2010 Holiday Specials on Waits-Mast Pinot Noir by valleyfog

We’re wrapping up another great vintage at Waits-Mast Family Cellars as you get ready to wrap up your holiday presents during this festive season. To help you out, we have a few holiday specials on our award-winning wines. These specials are available exclusively at our webstore:

Small-lot pinot noir, hand-numbered bottles

2010 Holiday Specials

Savings on Shipping through 12/31/10
To lighten the load on your holiday expenses, we’re offering two different specials on shipping:

50% off ground shipping: Order up to 11 bottles of any wine and get 50% off ground shipping. Just go to the purchase page, choose your wines and enter the code HALF in the coupon code box and hit “apply.”

Free ground shipping: Order a case (12 bottles) or more and get free ground shipping. This is in addition to our standard 10% discount on the price of a case or more. Just enter the code CASE in the coupon code box and hit “apply.”

• Both specials apply to any products in our store including the La Encantada Double-Vintage Pack (see below). The shipping special runs from November 29, 2010 through December 31, 2010.

La Encantada Double-Vintage Pack

Sample both vintages of our La Encantada Vineyard Pinot Noir from the Sta. Rita Hills at a special two-pack price of $89. Sourced from Richard Sanford’s certified organically-grown vineyard in Santa Barbara County, each of these pinot noirs has its own personality, reflective of the vintage and variations in winemaking style. The 2007 is smoky, spicy with lush dark cherry, blackberry and a hint of cola. The 2008 is bright and vibrant, with cranberry, cherry, plum and an ever-so-slightly toasty nose. Both wines are food-friendly wines with lots of complexity and structure. There are only a few bottles of the 2007 left, so this is a very limited offering.

Gift Guide
Not sure which wine to get for your friends, family or co-workers? Check out our gift guide – designed to match each personality in your life.

We are down to a just a few cases each for our current releases, so visit our webstore today to take advantage of these specials while the wines are available.

Happy Holidays from Waits-Mast Family Cellars!

Holiday Gift Guide for Pinot Noir Lovers by valleyfog
November 28, 2010, 11:25 pm
Filed under: Tasting notes | Tags: , ,

2008 Waits-Mast Family Cellars Amber Ridge Pinot Noir

Not sure what to get for that special someone? Here’s the insider’s guide to our current releases for every personality on your shopping list:

SPICY: 2008 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir, La Encantada Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills (released in September; approximately 10 cases left):  well-balanced and integrated with lots of layers and that develop over time; wonderful fruity/slightly earthy aroma and spices on the mid-palate – a very well-rounded wine. Slightly tart, but smooths out over time; excellent with food and perfect for the holiday meal and all of its spices. 92 pts. Wine Enthusiast and silver medal, 2010 San Francisco International Wine Competition.

SASSY: 2008 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir, Amber Ridge Vineyard, Russian River Valley (5 cases left): A lush, yet balanced pinot noir with blueberry pastry on the nose; it definitely shows a little leg with its raspberry and sweet cherry flavors. And just to keep your attention a little longer, it has a nice hint of nutmeg on the finish. A great sipper on its own, but also pairs well with dishes with Asian spices. Silver medal, 2010 San Francisco International Wine Competition.

EARTHY: 2008 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir, Hein Vineyard, Anderson Valley (3 cases left): very earthy/mushroomy nose; if you like da funk, this wine has da funk – more so than when we first released it; the fruit and spice flavors are perfect for this season with its holiday spices: clove, cinnamon, cherry & cranberry. Gold medal, 2010 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

BOOKISH: 2007 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir, La Encantada Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills (less than 3 cases left): brooding and complex, this one has taken time to pull its nose out of the books with a toasty aroma, and integrated red and dark berry flavors; a hint of eucalyptus on the nose, too; smoothing out and drinking well now; this was awesome with the bacon-cornbread stuffing we made last year for Thanksgiving

FICKLE: La Encantada Vineyard Double-Vintage Pack: can’t decide on just one of these wines from Sta. Rita Hills? Get the two pack, one from the 2007 and 2008 vintages of our La Encantada pinot noir. Open them at the same time with your friends to compare and contrast vintages and flavors from an incredible vineyard, organically farmed by Richard Sanford.

You can find these all at our webstore here. Or if you are in the San Francisco Bay Area or Chicago, go to the News tab of our website for availability of our wines at a fine wine merchant near you.

Happy shopping!

Holiday Shipping Deadlines for Waits-Mast Wines by valleyfog
November 22, 2010, 12:28 pm
Filed under: News | Tags: , ,

Happy Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving this week, the annual tradition of holiday shopping is already upon us. A few strands of lights are starting to appear, holiday songs are popping up on the radio and Christmas lists are already being made at our home.

If you’re getting your holiday gift-giving plans going, we wanted to make sure you knew our shipping deadlines for Waits-Mast pinot noir.

While it’s too late to have wine sent in time for Thanksgiving, there are a number of retail outlets where you can still pick up a bottle or two. Take a look at our website for a list of stores.

If you are planning to have wine sent to you for the winter holidays via ground delivery, please be mindful of the weather. If there are extremely cold temperatures outside, then we recommend that you either have you wine sent at a different time or expedite your order by using overnight delivery.

If you are trying to ship to have our wine arrive before or by December 25, follow this time line:

TIMELINE** Orders Due Ship Date
GROUND 4-7 Days 14-DEC 15-DEC
3DAY 3 Days 20-DEC 20-DEC
2DAY 2 Days 21-DEC 21-DEC
3-TIER* 3-6 8-DEC 9-DEC

*  AZ orders may take longer based upon address
**  Timeline shown is in business days from the ship date
***  Orders are due by 12pm pacific

Not sure what to get for that special someone? Here’s a guide to our current releases:

These wines are all available in our webstore. If you’re in the Bay Area or Chicago, you may find them at the retailers listed on our website. Not sure if we ship to your state? Email us at to find out if we can ship to your area.

If you end up serving Waits-Mast to your family and friends for Thanksgiving or during the winter holidays, we’d love to hear your stories (and see your photos) documenting what you drank and what you paired it with. We’ll feature a selection of those stories in a future post.

Sign up on our mailing list for more details and access to special allocations and other news. If you want to get more regular updates from us, become a fan of Waits-Mast on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @WaitsMast.

“Tastes Like Fall in a Glass”: Pinot Days Chicago 2010 by Jennifer

Before the Crowds Arrived at Pinot Days Chicago 2010

After a cold summer and fall in San Francisco, it was a treat to fly into Chicago last week during their fall heat wave. The 70 degree temperatures when we arrived were a lovely welcome and were perhaps indicative of what a great weekend we had in store for us.

This was our 3rd time at Pinot Days Chicago and it’s always been one of our favorite events as we have family, friends, and a growing number of customers in the Chicago area. This year we decided to do a few more events than usual, and started things off with a distributor-only tasting on Thursday, Nov. 11th. We’re still not sure if we’re big enough for a distributor yet, but it was great to meet and greet and get some feedback on our wines. Following that event we headed over to the Eno Wine Room at the Fairmont Millennium Park for a special “Meet the Winemakers” tasting. Several wineries were dispersed throughout the lobby bar and folks were invited to stop by to taste the wines and chat with the winemakers. A few of our friends came to the Eno Wine Room tasting, so it was nice to see some familiar faces.

The Crew from the Chicago Food Whores blog

The big event was on Saturday, November 13th, with both the public Pinot Days tasting and trade tasting taking place at Navy Pier. We were floored by the number of people who came out for Pinot Days this year. For the first time ever, we completely poured through all of the sample bottles of wine that we brought. In case you’re curious, we poured our 2008 Waits-Mast Family Cellars Pinot Noir from La Encantada Vineyard in Sta. Rita Hills and our 2008 Waits-Mast Family Cellars Pinot Noir from Amber Ridge Vineyard in Russian River.

We got some great feedback on the wines, but things were so hectic that Jennifer wasn’t able to capture as many great quotes as in 2009 and 2008. Tasters seemed to enjoy both wines, saying that the 2008 La Encantada “tastes like fall in a glass,” with “great acidity” and a lovely aroma. One person said that the La Encantada was in their “top 3” wines of the entire day at Pinot Days, with others commenting, “this is my favorite so far.” In terms of the 2008 Amber Ridge, people said that it was “velvety,” had a “great aroma,” pointed out that “this could be a staple [wine]” and that it is “very food-friendly” and could pair with an entree right through to dessert.

Probably most gratifying of all, we had several people stop by at the end of the day (when things were starting to get sloppy at Pinot Days!) and said that after being around the entire room our wines were still their favorites.  It was equally satisfying to meet people who had been to our table in past years, several of whom had bought our wines before.

Jennifer, our #1 Fan Luke, and Brian (Photo by Paul Riismandel)

Our “#1 Fan” Luke came by again this year and greeted us by exclaiming, “These are Alchemists!” He’s a charmer and we swear we don’t have him on our payroll, although his pronouncements about our wine would make great ad copy. He also said to us that our winemaking project is “like a cause.” We couldn’t agree more!

After talking all day, Jennifer was also happy to have a taster tell her, “You don’t have to talk, the wine speaks for itself,” especially since she was choking on a chocolate-covered espresso bean at the time. Sweet!

Thanks to Luke and to everyone else for making us feel like rock stars this past weekend. We’re not sure that we’ll be able to quit our day jobs just yet (as one taster predicted), but all of the kind words at Pinot Days Chicago surely made our day.

Harvest 2010: Oppenlander Vineyard Crush and Pressing by valleyfog

Oppenlander Fruit Upon Arrival at Winery, Oct. 2010. Photo by Jennifer Waits.

For many vineyards in the cooler growing valleys and hillsides in Northern California this year, it was unclear when — and sometimes if — grapes would ripen. That was certainly the case at Oppenlander Vineyard in Comptche, California. As we mentioned in our profile of this tucked-away vineyard, it is a little closer to the coast and experiences cooler growing conditions. And with the 2010 growing season as cool as it was, predicting a pick date was like throwing darts.

Luckily a warm beginning to autumn, with no rain in sight for most of October, prodded things along in Mendocino County. By the second week of October, the sugars had passed 23 Brix and pH was hovering around 3.3. Vineyard owners, the Shandels, picked the 114 clone of their pinot noir on October 14 and trucked it on down to us in San Francisco for our Waits-Mast Pinot Noir.

Punching down Oppenlander fruit, October, 2010. Photo by Brian Mast

We knew that the vineyard struggled to ripen this year and so the fruit looked slightly uneven. But as we set to work on sorting, we meticulously sifted through the clusters and berries, throwing away any questionable ones. Berries were small to medium sized and clusters ranged from small and tight to medium and loose.

After a five-day cold soak, the 1.18 tons of fruit went into fermentation mode and needed inoculation with RC212 to stoke the fermentation and get those yeasts converting sugar to alcohol at the right pace.  As we did punchdowns on the fruit, we could start to see that wonderful, vibrant color that we remembered from our 2009 Oppenlander crush and pressing.

At pressing, we transferred the free-run juice to neutral barrels and then moved the rest of the juice and berries through a few cycles. We pressed as high as 1.4 bars and stopped there – the pressed juice went into a new French Damy barrel from the Vosges forest in Burgundy. That vibrant color was still there and the Oppenlander tasted tart, juicy with some earth and tea notes.

Spooky Pre-Halloween Oppenlander Pressing on Oct. 26, 2010. Photo by Jennifer Waits.

After all the fuss about a cool growing year, this could turn out to be a pretty intense wine. The Damy barrel should impart some nice warm spices like cinnamon and clove. We’ll check back with you on its progress throughout the next year or so to see how it evolves and comes into its own.

Pinot Days Chicago 2010: Waits-Mast Events by valleyfog

Nov. 13, 2010

Harvest has come and gone and Pinot Days Chicago 2010 is just around the corner. Waits-Mast Family Cellars will be pouring at Pinot Days Chicago Grand Festival on Saturday, November 13, 2010. The festival starts with a trade tasting from 11 am to 1pm, then the public tasting from 1 pm to 5 pm. Over 60 producers from North America and other pinot noir regions will be pouring that day.

This will be the third year that Waits-Mast Family Cellars will be pouring at Pinot Days Chicago. We love the event because it’s smaller than the SF event and we recognize more and more faces every year we go back. When you’re a new producer and nobody has heard your name – despite how good your wine is – it’s nice when you start to get attendees heading to your table first, or at least within the first hour of the public tasting.

We’ll be pouring two wines, our 2008 Amber Ridge pinot noir and the 2008 La Encantada pinot noir. Each has received a silver medal from the San Francisco International Wine Competition.

The Scene at Waits-Mast

Waits-Mast Family Cellars at Pinot Days Chicago last year

In addition to the Grand Festival, we are also pouring at a couple of other events. On Thursday, November 11, we’ll be pouring at a “Meet the Winemakers” tasting at the ENO Wine Room at the Fairmont Millenium Park in Chicago. Other participating producers including Native9, Fog Crest, C.Donatiello, Three Sticks, Buena Vista Carneros, and Lachini.

The Fairmont will also be carrying our 2008 La Encantada Vineyard pinot noir following the event, so if you are unable to make it, you can find that wine there. This is exciting because it is the first retail account we have in the Chicago area. We’ll also be pouring at a distributor-only tasting at the Whitehall Hotel in downtown Chicago on Thursday afternoon from 2:30pm to 5:00pm.

We’re looking forward to coming weekend and hope to see all of our returning friends and meet new pinot-enthusiasts as well. We’ll also provide our usual recap of the event and all of its colorful observations.