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Peay Estate Chardonnay: A Retrospective Tasting

Every August we invite our local sommeliers and wine directors to the vineyard for an event we call Peay Vineyards “Sommelier Love Fest.” Around 40-50 people drive all the way out to the coast for a special tasting followed by a seated dinner we prepare for them on the lawn. Everyone brings a few bottles of wine to share with the meal and we burn a bonfire and share stories deep into the night. It is our opportunity to serve and provide for our customers as they work the rest of the year representing us in their restaurants and shops.

In Pursuit of Balance?

It has become quite vogue to say you make wines of balance. I admit, I’ve said it myself. Peay is even a founding member of a group of wineries who promote balance in wines and cross the country (soon, the globe) spreading the word about balance in California Pinot noir and Chardonnay. But does anyone think they make wines of imbalance?

Older is Better

I’m writing this column to urge you, nay, to implore you, to create a little space in your life for aging your wines. And in my experience, it’s really not that difficult. You can do it, I know you can. I’ve done it in some pretty challenging circumstances. Here’s what you need to know.

Ceci, n’est pas un vin

A couple of years ago, I took my son Julian to see a performance at the Luther Burbank-Wells Fargo Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa located right here in Sonoma County. Our seats were on the balcony section so we headed toward the stairway that led up to the upper seating area. Taking the first step I glanced up toward the stairway landing whereupon I saw on the high white wall, artwork consisting of intricate figures made of wire. My gaze panned across the width of the wall where rushing, dancing clusters of human forms spanned across like chattering, gesturing tumbleweeds.

Great Expectations

People often ask me which of our Peay wines is my favorite. I usually find a way to say something positive about them all; for, it is true, I have liked all of our varieties best at one time or another. In the end, it really comes down to the vintage’s expression in a wine and my particular stylistic preference. I do so love the ‘04, ‘06 and ‘11 Chardonnays for their laser precision and minerality. And the ‘05, ‘07, ‘09 and ‘11 Syrahs capture the peppery, meaty, blood quality that thrills me. But I can say with no hesitation, that the 2012 Pinot noirs are my favorite Pinot noirs we have made, hands down.

Water Sommeliers: The Next Big Trend?

I read the title above this morning in The Daily Meal (All Things Food and Drink) and had a good chuckle. Apparently, the author was talking about more than just whether you’d like still or sparkling. His bottom line was that the establishments that are employing a water sommelier or training their servers/sommeliers on their extensive offerings of water options are attempting to improve the quality of the experience for you, their customers, in a meaningful way. Uh, sure, I guess?

Earning Your Stripes: the 2011 Vintage

When Nick and I decided to make estate wines, we agreed that we should only consider the viticultural potential of a site and not the impact the location would have on our personal lives. One site we considered would have had us living in a moldy trailer in horse country (we do not ride). Fortunately, we felt it was not ideal for the style of Pinot noir we wanted to make (the area was too warm. Phew). This focus led two bachelors—brothers to boot—to take up house on a remote hilltop 40 minutes from the nearest grocery store and an hour and a half from the closest “town.”

Zen and the Art of Fruit Maintenance

With the black and white monitor in my view, my obstetrician tapped the fuzzy image on the screen and said, “You are this close to being put on hospital bed-rest,” pinching the air to show me just how close.

These Boots are Made for Walking

Yes, I am the winemaker but the other hat that I wear is my self-proclaimed job title of “Assistant Grapegrower.” That is to say, I help Nick in his job of farming our estate grapevines to make wine.

Discovering a Sense of a Place

At the risk of diverting attention from the release for a moment, I want to share a recent experience. In late July I attended the International Pinot Noir Conference (IPNC) in McMinnville, Oregon.

Musings on Pinot

There is something immediate and eye-opening about the direct experience of travel to a far-away country. The hospitality industry as a whole caters to tourists yearning for the experience of a people and a place, yet, mostly offers up a simulacrum of the real thing. This is even more true with the vast majority of wine tourism.

Just Right

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to remember and retell a classic story? I was reading Goldilocks and the Three Bears to my 3 year-old son, Julian, and realized that I didn’t even have to read the text of the book.

2010: Superb, Pure & Expressive wines. All 3 cases made!

I am a farmer. Other than during harvest when I spend 40 days straight in my Carhartt workpants, this would not be abundantly obvious by just looking at me.

Vanessa Wong is…looking for yeast

I must confess, though I am not a total Luddite, I am not exactly what you’d call a cutting-edge techie, either.

I Exert for Dirt

My husband Nick is somewhat of an amateur geologist, a rock hound of sorts. As anyone who has visited our vineyard probably knows, if you query him about soil he will be more than happy to bend your ear about the interesting geologic events that led to the formation of the Coastal Ranges of California.