Wine & Spirits April 2012 Pinot Noir Roundup by valleyfog

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.


Crushpad Mashup 2010: End of an Era, Beginning of Another by valleyfog

Crushpad's Illinois Street entrance in San Francisco

Crushpad held its last major event, its client Mashup, in its San Francisco location today, before the urban winery moves to Napa Valley next month.

The Mashup is an annual event where Crushpad clients, like Waits-Mast Family Cellars, pour and share barrel samples with each other and with friends.

We had already tasted barrel samples last week and earlier this year, so the event for us was less about scrutinizing wines and more about savoring the last few moments at Crushpad’s urban winery before it moves to wine country.

The Crushpad staff pulled samples of three of our 2009 wines still in barrel, our Amber Ridge, La Encantada and Hayley’s vineyard pinot noirs. Unlike the fancy wood-fired pizzas served at last year’s Mashup, the culinary fare was back to basics with the delicious and familiar El Tonayense taco trucks that have graced the Mashups of yesteryear. We also ran into fellow clients making wine at Crushpad as well as answered questions from prospective clients checking out the almost-finished goods.

We recalled our first barrel tasting in July, 2005 at Crushpad, back in its Bryant Street location, where we sampled 2004 pinot noir (their first vintage) and then proceeded to sign up for our first barrel of wine. And then later that year, spending another hour with Crushpad CEO Michael Brill tasting through the pinot barrels as we made our vineyard decision (Amber Ridge – a wise choice!) and spending two hours with then-winemaker Scott Shapley (now head winemaker at Roessler) mapping out the plan for our wine before the 2005 harvest. And of course, we have a special place in our hearts for the first Mashup we went to in 2006, where we wheeled in our newborn daughter to join in the festivities.

Crushpad pretties up the loading dock for the Mashup crowds

So it was these reminiscences and lots of conversation with the Crushpad staff that focused our afternoon as we continue to process this move of the winery to Napa’s Silverado Trail.

Jennifer was recently interviewed by the New York Times about the move and how we’ll miss the urban winemaking experience that Crushpad pioneered when it opened its doors in 2004. For us, their business model and incredible team of people have helped us realize not only mere aspirations of making our own barrel of wine, but unimaginable dreams of actually selling wine and gaining critical acclaim for our pinot noir. And all of this conveniently located minutes from our home and work.

The 2010 Mashup splatters to an end

But just as we would have never predicted all of the great things that have happened with Waits-Mast Family Cellars in the last five years, we’re excited to see what unfolds in the next five years and beyond as we join Crushpad in making our wine up in Napa with the 2010 crush.

We’ll miss the proximity and the clear distinction of being urban winemakers and will have to deal with a lot more driving and juggling of our busy schedules. Through it all, we still consider ourselves fog-bound urban winemakers – we are city folk!

One of the most compelling parts of the move, though, will be actually having the opportunity to pour and sell our wines at the tasting room they’ll be setting up at the winery. With millions of tourists trolling through Napa every year, we’re hoping to expand our visibility to people visiting wine country.

Dave and Stu soaking up the final days at Crushpad SF

And spending time up in Napa definitely doesn’t suck. If you’ve never been, it’s worth a trip. Despite the busloads of tourists, the landscape is incredible and so are the people, wines and restaurants.

While Crushpad will embrace many of the desirable trappings of Napa, we hope it remains decidedly un-Napa in its soul. That means we still expect to hear The Clash and Black Sabbath blaring through the winery sound system.

So as I mentioned to Jennifer as we walked out of Crushpad’s Dogpatch location probably for the last time, “home is where you make it.” We’re looking forward to visiting the new home for our wines, and hopefully still seeing a lot of our old friends from Crushpad.

SF Chronicle Top 100 and other recent press by valleyfog

Our first commercial releases, the 2007 Wentzel Vineyard Pinot Noir and 2007 La Encantada Pinot Noir continue to get positive feedback, and this week we were floating on air after being included in the San Francisco Chronicle’s Top 100 Wines 2009 issue. If you weren’t the recipient of fervent Facebooking and torrential Tweeting from us on Sunday, read on about this review and a couple of reviews from our Pinot Days Chicago visit:

SF Chronicle's Top 100 Wines 2009 issue

San Francisco Chronicle Top 100 Wines 2009 (12/6/2009): Waits-Mast Family Cellars 2007 Pinot Noir from Wentzel Vineyard in Anderson Valley is included in the San Francisco Chronicle’s annual list of top 100 wines. Jon Bonne writes:  “Jennifer Waits and Brian Mast found a style that invokes old-fashioned Anderson Valley Pinot, full of woodsy conifer aromas, with a lighter touch and rhubarb-like highlights.”

It is gratifying to see our longtime passion for Anderson Valley pinot noir recognized, especially in the company of other incredible West coast pinot noirs. Alas, we must admit that we are now sold out of the Wentzel, but for SF locals, you can have one last sip of this amazing wine at Red + White wine bar, opening soon in Glen Park. Stay posted here for opening festivities featuring Waits-Mast wines.

Broke Wino (11/24/09): Regarding our 2007 Pinot Noir from La Encantada Vineyard in Sta Rita Hills, Broke Wino writes, “Their 2007 Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir is what stole me, its nose had this crazy mushroom, sawdust play that not only do I adore, but almost makes me forget to sip.” It’s true – the aromatics on this wine are haunting and brooding, but Broke Wino sez it better!

Chicago Food Whores (11/17/09): On Twitter they cited our 2007 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir from La Encantada Vineyard in Sta Rita Hills as their top pick from the Pinot Days Chicago tasting: “Favorite wine pick from Pinot Days- Waits-Mast 2007 Santa Rita hills, organic!” and wrote on their blog recap that it is “one outstanding wine.”

Waits-Mast Gets Press in Glen Park News by Jennifer
September 10, 2009, 2:46 pm
Filed under: In the news | Tags: , , ,
Glen Park News Piece on Waits-Mast

Glen Park News Piece on Waits-Mast

We’re very neighborhood-oriented and the distinct character of all the different parts of San Francisco is one of the things that Brian and I love about living here.

Even though we’re in a big city, there’s still a small town feel in places like Glen Park village.

So, we were excited to be approached by the neighborhood paper, The Glen Park News, for a story about our winemaking operation. We chatted with Bonnee Waldstein and toured her (and her photographer husband) around the winemaking facility during one of our recent bottling and blending sessions.

Today, the Fall 2009 issue of the Glen Park News hit the street (literally…as you can only read it if you pick up a physical paper copy) and I took a walk to grab some copies for posterity. Stacks of the paper arrived today at various establishments in the village, including the dry cleaners, mailbox store, and Bird & Beckett books. I even noticed a number of merchants absorbed in the paper, including one of the librarians at the Glen Park Library.

Stack-o-Glen Park News

Stack-o-Glen Park News

There’s something very retro and comforting about people in the same village reading the same paper on the same day.

It brought me back to my days of high school journalism when we’d see the entire quad filled with students reading the paper that we’d just released that morning.

Coincidentally, the first people I saw in the village today were the author Bonnee and her husband Michael as they walked out the dry cleaner with their own copies of the News in hand. Glen Park sure feels more like a small town than a big city and that’s one of the reasons why.

Spring Release: La Encantada Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills by valleyfog

le-bottle-shotAt last, it is ready: after all of our babbling about La Encantada Pinot Noir on this blog, you’re now able to get some of your own! Please welcome our second wine from the 2007 vintage. It’s a lovely and lush Pinot Noir from La Encantada vineyard in Santa Rita Hills (Santa Barbara County) and those that have had a preview of this wine are truly enchanted. The vineyard is owned by Richard and Thekla Sanford (of Sanford Pinot Noir fame) and along with their other vineyards, La Encantada was one of the first vineyards in Santa Barbara County to be certified organic by the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF). It has been said that wine is “bottled poetry.” If this wine was a poem, it would be a dark and brooding selection of verse that you read, put down and then come back to again and again.

But how does it taste, you implore? It is very fruit-driven, with fragrant cherry and strawberry on the nose, good tannins and a deep ruby color, leaning towards crimson. The palate unfolds with lush sweet cherry and blackberries, spice, floral notes and a hint of cola. The La Encantada has great structure and is a fantastic wine for both sharing with friends now and tucking away in the cellar for later. For more info and specs on this wine, click here.

Pinot Noir clusters at La Encantada vineyard

Pinot Noir clusters at La Encantada vineyard

We visited the vineyard last summer and experienced great hospitality from Richard and his crew and enjoyed a few Sideways moments. To read more about the vineyard tour and see photos, see our blog post here.
To celebrate the release of this lovely wine, we are offering a special discount of 10% off one or more bottles of Waits-Mast La Encantada Pinot Noir. Just enter the discount code ENCHANTED to take advantage of this offer. Patrons who order a total of 6 bottles or more of either of our current releases (for example, a mixed 6-pack) will receive a total of 15% off the list price. Just enter the discount code 2ENCHANTED to take advantage of this offer. Our release offers are good until March 31, 2009, so if you’ve got a hankerin’ for some good Pinot Noir, act fast! To start shopping, click here.

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 Enjoy!