Wine Stock

We are stardust, we are golden...
— Joni Mitchell
IMG_0765.png

Just learned that our 2015 Stone Temple Pinot received the only double gold medal for Pinot Noir at the Michigan wine competition in Lansing. It is the vineyard out our front door you see as you come up the driveway and head into the tasting room. Our 2018 Gunzan Rose’ from the same vineyard was also awarded a gold medal, along with our 2015 Reserve Syrah. Not too shabby. We garnered 5 silvers and 2 bronze medals for our dry reds, Cha Cha Chardonnay and the exquisite Peach Train making it an even ten for ten. Could it be that the way we manage the soil helps make our wines taste better? Does a live soil make for a more alive wine? We like to think so.

Sue and I will attend the awards tasting on Thursday as an excuse to get out of town and celebrate my birthday. We are also nearing the 50th anniversary of Woodstock. That needs to be celebrated as well, and we’re just the people to do it! Didn’t attend the original Woodstock as I was a newly turned 14 year-old, fresh out of 8th grade, two years away from a driver’s license, and had not travelled off the farm any farther than Chicago an hour and a half away. Sue would have been 10, and her parents were just as strict as mine! What a shame!

Lots of vineyard work to do in preparation for the 2019 harvest and the tasting room is plenty busy with people filling out their summer vacations. Still, it’s important to pause every once in a while for a little reflection and connection while you consider your direction. After all…”we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.”

New Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah block, southwest corner of farm. 5,000 vines hoed and mowed! No herbicide.

New Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah block, southwest corner of farm. 5,000 vines hoed and mowed! No herbicide.

Then can I walk beside you? I have come here to lose the smog, and I feel to be a cog in something turning...
— Ibid above

Silver linings!

2019. Annus Mirabilis

With New Year’s resolutions we always set the bar too high. Struggle for a week or two then say, “Why even try?” The more you think about it, it really does make sense.  Subconsciously we all can see the dire consequence. Give up burgers, eat a salad.  Exactly where does that get us? You DO realize a brat and fries are safer than romaine lettuce! Sure, we could lose ten or twenty pounds, but is that the smart thing to do? If you get sick or lost in the woods they’re worth an extra week or two! Let’s say I exercise too much. Now I need a new knee.  Joint rejection; staff infection; BOOM! That’s the end of me! Could pledge to imbibe a little less. Drink water when we can.  But alcohol, if you’ll recall, is the best germ killer known to man! Might promise to be calmer. Join the meditation movement. But it’s said a wise man should strive to leave some room for self improvement.  Let’s all agree that stay the course is the logical way to go.   So raise a glass and resolve this year to maintain the status quo! 

Found out this week that we were awarded two silver medals for dry reds at The San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. Our 2015 Syrah and 2016 Merlot took the honors. This is the largest competition in the country, and both wines were the only medal winners in their respective categories NOT from the West Coast! Pretty cool! Both vineyards are visible out the tasting room windows.

SFCWC-2019-Badge-Silver-500x500px copy.png

Hey Nineteen!

It’s hard times befallen the Sole Survivors
— Steely Dan -Hey 19-

It seems 2018 is about to end, and none too soon. No offense 2018, but you were kind of a wet blanket. Yet somehow we survived. Wrapping up our 16th year as a winery and our 171st as a farm. We learned a lot, and you know you can’t put a price on an education. With that in mind then, this year was priceless. Yup, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. We close the tasting room for the season in a few short days. Literally. The days are short. We will reopen for 2019 on March 1st. Sue and I are looking forward to a much deserved break. A few weeks of R&R devoted to winking, drinking and forward thinking! We have some great new wines to release in 2019. A new label 2016 Pinot Noir. A new vintage of Peach Train. We are working on a new label for our 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2017 first ever Malbec. Thanks again to all of you who have ventured up here on this Coloma hill for a bit of a different perspective. My prediction for 2019? It will be an odd year…and a great one at that! How could it be anything less?

She thinks I’m crazy, but I’m just growing old.
— Steely Dan - Hey 19 -

                


A KINK IN THE SPRING

So tired, tired of waiting for you.
— The Kinks

Spring is here, or so I'm told.  Mid April and it's still spitting snow outside.  Our vines and fruit trees are yet to break bud.  Normally, we are worried about an early warm spell that causes the plants to take off and push green tissue.  Then we lose sleep over every frosty night that comes along.   Not this year.   This year we can expect a panic when the vines wake up and realize they must have hit the snooze button and overslept!  Lots of catching up to do!  Fortunately, we have plenty to do in the cellar.  Keith is getting the 2017 whites ready to bottle.  Riesling will be the first one on the list.  Then, the 2016 reds are pulled out of the barrel and the 2017 reds go back in those same barrels.  We took home a gold medal at the San Francisco Chronicle competition in January for our '14 Syrah and the '15 received a bronze.  We have been taste testing the '16 Pinot Noir and Syrah and they are both nothing less than spectacular!  The 2016 Syrah was picked on the day our first grandson was born to make it even more memorable.  We are working on a new label for that one.  Look for its release sometime in 2019.  As you can see, he has his hands full.    

But you keep a-me waiting all of the time, what can I do?
— Ibid. above
IMG_0032.JPG

Into the Blue Again

Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down.
— Once in a Lifetime -- Talking Heads
kashmere.png

It was a Dickens of a fall.  A tale of two harvests.  It was the driest of times, it was the wettest of times.  The early varieties basked in the heat and sunshine.  The Pinot Noir and Chardonnay were as ripe and clean as we have ever picked.  This was going to be easy!  A harvest for the ages!  Then all the people praying for rain got their wish.  We had the wettest October on record.  Over 11 inches of rain with only one four-day stretch without rain.  Still, the grapes stayed surprisingly nice.  All that worrying for nothing!  Excellent flavors in the Merlot, Riesling and Cabernet.  Just not the record ripeness of the earlier varieties.  Now it's up to Keith to work his magic in the cellar.  Like I often say, "We are paid professionals.  Don't you at home try this!"  In the meantime, we are putting the finishing touches on a fabulous new wine just in time for the holidays!  From the 2014 harvest many people are trying to forget we crafted a doozy of a port style wine.  Mostly composed of stressed, shriveled Pinot Noir grapes, it spent two years in French oak just waiting for the tannins to calm down and mesh with the incredible cherry notes of the pinot.  It comes in a 375 ml bottle and makes the cutest little stocking stuffer you could ask for.  You might even want to leave one out for Santa with a few cookies...or a cigar!  Coming in December!      

Just started pouring our latest vintage of Fume' Blanc, an oak aged Sauvignon Blanc from 2016.  Wonderful, mellow citrus.  Beautifully balanced.  Great wine for in front of the fireplace.   Harvested our first crop of Malbec this fall from a spectacular neighboring vineyard.  It will see a year in oak before we are ready to release that one, so now I'm just teasing you!  Last day open at the tasting room is Friday, December 22nd.  If you're making your list and checking it twice please try to get here before then and stock up.  Otherwise it could be a Dickens of a Christmas!       

Into the blue again. After the money’s gone. Once in a lifetime.
— IBID above.

fall or something like it

It’s late September and I really should be back at school.
— Maggie May, Rod Stewart
The chardonnay have never looked better.  2017 is shaping up to be a great year, unless......

The chardonnay have never looked better.  2017 is shaping up to be a great year, unless......

You are not paranoid, nature is trying to kill you!  This is called the Hitchcock effect.   

You are not paranoid, nature is trying to kill you!  This is called the Hitchcock effect.   

First day of fall and it's 92 degrees outside.  Does mother nature not have a calendar?  It's the equinox.  Day and night are in balance.   This is when the vineyards are nothing short of gorgeous.  We will start to gradually pick some early varieties next week.  This is like a bonus gift from nature.  You don't get weather like this every year so it is best to take advantage of each warm day we get before harvesting.  These extra days are the ones you will taste in the bottle.  While the national news is dominated by one weather disaster after another, we are reminded why the Great Lakes are a great place to be.  Most of the harvest will take place in October, not ending until the first week of November with the Cabernet Sauvignon.  It's a beautiful time at the tasting room.  We have introduced a new vintage of Stone Temple Pinot, 2015.  It was the only gold medal Pinot Noir at the Michigan Wine Competition in July, just a few short weeks after we put it in the bottle.  We also received a gold medal for our 2012 Reserve Merlot.  We love our dry reds.  Keith is putting the finishing touches on an incredible Port wine that has been three years in the making.  Look for that around Thanksgiving.  But let's not get ahead of ourselves.  We've worked so hard to get to this point we forget to take the time to appreciate the beauty all around us.  The Zen of Karma Vista tells us to forget all the worries about the future and focus on the moment.  Easier said than done.  I could meditate, but I find it more important to have a glass or two of wine!   

threefur

look at all those bronze beauties lying in the sun
— bob seger

Won 3 bronze medals for our 3 entries into the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition in January!  Our Reserve Syrah, Cha Cha Chardonnay and Stone Temple Pinot.  Not too shabby!

Tasting room is now open so I guess it's time to get back to work.  Had a great two months of rest and relaxation and exploring other parts of the wine world.  More on that later.  We are celebrating our 15th year as a winery and 170 years as a fruit farm in this corner of the wine world.  Granddaughter Gwen is now 3 and her little brother Jackson is about 4 months.  They represent the 8th generation of the Herman Family and are off to a nice start.  Karma is about the great things that happen from the little things you do.  It's all good!  

             Gwen and bun-bun celebrate the 3 medals her dad won during the off season.  

             Gwen and bun-bun celebrate the 3 medals her dad won during the off season.  

Dream On

Sing with me, sing for the year. Sing for the laughter, sing for the tear.
— Aerosmith

And just like that, the year is done.  We are closing Thursday, December 22nd for our long winter's nap.  Karma Vista will reopen Friday, March 3rd, 2017 when Sue and I will be rested and ready to go.  We would like to thank all of you who have made this another great year on the farm and at the winery.  We cannot thank you enough for joining us on this journey of discovering what is and what should never be.  Oh wait, that's Led Zeppelin!  Never mind.  Oh wait, that's Nirvana! Anyway, 2017 marks our 15th year as a winery and our 170th year as a farm. I predict it's going to be the best year in the history of years. How can it be anything less? 

                                                                                                    Drink Wine, Live Forever!  

 

                           "You know it's true.  All the things come back to you."   Dream On

                           "You know it's true.  All the things come back to you."   Dream On

Overkill

I can’t get to sleep. I think about the implications of diving in too deep and possibly the complications.
— Collin Hay --- Overkill
IMG_1448.JPG

Summer is ending; the grapes are looking great; harvest is near but not quite here.  It's enough to drive you crazy!  The first half of August was very hot and very dry, so I prayed for rain.  Then the rains came and wouldn't quit.  Overkill.  Next time, I'm just going to pray for money.  Skip that whole part of the equation involving work. The pinot noir outside the tasting room will be one of the first grapes we harvest.  They have turned a beautiful, almost black color on the vine and show all the signs of being a fantastic vintage.  All in all, we are looking at the nicest crop we have seen in several years.  We know what to do.  Right now it's a waiting game.  Patience.   All we need are cool nights, warm days, and no more rain.  In other words, I would like it to be perfect.  Not too much to ask for.  This is all part of the process.  There is a certain amount of anxiety and paranoia in winemaking that most people never see.  That's how it should be. We are trained professionals.  Don't you at home try this.  For the next few weeks I need to  focus on all that has been great about this year and try no to lose sleep over all that could go wrong.  Not too much.  It's just overkill.    

Especially at night, I worry over situations I know will be all right. Perhaps it’s just imagination
— ibid above

Summertime

Well, woke up this morning with a wine glass in my hand!
— -Feel Like I Do....Peter Frampton
winemaking requires constant vigilance...work, work, work for Sue and I and our son Keith 

winemaking requires constant vigilance...work, work, work for Sue and I and our son Keith 

Wow!  Summertime is already here and things on the farm are spinning in a state of controlled chaos.  Cherry harvest starts just after the 4th of July.  There go two weeks with no sleep!  Then after a short break, peach harvest for the next six weeks and we are into September.  But let's not get ahead of ourselves.  The long awaited latest vintage of the Devil's Head Red is in the bottle, tasting and selling nicely. So are the 2015 Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, and Muscat.  More Syrah and Peach Train to bottle sometime before fall to make room for this year's harvest, which by the way is shaping up to be spectacular!   This is the first year I can recall where winter never got below zero degrees and there were zero spring frosts.  Unheard of! We have no bad weather to blame, so the pressure is really on us this year!   We've had a couple nice showers in the past week, gorgeous sunny days, and all the vines and trees are a beautiful deep green.  Yes, it's such an embarrassment of riches I am practically blushing.  Or perhaps that's the wine?  

Year's End

You can’t live without hope that things will change for the better. You can’t live without the dream of someone reading your letter.
— Next Year People --- Colin Hay

Just like that, the year is over.  Our last day at the tasting room is next Monday, December 21st.  The shortest day of what has been a very long year.  We have had a wonderful, mild fall that looks like it will spill over into a wonderful, mild winter.  We deserve it.  We've earned it!  After two of the toughest winters on record we are looking forward to temps that stay above zero.  We have removed about six acres of vines that were either killed or crippled by the last two winters.  I'm actually excited to see the open ground and by the anticipation of the great new wines that will come from the varieties we are replanting there.  To quote the prophets (Red Hot Chili Peppers),  "Destruction leads to a very rough road, but it also breeds creation."  We have learned a lot about what to plant and where to plant it, and as Dad always said, "You can't put a price on an education!"  (However, your banker will make you come up with an educated guess.) The vineyards on our best sites have done great.  Our pinot noir is just coming out of its final fermentation and is a fabulous bright cherry color and flavor.  The chardonnay is still going through malolactic fermentation before we put it into oak for six months or more.  The fruit for both was beautiful and the wines will show it.  The riesling and sauvignon blanc just continue to get better every year.  Our syrah vineyard took a beating, but the best corner of it is still producing some spectacular stuff.  Keith says that wine just makes itself, but he is being modest.  He has produced some of the finest wine in Michigan and he is just over 30 years old.  All the more reason to dwell on the future and not the past.  Some of these wines won't be available at the tasting room until 2017, but we have to keep sampling them ourselves to measure the progress.  It's a tough job, but someone has to do it!  

We are looking forward to our long winter's nap, reopening on Friday, March 4th when the cycle starts all over again.  Sue and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have become such good friends and "vistanistas" over the last 14 years.  We couldn't have drunk it all without you!   

Yeah, next year people wait and see. We’re next year people you and me.
— Colin Hay

Wine is life, wine is family.  

Wine is best served with conversation.  Improve the wine, improve the conversation.  Cheers!