Picks, Bins and Burgers: Behind the Scenes at Harvest by Jennifer

On Thursday we had another Waits-Mast fruit pick, this time some Pinot Noir grapes from Mariah Vineyard in Mendocino Ridge. It was a jam-packed day at the winery (we make our wine at Roar Wines in San Francisco) and a particularly hectic day for our winemaker. She awoke in the wee hours for a grape pick for another winery (complicated by a tree falling in the vineyard too!) and spent the day sorting that fruit and doing other harvest work. She wrapped up in time to brave rush hour traffic, meeting us at our San Francisco facility by about 6pm.


Mariah grapes hanging out in the cold room before sorting on Sept. 15, 2016. Photo: J. Waits

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Waits-Mast Wine Tasting Events: Spring/Summer 2012 by valleyfog

I was riding my bike to work the other day and smelled the aroma of fresh-cut grass. That smells like Spring to me. Growing up in Indiana, that smell becomes familiar usually in May or June. It’s still February, but Spring feels like it is around the corner, especially with a mild winter we have are having here in the San Francisco Bay Area.

We hope the mildness continues in your neck of the woods — apparently Chicago has no snow on the ground, which is quite odd for February — and throughout the summer and fall. To keep us all occupied until then, Waits-Mast has a number of tasting events across the Spring and Summer. Here’s the list of what we have lined up currently and when we have more, we’ll update this post:

Tasting Events:

March 25, 2012: 12 – 4pm, Reserve Room SF. Reserve Room SF is a tasting event at the Golden Gate Club in the Presidio where you can taste and purchase wines that are hard to find or try anywhere else. Waits-Mast will be pouring our Pinot Noir at the event alongside famed Napa winemaker Heidi Barrett and a number of small and cult wine producers from Northern California. Try our Pinots and then sample the Cabernets and Bourdeaux blends of La Sirena (Barrett’s label), Fantesca, Troll Bridge Cellars and about 30+ other boutique wineries. We have arranged for a considerable discount on tickets for Waits-Mast fans. Go to this link to take advantage of this discount code:

Location: Golden Gate Club, Presidio of San Francisco

Tickets on sale now at:

Glasses at the ready in Anderson Valley

May 18 – 20, 2012: Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival. Waits-Mast returns to Anderson Valley for the fourth time to pour at the Pinot Noir Festival (read our recap from last year) and will be participating in more events this year. We are tentatively set to co-host a winemaker dinner on Saturday night the 19th – more to come in a future post. When it comes to Pinot Noir, our heart is in Anderson Valley and we’re excited to pour our 2009 vintage wines from this appellation and at least one 2010 vintage Pinot Noir that should be released by May. Tickets go on sale March 15 and we recommend that you purchase early as tickets for dinners and other events across the weekend sell out quickly!

Location: Anderson Valley (Boonville, Philo), Mendocino County, CA

Tickets: on sale 3/15/12 at

June 11, 2012: Taste of Mendocino. The second year of this tasting, Taste of Mendocino is hosted by the Mendocino Winegrape and Wine Commission (MWWC) and Visit Mendocino County and is focused on promoting America’s Greenest Wine Region to Bay Area trade and media and supporting and promoting the natural and agricultural heritage of the entire county of Mendocino. In addition to a long list of Mendocino-based and focused wineries, other exhibitors will include food, travel, lodging, and other local artisans and businesses.

Location: Terra SF Gallery, 511 Harrison Street, San Francisco


June 16, 2012: Pinot Days San Francisco. Gird your liver because at Pinot Days,  you will have the opportunity to sample Pinot Noir from over 200 producers including Waits-Mast Family Cellars. Get there early if you want to hit every winery on your wish list as smaller or more exclusive producers like ourselves tend to pour out our wines pretty quickly. Tickets are not on sale yet, but stay posted as time gets closer.

Location: Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, CA


There may be additional tasting events throughout the Spring and Summer, so keep an eye on our blog as well as our Facebook and Twitter pages for up to date info. We look forward to seeing you at one of these events!

Countdown to the 2009 Release: Amber Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir by valleyfog
September 8, 2011, 10:55 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Three down, two more to go as we move south to Russian River Valley. Our first vintage in 2005 was a pinot noir from Amber Ridge and as we tell people – if that first wine wasn’t as good as it was, we wouldn’t be writing this blog (and making/selling wine). Our 2009 Amber Ridge pinot noir is our third (non-consecutive) vintage in 2009, and once again, it captures that distinctive Russian River cherry and spice that we love so much.

2009 Amber Ridge during pressing

This hillside site is located immediately adjacent to the famed Gary Farrell Starr Ridge Vineyard in Windsor. Amber Ridge was planted in 2000 with clones 115, 667 and 777 on 101-14 rootstock and was adopted by several high-end wineries for its inaugural harvest in 2003. In 2009, we were fortunate to have acquired one ton of this hard-to-get fruit, allowing us to produce just under 50 cases.

Among our customers, we have some die-hard Amber Ridge fans. These tasting notes should tantalize them, as well as anyone who loves the lush pinot noirs of Russian River Valley:

The color is a lovely ruby red, light to medium in shade. As this wine opens up, aromas of dried rose petals, strawberry and red cherry come together. On the palate is the classic Amber Ridge that we love: sweet cherry, lush fruit, and a smooth, strawberries and cream finish, with a touch of cocoa. 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.

Here are the detailed specs, for the wine geeks in the group…

  • Clones: 115 (50%); 667(25%); 777 (25%)
  • Harvest/Brix: September 11, 2009 at 26 Brix
  • Alcohol content: 14.8% by volume
  • Fruit: 100% whole berry (no stems)
  • Fermentation: RC212
  • Barrel aging: 17 months in French oak, 30% new (Francois Freres, MT)
  • Bottled: March, 2011
  • Production: 47 cases
  • Drink now through 2015

Next week, we’ll profile our fifth pinot noir from 2009 as we move further south to Sta. Rita Hills.

Waits-Mast Family Cellars Featured in Local NBC News Story about Urban Winemakers by Jennifer

Brian philosophizes about urban winemaking

Last night we were excited to be featured in a news story, “Urban Vintners Uncork the Stigma of Fine Wine” on NBC Bay Area TV (KNTV, Channel 11 in San Francisco) about urban winemakers.

In the segment we talk about what it’s like to make wine in the city of San Francisco. Also included in the story is one of our neighbors, Steve Goldbeck, who makes award-winning Zinfandel in his garage in Glen Park.

2008 Hein Pinot Noir Gets Gold in SF Chronicle Wine Competition by valleyfog

2010 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition Public Tasting on Feb. 20

The results from the 2010 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, the first and largest competition of American wines, came out today and the 2008 Waits-Mast Hein Vineyard Pinot Noir from Anderson Valley won a gold medal in the $40 – $49.99 pinot noir category. Brimming with over 4,900 entries overall, the competition was judged by some of the leading experts in the wine media and industry, include Wilfred Wong, cellarmaster for Beverages & More!; Jon Bonne, wine writer for the San Francisco Chronicle; Dan Berger, syndicated journalist; and Paul Lukacs, wine writer and educator out of Baltimore, MD. Lukacs wrote the book American Vintage: The Rise of American Wine, one of the first books that got Brian deeper into the history of wine.

We harvested the Hein grapes in early October of 2008 and co-fermented 115 clones and Pommard clones. Pommard can impart a more robust, fleshy characteristic, while the Dijon clone 115 tends to be lighter and brighter.

The result is what we strive for with our Anderson Valley wines – bright red fruit balanced with earthy and woodsy undertones. The 2008 Hein also shows some nice warm spices, which we felt made it go well with our holidays meals this past Christmas. Good acidity and subtle tannins provide structure to make this an enjoyable, food-friendly wine for years to come.

2008 Waits Mast Hein Vineyard Pinot Noir

In addition to being available at our online store, our 2008 Hein Vineyard pinot noir is available locally in San Francisco at Canyon Market in Glen Park. We will also be pouring it at a Neighborhood Winemaker’s tasting at the San Francisco Wine Trading Company on Taraval Street in the Sunset on Friday, January 15 from 5:30 – 8:00pm. We currently have about 13 cases left of the 2008 Hein Vineyard Pinot Noir.

And of course we’ll be pouring the gold-medal-winning wine, along with some of our other wines, at the Public Tasting of the 2010 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, which will be held on February 20 from 2:00 – 5:00pm at the Festival Pavilion in Fort Mason. You can find out more information about the tasting and buy tickets here.

Red and White Wine Bar Opens in San Francisco’s Glen Park by Jennifer

Red & White in Glen Park

For years we’ve been hoping that one day there would be a wine bar in our neighborhood and last night that wish was finally realized with the opening of Red & White in Glen Park (678 Chenery Street, near Diamond in San Francisco).

Last night’s opening was part of their “soft launch” of the wine bar and retail space. They entertained guests for several hours in this warm and inviting  neighborhood haunt and featured both a by-the-glass tasting menu, along with a selection of charcuterie, cheeses, and gougeres (french cheese puffs).

Beginning on Tuesday, January 5th, Red & White will also be open for lunch and owner Juliana Flores promised us that there would be gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches on the menu.

Since Red & White is also a retail space, you can pick up bottles of wine to either enjoy in the bar or to take home. They have a great selection of wines to choose from, including some unusual bottles from California and from all over the world (we even spotted a sparkling wine from Australia). They are also selling our remaining 12 bottles of the 2007 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir from Wentzel Vineyard in Anderson Valley (which made the San Francisco Chronicle’s Top 100 Wines of 2009 list).

Waits-Mast on the Shelves

It was a treat to see the wine bar open and buzzing with people and we couldn’t be happier for owners Juliana and Peter. Since this was a date night for us, we tried as many wines as we could in 3 hours. Jennifer had a delicious glass of La’ Antica Quercia Prosecco di Conegliano Brut, 2007 (Italy) that was crisply refreshing.

The menu’s poetic description of the wine (written by owner and former ad guy Peter Bell) certainly caught Jennifer’s eye:  “Imagine a sparkling wine conceived and created by Milan designers-understated with a fresh aesthetic and organic inspiration.”

Brian started with a glass of French viognier and we paired both wines with a plate of the amazing savory cheese puffs with gruyere, black pepper and thyme (they plan to expand the list to include sweet cheese puffs with blue cheese and dried cherries!).

Gougeres at Red & White

Throughout the evening we also sampled an intriguing California-made pinot noir made with French grapes (Rutz Pinot Noir French Cuvee 2005 Sonoma/France), a cinnamonly slice of heaven Cabernet Sauvignon (Blacksmith Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, Alexander Valley), an aromatic and viscous Petite Sirah with a smooth mouthfeel (Chronic Cellars Petite Sirah 2006, Paso Robles), and a tasty nightcap of a Syrah Port (Steele Syrah Port 2004, Lake County).

By the Glass Menu at Red & White

Along the way we paired the wines with a charcuterie plate, the creamy Mt. Tam cow’s milk cheese from Cowgirl Creamery, and a Spanish manchego.

General Manager Derek Cienfuegos walked us through the wine list and told us that they planned to change the by-the-glass list every few days. The idea is to rotate all of the wines on their shelves through the tasting list, so customers will have the chance to try something different each time they come in. Additionally, anyone is welcome to purchase a bottle of wine from their shelves to enjoy in the wine bar (for an additional $10).

We’re all about embracing the neighborhood joints and feel so lucky to be able to add Red & White to the growing list of reasons why we continue to love (and hype) Glen Park.

Holiday Shipping Deadlines Today and Monday by valleyfog
December 19, 2009, 12:36 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Waits-Mast 2007 La Encantada Pinot Noir from Sta. Rita Hills

Just a last minute reminder for those wanting to ship gifts from Waits-Mast Family Cellars, that today is the last day to ship via 2-day air and Monday is the last day to ship via overnight air delivery. Our holiday specials, including our limited gift pack with Recchiuti Chocolates, are still going until 12/31/09, so avail yourself of the deals while they last! Check them out here.

And for those in San Francisco Bay Area looking for a last minute gift, you can order and pick up at our logistics center in San Francisco, located at 566 Minnesota Street, just off of Third Street and Mariposa. Call ahead at (415)558-9181 to schedule your pickup. You can also swing by Canyon Market on Diamond and Chenery in the Glen Park neighborhood. They have plenty of other yummy accompaniments to our 2008 Hein Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, including a great selection of cheeses, chocolates and for dinner, lovely salmon, pork and beef.

Good luck with all of your last minute shopping and take some time to enjoy the season!

Bob Nye, Goldeneye Winery, Passes Away by valleyfog
June 6, 2009, 8:04 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

We were shocked to get an email earlier this week from the Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association that Bob Nye, general manager of Goldeneye Winery in Philo, had passed away suddenly at the age of 48 on Monday, June 1. This is very sad news for this community and especially for his family and close friends. He is survived by his wife and young son. A special memorial fund has been set up for his son’s college education and a memorial service will happen this coming Sunday, June 15 at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Garden at 1pm. More information about the fund can be found here.

While I didn’t know Bob that well, I can tell you what a stand-up guy he was. As new winemakers joining the Anderson Valley community, Bob was very supportive of us joining the association and getting involved. We are a couple of times removed from Anderson Valley, it seems, because we don’t have vineyards or a winery in Mendocino County, but we do make wine with Anderson Valley fruit and we’ve been going to Anderson Valley for many years and have gotten to know many of the people in the winemaking community. He chatted with us last year at Mary Elke’s open house and was very welcoming. When we poured at this year’s Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival, Bob actively sought out members of the wine trade press to try Waits-Mast wines. Like I said, stand-up guy.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends. We know Bob will be sorely missed.

Waits-Mast Pinot Noir at Canyon Market in San Francisco by Jennifer
March 21, 2009, 12:00 pm
Filed under: Events, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,
Waits-Mast Pinot Noir at Canyon Market in San Francisco

Waits-Mast Pinot Noir at Canyon Market in San Francisco

It’s an exciting month for us, as Waits-Mast Pinot Noir has made its first appearance on a retail shelf. Especially thrilling is the fact that our debut is in our favorite neighborhood grocery store in San Francisco:  Canyon Market. And, we’ll be pouring our wines there this Thursday, March 26th from 4:30 to 7:30 pm during a Local Winemakers Tasting along with fellow San Francisco winemaker Jim Bowin of Urban Edge Wines.

The owners of Canyon Market, Richard and Janet Tarlov, couldn’t be nicer and are strongly connected with the tight-knit community of Glen Park. If you’ve never been to this section of San Francisco, it’s worth the trip. A quick BART ride from the bars and trendy eateries of the Mission, Glen Park is a hilly, village-like neighborhood with great food (we’re partial to the pizza at Gialina, yellow curry at Osha Thai Cafe, the shrimp beignets at Chenery Park and the delicious pastries at Destination Baking Company), a beautiful newish library, the hip gift shop Perch, and our favorite store for new and used books (and live music performances), Bird and Beckett.

Canyon Market is a great store and we appreciate their emphasis on local, organic and natural foods and small, but growing shelf space for local winemakers as well. They also host regular wine tasting events–another great reason to visit the store and Glen Park in general.

Word on the street is that Canyon Market is planning on devoting a shelf in their wine section to locally-produced (as in very local, like San Francisco) wines. Currently, though, our bottles of 2007 Wentzel Vineyard Pinot Noir are keeping good company on the shelves with some nice Burgundies, including a Gevrey-Chambertin. So support your local businesses by visiting Canyon Market, bringing home one of our wines and keeping it good company until the last drop.

Come by and see us on Thursday!

Pouring at Pinot Days Chicago next weekend by valleyfog
November 12, 2008, 10:46 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

pinot_days_logoWe’re off to the Windy City this weekend to pour our wines at Pinot Days Chicago (Saturday, November 15, 1-5pm). We’re excited for many reasons. First off, this is the first time we’ve poured our wines at an official event, especially one this big. Over 50 different wineries will be pouring there, including some of our faves: Inman Family Wines, Dain, Siduri, Roessler, and Raye’s Hill, amongst others. Second, the appearance at Pinot Days marks the release of our first commercially-available Pinot Noir, our 2007 Wenztel Vineyard from Anderson Valley. And third, but certainly not least, is visiting and staying with my twin sister and her family in the Chicago area.

I’m excited that Cece and husband Kevin will be able to take a break from their hectic lives (lots of soccer, volleyball and basketball games to truck their three kids back and forth to — all worth it!) and attend the tasting and try out some amazing wines. Wait! Who’s watching the kids? Their eldest, Eileen, will take care of all the kids so we can play adult for a few hours.

just-grapes-logoWe’ll also be pouring at the Crushpad Open House the next day, Sunday, Nov. 16th, from 2-5pm at Just Grapes, a cool wine shop/tasting bar down near the financial district. I grew up in South Bend, IN (about 2 hours away) and have many friends in Chicago, so we’re giving plenty of opportunity for them to stop by and visit with us and try our wines.

On Saturday, to find us, look for the Crushpad table. We’ll be one of their Crushpad Commerce partners that will be pouring at their table, along with Joelle Wines. And wear your parka – it could be snowing on Saturday! To think we’re leaving a heat-wave in San Francisco for the snow! Gotta love the Midwest…