Work, wait, work, wait, work like heck, wait, work, wait, enjoy! This seems to be the order of the winemaking process. Add in a lot of cleaning and a lot of beer and you’ve got some good wine. For the last several months we’ve been following the 2010 Bacchus Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from Barrister winery.
The 2010 vintage has kept owners Greg Lipsker and Michael White on their toes. In their 10 years as winemakers, 2010 will go down as the most challenging. The cool season kept the fruit on the vine longer than normal. Harvesting on November 4 yielded a fruit with lower sugar levels, higher acid and higher pH than in previous years. The snowiest November on record compounded challenges as well.
Interested in the process? Take a look at the previous posts and see what a grape goes through before it gets in your glass.
Fermentation is where the sugar in the grapes is converted to alcohol. This process typically takes 7-10 days after the wine is inoculated with yeast (food for the sugar). Barrister winery uses four different types of yeast that emphasize different characteristics of the wine (aromatics, flavor, structure). This fermentation happens in stainless steel tanks. For 2010, Barrister decided to let the wine undergo extended maceration. This is the process where the juice and skins stay in the same tank for an additional period of time. This helps to soften the flavor and provide more weight as the short ‘hard’ tannin chains link together to become soft.
This extended maceration means…more work. During this time the skins must continually be “punched down” to avoid the cap from drying out and to keep the skins connected with the juice. The 2010 Cabernet spent a total of four weeks on the skins hoping to capture the traditional softness of Barrister wines.
Two years ago Barrister bought the HAL 9000 of the press world. This beautiful blend of computer programming and stainless steel is their reward for using a small hand press for the first 8 vintages of their wine. This specific press company makes 8-12 machines per year and wineries like Betz and Col Solare use them in Washington. Prior to entering the press the “free run” juice (the juice that happens as a result of press, fermentation and punch down) is pumped into a temporary holding tank. The remaining juice – trapped in the skins goes into the press. The computer goes through a series of press and pause cycles to provide a consistent and soft extraction of juice. The juice goes through four filters before being pumped into the storage tanks. Barrister lets the pressed juice sit in the tanks for 24 hours to let additional sediment settle before being pumped into barrel.
The tradition of using oak barrels has been around for hundreds of years. Used properly the oak can impart beautiful layers of vanilla, charcoal, smoke, toast, tobacco, and more. Barrister uses French oak barrels for their 2010 Bacchus Cabernet. After soaking the oak barrels in water to swell any leaks, the free run and pressed juice are tucked in for their long rest. Barrister is lucky to have a large 7500+ square foot barrel room where hundreds of barrels rest single high in the naturally climate controlled basement. The smell is amazing. If you haven’t been to the Barrister barrel room, leave a comment, I’ll help arrange a visit for you. Access to the basement is through an old service elevator with an old fashion hand operated gate.
The Cabernet will rest in the barrel room for 18-26 months gently rocked by the trains that pass next to the winery several times per day. Part 5 in the series we’ll revisit the wine as it ages and talk about the barrels, blending and more. After all that wait, work, wait, clean, wait and work…now the long wait begins as the wine sleeps, rests and matures to become the beautiful Barrister Cabernet you’ve come to love.
25 Nov 2010
On a day that is characterized by food, wine, football and family, we have so much to be thankful for. Our world has gone through quite a bit of stress and struggle over the last several years. With war, financial hardship and political division all around us, family and friends are cherished now more than ever. I am thankful for you.
You read this blog regulary. You visit, you comment, and you interact with me. You are the reason I am opening a business in 30 days and you are the reason I write every night. Sound cheesy? Sure, but it’s true. I’m thankful for the many friends that I talk to daily on twitter, Sean Sullivan, Ben Simons, Barbara Evans, Rick Bakas and more. I’m thankful for the friends I’ve met in real life through this blog; the folks at LaunchPadINW (Bill, Allen, Jennifer and Jared), and the friends that have supported me from the infancy of this vision.
I’m most thankful for my family. In the last year we have gone from two incomes to one as my beautiful wife prepares for her next career by getting her Masters in Education. Her teenage son is…well…he’s now a teenager, need I say more. The added stress of attempting to balance all that I’m doing has put the time we spend together at a minimum. Still, they cheer. Still, they support. For that, I am thankful. This Thanksgiving we are spending the holiday alone, just the two of us. Our tradition, lasagna and cheesecake. I have my special wines picked out (of which I’ll share on Friday) and I’m looking forward to the pairing of flavors.
People often ask what wine do you pair with your Thanksgiving dinner. I’m happy to offer my advice. With so many flavors on the table, the best suggestion I can offer is, pair the wine that you like. Sweet, dry, white, red, rose, sparkling, full bodied, light…it all works at some level or another. Grab a favorite wine and enjoy. Chances are it is not the wine that will cause the memories rather the time spent enjoying those you love.
Enjoy life with friends. Drink Happy!
15 Nov 2010
Quick, name four things you want right now! I bet you said, “Decadent chocolate, divine fresh roasted coffee, delicious red wine, and a dreamy one hour massage.” Have I got a deal for you! We want to invite all of Spokane to enjoy Nectar Tasting Room and we need your help. As a little incentive, we’re giving away a deliciously decadent and divine package to one lucky winner!
Congratulations to Sara Morrison of Spokane, WA! You have been randomly selected as our Divine, Decadent, and Delicious prize package winner. Check your email box for details. Thanks for your support and I look forward to meeting you soon.
- One hour massage of your choice at The Brick House Coffee and Massage Bar – Unwind and relax as you drift away into a state of pure bliss!
- Three pounds of DOMA Coffee Roasters coffee – This Coeur d’Alene based coffee roaster makes some of the best coffee around.
- 12 Piece Tin of gourmet Pixie Dust Chocolates – Let the hand crafted artisan chocolate melt in your mouth.
- Five bottles of Nectar Tasting Room wine – A perfect representation of the five wineries represented in the Nectar Tasting Room. Get a sneak sip before the grand opening.
Total Package Value $250
How to Qualify
Qualifying is simple. You love Nectar and we want your local Facebook friends to love Nectar too. Go to our Facebook page and click “suggest to friends.” Select a minimum of 20 Spokane area wine loving friends. Leave a comment on this post as a confirmation that you did it. We work on the honor system here. If you leave me a comment, I’ll trust you did the ‘suggest to friends.’ That’s it, you’re qualified. We’ll pick the winner the day after Thanksgiving!
Thanks for being a part of the Nectar Tasting Room family and we hope to see you and all your friends as soon as we open.
11 Nov 2010
365 days ago, I began this little wine blog adventure. The inspiration was a Gary Vaynerchuk’s book, Crush It – Why Now is the Time To Cash In On Your Passion. The motivation was the branding of an eventual coffee and wine bar in Spokane, WA. The result has been a wild and humbling ride that has led to far more than I could have imagined. In one respect it is hard to believe that a year has already gone by, in another, it is overwhelming to think of everything that has happened.
If I were to boil the year down into one word it would be, RELATIONSHIPS. During the last 365 days I’ve met some of the most amazing people of my entire life. While there are nearly 4,000 people each on Facebook and Twitter that follow or like me, I consider many of you to be very good friends (@vinotology, @wawinereport @sipwithme @wineshopwithjen @rickbakas @wklywinejournal @suburbanwino @winetonite @stevepaulo @pmabray @seattlewinegal @catie @writeforwine @frankloveswine @troutmonster @spargo @noseyparkerinw @launchpadinw – just to name a few). Looking at the list, I’ve met all but one of you in real life (Frank we must remedy that). I’ve reached out to most of you for advice and think of each of you as mentors and friends. If I were to quit this adventure today, the thing I would miss the most would be the relationships.
365 days ago I had no idea of the amazing depth, quality, and passion within the Spokane wine scene. I knew I loved wine and I had been to a few of the local wineries from time to time. Over the course of the year, I’ve gotten to know the amazing entrepreneurs that make up the city’s winescape. Greg Lipsker of Barrister winery, Tim Nodland of Nodland Cellars, Rebecca Gunselman of Robert Karl Cellars have become friends beyond the wine. I’ve heard the inspiring love story of Davide and Stephanie Trezzi (Trezzi Farm Food & Wine). I watched the entry of Overbluff Cellars as they exploded on to the scene. Talking with Jim Van loben Sels of Arbor Crest shortly after the fire in the Cliff House mansion was motivational. Doug and Shelly Smith of Liberty Lake Wine Cellars have been so supportive and are always genuine and kind. One of my favorite interviews was with Mike Scott (former winemaker of Lone Canary). Mike and I chatted for hours and now every time I see him, I’m reminded of the friendship that developed through this blog. Each winery is a story of passion, risk and the pursuit of a dream.
Social media is powerful. I feel that I’ve been lucky to be able to tap into that power to build an audience and grow a brand. Some of it has been luck – but I’m pretty proud of the hard work I’ve put in over the last year. Not every phase of the journey has been rainbows and bunnies. I’ve been called a “bully, mean spirited and critical.” I’ve even had a local business tell me, “a lot negative thing are being said about you.” To those statements, I offer my apologies to whatever I did to cause those perceptions. For those that know me, you know that these statements are laughable. Aside from these views, the journey has been a blast.
I’m a numbers guy. I like stats. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that I’m addicted to Google Analytics. Here is a run-down on some of the fun numbers over the last year.
110,000 – The number of pages viewed at NectarWineBlog.com
83,000 – The number of visits to NectarWineBlog.com
47,000 – The number of visitors to NectarWineBlog.com
12,763 – The number of tweets (or mindless drivel) I’ve sent into the machine
11,800 – The number of YouTube videos watched on my channel
3,822 – The number of Facebook fans who “like” DrinkNectar
3,724 – The number of people who follow @nectarwine on Twitter
2,876 – The number of comments that have been made on the site.
When I read Gary Vaynerchuk’s words on content, passion and branding, I knew that I had to enter the social media world. “Social media is business – period,” says Gary. I didn’t completely define my voice before I began, that grew and became more refined along the way. I didn’t fully understand where I was going when I started, but I decided to take the journey regardless.
Today is the 317th post on this blog. Those posts have contained 132 “episodes.” 250 wines have received formal reviews (and hundreds more tasted at events). Every weekday (non-holiday) since February, I’ve posted something new. There was one exception; I posted late on a Sunday night to test the new functionality of the blog. Last Friday, I barely made it by posting at 11:58 PM. I think this commitment to content (hopefully quality content, but only you can be the judge of that) has been one of the single greatest drivers to the growth. As the content grows there are greater referrals from search engines and cross references on other sites.
An example of this is my most viewed post. “A Mojito Kind of Night” has been viewed almost 6,500 times (double any other post on the site). This post must have been properly tagged for SEO and people must really love their mojitos.
Apart from the mojito post, here are the top five most viewed posts on NectarWineBlog.com
#5 – What Makes a Good Wine List? Size Doesn’t Matter, 804 views: A little sex, a little sarcasm, and a little controversy helped this post receive views.
#4 – Spokane Wine Tour, 1108 views: I love that this is in the top 5. It shows that my efforts to shed a light on Spokane have worked.
#3 – Introducing Nectar Tasting Room, 1144 views: The support behind this post was mind blowing. According to tweet reach analytic sites, the hundreds of re-tweets and Facebook shares generated over 150,000 impressions (potential views).
#2 – The Guys Guide to Wine Part 2 of 4 – Got Grapes?, 2407 views: This series, and my Rock n Roll Wine List posts are two of my favorites and also two that started getting noticed. The longevity of this post (posted Dec 28, 2009) is what excites me. It still gets several page views per day.
#1 – 7 Creative Uses to Recycle Wine Bottles, 3004 views: This post became the definition of viral for me. I posted and tweeted and then stepped away to get some day job work done. I checked back into the Machine a few hours later only to see that the post had been re-tweeted nearly 50 times in a two hour period. As the day progressed, the numbers kept climbing and climbing. By the end of the day over 200 people had shared the post. The follow up post, Getting Crafty with Cork, sits just outside the top 5.
My Favorite Posts:
Apart from the previously mentioned Guys Guide and Rock n Roll Wine List posts, my favorite posts in the last year include some controversy and one from a guest writer.
The Tipping Point of A Maturing Wine Blog – The catalyst for this post was quotes from two respected wine writers who essentially say, “Wine blogs won’t make money.” The comments are more interesting than the post (as is the case with some of the controversial posts).
Kiona Wine Collaboration with The Wine Whore – Regardless of your stance on the oft maligned Wine Whore, Randy Watson is a genuinely nice guy. I enjoyed this post because we tried something different. Randy and I were each sent the same bottles of Kiona wine. The creative video shows a wine review separated by 3,000 miles and ends with a killer jam session (Randy on the drums and me on the guitar).
Seduce Your Palate – Why Food and Wine are Better Than Sex – One look at the opening image and you’ll see why this post is popular. Tamara Belgard, from the wine blog Sip With Me (now on hiatus because her blog led to a marketing job for an Oregon winery) was always one of my favorite writers to read. She never pulled any punches with her playful posts and whimsical style.
The Sport of Speed Wine Blogging – Inspired by the events at the 2010 Wine Bloggers Conference, this post introduces a new sport to the ESPN family of channels. Wine bloggers go glass to glass through seven rounds of grueling tasting. The results are pretty frickin’ funny (and shocking).
Is Facebook Tweeting Hurting Your Business – I’ve done quite a few social media posts over the year and this one was birthed out of the annoyance of people who automatically sync their Facebook status update to twitter. In the post I explain why this type of practice could hurt business and be counter-productive to your efforts.
As this post crosses the 1500 word threshold, I’ll end with the highlights. While I’ve enjoyed the media attention (both in print and on TV), I’m particularly proud of four things:
- Being nominated for “Best New Wine Blog” – while I didn’t win (that honor goes to the fine folks at www.swirlsmellslurp.com, it was exciting to be considered.
- Being featured in the Hello Vino wine app. To be included with the talented group of writers that are featured on the app is very humbling and inspires me to step up my game with every wine review.
- Rankings. Like I said before, I’m a numbers guy and I am excited about the high rankings on sites like Wikio.com and Postrank.com. While they don’t mean a ton in the grand scheme of things, they serve as validation points that someone is reading and watching.
- The launch of Spokane Wine Magazine and the anticipated opening of Nectar Tasting Room are the greatest tangible results from starting this blog. A year ago, neither would have been possible. Today, they are reality – all because of the relationships I’ve developed over the last year.
That brings me to the reason I sit on my ass every night, often times until well past midnight, tweeting, writing, editing video, and Facebooking…YOU! I have grown to love the interaction we have. YOU are what inspires me to keep doing this. So, here is a hopefully not too cheesy, “Thank you!”
Here is to another adventurous year. Enjoy life with friends, Drink Happy.
In August we began following the 2010 Barrister Winery Bacchus Cabernet Sauvignon from the grape to the glass. The 2010 vintage has been a nail-biter and with grapes being harvested on November 4, Barrister owners Greg Lipsker and Michael White waited until the last possible minute to get as much flavor in the grape as possible. Harvest time has arrived, now the work begins.
The Bacchus Cabernet vines, planted in 1972, are some of the oldest in the state. Wineries like Longshadows, Efeste, Walla Walla Vintners, and Barrister bring in grapes from Sagemoor group (Bacchus, Dionysus, Weinbau, and Sagemoor Farms). This year, Barrister is brought in 8 tons of Cabernet from Bacchus, nearly twice last year’s amount. The extended hang time in late October allowed the wines to slowly mature and develop in flavor without the additional sugar. Grapes were harvested at 24 brix (sugar level), down from the typical 26+ brix. The result will most likely be wines that are high in flavor without the high alcohol.
When the grapes arrive at Barrister, the process for making wine begins. A group of loyal volunteers and some paid staff move the grapes into a de-stemming and crushing machine. The volunteers remove clumps of dirt, leaves, and any raisin berries they can find. The grapes roll down the chute to be gently crushed. Barrister uses a gentle crush to not overly expose the skin which helps keep the tannin level more smooth. This is a trademark of Barrister wine. Once the grapes are crushed they then cold soak for 24-48 hours before entering fermentation.
Fermentation is the process where the grapes sugar converts to alcohol. Barrister ads four different yeasts during the fermentation process. The yeast is a food for the sugar as it converts to alcohol. Part four of the series will look at the fermentation process, punching down, pressing and moving the wine into various barrels.
Volunteers are the life blood of a small winery. “We could not do what needs to be done during crush without their help,” says Greg Lipsker. The volunteers arrive early and work late into the day on the de-stemming machine. Each volunteer leaves with sticky clothes, purple fingers, and a bottle of their favorite Barrister wine. Volunteers are also a part of bottling, racking, labeling, and more.
The 2010 vintage is in the books and now the grapes are in the talented hands of Greg Lipsker and Michael White to become the wine that we all have come to love. Continue to follow the journey from the grape to the glass as we look at fermentation to the barrel, barrel aging, and finally bottling. Stay tuned, as the 2010 vintage looks to be a special one that you won’t want to miss.