I've been trying to recall the first time I had to make an appointment for a wine tasting. I'm not sure what it was. I do remember the first time we made a same day appointment. We were in Anderson Valley in one tasting room looking for recommendations. The tasting room attendant recomended an appointment only winery (long since gone) and even called over to make an appointment for us for the afternoon. The wines were fabulous and I never would have called on my own. It was shocking to me how "not a big deal" making an appointment was there. It was simply a matter of convenience for the winery owner, not just a snobbish ruse.
It was then that I realized that in the modern world of wine tasting rooms, I was usually better off making an appointment. For one, I'd probably get a more knowledgeable staff person, if not the owner or winemaker. We'd be able to take our time tasting the wines and not feel rushed to make room a the bar. Best of all, such tastings usually included food, at least small bites to taste the wine better.
Now I usually make appointments at tasting rooms, even if just to call and find out the best time to visit. Certainly, there have been a few not-so-great tastings this way, where I felt captive to a boring tour and a snobbier than usual sales pitch. But generally, when we make appointments, we know we're likely to have a good experience.
Our tasting room has stayed open mostly by appointment. Not because we're trying to be snobbish, but because it's about managing our time. That means you usually get one of the family pouring wines. It's usually me, but we're pretty flexible. Bonus: it allows me to have a life outside of the winery with my family, whether that's the occasional vacation or just going to soccer games on Saturdays.
Remember: next time a winery says "tasting by appointment," don't let that stop you from having a good time there. It'll probably be worth the call.
I usually make a joke about how much work it is (and it is) and move on. It's not that I'm not extremely proud of the vineyards and grape quality that we use (I am,) it's just that the real answer is quite long, and I'm long winded enough in the tasting room.
So I've decided that a good use of this new blog space can be to answer that question fully and share with you how fortunate and happy I am to have found great vineyards to work with us.
Part one, the estate in Fiddletown
That makes it sound kind of fancy doesn't it. I say "estate" and I call to mind the gentle hills of Napa or Sonoma, all perfectly manacured by a permanent crew of laborers and surrounded by white fencing. Those that have visited here know that it's a bit more rustic.
A vineyard was part of our original plan and might one day come to fruition. Megan and I spent over six months looking at available properties in the sierra foothills. Some had existing vineyards, some great land potential, some were so steep and rugged that a vineyard would be impossible. Some of these are vineyards that we currently get grapes from.
In the end, we selected our Fiddletown site for a number of reasons. 1. It had a house in which we could have a kid (a few years later) and guests. 2. It had a barn that we viewed as a potential winery (you really had to squint for that.) and 3. Out of 10 acres it had 5+ plantable, south facing, acres in the Fiddletown AVA.
We’ve slowly worked on the house, kid room included.
We converted that barn into our winery and it’s worked quite well for 8 years now.
The vineyard acreage, however, has belonged to our six horned friends.
Next week: The hooved vineyard crew.
Lucy's Spicebox is moving, sort of. They've always wanted a secondary kitchen in town and have now taken the space across the street from the tasting room, previously Buffalo Chips and the Chatterbox. While they won't be open as a cafe', they will be doing all the pickup meals on Thursdays and Fridays from there rather than spreading out between Provisions, Volcano, and our tasting room. They won't have their beer and wine license for a little while, so as soon as they are up and running (hopefully in November), we'll have the tasting room open during evening pickups so that you can grab your dinner and hop across the street to enjoy it with wine.
I know it's a little late for a crush report, but it's been a little busy. The cool August and early September meant that the early season grapes were harvested a little later and heat wave a couple weeks ago meant that the late season grapes came in a little sooner. So for a couple weeks, it was a bit of mayhem. Especiallly trying to fit all those fermenting bins in our little space.
Some of the highlights:
The 2016 Deadman Fork Syrah is off to a terrrific start. It came in perfectly in balance and we were able to extend the maceration on the skins for a week longer than usual. Expect a nuanced and sophisticated wine in a couple years.
The Roussanne vineyard we typically source from sufferered a bit this year and we weren't able to get any roussanne for this vintage. There are only a few cases of 2015 Sluicebox left.
The weather conditions were perfect for the Late Harvest Viognier from Tumbas Vineyards again. We almost tripled our tonnage from 2013. I pressed that this week and had forgotten that the low ratio of liquid to tonnage meant that instead of three pressloads, it would take six. I had to hoist the press seven feet in the air to keep the gravity flow. Maybe not my wisest move to press into the tall, skinny, tank with legs. We got a great yield and a great flavor. It's certainly not the prettiest of wines as it ferements. It comes out thick and brown and almost muddy like a beer, but it will settle out soon enough.
We stil have one lot left haning on the vine, and so we'll be finishing up harvest this week (I hope.)
I'll try to get into the habit of more updates more often.
If you're here, you've discovered our new webpage. We've actually upgraded to a fully integrated system between the webpage, e-commerce orders, wine club, and the tasting room POS. It's going to take us a little time to get used to it and work out all the kinks. If you have any comments or notice any bugs in the system please let us know and we can fix it ASAP.
Cool new features:
It's mobile ready! You can access all our stuff on any mobile device. That includes club members can update their profiles on their phones (something not available previously on mobile).
It ties into the tasting room POS. That means previous orders or club members should be recognized in the system and automatically given discounts!
An events calendar! Click on the events calendar at the top menu to see what's going on at Legendre Cellars and find links to outside tastings and tickets.
Appointment requests: On the appointment page, you'll find a form for appointment requests. Just type in the date, time and type you'd like and I'll get back to you as quickly as I can to confirm.
Cool pictures and a blog!
Keep up to date on the latest wine releases, events, and promotions.