ValleyFogBlog


Waits-Mast interviewed on Vin Village Radio by valleyfog
October 23, 2008, 10:37 pm
Filed under: In the news | Tags: , ,

Hey – our first piece of publicity! Brian Mast of Waits-Mast Family Cellars was interviewed on Vin Village Radio yesterday. To listen to the 10-minute interview, go here. As a PR guy by day, I knew to be prepared with my Q&A and talking points, but the interviewer, Lynn Krielow Chamberlain, had some good, probing questions that I didn’t expect. So, basically, I tossed out the talking points and had fun talking about the good old days in the Midwest drinking my dad’s beer and the foul taste of wine coolers in college.

If you went to the movie Bottle Shock, listen in earlier as I believe they are interviewing Steven Spurrier (played brilliantly by Alan Rickman in the movie) to get the real scoop on what happened at the Judgement of Paris.

The radio show is also archived on iTunes radio, Live 365 and on Lynn’s own site www.winefairy.com. Enjoy!

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2008 Harvest: Hein and La Encantada Pressing by valleyfog
October 19, 2008, 12:34 am
Filed under: Winemaking | Tags: , , , ,
Hein juice being siphoned from the grapes and heading to the barrel.

Hein juice being siphoned from the grapes and heading to the barrel.

We’re wrapping up the labor-intensive part of the winemaking process as both our 2008 Hein Vineyard and La Encantada Vineyard Pinot Noirs were pressed this morning. Grapes from both of the vineyards came in less than two weeks ago and went through cold soak first and then fermentation. Cold soak usually lasts about 4-5 days and is intended to increase extraction of color and other compounds from the skins. During fermentation, the grapes go into a warm room and get as warm as 90+ degrees. It’s the process where the sugars, with the help of yeast, convert into alcohol.

So when the sugars in the grapes get down to about 2 brix or less, then it’s time for pressing. Luckily for our schedules, both Hein and La Encantada were ready for pressing at the same time. For Hein, we actually didn’t even need to press – our barrel is going to 100% free run juice. This is purely the juice from the bin in which the grapes have been soaked, punched down and fermented. After this many days, the skins of the grapes have broken down and there is a lot of juice in those bins. The main reason we did 100% free run is that some of the vineyards in Anderson Valley were affected by smoke from the fires in Mendocino County. To ensure that we didn’t get too much of the smoke residue that may be on the skins, we didn’t press the skins. That’s the one thing that is both exciting and stressful about making wine – every year is destined to be different. We sampled the Hein juice, which had a plum color with lavender tones, and it showed some bright fruit and a slightly earthy aroma. I think there could be some good complexity to this wine.

The zebra barrel (33% new oak staves) fills up with La Encatada Pinot Noir.

The zebra barrel (33% new oak staves) fills up with La Encatada Pinot Noir.

While there were wildfires up and down the state this summer and fall, La Encantada in Santa Barbara County wasn’t as affected by the smoke, so we went ahead and put free run and pressed juice into our barrel. The juice for La Encantada looks deeper and tastes intense and tart right now. I think this will be a pure fruit-intensive wine…it’s always hard to tell at this point, but things are looking good.

Mmmmm...gritty, unfiltered grape juice...the breakfast of champions.

Mmmmm...gritty, unfiltered grape juice...the breakfast of champions.

All of our Pinot Noirs this year are on a 33% new oak program, with one or two year old barrels making up the rest of the oak. We are mixing it up with the yeasts, though, sticking with native on Amber Ridge, but trying RC212 on Hein and La Encantada. So now we wait…and do barrel samples throughout the year to keep an eye on their progress. We’ll keep you posted!



2008 Crush Continues with Hein and La Encantada Vineyards by valleyfog
October 17, 2008, 9:36 am
Filed under: Winemaking | Tags: , , , ,
Here come the Hein grapes...watch out!!

Here come the Hein grapes...watch out!!

On Monday, October 6, our grapes from Hein Vineyard in Anderson Valley and La Encantada Vineyard in Santa Rita Hills came in for sorting. We were all a little worried about the rain that had passed through during the previous weekend, but the grapes looked very good upon arrival. The showers had cleared up around midday Saturday, so the grapes had a couple of warm (and windy in some locations) days to dry out. The timing of this harvest is an interesting contrast to the early September harvest for Amber Ridge. When these wines finally get bottled (patience, my friends) it will be fun to try all three side by side and enjoy the differences in location and climate (among other components of terroir).

Check out these beauties. Pinot Noir clusters from Anderson Valley.

Check out these beauties. Pinot Noir clusters from Anderson Valley.

Luckily for our schedule, grapes from Anderson Valley and Santa Rita Hills came in on the same day, so we rolled up our sleeves to sort through a couple of tons of grapes. Luckily, we had some help, all the way from Chicago. John Baglivo is also making wine with La Encatada grapes and he had just arrived from the Windy City to do his sort, too. For Hein, we sorted through a half ton of 115 clone and then a few pounds of Pommard clone. We’re looking forward to seeing the results of this co-ferment blend, as we haven’t used a Pommard clone before. Pommard can impart a more robust, fleshy characteristic, while the Dijon clone 115 tends to be lighter and brighter.

Getting our hands dirty on the line with some gorgeous La Encantada fruit.

Getting our hands dirty on the line with some gorgeous La Encantada fruit.

We sorted through two bins of La Encantada, but it went quickly because the clusters were almost flawless. Small clusters and small berries and little to no raisins and no sign of mold. The only real interlopers were some pincer-bugs, a stink bug and a drunk bee. We survived unscathed! The clones we sorted for La Encantada were Dijon clones 777 and 115. Again, 115 is a bit brighter, usually showing more red fruit like strawberry and cherry, and 777 tends to display more dark berry and have more structure and tannin going on.

All the while, we were being filmed by Carol, a videographer for Crushpad. After the sort, she sat down with Jennifer and me for a brief interview about our wine and why we are addicted to winemaking. Keep in mind that it was late in the night and I didn’t have all my speaking points prepared! Jennifer, of course, was charming and adorable. Also, the sound isn’t great because of the background noise at the winery. But enjoy nonetheless! Stay posted to this blog for updates on our 2008 wines and other happenings at Waits-Mast.



Benefit Tasting Raises $1300 for Leukemia & Lymphoma Research by valleyfog
October 5, 2008, 11:04 pm
Filed under: Events | Tags: , , ,
The fundraising benefit yesterday for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society was very successful. The benefit was hosted by my sister-in-law, Janine Penney, who is running the Nike Women’s Marathon (her first marathon) to raise money for those suffering from leukemia and lymphoma and other blood-related cancers.  Waits-Mast was the main draw, pouring three of our Pinot Noirs and pouring an Austrian Gruner Veltliner to start things off.

In total yesterday, she raised $1300 and will surpass her goal of raising $2500 for this important cause. The silent auction was responsible for a large part of the proceeds. Both the blending experience at Crushpad and the wine and cheese pairing party at A.G. Ferrari in Los Altos brought in big bids. Special thanks to both Crushpad and A.G. Ferrari for making a difference.

The Waits-Mast lineup awaits the thirsty crowds under the arbor.

The Waits-Mast lineup awaits the thirsty crowds under the arbor.

And the day was a beautiful day for wine-tasting. The weather threatened to bring us all inside and I was hopeful that the rain would pass and the sun would make way for a great outdoor tasting. It did, except for about five minutes when it started raining in the middle of the tasting. I was pouring wines under a beautiful arbor at the home of Suzie and Robert Waits, and everyone quickly joined me so they could stay dry. The rain passed and it kept the afternoon cool – perfect for sipping great Pinot Noir and sampling great cheeses.

If you still want to donate to Janine’s Team in Training efforts, you can do so here until October 8. GO TEAM!

The Monkey sez Go Team!

The Monkey sez Go Team!



Waits-Mast Pouring at Team in Training Benefit by valleyfog
October 1, 2008, 10:21 pm
Filed under: Events | Tags: ,

We’re pouring wine at our first benefit tasting this weekend. Jennifer’s sister Janine is running with Team in Training at the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco in a couple of weeks and is holding a special wine tasting event on Saturday featuring our wines. The proceeds go towards the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

We’ll be pouring our 2006 Hein Vineyard Pinot Noir and will be doing a special preview of our 2007 wines which were bottled in August. The 07s are not officially released yet, but are coming along quite well in the bottle and we’ll be eager to get the early reactions. Our friends at Crushpad have even donated a special blending experience to be auctioned off at the event.

We’re glad that we can contribute to this important cause. Probably many of us know someone that has had Leukemia or other blood-related cancers. My mother passed away five years ago at 69 from a blood-related cancer called myelodysplasia and my cousin just passed away from leukemia this summer at the age of 41. Team in Training is a great organization that gets people motivated to get in shape and make a difference by raising money for this cause. Back when I was in half-decent shape, I even did Team in Training and cycled over 100 miles near Tucson to raise funds. If you’re so inspired, Janine is still taking donations, up until October 7. You can donate at her Team in Training site here. And read more about her marathon training experience here…she ran 20 miles last weekend. Go J9! Go Team!