2010 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival Preview by valleyfog

Wentzel Vineyard in Philo, CA, Anderson Valley

The 2010 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival, taking place the weekend of May 14 – 16, 2010, is less than a month away and we can’t wait. This relatively small and intimate event is one of the highlights of our year.

Over the years, our many trips to Anderson Valley and this festival in particular greatly influenced our desire to make pinot noir. And after going for so many years, we enjoy running into old friends and making new ones.

Tickets to many of the events are still available but will likely sell out soon. Here is a preview of some of the events throughout the weekend, including inside scoop on what Waits-Mast Family Cellars will be pouring at the festival and an exclusive silent auction item that you can’t get anywhere else.

  • Technical conference: designed primarily for growers, winemakers and winery folks, this conference, happening on Friday, May 14, also appeals to the wine enthusiast. If you are passionate about pinot noir and want to learn more, the conference lets you jump in feet first into the world of growing, making and selling pinot noir. Wine writer Jordan MacKay will MC the event, which in the morning features more in-depth sessions on growing techniques, terroir and clones and a discussion of the 2008 vintage. The lunch at this conference is always amazing. It’s held behind the fairground building and everybody brings a bottle of their pinot noir, filling up the gazebo with an incredible variety of wines to sample. When you sit down for lunch at a picnic table, you’ll likely be sitting next to a winemaker or grower, so it’s a great opportunity to get to know people in the business first-hand.
  • Technical conference, part 2 & consumer tasting seminar: In the afternoon session, which is also sold as a separate consumer-friendly session at a lower price, featured tastings will include Savoy Vineyard wines from Roessler, Benovia and Radio-Coteau. Winemaker Jim Klein of Navarro will also pour a vertical of Navarro magnums from older vintages.
  • Social BBQ: If you haven’t had enough pinot noir on Friday, after the technical conference there is a social BBQ being held over at Standish Wine Co. It’s a great way to unwind in the warm valley atmosphere after all that talk of clones, microbes and yeast strains. And like lunch, everybody brings extra bottles and leaves them at a table for all to sample. If you’re a pinot noir lover, you’ll be like a pig in mud.
  • Grand Tasting: Speaking of pig in mud, over 40 producers will be pouring only Anderson Valley Pinot Noir at the Grand Tasting on Saturday, May 15, from 11am – 3pm. Waits-Mast Family Cellars will be pouring our 2006 and 2008 Hein Vineyard Pinot Noir from Anderson Valley. In addition, we’ll bring a small amount of barrel samples of our 2009 Pinot Noir from Rich Savoy’s Deer Meadows vineyard. For more info about this wine, check out our blog post on it from last harvest. Also featured during the Grand Tasting is a silent auction benefiting the Anderson Valley Health Center. Waits-Mast is donating a two-pack of Anderson Valley wines which will include the last available bottle of our 2007 Wentzel Vineyard Pinot Noir, which was named to the San Francisco Chronicle Top 100 Wines of 2009. If you’ve been aching to get your hands on this wine after it sold out in December, now’s your chance.
  • Winemaker dinners: if you can still get tickets to one of these, they are well worth it. Now, after the Grand Tasting your palate may be a bit tired out. But if you pace yourself, you’ll enjoy the rare wines and up-close interaction with winemakers at these dinners. Check out the lineup of dinners still available at the festival website.
  • Open House: on Sunday, March 16, fill yourself up with a hearty breakfast at the Boonville General Store and chart your course for the open house portion of the weekend. Wineries always pour something special and have great wine and food pairings.

As you can see, there’s a ton of stuff going on and no shortage of amazing wines to try and buy. We hope you’re able to make the drive to Anderson Valley and join us for the festival next month.


Spring Release: 2008 Russian River Pinot Noir from Amber Ridge Vineyard by valleyfog

2008 Waits-Mast Family Cellars Amber Ridge Pinot Noir

For our Spring release, Waits-Mast Family Cellars welcomes back an old friend — pinot noir from the Amber Ridge Vineyard in the Russian River Valley. This wine holds a special place in our heart as it was the one that got us hooked into making pinot noir. Our first venture into winemaking was in 2005 when we decided to make one barrel of pinot noir purely for the learning experience — and to drink and share some really good wine that had our name on the label.

Jumping into this whole winemaking thing was a big investment for us at the time and we spent hours tasting different barrel samples from various vineyards before finally arriving on Amber Ridge, an up-and-coming vineyard in Russian River Valley, as our choice. So, we jumped in and got our hands dirty to make this wine, and it ended up being an incredibly nuanced, aromatic and elegant pinot noir.

Suffice it to say, it exceeded our expectations. It also exceeded the expectations of our friends, who loved it so much they wanted to buy cases of the stuff.

This was the defining moment that took Waits-Mast from one barrel to a 200-case production micro-boutique brand that we are today. Okay, not quite the humongous rise to stardom, but a lot of good things have happened to us since we made that first wine – notably lots of other amazing wines that we have made since then.

When we finally got our hands on these grapes again, it was 2008. The 2008 harvest came in a little early on September 3rd and the clusters were small to medium and looked beautiful. The base clones for this wine are 115 and 667, together providing elegance and structure, respectively. To punch up the fruit a bit, we blended in a small percentage of 777 clone just before going into bottle.

The 2008 Amber Ridge Pinot Noir was bottled in September of 2009 after 12 months of barrel-aging in 33% new French oak. The nose pops with strawberry and red cherry and a little baking spice, along with hints of herbs. On the palate is the classic Amber Ridge that we love: sweet cherry, lush fruit, and a smooth, creamy finish. This wine is drinking very well right now and stands on its own by the glass or paired with pan-roasted pork tenderloin with Asian five-spice seasonings.

2008 Amber Ridge Pinot Noir

The 2008 Amber Ridge Pinot Noir is priced at $44/bottle and is now available in our online store. Enjoy!

Technical specifications:

Clones: 115/667/777

Alcohol content: 14.4% by volume

Fruit: 100% whole berry (no stems)

Fermentation: native yeast

Barrel aging: 12 months in French oak, 33% new (Francois Freres, MT)

Bottled: September, 2009

Production: 25 cases

Drink now through 2015

Price: $44/bottle

Release date: April 11, 2010

A Farmer’s Market for Wine: Pouring at SF Vintner’s Market on April 11 by valleyfog
April 4, 2010, 3:23 pm
Filed under: Events | Tags: , ,

Come see us at the SF Vintner's Market on April 11

Ever go to a big tasting event and fall in love with a wine and then never get a chance to buy that wine because it’s not for sale on site? That can be the frustrating thing about large wine tastings – you don’t get the satisfaction of buying the wine you like right there, just like in a tasting room. Well, problem solved with the SF Vintner’s Market happening on April 10 and 11 at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco.

Billed as a sort of farmer’s market for wine and designed to “bring the tasting room to San Francisco,” SF Vintner’s Market allows you to purchase any of the wines that you tried that day, on site at the tasting event. It is ideal for a small (nay, micro) wine label like Waits-Mast Family Cellars. We don’t have vineyards and we don’t have a tasting room, yet we make great wine that we love to get in the hands of pinot noir lovers. So this “try it and buy it” experience will be great for the many folks who prefer to taste their way through their options, then purchase their favorites from the day.

While the event runs two days, we’re just going to be pouring on Sunday, April 11, so please join us on Sunday. We’ll be pouring Waits-Mast Pinot Noir wines from 12pm to 5pm and you’ll be able to purchase whatever we’re pouring that day on site at the event. You’re likely to get a chance to try our Spring release, although we haven’t decided on the final lineup of wines at this point. Stay close to this blog for more detail and otherwise, we hope to see you at the Vintner’s Market on the 11th.

If you buys tickets in advance online, you can get 50% off by using the code: halfprice.