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Vineyard Updates 2010: #12

Shortly after harvest, the leaves of the grapevines begin to change color.

From that point it’s never long until the first big storms of the season blow in–and blow the leaves down.

Below is a view, on this grey and drizzly day, of the vineyards along Madrona Avenue on the western side of Saint Helena.

Vineyard Updates 2010: #11

Post-harvest, it is not unusual for entire vineyards to be pulled out.

Some only last so long (Cabernet Sauvignon for example, about 20 years), some have issues with disease or whatnot - and with some, the owner simply decides he/she now wants to plant something else.

That said, it seems there is a lot more pulling this year than in the past.

Nowhere else is this most apparent than at the Napa Valley’s most famous photo op spot.

Vineyard Updates 2010: #9

So yes, I am behind in these updates (sorry).
But grapes are coming in fast & furious now so stay tuned as the 2010 harvest plays out.

Towards Nickel & Nickel Winery

Grape Clusters 28 Weeks Post Bud Break

Grape Clusters 28 Weeks Post Bud Break

Towards Robert Mondavi Winery

Towards Robert Mondavi Winery

Vineyard Updates 2010: #8

So I am a bit behind my vineyard update posting schedule; I just haven’t been able to make it over to the vineyard in Oakville I’ve been featuring this season.

But as I was driving home, I stopped at this vineyard in Saint Helena so that I could share a bit of what’s going on here in the Napa Valley with you.

According to my winemaker friends, the season is a “bit of a nail biter” but has great potential.
And now that the unusually cool summer has give way to an unusually hot fall, things are getting interesting fast.

Stay tuned–I will get to that Oakville vineyard this week and we’ll get back on track.

Family-Friendly Napa Valley Dining: Innovative Mexican

We LOVE old-school Mexican food.

The chips & guacamole, the super-cheesy enchiladas, and–yes–even the deep-fried chimichangas (and the “gasoline” margaritas at Sinaloa).
Light & healthy it is not.

We also LOVE “New Mexican” cuisine.

The grilled fresh fish tacos, the unique & unusual salsas, the made-to-order tortillas.

But sometimes the creativity goes to far (Mexican wood-fried pizza?–sorry, I just don’t get it).

Enter C Casa, a new addition to the ever-growing culinary scene at Oxbow Public Market in downtown Napa.

I met the owner Catherine a few weeks ago.
I was immediately intrigued not only by her background but also by this new venture she calls “An Innovative Taqueria”.

So when we ran errands down in Napa this past weekend, we stopped in for lunch.

Walking into the market, we were immediately impressed by the wonderful patio.

The Patio at C Casa in the Oxbow Public Market in Napa

When we went inside to order, we were equally impressed.

We shared the Spiced Lamb Taco, the C Casa Chicken Taco, the Grilled Mahi Mahi Taco, and the “Nachos Not!”.

Everything was wonderful. The portions were just right, but we ordered too much food for our family of three. Next time, we’ll order fewer items, or a salad or such in place of the nachos. While the food was intensely flavored–in that fresh, perfectly-delicious way–nothing was too spicy for Samantha.

Service is walk-up and the atmosphere is casual. Prices, especially for Napa, are reasonable.

Who: All ages–the market is bustling and just loud enough that families with kids of all ages can relax

What: A fresh, original, and sophisticated take on Mexican cuisine in a hip environment

Where: Oxbow Public Market, 610 First Street Suite 6, near downtown Napa

When: Anytime of year; lunch or dinner (and breakfast on the weekends)

Why: To “do Mexican” in a delicious, innovative, and healthy way

Vineyard Updates 2010: #7

From what I understand, the ripening of most grapes is behind “schedule” this year due to the unusually mild temperatures we’ve been experiencing. So, this will likely be a late harvest–unless we have early rains. Rain pretty much necessitates harvest as the grapes can be damaged.

That said, today it was 100 106 degrees Upvalley. It will be interesting to watch what happens from here on out.

Below you can see that the grapes are well beyond veraison and that the leaf canopy has really developed since Update #5.

That development is particularly notable as I’m told that quite a bit of canopy management–meaning successive cutting back of the leaves–has been occurring in most vineyards. This cutting allows more sunlight to reach the grape clusters, thereby optimizing the ripening process. There has been more of this cutting this year than in past due to this summer’s crazy cool weather.

Toward Nickel & Nickel Winery

Towards Nickel & Nickel Winery

Grape Clusters Nineteen Weeks Post Bud Break

Grape Clusters Nineteen Weeks Post Bud Break

Towards Robert Mondavi Winery

Towards Robert Mondavi Winery

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Vineyard Updates 2010: #6

Here are shots of the same vineyard in Oakville that I’ve been featuring all this season. You can see the update from three weeks ago here.

From what I hear from my winemaker friends, almost everything this season is delayed–yet growth and development is steady.

I was told this is due to the late rains and the thus-far mostly mild weather.

Of course, everything can change in these next few days…or weeks…or months…

Towards Nickel & Nickel Winery

Towards Nickel & Nickel Winery

Grape Clusters

Grape Clusters Sixteen Weeks Post Bud Break

Toward Robert Mondavi Winery

Toward Robert Mondavi Winery


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Family-Friendly Winery: Sequoia Grove

Even though it’s just a few minutes from our home, we hadn’t visited Sequoia Grove Winery in years; in fact, it’s been since before Samantha was born.

I suppose we didn’t think it was family-friendly.

But then, in using our favorite winery finder tool, I found that Sequoia Grove fits both of our two main criteria:

1) Family-friendly
2) Picnic area

After tasting through a few wines, we decided on a nice rosé. A perfect pairing with our picnic fare, the wine offers pretty strawberry & raspberry notes and a nice balance.

We settled into a bistro table on the shaded patio and tucked into our charcuterie, cheeses and breads.

Samantha ran around the expansive grassy area, and made some new friends.

Who: All ages, though of course you’ll need to watch those toddlers closely

What: A low-key wine tasting experience in a casual atmosphere (but as the winery is right on Highway 29, I bet it can get quite busy)

Where: 8338 St. Helena Highway (that’s Higway 29)–their website says they are in Napa, but I’d swear it’s more like Rutherford or Oakville

When: Non-peak Highway 29 tourist times, so weekdays in spring or fall, would be best

Why: Nice wines, unimposing tasting room, pretty grounds and convenient location

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Vineyard Updates 2010: #5

The most interesting change since Update #4 is the grow of the grape clusters in the second photo below. The leaf canopy hasn’t seemed to have grown much, with the exception of filling out some.

So do you like that this year I’ve been featuring the same vineyard in each update?
Or would you like to see more on other vineyards?

Looking Towards Nickel & Nickel Winery

Grape Clusters Thirteen Weeks Post Bud Break

Looking Towards Robert Mondavi Winery

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