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If anyone is questioning climate change, the grapevines are writing the book and they're literally holding nothing back. This is truly a history-making harvest, the earliest harvest in California ever! And our good guess is that it has everything to do with climate change.
It's the months of heat and the mild winter leading to them combined with years of drought that has caused grapes throughout the state to ripen earlier than usual with smaller crops than usual delivering smaller grapes than...usual. The warmer winter triggered bud break, the start of a vine's growth cycle, about a month earlier than in years past. Due to the rapidly ripening fruit, growers and winemakers have been scrambling to harvest their grapes.
Despite the low yields, we're expecting the wines to be of high quality due to the concentrated flavors found in the smaller grapes. The clusters that we've seen are beautiful! Our wines should be well-balanced and complex as long as we show the grapes the respect that they deserve. And so we are.
New to our portfolio this year, we recently harvested a 2015 Viognier from Casey Flat Ranch in the Capay Valley AVA, a narrow slice of farmland nestled in the mountains northwest of Sacramento in Yolo County.
Casey Flat Ranch's moderately rocky soil and composition, gentle hillside mountain slopes, and 2000 foot altitude make for excellent growing conditions. The vineyards are sustainably cultivated with meticulous attention paid to water and soil conservation.
Our Viognier is already fermenting in stainless steel tanks. It's too early to talk at length about the developing wine, but there's a lovely, floral perfume emanating from the fruit. This Viognier will be somewhat different than our previous vintages, but it promises to be every bit as unique with a balance of tannins and acidity that comes naturally with CFR's grapes. In keeping with Andy Graef's style, the wine should be more akin to a French Condrieu rather than the big, fat Viogniers typical of many California producers. We keep the fruit away from oak so that the grapes can speak for themselves. We expect to bottle around 175 cases of the 2015 Viognier. Look for a late Spring 2016 release date.
Also new to the Graef lineup is a 2015 Sauvignon Blanc from grapes farmed in the Lake County AVA, a territory particularly receptive to this varietal due to consistently warm, sunny days, cool nights, and high elevation. The grapes are aging sur lie in 100% stainless steel drums to extract the best flavors the fruit has to offer. What we're getting is a highly aromatic, well-balanced wine that should be both rich and crisp. Expressive is a good word! We're anticipating that we'll finally bottle about 150 cases and release the wine before the end of the year.
Meanwhile, Graef's 2012 Viognier and our unoaked 2013 Chardonnay, as well as our 2013 Rosé of Syrah, are tasting as delightful as ever. If showing any age, it's all for the better. These wines are bright enough and rich enough to carry you from the heat of summer into the cooler autumn weather.
Please remember that it's absolutely acceptable, if not positively fashionable, to drink Rosé after Labor Day. Like white shoes, Rosés now make a certain statement all year long. In fact, Rosés pair well with just about any food. We suggest you consider pouring our Rosé with your Thanksgiving turkey. Pairing genius! Promise!
Graef's 2012 Syrah would also be a good match with your turkey. From the color to the nose to the palate, the wine is deep and soulful. We find that it just keeps tasting better and better with each bottle we open (and so we keep opening them).
And let us not forget about Graef's 2010 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir. Signature Monterey County. With its vibrant fruit, lush texture and silky elegance, this wine is so tasty and so affordable there's no reason to wait for the holidays.
While the grapes were growing, we kept busy showing off our wines at various wine-related events and, in particular, those involving the arts and other worthwhile causes. As we support them, the return on our investment is honestly heartfelt, as well as draws attention to the Graef brand.
The spring season opened with the COLCOA -- City of Lights, City of Angels -- French Film Festival at the Directors Guild on April 27th. We were honored to be the only boutique winery invited to pour at the closing reception.
Our star shined brightly again on May 20th at the Stars of California tasting at The Peninsula Beverly Hills in support of the T.J. Martell Foundation and Children's Hospital Los Angeles.
Dennis and Jamie poured Graef's current releases at The Event 2015 on June 6th in Calabasas to benefit The Foundation for Las Virgenes Schools. It was fun -- and the Graef table drew a steady crowd throughout the afternoon and into the evening.
Graef Wine was a sponsor of the Artbeat for Humanity Gala on June 27th. Held in the Sculpture Gardens of the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, the Gala raised funds to provide ongoing educational, community outreach, and career opportunities through the creative arts for people with disabilities.
Andy Graef joined Dennis and Jamie for the Garagiste Festival: Urban Exposure at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles on July 11th. Besides a great day in the company of other "garagiste" wine producers, those crafting under 1,200 cases of wine per year, the Festival benefitted the Cal Poly Wine and Viticulture Program.
Again, there was a steady audience stacked up six-deep at our table all day. Our mailing list doubled in size in a matter of hours. That's what we consider a good day!
And then there was LA Jazz Society's A Taste of Wine -- A Touch of Jazz on July 25th. Dennis -- composer and musician, as well as managing partner of Graef Wine -- poured our wines accompanied by a concert performed by an impressive group of rising jazz stars playing alongside certain jazz icons. LAJS provides scholarships for aspiring young jazz musicians, as well as sponsors mentorships to those students from some of the world's leading jazz artists.
As you can tell, our wine glass -- and our plate -- have been quite full these past months.
The year is still young and we have more wine to pour beginning this Saturday.
A perfectly decadent and delicious day of food and wine and spirits supporting Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation and the fight against childhood cancer. For more information and tickets, please click here.
On October 3rd, we'll be pouring our wines from 6-9pm on the Santa Monica Pier for an evening of Opera At The Beach. The double-bill of Gianni Schicchi and Pagliacci starring Plácido Domingo will be broadcast live in high-definition from the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion to the big screen on the Pier. What a wonderful idea! Want more information?
Wait! There's more! Graef will be the exclusive wine poured at New York In Hollywood for the Environment of People Foundation at the CBS Studio Center New York Street Backlot in Studio City from 2-5pm on October 4th. This important family-fun fundraiser benefits the CSUN Music Therapy Wellness Clinic which reaches children with Autism, Down Syndrome and other challenges through the medium of music. Please join us. For tickets, please click here.
And then there's The Food Event on Sunday, October 18th...
Los Angeles Magazine's annual epicurean extravaganza featuring celebrity chefs, top restaurants, and, of course, Graef Wine among other wine, beer and spirits tastings. The Event is held from 2-5pm at the glorious Saddlerock Ranch in Malibu. The day gives new meaning to perfect pairings! Please click here for more information and tickets.
Asked about what foods pair best with Viognier, a famous chef responded that he opens a bottle of wine that he really likes to drink and pairs it with a dish that he really enjoys eating and -- voila! -- the pairing works perfectly every time.
So much for the mystique of wine pairings.
Hope to see you soon again over a glass or few of wine, preferably Graef Wine. Cheers,
Andrew Graef, Winemaker-Partner
Dennis Dreith, Managing Partner
Jo-Anne McGettrick, Partner
Jamie Edlin, Media & Public Relations