The 2015 harvest was unlike any other harvest, this blog gives me a chance to reflect on what was, and what will become of the 2015 harvest.
This year was my 4th harvest at my family’s winery, and I have to say that it was quite memorable. The unusual weather through the growing season pushed everything up a month. With the unique weather during harvest everything was condensed to about a 1-month practice, when a typical harvest lasts from 6-8 weeks. We had a heat spike right in the middle of September that gave us the hottest days of the year during a period of grape maturation that essentially microwaved the grapes and ripened them 4 weeks ahead of schedule. I will argue that the heat spike will define the 2015 vintage in a GREAT way.
Every year has its own characteristics, and I have learned that this is what makes wine so much fun. You can never anticipate 100-degree weather right in the middle of harvest followed by rain. However, if every year were the same, all the wines would be the same and that is boring. I am here to tell you that the 2015 vintage may have been a struggle during harvest and was easily one of the quickest harvests, but I believe it will go down in history as one of the best tasting vintages for MANY years to come. The quick heat spike gave the wines some amazing tannins, and the acidity is already mouthwatering. You can never run from the amazing lush fruit that the weather in Napa provides, but this year unlike any other year will AGE and AGE and AGE. I am confident that if you have the patience to save some 2015 wines for 20-30 years, you will be happy that you did!
Now that everything is in the tanks…it’s time for a beer, because we all know the saying “it takes a lot of good beer to make GREAT wine.”
“The sun is out, the grill is hot, and the pool is luke…” a great line from one of my favorite actors Owen Wilson, in one of my favorite movies Meet the Parents. He is describing the day as he is about to entertain his guests, but to me it perfectly describes the summer days here in California. It always seems like the sun is out, the pool is luke, and the grill is ALWAYS hot.
A lot of people pride themselves in their skills on the grills, while I do not want to sell myself short, I have mastered the art of direct and indirect heat, but in the end less is more. Nothing says summer like burgers, hot dogs and a baseball game. The key to all is fresh ingredients, patience on the grill and a good team like the Oakland Athletics to watch.
Sunday afternoon is a great time for my family to gather in the backyard, enjoy a 1:00 first pitch and begin a late lunch, early dinner type of meal. As I said less is more, this meal calls for limited prep time, and a cook time of about an inning and a half depending on how the A’s are swinging the bats. I like to get the grill going before any of the prep work has begun, consistent temperature is vital to a solid tasting burger or dog. It is important to have plenty of time to dial in the perfect temperature of 375 degrees, hot enough to get a good char, but also allows for a consistent cook all the way through without burning the outside.
Now comes the fun part, grilling, the patties should be set, the dogs are ready to cook, and now it is time to throw them on the grill. At the right temperature the burgers and dogs should be fairly straightforward and easy. Once the burger starts to curl up off the grill and show some browning underneath, it is time to flip, generally after about 6 minutes. At the same time you flip the burger, it is time to roll the hot dog on the other side. Two even cooking times will give you the perfectly balanced burger and dog. I usually like to throw the buns on with a couple of minutes left to warm up before serving, at the same time is it a good idea to ask around for the people who are looking to make it a cheese burger.
As the grill begins to heat up, that is the perfect time to get all of the ingredients prepared. Lettuce, tomatoes, onions, ketchup, mustard and relish are necessary for both hot dogs and burgers. With the core ingredients covered, I like to switch things up to give my guests some unforeseen and rarely used options when it comes to their hot dog and burger building. I love to throw in a couple of different mustards, including hot and sweet, Dijon and spicy mustard, in case the guest wants to spice it up. I have recently found that jalapenos on the hot dog are key for a nice kick of spice with a hint on sweetness. And while it is frowned upon by some burger enthusiasts, a good ole fashioned “Rodeo Burger”, which consists of a ridiculous amount of BBQ sauce and extra cheese, is usually enjoyed by at least one carnivore in the group!
Now comes the best part, cracking open a nice bottle of Elizabeth Pinot Noir, pouring enough for everyone to enjoy, allowing them to build their burger or dog and sit down just in time for a big A’s Rally!!
As a DIE HARD sports fan I have cheered on my teams (Oakland Athletics, San Francisco 49ers and Golden State Warriors) for as long as I can remember. I have wanted to experience a championship season SOOO BADLY. Each of the teams have had their ups and downs but recently each team has had a year that gives me hope. Believing that this this will be the year but only to fall short and sadly breaking my heart. After so many let downs I began to question is all of this excitement and anticipation only to be let down worth it? Will a championship season mend all those wounds? I am here to tell you YES it will! Experiencing your team win a championship is truly the mountaintop of fandom.
On Tuesday night the Golden State Warriors won their first NBA championship in 40 years, and the first for any of my teams that I was of age to fully appreciate. I didn’t know how to react other than to scream at the top of my lungs, hug everyone around me and dance the night away. I had followed the team through all of the ups and downs, and when others doubted I stayed strong. This year that all paid off. The Golden State Warriors are, and forever will be the 2014-2015 NBA Champions.
|Winemaker, Rolando Herrera||The Baldacci Team||Vticulturist, Garrett Buckland|
Championship teams do not always materialize on the court or the field. Here at Baldacci Family Vineyards we have our own championship team. Wine takes a total team effort: it starts in the vineyard, to the production team, and finally the sales and marketing team. Each part of the team works together, but separate, we need each piece of the team to do their job to the best of their ability, and together we put out a great product. Our team starts in the vineyards with Garrett Buckland our viticulturist. Each year he puts together a game plan for the vineyards and things to keep an eye on as the growing season evolves. More leaves when it is hot, more water at the right times, as well as proper oversight to maintain the health of the vines through all weather. From there Rolando Herrera takes the ball. Rolando has been the head of our winemaking team for the last 12 years and each year he creates wines that are a true reflection of all the hard work done in the vineyard. Once Rolando is finished crafting a wine that reflects the vineyards and the vintage it is passed on to the Sales and Marketing team to tell the complete story of that wine. Sharing the team effort it took for that wine to get to their glass.
As a member of the Baldacci Family I am proud to say that we have a championship team. We may not be given a championship trophy each year but being able to look at each bottle of wine and be proud about the hard work put in by everyone involved is just as rewarding and exciting.
Traditions for me always start with family, coming from a family of 6, we had many traditions that we cherished over the years. As you can imagine a lot of them included wine, but to most people's surprise there are plenty that did not include wine.
There are two traditions that stick out to me that as I reflect I think embody exactly who we are as a family.
1st: Annual Christmas morning Nerf Gun Battle. This tradition started 10 years ago when my dad surprised us all with a brand new Nerf guns. I have to say I had not picked up or seen a Nerf gun in at least 5 years, I had seen the commercials and thought “wow how far the guns have come…” but never did I see myself wielding one of those in an imaginary battle anytime soon. My dad felt the same way, and made out to change that, for the last ten years our Christmas mornings end with the new latest and greatest version of the Nerf Gun, and a battle amongst ALL. Every year was a different form of weaponry, from little pistols and axes that called for skilled hand-to-hand combat or short range firing, all the way to rifles that only worked with scouting and long-range surprise attacks on your enemy. Competition amongst each other creates some of the most fun moments I can remember. While there are heated times on the battlefield, it always seems to end with big hugs, lots of laughs, and ALWAYS a cold bottle of bubbles at the end of the road, typically my favorite, Schramesburg Blanc de Blanc.
2nd: Mom’s birthday. My brothers, my dad and I all recognize how special my mother is in our lives. She keeps us in line, is ALWAYS there for us, and is the world’s best listener… oh yeah and she has no problem talking sports with the best of them, especially Warriors basketball!!
With all of the amazing things she does for us, we know there is NO way to repay her, but we had to try. Three years ago my dad came up with the idea of doing "girly things" with her guys on her birthday. It was a great idea, having all boys did not allow for some of the spa days, or getting your nails done type of days. So every year the weekend of my mom's birthday is marked on the calendars, and we venture up to a hotel in Calistoga, and a "spa day" turns into all of us lounging and reading tabloid filled magazines together with a bottle of sparkles. It is a great moment to celebrate my mom and all of the things she does for us, and gives the 6 of us a chance to all relax with each other.
Having a family business can blur the lines of family and business, which makes it so much fun. While I think we have done a great job as a family to try and keep them separate, it is these types of traditions that always remind us what it is to be a family first. The company and conversation we share is usually coupled by a great bottle of wine. Some of my favorite wines were made that much better by the people that shared in the tradition. As we grow older it is these traditions that continue to remind us how blessed we are, and to cherish these moments.
March Madness, a term coined to describe the only emotion that a 64 team bracket can bring upon us as individuals. Each year, every team's record is reset to 0-0, with just one loss eliminating a team from competition. Every year, there are the teams that have been defined as the ‘favorite’, but inevitably there is the Cinderella Story that captures the hearts and minds of EVERYONE. Whether it is the Stephen Curry lead Davidson team that as a 10 seed went all the way to the Elite 8, or my personal favorite the 1990 LMU (my alma-mater, GO LIONS!) team that persevered through the sudden and tragic passing of their star player Hank Gathers, to make it all the way to the Elite 8!
This year Baldacci Family Vineyards will be putting our own spin on March Madness. We want to see which restaurants our fans like the most in the Napa Valley. The first round brackets will determine which restaurants from each of the 4 towns; Calistoga, St. Helena, Yountville and Napa, will move on to the final championship.
The Yountville bracket will consist of the amazingly fresh, and socially friendly foods of Lucy’s, the classic Italian dishes of famed Chef Michael Chiarello’s Bottega, a long standing favorite, Mustard’s Grill, with their famous pork chop, and the new kid on the block, Redd Wood, which is known for their artisan pizzas and amazing pasta dishes.
Napa will put forth some tough competitors with Oenotri dishing out its traditional southern Italian cuisine, ZUZU and their amazing Spanish tapas, longstanding restaurant La Toque, known for their foie gras, and finally Bounty Hunter, with their fantastic smoked meats and killer wine list!
St. Helena, our neighbors to the north, will have Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen, a long standing local hot spot, my personal favorite, Farmstead, with Chef Stephen Barber at the helm serving up savory meats, poultry and fish, night after night, Cook with its simple yet elegantly styled food, and last but certainly not least, Market St. Helena, truly a locals' and tourists' favorite, featuring home-style meals including their delicious fried chicken.
Follow us on Facebook and Instagram to see which restaurants are slated against each other that day… A like gets you a vote for one restaurant while a comment will get you a vote for another… May the best restaurant win!!
Premiere Napa Valley just wrapped up, and here is the brief breakdown of the week full of festivities, and the results of the auction.
Premiere Napa Valley, or “Premiere” as it is often referred to by vintners is an auction that is put on by our trade association the Napa Valley Vintners. The NVV’s mission statement is “to promote, protect, and enhance the Napa Valley appellation, our wines, vintners and community.” The auction raises funds for their annual budget, and it is a memorable week in the Napa Valley that every vintner looks forward to each year.
The auction is Saturday, but the week is full of fun events. As a winery we participated in a couple different ways. On Wednesday night, Kellie and I hosted three young sommeliers, or somms, for dinner at one of our favorite local restaurants Lucy’s. We appreciated the opportunity to pick their brains about trends they are seeing in the industry from the restaurant side. We are happy to report that we are in a good position, as people love to see Napa Valley on the lists, and specifically Stags Leap District.
Thursday and Friday night we poured alongside other vintners and showcased our wines for hundreds of trade members. For vintners this is a great way to build new contacts, continue existing ones and reconnect with old relationships. Trade includes, retailers, distributors and restauranteurs from all over the country, and even a small contingent from China.
Each vintner crafts a unique wine for the auction, they are wines that can only be purchased at the auction. Rolando once again crafted us an amazing wine, taking his favorite barrel of our “Brenda’s Vineyard” collection.
Michael Baldacci & Cyrus Hazzard from Total Wine
Saturday was the big day, with vintner arrivals at 8:30 AM, the tasting before the auction got kicked off promptly at 9:00 AM as anxious members of the trade filled the Culinary Institute of America to try as many of the 225 lots as possible. The wine showed beautifully, and was a perfect representation of our Stags Leap District Estate.
After tasting the wines all morning the auction finally commenced. We successfully wrapped up the event later that afternoon with the NVV raising just over 6 million dollars. Another record year for the vintners, and a success for everyone involved. We could not be more proud of the place we call home. Baldacci is honored to continuously participate in Premiere each year to support our beautiful community.
2014 Premiere Napa Valley (PNV) just concluded with a record-breaking auction after a week of tastings, events and dinners. Being a member of the Steering Committee as well as the Stags Leaps District board I wanted to share my “insider’s” perspective on this wild and fun – yet important – annual event.
Premiere Napa Valley has been taking place for the last 18 years bringing together the top media, trade and restaurateurs to the Valley for one week full of NAPA! Wineries donate 5, 10, and 20 case lots of wine uniquely made for the culmination of the PNV: the auction. This serves as a barometer for how the vintage (in this years’ case the much anticipated 2012 vintage) will be received in the market and gives an opportunity for bidders to experience and potentially buy truly one-of-a-kind, ultra small production wines.
My PNV week started on Thursday afternoon where we poured our 2009 Allwin Syrah in a tasting that featured “unique wines of Napa Valley.” The lunch hosted at Trefethen was a part of a weeklong boot camp for twenty handpicked sommeliers from across the country. This group of ‘somms’ was picked from many applicants through the Guild of Sommeliers. I was a little nervous showcasing a personal favorite in front of the firing squad of professional tasters and critics but our Syrah showed beautifully and earned some great praise!
Friday of PNV Week is traditionally known for being able to share Premiere wines with the bidders in a more intimate setting. As in years past we participated in the annual Stags Leap District “House of Cab” tasting hosted by Pine Ridge in their caves. The barrel tasting features wines exclusively found in the Stags Leap District and once again showed that this pocket of the Valley (celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year as an American Viticultural Area) is producing the best wines in Napa.
Saturday I awoke with great energy and started blasting “Eye of the Tiger:” it’s Game Day! Out of 225 lots I have to stand out and share my excitement about our lot with hundreds of bidders, media professionals and other vintners to make Baldacci Family Vineyards memorable! Our winemaker Rolando created a 5 case lot that was one of the top tasting wines in the room. 9 o’clock sharp the gates opened at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in St. Helena and were soon filled with eager palettes and empty glasses. Myself, our general manager Debi Cali, and my father Thomas Baldacci took turns pouring and sharing our wines as well as tasting some of the other lots that were in the room. Personal highlights for me included trying Rolando’s wine from his winery Mi Sueno and a newer production called Saunter Wines from our very own vineyard manager Josh Clark and acclaimed winemaker Thomas Brown.
The barrel tasting portion lasted until 12:30 and we enjoyed lunch that had been prepared by the students at the CIA. The Greystone restaurant at the CIA is a hidden gem that can be overlooked amongst the amazing restaurants in this valley but I believe offers a unique experience to try foods be prepared by the next generation of great chefs.
At 1:00pm the first lot kicked off the auction and it was a race to the finish from there with 225 lots taking just over three hours to bid through. The bidding was fast and the generosity from the bidders was amazing. By the time the gavel struck on the last lot the auction had raised an astounding $5.9 million dollars… a new record for PNV!
Yet at the end of all the PNV events, this week serves a great and important purpose in the Napa Valley. All of the proceeds from the PNV Auction go into our collective vision as vintners to grow and showcase the reputation of the Napa Valley as the world’s premiere wine growing region. Amongst all of us Napa Valley vintners we enjoy a truly collaborative and cooperative environment aimed at making Napa Valley wines the best in the world, and every year we get to prove that.
Baldacci Family Vineyards: Winner of Overall White Wines in the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition!
The results are in!
The 2014 SFCWC judging is over with a record number of 5,825 entries from over 1,500 wineries from over 25 states across the country - the largest competition of wines in America! Of the thousands of entries, seven were chosen amongst the best of class, including our very own 2012 Sorelle Chardonnay, taking home the grand prize of Best Overall White Wine!
This is a monumental time for Baldacci Family Vineyards with nothing but a brighter future ahead. If you wish to be the first to hear about our Spring 2014 Release, sign up for our email list in the box at the top.
Check out some of the other medalists from our winery below:
2012 Sorelle Chardonnay - BEST OVERALL WHITE WINE
“The Achievement of Balance”
It is rare to experience a chardonnay that so delicately blends Old vs. New. Respecting the old world origins of the grape to the new world palette. 2014 SF Chronicle sweepstakes winner, earning best Chardonnay in class and best overall white wine, we believe this is a true expression of the pursuit of balance.
Reserve a shipment of this wine - Join our Reunion Wine Club!
2010 Black Label - GOLD MEDAL
“The Iron Fist in a Velvet Glove”
The 11th release of our Cabernet showcases our vineyard and production practices being single estate married to the distinctiveness of the Stags Leap District.
Reserve a shipment of this wine - Join our Reunion Wine Club!
2011 Elizabeth Pinot Noir - SILVER MEDAL
“Sophisticated and graceful… yet willful”
A grape born in the tradition of full body napa valley wines but attended finishing school in Burgundy, this wine is a Cab lovers Pinot, and will stand its ground against even the wildest of game.
2010 Fraternity - SILVER MEDAL
“Multiple personalities blended into one”
South, central and north meet in this one bottle. Carneros Merlot and Syrah, Stags Leap Cab, meet Malbec from Pope Valley and create a complex red wine.
Reserve a shipment of this wine - Join our Reunion Wine Club!
2012 Gewürztraminer - BRONZE MEDAL
“Rediscover Germany in Napa”
Versatile and food friendly, a bouquet of lemon rind and green apple this wine is a tremendous experience of what a true dry Gewürztraminer should be. Experience a uniquely German varietal here in the Napa Valley, right from our estate in Carneros.
Reserve a shipment of this wine - Join our Reunion Wine Club!
Visit winejudging.com to buy tickets and visit our table or check out the rest of the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition winners!
October 9, 2015
September 24, 2015
August 19, 2015
August 14, 2015
August 4, 2015
July 29, 2015
July 23, 2015
July 16, 2015
July 8, 2015
June 30, 2015
- October 2015 (1)
- September 2015 (1)
- August 2015 (3)
- July 2015 (4)
- June 2015 (5)
- May 2015 (4)
- April 2015 (4)
- March 2015 (4)
- February 2015 (5)