn’t be our realities. A special thank you to our incredible wine maker Nate for making such stellar wines, Thank you!
Villa Vallecito Vineyards would like to welcome Bethany Jennings as the newest member of our team!
Born in southern California and raised in the beautiful wine country of Paso Robles, Bethany has an extensive culinary background that has given her the opportunity to explore the food and wine industry.
After graduating from Paso Robles High School, she landed her first baking job at The House of Bread. From there she moved on to bake for such places as the Three Dog Bakery, The Carlton Hotel and Bakery, Brian's Sourdough Breads, and the legendary Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo where she learned the secret behind the pink frosted champagne cake with its trademark pink chocolate curls.
After starting her own family, she joined the even bigger Opolo family, taking on the largest harvest party on the Central Coast. Hosting up to 650 people a night, the Harvest Festival "I Love Lucy Style", spring boarded her into the wine industry. Soon she was utilizing her culinary skills and working with the co-wine maker and caterers to plan wine pairing menus for pick up parties, wine festivals, zin festivals, and special events as well as the Food and Wine pairings on the Patio, and events at both the sister site in Westlake Village and the Opolo Bed and Breakfast.
During her time in Paso Robles she served on the Paso Robles Wine Festival Committee and helped with the Pinot and Paella Festival in Templeton, California.
When she isn't working, you can find her at home whipping up sweet and savory concoctions while sharing the excitement of cooking and baking with her two young children.
Her passion for food and wine makes Bethany a perfect fit for Villa Vallecito Vineyards. We look forward to sharing our mutual love of food, wine, and most importantly, hosting events for our wine club members, friends, and family. We can't wait to see what the future holds for us all!
As Bethany joins us, we'd like to take a moment to thank Kelsey Marcos who is leaving the vineyards to pursue a career in Equine Dentistry in Minnesota. We want to express our deep appreciation for all her hard work and all she did during her time with us. She will be missed and we hope you will all join us in wishing her luck on her grand adventure.
Bethany's first event will be our December 7th Christmas Barrel Tasting with Ghee and our wine maker Nate. We hope to see as many of you there as possible and please introduce yourself to Bethany. As she says, you can't miss her; she'll be the tallest one in the room.
If you can't make it to our Christmas Party please head on down to our tasting room located at 263 Main Street Suite C in Murphy's. Many Blessings and Happy Holidays! The VVV Staff
This past weekend, we enjoyed a fun and warm evening with our wine club members and their guests. A lot of hard work went into putting on the event, and the result was a lot of celebration and partying.
The event began early in the day as our amazing Tapas on the Terraza chiefs fired up the wood stove and began to prep the pizzas. Meanwhile, also in the kitchen, the ladies were preparing hors d'oeuvres and making sangria. A big thank you must be mentioned to the help in the tasting room during this time. Without those ladies, none of this would be possible.
5:30 quickly rolled around and the guests began piling into the vans at the Murphys Suites. Although it was 102 degrees, everyone was looking forward to the breeze that would come from standing above beautiful Lake Melones. As the guests were chartered to the vineyard, gasps of astonishment could be heard from the passengers who had never been to our location. The view of the green vineyard below the Mexican style home was breathtaking. Once atop the hill, and at the patio, I'm not sure what there was more of, sangrias being passed out, or pictures being taken!
Guests were able to quench their thirst with Ghee's secret sangria recipe as they sat by the pool and took in the beautiful scenery. Their sangrias were complimented with spiced cucumbers (cucumbers drizzled with fresh lime juice and sprinkled with Tajin Clasico Seasoning) and spinach-artichoke dip.
After the guests were able to settle, the wine tasting began! Everyone enjoyed a nice sample of our 2012 Viognier, 2012 Sabor A Mi, 2011 Grenache, 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2011 Payaso and 2010 Syrah. Although these were all a hit, the real pleaser of the night was getting to take a vertical flight among our signature Barbera. Guests got to start with our first wine ever bottled, the 2008 Barbera, from there they moved onto the 2010, 2011, and were even served some 2012 which was just pulled from the barrel that afternoon. With this flight, tasters were able to compare the different years and complexities side by side for a very interesting taste.
As the wine was being poured, the smell of fresh pizza could be sensed in the air. Our chiefs began pulling gourmet pizzas out of the wood stove as the guests served themselves some caesar salad.
Once bellies were full, the guests began getting glasses of their favorite wines and sitting with their feet in the pool enjoying the sunset and good company. Powdered sugar covered brownies and fresh strawberries were served for dessert as the music was turned up and the dancing began. After a long, hot evening of fun and festivities, the vans loaded up the delighted guests and took them home to talk about this event for days to come.
What an event we had Saturday evening with all of YOU! I hope you got a "tease of a preview" on our upcoming varietals! There's nothing like a warm fire, a soft place to sit and a sparkling glow to a glass of Barbera. A special THANK YOU to all of you that made it happen, drove to our venue amongst the Vineyards, and spent time with us and club members. We look forward to our Spring release and another time to gather, meet and taste together. Until then..............Salute
In the early morning, before the sun begins to crest above the mountains, I can hear a tractor chugging, making its way through the vineyard. I sip my coffee in the semi-darkness, enjoying the unmistakable feeling of a morning on the brink of Autumn. Listening to the early birds all around me, catching their worms, I watch the sun’s first rays light up the vineyard. The vines, a sea of green with waves of yellow, orange, and red, so recently heavy with fruit, are now free of their burden. The pickers drop the last bin of grapes in a long row at the winery just as our crew begins to arrive, having left only a few hours before. A new day has begun.
I’ve been to Napa, and have watched their high tech equipment sort grapes with a speed and efficiency we will never be able to match. Here in Murphys, as we near the end of harvest and our backs are aching, our hands are stained and caked with tartrates, and we have barely slept, you would think we would be envious. But as our crew stands together around the table, hand sorting grapes to a rhythm that transcends music, I know I wouldn’t trade our Old World techniques for anything.
Under the direction of Winemaker Nathan Vader, who makes wine for Vina Moda and Villa Vallecito Vineyards in Murphys, as well as Euclid out of Napa, our crew has spent eight straight weeks in each other’s company. From early morning, through the afternoon, and into the night, when we can feel the breeze from New Melones meet the heat of the day rising from the blacktop at our feet, we sort the grapes we have come to know intimately. By varietal, we know their taste, color and smell, the thickness of their skins, the way they feel in our hands and all of the characteristics that set them apart from the rest. Anything less than perfection is deftly tossed into the compost bin, where it will give new life to next year’s crop.
We have come together to create something beautiful, a work of art, and as the clusters of grapes move through our hands, any pretenses or ego that may follow us in our day to day life vanish. We work together, laugh together, trade words of wisdom and tell stories of our pasts. We take turns providing a feast at twilight each day, just as harvest crews around the world have done for generations, sitting together and replenishing ourselves for the long hours still ahead. When the moon has risen high above our heads, we pass around a bottle of a previous vintage for inspiration and talk of loves lost and found, triumphs and tragedies, hopes and fears. After so many hours, days, and weeks together, we aren’t able to be anyone but who we truly are. Here, we are family.
Our crew, getting ready to tackle Grenache on the last day of crush.
Napa may have fancy equipment, and their wine may command a higher price. But this community, this wine, has heart and depth that reminds me of a bygone era. Wine was meant to be made with passion and care, dedication and hard work. I like to think that the Old World winemakers would be proud, knowing that we are carrying on their traditions.
Note: This article was originally published in the November 2012 edition of The Mountain Chronicle.
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