Tue Nov 14, 2006
Just a few weeks ago it felt as though I’d never have a day off again. I was too tired to write, to be social. Every ounce of my energy was put into making wine. But last week, as half of the ferments in tank went dry, were drained to barrel and pressed off, I began to experience “crush crash.” My arms went numb and I had what can best be explained as a cumulative hangover, the backlash of a month’s intensive learning. I crawled into bed on my first day off and am just beginning to resurface five days later and headache free, with lots of ideas and the realization that I’m moving again and have to find a job. So, while I send my resume out to every publication in the Los Angeles area that might potentially want a food and wine writer, I leave you with a slew of photos taken during crush. Check back next week for the brix revolution, as we talk to the winemakers at Pax, Chef Douglas Keane of Healdsburg’s acclaimed Cyrus, take another visit to the subject of flaws and much, much more! Continue reading
Tue Nov 7, 2006
At a small winery like Pax it’s not surprising that customer relationships are deeper, more personal. This past Saturday was Open House at Pax, a chance for customers to pick up and taste what’s currently available for sale and get a sneak peak at what’s to come by way of barrel samples. It’s also a great opportunity for the people who drink Pax wines to meet the people behind the wine and a chance for us to meet and better understand them.
At Saturday’s Open House, visitors were treated to samplings of Cuvée Christine, Alder Springs Cuvée, a blend of Grenache, Mourvedre and Counoise, the last vintage of Lauterbach Hill Syrah, Pax Rousanne,”Venus”, and the Kobler Family Vineyard Syrah. Barrel samples included the 2005 Cuvée Keltie, Walker Vine Hill, Alder Springs “Terraces” and Griffin’s Lair. These wines will be released in Spring 2007. Continue reading
Wed Nov 1, 2006
Of all our senses, smell seems the most mysterious and remarkable. With a whiff I can be taken back to my great Aunt’s bathroom in Brooklyn with its faint aroma of cold porcelain, damp brick and drying clothes. The scent of pine paneling and concrete always reminds me of my best friend’s basement on Long Island. And yesterday, while standing on a ladder pumping over a tank of Kobler Syrah, snacking on an apple with almond butter, I had a staggering flashback of my last Passover at my parents–the crisp apple and nut smells had combined in the air over the wine to evoke my favorite Passover dish, charoset.
With our sense of smell so often tied to memory, we often forget it is intricately connected to what we think of as taste. This is particularly true of wine, triggering the production of aroma wheels and aroma kits to assist us in unlocking and identifying the subtler scents in wine. Continue reading
Sat Oct 28, 2006
I’m tired. Or at least I was before pro mountain bikers Mary McConneloug and Mike Broderick joined us at Pax today. The duo just returned to the States from Brazil, where they were racing in the Pan American Mountain Bike Championships (Mary won, Mike took tenth). Still, they attacked the day’s tasks of treading frosty grapes and firm, whole-cluster punch downs with the enthusiasm of kids out riding their bikes.
Erin Myers, Mary McConneloug and Mike Broderick having too much fun treading grapes…
Their joy was infectious and their presence, along with assistant winemaker Duncan Meyers’ wife, Erin, the likely inspiration behind the six wines we blind tasted at lunch. Continue reading
Fri Oct 6, 2006
Things I didn’t learn in college or grad school but wish I had:
1- How to use a pallet jack
2- How to lift 50 pounds without injury
3- How to drive a forklift
There were no classes in manual labor at Sonoma State, where I went to college; nor were there any at the University of Oregon, where I went to graduate school. Continue reading
Thu Oct 5, 2006
Tottering on the two-inch edge of a small fermenting bin, staring into a ton of Syrah, stems and inky juice, I’m thinking I probably shouldn’t have had that last glass of wine with lunch. My responsibility, right now, is to punch down the mass of skins, stems and pips (seeds) that have floated to the top, the cap, as it’s called. The main reason for punching down the cap at this early stage in making wine is to introduce oxygen into the vat of juice, kick-starting the yeasts and the fermentation process, but also to add color and tannin to the wine, much of which come from the skins and the stems.
This afternoon we have to punch down nine tanks, four of which are my responsibility, since they’re the smaller ones. My punch down tool is a five-foot stainless steel pole with a crossbar at the top, one about half way down and an eight-inch flat disc on the far end. I’m leaning against the wall for leverage, my feet on the middle crossbar, my hands on top and the disc on the grapes, bouncing, putting almost all of my weight on the grapes, but I’m not going anywhere. If I slip, I’ll end up in the vat, and I’m already turning purple from the exertion. Continue reading