Filed under: Events | Tags: Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival 2013, Apple Farm, Boonvill Hotel, Greenwood Ridge, Husch, Pinot Noir, Scharffenberger
Tickets for the 2013 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival are almost sold out at the Anderson Valley Winegrowers’ website. The event is being held May 17 – 19, 2013 at various venues in the valley. The Pinot Noir Festival is really our favorite time of year — we’ve attended the festival for many years and this will be the fifth year Waits-Mast Family Cellars is pouring at the Grand Tasting.
A few of the events still have tickets available, including the technical conference, the Friday night BBQ being held this year at Scharffenberger Cellars, the Grand Tasting and one winemaker dinner on Saturday night. We are not hosting a winemaker dinner this year, instead attending the winemaker dinner at the Apple Farm with Husch and Greenwood Ridge.
For the first time, though, Waits-Mast Family Cellars is actually going to host an open house on Sunday. Most, if not all, of the wineries host an open house on Sunday, opening library wines and offering wine and food pairings. Open houses are also great for attendees of the Grand Tasting who want to purchase wines the day after the tasting.
We are hosting our open house at one of our favorite spots in the valley, the Boonville Hotel. Last year the Boonville Hotel converted their lobby shop to a wine room, offering a selection of wines from both in and outside the valley. Mark Mendenhall, the wine director at Table 128, the incredible restaurant at the Boonville Hotel, runs the wine room and also has Waits-Mast Pinot Noir on the list at the restaurant.
Our open house will be held at the hotel from 3pm to 5pm on Sunday, May 19 and we’ll be pouring a selection of our 2010 wines and perhaps a few surprises. It will be the perfect stop as you make your way out of town at the end of a blissful weekend of Pinot Noir.
We’ll be in the valley as early as Thursday and will definitely enjoy the technical conference on Friday the 17th. It’s always a great blend of nitty-gritty wine geek stuff and tastings. This year, they will be holding a tasting of Pinot Noir Blanc – “white” wine from this classic red grape (hint: you press the grapes before any extended skin contact).
The Grand Tasting on Saturday features 45 producers of Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, one of the largest array of wineries at the festival. We’ll be pouring our 2010 Pinot Noirs from Anderson Valley including the Londer Vineyard and Wentzel Vineyard Pinot Noir. There will be plenty of other incredible Pinot Noirs being poured by some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, including folks from wineries like Baxter, Breggo, Drew, Elke, Frati Horn, Knez, Handley, Husch, Londer, MacPhail, Navarro, Phillips Hill, Scharffenberger, Roederer Estate and many more.
If you haven’t gotten your tickets yet – move fast! We hear that they are also offering shuttles to and from the valley and the coast, where there are more hotels and lodging options. We hope to see you there!
Filed under: Events, New releases, Tasting notes | Tags: Luke, pinot days, Pinot Days Chicago, Pinot Days Chicago 2013, Rose, tasting events, Waits-Mast Pinot Noir
It’s been a year and a half since the last Pinot Days Chicago, so we were looking forward to the opportunity to pour Waits-Mast wines for our Chicago fans once again. During a particularly crazy weather week, we headed to the Navy Pier for yesterday’s event. Luckily the rains/snow/flooding of the previous few days had subsided, although we were alarmed to see black smoke emanating from a fire at the O’Hare airport (apparently just an emergency training exercise) as we drove to the tasting. After safely arriving at our destination (a gorgeous room at the Navy Pier with a lake view), we set up our signage, bottles, and literature for the expected crowds of Pinot Noir consumers and industry folks.
Although this is the 5th time that we’ve poured our wines at Pinot Days Chicago, it had been a year and a half since the last event in November, 2011. Traveling to Chicago had become a fall tradition for us, so it was strange to not be there last November. Thankfully the event still took place, moving to April this year.
During this year’s Pinot Days Chicago we poured three of our more recent releases, including our recently bottled 2012 Waits-Mast Rosé of Pinot Noir from Mendocino County as well as our 2010 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir from Londer Vineyard and our 2010 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir from Wentzel Vineyard.
It was exciting to launch our brand new rosé at Pinot Days. Bottled on March 30, this is our very first rosé. Crafted from fruit from some of our favorite vineyards in Anderson Valley and Mendocino, we think it’s pretty delicious and were looking forward to hearing what others thought of this wine. We only made 24 cases of our 100% Pinot Noir rosé, so we only brought a few bottles to the tasting for the rosé’s public debut. Despite the chilly spring weather in Chicago, tasters were quite complimentary about the rosé (although some inevitably declined to taste it, preferring to stick to full-on Pinot Noir). In addition to the rosé, we also poured two other wines from Mendocino County – our 2010 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir from Londer Vineyard and our 2010 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir from Wentzel Vineyard. Here are some tasting notes from some of the attendees who stopped by our table:
2012 Waits-Mast Rosé of Pinot Noir, Mendocino County:
“fine mineral quality” (from a non-rosé fan)
“I wouldn’t send this back”
would be “great with Chilean sea bass – best of both worlds, taste of red, refreshing [quality of a] white”
“nice and refreshing”
“my favorite of the day”
“this is the best thing here”
2010 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir, Londer Vineyard, Anderson Valley:
“love the smell, can’t place it”
“smokiness on the nose”
there’s a “very feminine grace to this”
“dances across your tongue”
“violets on the nose”
“almost like tangerine” (on the tongue as a top note)
“red fruit in nose”
2010 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir, Wentzel Vineyard, Anderson Valley:
“dryer finish” (than Londer)
“rich, nice structure”
“fruitier smell” (compared with Londer)
“good with salmon, it would stand up to the fat”
“such a great expression of Pinot”
All in all, Pinot Days Chicago was great fun for us. We saw many old friends (fans, family, industry folks, and fellow winemakers) and were also happy to introduce our wines to many people who had never tried our wines before. We did miss seeing our #1 fan, Luke – we waited patiently for him to arrive at our table, hoping for some poetic pronouncements about our wine. Alas, we hope to see him next year. But, perhaps one of my favorite moments was when renowned winemaker Brian Loring of Loring Wine Company complimented us on our wines and applauded us for our small production, saying, “dare to be small.”
Filed under: Events, Restaurants, Retail, reviews, Vineyards, Winemaking | Tags: 2012 Pinot Noir vintage, anderson valley pinot noir, New Year's, Pinot Days Chicago, Pinot Noir, Rex Pickett, Sideways, Waits-Mast Pinot Noir
With 2012 barely a glimmer in our rear-view mirror, we’re excited about all that 2013 will bring. 2012 was a good year in many ways, so we thought we would take a quick look back at some of the highlights of the year for our little winery and provide a brief preview of what to expect in 2013. Here are four things, in no particular order, about 2012 that made the year in winemaking for Waits-Mast Family Cellars a great one, plus a preview of things to come:
1. The 2012 Vintage: the growing season this year was consistent and cool with minimal disruptions. A few heat spikes here or there, but nothing to worry about. In 2012, we became more focused on Mendocino County and decided to only use pinot noir fruit sourced from that region, working with vineyards from Anderson Valley to Mendocino Ridge to Comptche. We worked with a total of five different vineyards this year, continuing with Wentzel Vineyard in Anderson Valley and Oppenlander Vineyard in Comptche. We returned to Deer Meadows Vineyard, 1600 feet above Anderson Valley and worked with two vineyards for the first time: Nash Mill in Anderson Valley and Mariah in the Mendocino Ridge appellation. Besides being in Mendocino County, what these vineyards also have in common is that each is independently-owned, small and well managed. We just barrel tasted the 2012s the other day and we’re excited for this vintage – but patience will need to prevail as the wines will be in barrel for a number of months (except for a rosé…wait, did we say rosé? Look at the 2013 preview for more info.)
2. Tasting Events: 2012 was a year where we poured at more events than ever. We continued to pour at our favorites, like the Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival and Pinot Days, but also tried out some new events like Taste of Mendocino and Winesong. And every once in a while, a special opportunity comes along. Being able to pour our wine at Sideways the Play in Santa Monica this past summer was a blast. The play naturally drew a crowd of Pinot Noir fans and it was a treat for Brian to meet Rex Pickett, author of Sideways and Vertical. The best thing about all of these events is seeing old friends and meeting new ones. We’re always up for talking about wine, whether we’re geeking out about clones or cold soaks or just enjoying the wine and trading stories with our visitors. Inevitably, a colorful remark or gesture arises and our day is made.
3. Accolades: our wines continued to garner strong trade press and blog reviews. Each of our 2009 vintage Pinot Noir wines received good reviews in outlets like Wine Enthusiast, PinotFile, Wine & Spirits, Daily Sip and more. The inclusion in Wine & Spirits’ “Best 100 Wines of 2012″ was definitely a highlight. We were honored to have the 2009 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir from Deer Meadows Vineyard featured among some of the best wines across the world. In the PinotFile newsletter, our 2009 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir from Oppenlander Vineyard in Mendocino County received a Pinot Geek rating from the Prince of Pinot and made his 2012 California Pinot Noir All-Americans list (honorable mention).
4. Restaurants and Wine Shops: we’ve been working hard to get our wines in restaurants and wine shops to make it easier for people to try and buy our wines. It was great to have the support and response from wine stores like Wine Club Santa Clara, K&L Wines, SF Wine Trading Co, Canyon Market, Wine Exchange, Robert’s Market, and Little Vine. And we’re thrilled to be placed on some incredible wine lists at restaurants like Kokkari, Michael Mina, Brasserie S&P, Liberty Cafe, The Hobbit, moto, L2o, Acadia, Boonville Hotel, MacCallum House and more. For a full list of restaurants and wine stores that carry our wine, go to the News section of our website.
5. 2013 – a preview: Okay, so here is a short list of things we’re excited about in 2013:
- Releasing our other two 2010 wines from Oppenlander Vineyard & Archer Family Vineyard (RRV) this Spring
- Releasing our first rosé of Pinot Noir this Spring (see photo above)- wine club members will get it first. It is a saignée of the fruit from three different vineyards and it is tasting great already. More to come.
- Bottling our 2011s and tasting them along the way to see which ones will be ready for a Fall release
- Pinot Days Chicago – it used to be in November, but now is in April. We love the “home crowd” here as Brian’s Midwestern roots harken him back home.
- The 2013 vintage – so hard to think about the next vintage when we feel like we just wrapped up 2012, but harvest will be here before you know it.
- Hopefully seeing and hearing from you, our fans, along the way. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for all of these updates and more.
With that, we wish you the happiest of New Year’s and a bountiful and peaceful 2013.
Filed under: Events | Tags: Pinot Days Southern California, Pinot on the River, SF Vintner's
Things are slowing down just a little bit at the winery as harvest is past us and pressing is just around the corner. Soon enough, all the wine will be in barrels awaiting secondary fermentation and a nice winter’s rest. But no rest for the winemakers as we’ll be hitting the tasting trail shortly.
After being in the winery so much, focusing on the current vintage, it’s nice to get out there and pour our current releases for Pinot Noir fans. Here are a few upcoming events happening this Fall:
Pinot on the River, October 21, 2012: At Pinot on the River we’ll be joined by 100 small-production artisanal Pinot Noir producers on the Healdsburg Plaza in downtown Healdsburg in Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley. It’s a beautiful spot and time of year to stroll around the plaza and taste some amazing Pinot Noir. Friends of Waits-Mast Family Cellars can get 10% off ticket price by using this code: Waits2012. For more information on Pinot on the River, go here.
Pinot Days Southern California, November 11, 2012: Usually this time of year we are pouring at Pinot Days Chicago, but the events have been moved around. Pinot Days Southern California is now in November (Pinot Days Chicago will be in April of next year). The event is being held at the Shrine Auditorium from 2-5pm. For more information on Pinot Days Southern California, go here.
SF Vintner’s Market, November 17-18, 2012: Vintner’s Market is a great event where you can taste and purchase wines that are hard to find or try anywhere else. Unlike most tasting events, at Vintner’s Market, if you try a wine you really like, you can purchase right there on the spot. The event will be held at the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco. For more information on Vintner’s Market, go here.
Stay tuned to our website at http://www.waitsmast.com in the News section for additional tasting events. We hope to see you out there!
Filed under: Awards, reviews | Tags: 100 Best Wines 2012, 2009 Deer Meadows Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, annual buyer's guide, Top 100, Wine & Spirits
When we saw our 2009 Waits-Mast, Deer Meadows Pinot Noir from Anderson Valley and our 2009 Waits-Mast, La Encantada Pinot Noir from Sta. Rita Hills featured in Wine & Spirits‘ April 2012 issue of 129 Best American Pinot Noirs, we were very excited and honored. With a 94 point rating for the Deer Meadows and a 91 point rating for the La Encantada, it was great to be featured amongst other leading Pinot Noir from California and Oregon.
But when we found out that the 2009 Waits-Mast from Deer Meadows Vineyard was going to be included in Wine & Spirits‘ 100 Best Wines of 2012 in their 26th Annual Buying Guide (on newsstands this week), we were downright dumbfounded. Not because the wine isn’t a very special wine – it is a complex, layered and nuanced wine that has brought some to tears – but just because we’re this little micro-boutique winery making only 200 or 300 cases per year.
To be featured among 99 other amazing wines of all varietals from around the world, and among the eight Pinot Noir wines featured from California and Oregon, is thrilling, to say the least.
Well, enough about us, here’s what Wine & Spirits said about the wine: “94 points…a rich red fruit flavor of tiny woodland berries, tart and fragrant. There’s a salty porcini note, a coastal forest feel, delicate and harmonious.”
The Deer Meadows, like many of our 2009s, has been very popular among our fans and retail and restaurant customers. We are starting to run low on inventory of this wine – we only made 48 cases and have about 10 cases left.
That scarcity will continue after the 2009 vintage, as we will not have any more Deer Meadows Pinot Noir available until we bottle our 2012 vintage, so acquire some of this special wine today by going to our webstore. If you’re not in a state we ship to, San Francisco Wine Trading Company carries it online and can ship to most states. You can also find the 2009 Deer Meadows at Robert’s Market in Woodside, Canyon Market in San Francisco, and at the following Northern California restaurants: Kokkari, Liberty Cafe, Cin-Cin Wine Bar & Restaurant, Boonville Hotel and MacCallum House.
Filed under: Winemaking | Tags: Anderson Valley, harvest 2012, Mendocino County, Waits-Mast Pinot Noir
We love making wine in the city, but sometimes there are challenges inherent to being several hours away from the vineyards. People might think we’re kind of crazy, choosing to make wine in San Francisco, from some of the furthest Pinot Noir vineyards from the city. Clearly, our love for Anderson Valley and Mendocino County fruit drives us to extremes. But we love it nonetheless.
This time of year, though, logistics are incredibly tricky. With long, windy roads and last-minute picks being juggled with busy work and life schedules, it takes a village to get our fruit into the winery and processed. Luckily we work with incredible vineyard owners who typically deliver their fruit to us, even though it can be a 3-hour drive from Mendocino County to San Francisco.
Our appreciation for this generosity has skyrocketed after this weekend. We had a few pick bins that we needed to take back to Anderson Valley and we figured it would be pretty straight-forward to rent a truck for this purpose. After extensive research, Brian found the ideal truck from U-Haul and reserved it online. We arrived at a San Francisco U-Haul location at 9am on Saturday, waited in line for 20 minutes, and then learned that the reserved truck would have to be returned by 1pm, even though Brian had reserved a 24-hour rental.
Exasperated, we returned home and hit the phones in order to procure another truck. Brian was elated when he found an even cheaper rental with no mileage restrictions. After booking it, we drove 45 minutes south to Palo Alto to pick up the truck. Ironically, as we traveled along Arastradero Road in Palo Alto en route to the car rental place, we spotted vineyards that I’d never seen before. I felt like they were taunting us.
As we pulled into the lot at Alamo in Palo Alto, Brian got a call on his cell phone telling him that they didn’t have trucks at that location. At this point I started getting flashbacks to a bad Ikea parking lot incident that brought out the dark side of mild-manner Brian. Sensing his frustration, the folks at Alamo suggested that Brian rent a large cargo van instead. After taking some measurements, Brian opted for the van.
By 2pm he was nearly on his way, but determined that he could only fit 2 bins in the van, even though we had 4 bins total to return. Guess those other 2 bins will have to wait….Brian finally made it up to Anderson Valley before sundown. Because of his late arrival, he accepted a kind offer from a vineyard owner to spend the night. Our daughter’s depiction of that happy arrival is pictured below.
Spending the night proved to be a good thing, as it meant that Brian could do vineyard checks on Sunday. Anderson Valley (and the entire Bay Area) experienced a heat spike both Sunday and today, so it was an excellent chance to see how imminent harvest would be.It looks like our next round of fruit will arrive tomorrow, with more to follow this week.
Filed under: Vineyards, Winemaking | Tags: 2012 harvest, anderson valley pinot noir, Deer Meadows Vineyard, Nash Mill Vineyard, Oppenlander Vineyard, Pinot Noir, Waits-Mast Pinot Noir, Wentzel Vineyard
Over the weekend we made a trip up to Anderson Valley and Mendocino to check in on some of the vineyards that we source fruit from for Waits-Mast Family Cellars. We figured that harvest was getting close, but we didn’t realize just how close. Based on visits to two of the vineyards, we decided that Monday, September 24 was the day to start harvesting some of our fruit.
On Saturday we toured through Deer Meadows Vineyard with owner Rich Savoy. We are thrilled to be working with Deer Meadows again after crafting an amazing wine from the vineyard in 2009. It was a toasty warm day when we visited and we heard throughout the weekend that this warm-up came after some recent cool weather. As we drove up to see the vineyard at 1600 feet above Boonville, we passed a trio of vultures. Two of them looked quite dramatic, with their wings spread far apart. We assumed they were guarding a fresh kill, but Rich said that they were probably just sunning themselves.
When we got to the vineyard, Rich was out pulling cluster samples from various sections of the vineyard. We met up with him to continue the process and taste some berries. After pulling samples of the various clones of Pinot Noir that we get from his vineyard, we convened in his outdoor lab in order to check out sugar and acid levels for the fruit. First we measured the weight of various cluster sizes, then we took a look at sugar levels of the samples. Finally, by using Rich’s small manual grape press, we combined all of the grapes in order to get overall readings for acid and sugar.
Brian recently purchased a shiny new refractometer, so we were able to use it for the first time, comparing its readings to those obtained by Rich’s optical refractometer. Our daughter, who has been learning all about measurement in her first grade class, was also put to work. Although she complained vociferously about the heat, the bugs, and about being hungry; she enjoyed tasting the sweet grapes and relished getting an opportunity to squeeze juice onto the refractometers.
On Sunday we made it to three more vineyards: Oppenlander, Nash Mill (a new vineyard for us this year), and Wentzel. After driving out to Comptche and tasting the grapes at Oppenlander (and getting confirmation from our 6-year-old super taster), it was clear that they still had a ways to go. Our sugar readings confirmed that. Brian walked the vineyards and tasted through the rows at Nash Mill in Anderson Valley and was confident that the fruit there still needed more time to ripen as well.
Our final stop of the weekend was Wentzel Vineyard, up in the hills above Philo. Our very first commercial release was from Wentzel Vineyard fruit in 2007 and it was magnificent, even grabbing a spot in the San Francisco Chronicle’s Top 100 Wines of 2009 feature. We didn’t have access to the vineyard in 2008 and 2009, but have been thrilled to be sourcing from Wentzel again since 2010.
Owner Roland Wentzel was there when we stopped by on Sunday afternoon and he drove us out to see the fruit. When we got to the section of the vineyard that we source our fruit from, we were startled by what sounded like gun shots. Roland explained that he had a propane cannon set up to scare off bears. Set on a timer, the cannon emitted loud blasts every 5 minutes that definitely made us jump every time we heard them.
Roland also showed us additional bear-proofing in the form of a solar-powered electric fence that had peanut butter slathered on it. Last year a bear showed up for the first time at Wentzel Vineyard and made off with a bunch of the harvest. When the grape-loving bear returned again this year for a small snack in the vineyard a few weeks ago, Roland decided to employ the cannon and electric fence in order to keep the vineyard safe from predators.
While walking through the rows and tasting the fruit at Wentzel (our daughter was dying to eat an entire cluster), we collected samples to take back to Roland’s kitchen lab. After doing a bunch of readings, it seemed clear that we should harvest the following day.
So, on Monday, we had our first harvests of the year. We picked one clone of Pinot Noir at Deer Meadows and picked the entire field blend that we use from Wentzel Vineyard. Both picks arrived in San Francisco late in the afternoon on Monday looking beautiful. We hand-sorted all of the fruit and both sorts were fast and easy. We picked out leaves and an occasional raisin, but for the most part the berries were gorgeous and delicious.
We’re not sure what next week will have in store, but we’re carefully monitoring all of the remaining vineyards. We’re expecting additional clones from Deer Meadows and are still waiting to begin harvesting from our blocks at Oppenlander, Nash Mill, and Mariah Vineyards (a Mendocino Ridge vineyard that is new for us this year).