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You can’t always get what you want

Just as we are mentally ready to declare that the Covid pandemic is over and return to a life similar to before… there are now other existential threats surfacing in Eastern Europe which affect the rest of the world. History repeats itself so regularly and it’s an important reminder that this happens to real people, not just distant ones on the media. The Rolling Stones were young people at the time they wrote the title song, living a day at a time. All the founding members were born in the years during WWII and grew up during the aftermath and recovery in Great Britain. It is remarkable how much wisdom it communicates about the human condition. The message of this song seems quite apt today for reasons beyond the initial thrust of the song.

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Tales of Brave Ulysses

In a number of ways, the winemaking life has analogous characters and challenges to Ulysses’ story. On top of the normal farming/weather vagaries, there are existential threats (fires threatening lives and buildings), monsters that arise from the depths of the sea or from above (smoke affecting fruit, worldwide pandemic, the weather… drought then flooding within 2 weeks), thieves & suitors for one’s position of authority (politicians, tariffs, supply chain issues, huge price increases on bottles and certain facets of the commercial wine trade). Ulysses had to not only be very good at the tasks at hand but. also had to be able to avoid the pitfalls during the lengthy journey by using his head.

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Springs are Hope Eternal

Recently this dry summer, I had reason to venture upon the wild hills above the family vineyard in Alexander Valley. Walking the hills half a century later, I pondered redeveloping these natural water sources as a backup to our amazing modern well which requires electricity to function. Going back to the time before electricity was available, all you needed to supply the house with water was a source at higher elevation, gravity, hand digging tools, some mortar, rocks, pipe and some planning ahead. These springs have seeped their life-giving water in a modest but stalwart fashion during wet and dry years including the 1976/1977 drought which I witnessed first-hand. This is a very hopeful reminder during challenging times.

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Almost there! Hang tight.

As with any significant change, there are upsides and downsides. For us, as with you all, this past year of pandemic has caused us pain and uncertainty. The upside to that is we are healthy and have been able to weather that storm with the tremendous support we received from you, our direct customers.

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Adapting

We are all currently in a situation where we must adapt to rapidly changing conditions.  While this was initiated by a biological threat, the human reaction to it has caused changes that cascade through every corner of society.  And like most human reactions and responses, not all of it is logical or fact-based.  However, that does not change the fact that we must adapt and move forward as best we are able.

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Rebuilding

Since the fires of 2019 there has been a lot of activity in the hills above Alexander Valley. Chainsaws and chippers have droned on endlessly through the winter. Recently, excavators and large trucks have been scooping away the rubble from the neighbor’s destroyed home in preparation to eventually rebuild what the fire had destroyed. In the vineyards, this time is devoted to pruning the ‘dormant’ vines.

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Never Give Up

Where to start? This has been a challenging year, even before the double whammy of extensive power outages and the Kincade fire (just fully contained as this is being written). With the wholesale wine market jammed with new labels and minions of salespeople all clamoring for attention, I find I am unable to keep our wines focused on in most of these markets. Yet what has always been solid for our winery over these many years is the support we have received from those of you on our mailing list. We thank you for never giving up on us. It is why we were able to start this winery in the first place and why we are still here.

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Be careful what you ask for

Fred Scherrer in conversation leaning against tank cooling jacket

In our Spring 2019 newsletter, I pretty much dared Nature to ‘bring it on’ regarding rainfall in our area. Well, this spring appeared to be the winter-that-didn’t-want-to-let-go. We had rainy conditions including a winter-style system come through in mid-later May just as some vineyards in Sonoma County began flowering. Fortunately, that was pretty much the end of those weather systems and temperatures warmed just enough to allow successful flowering in the majority of the sites I work with. There are still portions of vineyards that have very little crop. But from the way it looks at this point, we are generally looking at moderate crop levels with clusters that are like Goldilocks’ preference: Not too big, not too small…just about right.

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When it rains…

Fred Scherrer in conversation leaning against an old truck

Why so happy about rain? I remember the extremely dry start to the 2013-2014 rainy season and by early February of 2014 where I promised myself that I would not ever complain about too much rain, regardless of how inconvenient it may be at the time. It is far better to have more than enough rainfall than not enough.