2016 Harvest is Looming
September 1, 2016, 5:32 pm
Filed under: Vineyards | Tags: , , ,

Fruit at Wentzel Vineyard on August 28, 2016. Photo: J. Waits

Over the weekend we headed north to Mendocino County to see how all of the Waits-Mast pinot noir vineyard sources are doing. Harvest is in full swing for many wineries already and we are getting close to picking our first fruit. We trekked up to Mendocino Ridge first to visit Mariah Vineyard. Fog was rolling in as we arrived at the vineyard on Saturday morning and owners Dan and Vicki Dooling told us that it was the first fog that they’d seen in about two months. We walked the rows with them and based on the color (there were still some green berries), taste of the fruit and sugar measurements (our winemaker Shalini brought along her portable refractometer), the Doolings are estimating that harvest for us is about 2 to 3 weeks away. Continue reading


Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival 2013

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.

The Grand Tasting at Pinot Fest 2012

The Grand Tasting at Pinot Fest 2012

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).

Wentzel Vineyard, Anderson Valley

Wentzel Vineyard, Anderson Valley

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!

Exit 2012, Welcome 2013
Deer Meadows Vineyard, Anderson Valley

Deer Meadows Vineyard, Anderson Valley

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.

Wine & Spirits Best 100 Wines 2012

Wine & Spirits Best 100 Wines of 2012

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.

2012 Waits-Mast Rose of Pinot Noir

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.

Waits-Mast Wine Tasting Events: Fall 2012
October 18, 2012, 11:48 pm
Filed under: Events | Tags: , ,

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

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

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 in the News section for additional tasting events. We hope to see you out there!

Waits-Mast Included in Wine & Spirits 100 Best Wines of 2012
Wine & Spirits Best 100 Wines 2012

Wine & Spirits Best 100 Wines of 2012

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.

Deer Meadows Vineyard, Anderson Valley

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.

Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival 2012 Tickets On Sale

Navarro Vineyards in Anderson Valley

Tickets for the 2012 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival are on sale now at the Anderson Valley Winegrowers’ website. The event is being held May 18 – 20, 2012 at various venues in the valley. The Pinot Noir Festival has been an annual pilgrimage for us for many years and this will be the fourth year Waits-Mast Family Cellars will be pouring at the Grand Tasting.

This year will also be the first year we are co-hosting and pouring wines at a winemaker dinner. Scharffenberger Cellars will host the dinner on Saturday night, May 19, in a private dining room at their tasting room in Philo and will pour a selection of their sparkling and still wines. Joining Scharffenberger will be Waits-Mast and Phillips Hill. The evening will begin with a sparkling wine reception followed by a sumptuous dinner perfectly suited to the wines prepared by local Chef, Karina.

Winemaker dinners at the festival hold a special place in our heart because our attendance at these dinners many years ago gave us the opportunity to meet the winemakers and learn more about their beginnings in the wine business. Because Anderson Valley is more remote and therefore less crowded than wine regions like Napa or Sonoma, visitors get a much better vantage point in which to meet winemakers and tour wineries and vineyards. At some of the first winemaker dinners we attended over 10 years ago, the time we spent with winemakers inspired us to make our own wine and even helped us develop relationships with growers from whom we would subsequently purchase fruit.

At the Grand Tasting on Saturday, which runs from 11am – 3pm, we’ll be pouring our 2009 Deer Meadows Vineyard Pinot Noir, which just got a very solid 94 point rating in Wine & Spirits’ April 2012 roundup of America’s best Pinot Noirs. With our 2010 vintage in bottle, it is likely that we will pour some of our 2010 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, but we’re still deciding which vineyard-designate wine to preview. In addition to Waits-Mast, there will be over 40 producers pouring at the Grand Tasting, including favorites like Londer Vineyards, Goldeneye, Foursight, MacPhail, Jim Ball, Elke, Baxter, Drew, Roederer Estate, Toulouse, and many more.

A plethora of wine at the BBQ

Also worth attending is the Friday night BBQ, being held this year at Husch Vineyards. There’s lots of great food, music and of course, Pinot Noir. It’s a very convivial atmosphere and guests and winemakers are encouraged to bring their own bottle. The table that holds these bottles quickly becomes a feeding-frenzy, getting the BBQ off to a roaring start.

And we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the technical conference. For years, the technical conference has been a great way for us to get more immersed in the winemaking process. Presentation topics can span from yeasts and microbes to chocolate and cheese – all centered around growing, making and drinking the best Pinot Noir that Anderson Valley has to offer.

So, get your tickets now because they sell out fast. The winemaker dinners have very limited seating, the Grand Tasting is usually limited to about 600 or so attendees, and other events sell out quickly as well. Snatch up your tickets, do your research on all the wineries ahead of time, make sure you find lodging close to the valley (always challenging) and we’ll see you in May!

Wine & Spirits April 2012 Pinot Noir Roundup

Wine & Spirits April 2012 issue

We’re very excited about the inclusion of two different Waits-Mast Pinot Noir wines in Wine & Spirits Magazine’s April 2012 issue that just came out on newsstands today. The magazine, which is geared towards restaurants and retailers as well as consumers, published its annual roundup of the “Year’s Best Pinot Noir”, looking at Pinot Noir from California and Oregon appellations. After tasting through 914 new-release Pinot Noirs over the last 12 months, its critics rated 121 as “exceptional” or 90+ pts and another 62 as “best buys”.

The 2009 Waits-Mast Deer Meadows Vineyard Pinot Noir from Anderson Valley was in the top 10 California Pinot Noirs reviewed, received a rating of 94 points and this review:

Brian Mast and Jennifer Waits were wine drinkers and media/ communications professionals when they attended the technical conference at the Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival in 2000. By 2005, they had made their first wine and they began producing micro-lots of pinot noir under the Waits-Mast label in 2007 (the winery remains a part-time gig). This one comes from a southeast-facing vineyard at 1,600 feet in the hills above Boonville. It’s whole-berry fermented without stems, providing 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. (49 cases)

The 2009 Waits-Mast La Encantada Vineyard Pinot Noir from Sta. Rita Hills received a 91 pt rating and this review:

A micro-cuvée from the team at Waits-Mast, this is more vinous than many pinots from the Santa Rita Hills. It’s clean and fragrant with mouthwatering, tart cherry flavor and root-like spiciness. There’s a chalkiness to the tannins balancing a sweet, gentle finish. Serve it with a gamey, heritage-breed pork chop. (23 cases)

So, we’re super-pumped about making it into this short-list of great wines. The Wine & Spirits tasting process is pretty rigorous. It is double-blind, with a selection panel made up of sommeliers, winemakers, retailers and other wine industry folks tasting the first round and then recommending about 20-30% of the wines to get to the next round. In the next round, a Wine & Spirits critic reviews the wines again blind (from a second bottle provided by the winery), and writes up the review and decides on scores. More on their tasting process can be found here.

09 Deer Meadows Review

For a super-small winery like ourselves to be included in this field of top producers, folks like Williams-Selyem, Hirsch, Flowers, Freestone and others is humbling and gratifying. We recommend that you go out and buy the hard copy of the magazine to see all the reviews and a great feature story on Anderson Valley.

So, we’ll momentarily savor the reviews and the wonderful adjectives and then move on to our winemaking and other tasks. We also look forward to seeing the smiles of people tasting our wines at the upcoming events this spring and summer.