It’s Summertime in Wine Country

Summer-Viniculture-018It’s Summertime in Wine Country! Vines are getting towards full bloom and the weather has been beautiful. We’ve had some gorgeous days so far this summer and the grapes are loving it. It’s a spectacular time to visit and we’ve got a great lineup of events to enjoy during the summer months. Classic Car Cruise-ins are happening monthly, a perfect outing for the car enthusiast in your group. Also be sure to visit every Sunday for live music! We’ll be featuring some of our favorite local bands here at the winery, so come by, sip wine and enjoy the beautiful Sonoma Valley Summer!

As we head toward the Fourth of July and the All Star Break, here’s some of our picks for your Summertime meals: Our 2010 Sonoma Valley Zinfandel recently took home GOLD  & 95 pts from the North Coast Wine Challenge, put on by the Press Democrat. This wine is truly exceptional, exhibiting classic mix of boysenberry & pepper, full body with a long warm finish and is a perfect choice for anything from the grill. Another fantastic choice is the 2010 Sonoma Valley Primitivo, also ideal for grilled offerings, but a great pairing with lighter fare as well; perhaps a rich B.R. Cohn vinegar poured over fresh tomatoes and mozzarella or grilled prawns paired with a fresh avocado arugula salad. And new in the Gourmet Shop this year we have marinades and BBQ sauce! It’s a one-stop-shop at B.R. Cohn for your summer meal.

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Out in the Vineyards

Cleaning Middles, Leafing, Positioning and Suckering

veraisonWalking amongst the beautiful rows of vines, the sunlight filtered through enormous grape leaves, it’s a reminder of just where everything truly begins at the winery. We’ve had an incredible summer so far, with mild days and no dramatic heat spikes or drops. Veraison (the process of red wine grapes turning from green to red) has yet to occur but the vines are full of steadily growing bunches, shaded by huge leaves, spread out like little umbrellas creating individual micro climates, specific to each and every vine. Though beautiful this can be problematic, as the still maturing grapes aren’t getting enough sunlight which is why during this period of the growing season our vineyard crew performs what’s referred to as “cleaning middles” and “leafing.” This is a painstaking process, as we want enough sunlight to get to the grapes to help them continue to grow, but not so much that the grapes burn. It’s also challenging in that we want the grapes to ripen as consistently as possible, so our talented vineyard crew makes sure each row is getting roughly the same amount of sun. To achieve this they position the vines very deliberately, often moving the vines branches upward and inward, in between trellising lines. This ensures that certain vines aren’t ripening days before or after others.

Grape vines are natural conservers of energy, but it still takes energy from a vine to keep their leaves and grape buds healthy. Sometimes, vines will produce “suckers,” small shoots that are not useful to the vine, yet take it’s energy. “Suckering” is the process by which these shoots are removed from the vine, helping us direct the vines energy exclusively to the grapes.

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Each month we will focus on a different varietal, exploring its history and characteristics!

This month: Cabernet Sauvignon. 25th Anniversary Release!

2009CSOHIn the 17th century, some adventurous grape growers in Southwestern France crossed Cabernet Franc with Sauvignon Blanc. The result was what we know today as Cabernet Sauvignon (clearly inventive naming was not the winegrowers forte). A winemaker favorite for its ability to withstand harsh conditions, it has over the years become a California staple. Consumers love its aging potential and the dryer nature of the varietal is well suited to pair with many quintessential California dishes.

Here at Olive Hill Estate, we are uniquely situated between Sonoma Mountain and the Mayacamas, which helps keep the wineries specific micro-climate wonderfully temperate. Extreme weather is very difficult to work with when growing grapes. Here in Sonoma Valley, slightly warmer days and very little to no frost in the mornings or evenings means we typically get a longer growing season, and therefore can begin harvesting earlier than many wineries in the area. This is especially nice for Cabernet grapes which ripen later than many varietals. Having the ability to pick early gives us a great deal of control back at the winery, essential for crafting our 100% Cabernet releases. Resilient and able to grow almost anywhere, it really is a varietal that comes into its own at the winery. The grape itself is small, leaving very little room between skin and seed, which contributes to its high tannin content. Because of this, it is quite often blended with varietals such as Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec. High tannins also means that Cabernet is commonly aged in oak barrels, which helps balance the acidic fruit tones and dryer spice undertones and highlights rather than overpowers Cabernets natural flavors.

It’s always a bit difficult to name what flavors and aromas a specific varietal exhibits, since this is always influenced by a variety of factors, especially the vineyards terroir, the weather of the specific vintage, and individual wine making practices. However, Cabernet does have some classic flavors it has consistently been associated with; most notably current, black cherry, chocolate, and of course its definitive high tannins. Pair with a rich, flavorful meat, such as duck, and something fresh from the garden; we suggest this delectable grilled asparagus.

So, now you’re armed with knowledge, go impress all your friends, enjoy the sunshine, and some B.R. Cohn Estate Cabernet! What a perfect lineup. Now if only the Giants could figure out the same thing…

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