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

Into the Blue Again

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

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!   


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


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

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


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!  

Free Range, Grass Fed Vines

Everything here is so clear, you can see it
And everything here is so real, you can feel it...
Grazin’ in the grass, can you dig it?
— Friends of Distinction

One of the more exciting things we are doing at Karma Vista is experimenting with the conventional wisdom of what vineyards should look like. We have eliminated herbicide, or weed spray use on the vineyards completely.  Instead of a bare strip of ground underneath the vines, we have grass all the way up to the trunks.  If you look at the vineyards with fresh eyes, the beginner's mind, you begin to realize the folly of spraying poison in the root zone.  What could possibly go wrong with that? Right?  Weed sprays became all the rage sometime around the 50's when we decided that hoeing and mowing was too much work.  Better living through chemistry and all that.  Those strips of bare ground underneath the vines and trees became the definition of what good horticulture looks like.  The grower would decide what would live and what would die on his land. You are the master and the soil is your servant.  Bare ground meant there was no competition for moisture for the trees, vines and fruit and everything would be bigger and healthier.  Unfortunately, there is nothing natural about bare ground.  A bare strip of ground should be cause for alarm.  There is something causing the ground to be barren.  There is no life in the soil.  Nature abhors a vacuum.  Even nastier, more pernicious weeds pop up in the bare soil, so you spray again, often with even nastier more pernicious chemicals.  What could possibly be wrong with that?  Right?   So just for the heck of it (and to drive all the university experts crazy...an added bonus), we've decided to just deal with the grass rather than the weeds.  After all, we are caretakers of the whole thing, not just the vines.  It's about the soil, the space between the vines, the whole vineyard ecosystem we are called to take care of.  It is a lot more work than blissfully driving around spraying poison in the root zone, but the vines look happy and the wines taste great.  Unlike our vineyard buddies on the West Coast, we have the embarrassing problem of having way more water than what we need.  The grass underneath will help wick away much of that moisture and leave our hillsides intact.  When the fall comes and we hit the real rainy season, less of the moisture will be drawn up into the grapes which will make them stay smaller and sweeter.  We like to think that at Karma Vista we are on the cutting edge of doing nothing. Can you dig it?!   

fruit buds & brain cells

I saw her today at the reception. A glass of wine in her hand.
— You Can't Always Get What You Want...Rolling Stones

Since we won a silver medal (2012 Reserve Syrah) at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition in January, we thought we should travel from the west coast of Michigan to the west coast of California for the medal winning tasting on Valentine's Day in San Francisco.  Amazing wines, amazing weather.  Daughter Kelly went with us and we joined up with Patrick, a St. Joe ex-Pat who now works in the techie tech world of northern California.  It was a few hundred wines, a few thousand of our closest friends, and a beautiful day at Fort Mason, on the bay between Fisherman's Wharf and the Golden Gate Bridge.  Stayed in Healdsburg for three days, traveled the Russian River to the ocean and back, and experienced some wonderful wineries along the way, returning on the red eye to O'Hare the morning after a nasty snow storm.   We've had another brutal winter here in God's country (southwest Michigan in case you're interested, God).  Fortunately, we always know that we begin our journey blessed with more fruit buds and brain cells than are necessary for a happy life.  If winter lasted any longer, we might run the risk of running out of both.  As it is, no one is quite sure what the right amount of buds and brain cells are to begin with, or to end up with.  It's all quite relative (and you know which relatives I'm talking about!).  The tasting room is now open again (six days a week until about Christmas) and we are thrilled to be back at it, and seeing so many people who are just as thrilled to be back tasting wine. How groovy to have a job where you can pour yourself into your work, and at the end of the day, pour your work into yourself!  Karma is a wonderful thing.        

But if you try sometimes you just might find, you get what you need.
— ibid. above

Hi Ho Silver!!!

California dreaming on such a winter’s day!
— The Mamas and The Papas

What a nice way to start off the year.  Our 2012 Reserve Syrah just won a silver medal at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.  This now completes the trifecta for our Coloma syrah vineyard.  It's the vineyard you see on your right entering Karma Vista.  The vines have such pretty color in the fall that people are always stopping to take their pictures among them.  We now have won bronze, silver and gold medals in San Francisco for three separate vintages of our Reserve Syrah.    This is the largest competition in the country with over 6,000 wines entered this year.  Ours was the only medal winning Syrah in its category not from the West Coast.  So that obnoxious honking you hear is us tooting our own horn!  The public tasting for the event is in a few weeks on Fisherman's Wharf and you just might see us there soaking up some of the competition.  So you see, even though the winery is closed, it's still work, work, work, for me and Sue.  Keith is busy crafting the 2014 vintage, the smallest harvest we've ever had at Karma Vista.  What we lack in quantity looks like will be more than made up for in quality.  

At the same time we are holding our breath as the nighttime low temps hit their winter worst.  A freak wind out of the East is robbing us of our lake effect cushion and last night we were colder than the Chicago side of the lake.  That doesn't happen very often.  The recorders in the area showed about -8 degrees this morning, and it could get much colder tonight.  Still nowhere near as bad as last year, but enough to make you nervous.  Ok, maybe not you, but it makes me nervous.  If that's the worst that we get we should still be in good shape.  Any time the vines have as much time to relax as they did last year they are usually super hardy and loaded with buds.  Time will tell.  

Meanwhile, it's a good time to celebrate with a glass or two of Syrah and a few thousand of our friends in California.  Like I said, work, work, work.