News/Blog

Wrapping It Up At The Winery

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The last wines are pressed to barrel.
The 2014 harvest is now one for the books! Awesome in quality, the work now begins to babysit the young wines through secondary fermentations and sluggish primaries. The wineries’ hectic pace is behind us; we work to schedule more time for rest (sleep!) and pull our personal lives back in order...

Petite Sirah

 Petite Sirah. The winemaker’s problem child. Thin skinned, sensitive to sunburn and prone to set a big crop. If everything goes right during the growing season, it's susceptible to botrytis and black rot during late summer. Assuming the vines have been coached along to a perfect harvest the winemaker has then to deal with the potential of a wine with enough tannins to make the back of your jaw hurt.   With that being said, why you may ask, am I growing and making Petite Sirah in the heart of the Napa Valley? You're first clue; my college major wasn't business! In my opinion, the world doesn't need yet another Napa Valley Cab!   So here I am creating a balanced petite Sirah for the 2014 vintage .  Balanced Petite Sirah , is that an oxymoron? Not necessarily. Of course it involves more work from the winemaker and a bag of tricks (in my case, natural and organic) which include press cycles, lees stirring, French oak and a few secrets I won’t divulge (other winemakers might be reading this).  If you have ever had a truly sublime Petite, you know what keeps me going. For a kinder gentler Petite Sirah, try to get a hold of a bottle of 2011 Tofanelli Estate Petite Sirah...

Petite Sirah.
The winemaker’s problem child.
Thin skinned, sensitive to sunburn and prone to set a big crop. If everything goes right during the growing season, it's susceptible to botrytis and black rot during late summer. Assuming the vines have been coached along to a perfect harvest the winemaker has then to deal with the potential of a wine with enough tannins to make the back of your jaw hurt.

 With that being said, why you may ask, am I growing and making Petite Sirah in the heart of the Napa Valley?
You're first clue; my college major wasn't business! In my opinion, the world doesn't need yet another Napa Valley Cab!  
So here I am creating a balanced petite Sirah for the 2014 vintage . Balanced Petite Sirah, is that an oxymoron? Not necessarily. Of course it involves more work from the winemaker and a bag of tricks (in my case, natural and organic) which include press cycles, lees stirring, French oak and a few secrets I won’t divulge (other winemakers might be reading this).

If you have ever had a truly sublime Petite, you know what keeps me going.
For a kinder gentler Petite Sirah, try to get a hold of a bottle of 2011 Tofanelli Estate Petite Sirah...

Zinfandel Barrel Down

 Fermentation complete. The grape sugars have been converted to phenols, alcohol, esters, and all the good stuff that will one day sit in your glass as you peruse your life and hopefully take the time to slow down and enjoy the moment. Before you enjoy that sip, please be patient. Much has to be done on our end. First and foremost; a true, quality wine has to be aged. And nothing helps that process more than an organic, real, honest to goodness wood barrel. I use six to eight new French oak barrels for each of my vintages. Our wines do not demand a lot of oak to supplement structure and flavor, so usually 15 to 20 percent is sufficient. For the remainder we use older neutral barrels, as permeable natural vessels so the wine can breathe, rest, and transform...

Fermentation complete. The grape sugars have been converted to phenols, alcohol, esters, and all the good stuff that will one day sit in your glass as you peruse your life and hopefully take the time to slow down and enjoy the moment.
Before you enjoy that sip, please be patient. Much has to be done on our end. First and foremost; a true, quality wine has to be aged. And nothing helps that process more than an organic, real, honest to goodness wood barrel. I use six to eight new French oak barrels for each of my vintages. Our wines do not demand a lot of oak to supplement structure and flavor, so usually 15 to 20 percent is sufficient. For the remainder we use older neutral barrels, as permeable natural vessels so the wine can breathe, rest, and transform...

The Hive !

 If the vineyard is the flower garden, than the winery is the beehive! We always choose to harvest with the natural first light of day. A small dedicated crew work hard to bring in the sweet clusters. With the tractors shut off, a calm is palatable in the air as we all pull together to get the job done. And then, to the winery!  A concerted effort of man and machine and determination dance together to process, cull, de-stem and prepare that sweet fruit for a transformation! Nothing less than alchemy, the crazy hubbub prepares the grape juice/pulp/skins for the magic of fermentation...

If the vineyard is the flower garden, than the winery is the beehive!
We always choose to harvest with the natural first light of day. A small dedicated crew work hard to bring in the sweet clusters. With the tractors shut off, a calm is palatable in the air as we all pull together to get the job done.
And then, to the winery!  A concerted effort of man and machine and determination dance together to process, cull, de-stem and prepare that sweet fruit for a transformation! Nothing less than alchemy, the crazy hubbub prepares the grape juice/pulp/skins for the magic of fermentation...

Charbono

 Whew. With rain in the forecast, we harvested, and the 2014 Charbono is now resting in tank before fermentation begins. Known as Douce Noir or Corbeau in France, we Californians have grown the rare varietal since the 1880’s. Never widely planted, Tofanelli is committed to keeping the vines in Napa Valley soil. The grapes we call Charbono make a wonderfully dark red wine with sensory appeal that is first subtle, then sublime. The finish is generous with rounded tannins combined with a zesty natural acidity. All that in concert makes for a perfect food wine. A winemakers wine...

Whew. With rain in the forecast, we harvested, and the 2014 Charbono is now resting in tank before fermentation begins.
Known as Douce Noir or Corbeau in France, we Californians have grown the rare varietal since the 1880’s. Never widely planted, Tofanelli is committed to keeping the vines in Napa Valley soil.
The grapes we call Charbono make a wonderfully dark red wine with sensory appeal that is first subtle, then sublime. The finish is generous with rounded tannins combined with a zesty natural acidity. All that in concert makes for a perfect food wine. A winemakers wine...

Coming up for air

 Harvest ongoing, everyone I know is showing the signs of fatigue and stress. Ever since the first humans put seed in the ground and hoped for a bountiful crop we have worried about the outcome of our efforts. Lack of sleep and long hours do take their toll. With that being said, I set the alarm (again) for an early morning start. We only get one chance a year to make great wine and our Charbono grapes are wonderfully ready to start the process!

Harvest ongoing, everyone I know is showing the signs of fatigue and stress. Ever since the first humans put seed in the ground and hoped for a bountiful crop we have worried about the outcome of our efforts. Lack of sleep and long hours do take their toll.
With that being said, I set the alarm (again) for an early morning start. We only get one chance a year to make great wine and our Charbono grapes are wonderfully ready to start the process!

Harvest Honey

 Here at Tofanelli, harvest isn’t just about the wine grapes (okay, it’s mostly about the wine grapes!). Along with the grapes, walnut and fruit trees, we maintain five or six bee hives around the vineyard. My goal is to provide healthy homes (I like to think they appreciate our organic philosophy) and once in awhile more honey is produced than needed for their winter use. Happily, our bees are healthy and more than ready for winter. I extracted a heavy dark fall honey for family and friends...

Here at Tofanelli, harvest isn’t just about the wine grapes (okay, it’s mostly about the wine grapes!). Along with the grapes, walnut and fruit trees, we maintain five or six bee hives around the vineyard. My goal is to provide healthy homes (I like to think they appreciate our organic philosophy) and once in awhile more honey is produced than needed for their winter use. Happily, our bees are healthy and more than ready for winter. I extracted a heavy dark fall honey for family and friends...

Harvest break with Citroën!

No harvesting on Sunday, so we hosted the San Francisco Citroën Club for a wine tasting.

As eclectic as their cars,  the event was a fun success, with many wine questions, a picnic at the tasting room, and of course, a lot of wine, très bien!

the ZIN is IN!

I require everyone to wear cut resistant gloves in the vineyard. Everyone, that is, except me!

Relatively minor cut, direct pressure, two butterfly bandages, and now I have a souvenir of

Harvest 2014!

Zinfandel Harvest 9/12/2014

The decisions I make in the vineyard today will affect the wine you may drink in 2017.
Sobering thought, so I push it aside and rely on my experience with the vines and the grapes and the wine (36 consecutive years making wine from this vineyard). The grapes taste so good, crunchy sweet with a bit of acid, the seeds brown and nutty. Growing conditions have been near perfect and so, here we go;  set the alarm, go to bed, harvest tomorrow!

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