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.    


Just Chillin'

I’ve seen all good people turn their heads each day, so satisfied I’m on my way
— Yes

It's middle of November; snow is blowing; 21 degrees outside; I'm guessing summer is over.  What can we say about 2014?  It was the worst of times, it was the best of times.  It was a dickens of a year.  On the farming end we could complain about the vagaries of Mother Nature, or perhaps the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, but that's been done before.  For the entire long year we have poured ourselves into our work.  Now it is time to pour our work into ourselves. Might as well remember the year fondly. We have had a great season at the winery.  Won some pretty fantastic awards for our efforts and added an eighth generation to the family along the way.  Introduced a few awesome wines and incredible new labels (like Noirvana) to our portfolio.  Like all great wines, we are aging nicely! Our last day open at the tasting room is Monday, December 22nd. Then we will go dormant for two months opening back up the first Friday in March.  I use the time to meditate, chant, and contemplate the meaning of life, the universe, and the time-space continuum.  And I nap a lot.  I feel sorry for people who don't have winter.  They don't understand the zen of a dormant season.  Those boring days of endless sunshine and heat.  Who would want that?  No time to think about spring and rebirth, mistakes of the past, opportunities of the future, the importance of snow tires and why isn't the furnace working?  Of course I wouldn't want to live any further north.  That's just crazy!  What are my predictions for 2015?  It will be an odd year.  I'm pretty sure of that.    

Send an instant karma to me, initial it with loving care.
— "I've Seen All Good People" -Yes

Gwen Has Best Summer Ever!

"Golden years, gold, whop, whop, whop!"
            ---- Golden Years, David Bowie
Gwen reacts to the news her dad won two gold medals at the Michigan Competition last month while mom Amanda tries to contain Gwen's enthusiasm.  

Gwen reacts to the news her dad won two gold medals at the Michigan Competition last month while mom Amanda tries to contain Gwen's enthusiasm.  


Karma Vista won two more gold medals at the Michigan Wine Competition in Lansing this past August. Our 2013 Marquette, a great red wine made from the Marquette grape was awarded the first gold medal. Our wonderful 2013 Sauvignon Blanc won gold as well.  Not too shabby!  Gwen was equally excited that the Razz M'Tazz that she helped bottle won a silver medal.  "I want to leave some room for improvement," Gwen was heard to be thinking.  "Silver will do for now, but I've got a lot more tricks up my sleeve. Once I get some sleeves, that is!"  Gwen said this is far and away her best summer ever, and, always the optimist, she expects this fall to be an unprecedented harvest.  

"I'll stick with you baby for a thousand years.  Nothing's gonna touch you in these golden years.  Golden years, gold, whop, whop, whop!"    D.Bowie



"I can see clearly now, the rain is gone..."

                                                          Johnny Nash


Summer is finally, officially here.  Winter is now a distant memory and nature is trying to act like it never happened.  So are we.  We have been busy bottling the 2012 reds.  Trying to get caught up before we start cherry harvest and summer gets away from us.  Nice crop of cherries.  OK crop of peaches.  Half a crop of grapes; but not to worry.  We have a healthy supply in the bottle and several varieties are looking good. Like mom always said, "Watch the donut, not the hole."  That, followed by, "Clean up all those donut crumbs, Joe!  You're such a slob!"  But I digest.  The vineyard in the photo is our cabernet sauvignon on the home farm.  What you don't see is the other end of the vineyard which is froze to the ground. This will be one of those years when the farm will have a heck of a time staying out of the hole.  But the wildflowers are beautiful and the sun is shining and we do have at least a partial crop. Some vineyards won't even have that.  The new wines are tasting fantastic, and traffic at the tasting room is great and things can only get nicer from here on out.  We did win that gold medal in San Francisco this year.  Let's not forget about that!  And then there's grandbaby Gwen!  How could life get any better?  I think about mom and the donuts a lot.  I often close my eyes and meditate, "see the donut, be the donut, become one with the donut."  Mmmmmmm.  I feel better already.  

"It's gonna be a bright, bright sun-shiny day!"

Marquette Comeback

 "I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now"

--My Back Pages,  Bob Dylan



For all you old Warriors out there, time to ring out a hoya!  We have officially released our 2013 Marquette. In fact, we received a silver medal for it at the International Taster's Guild Competition two weeks ago.  Pretty impressive for a dry red just harvested last fall and bottled a couple weeks prior to the competition.  Marquette is a great new grape variety just released seven years ago. Being an alumni (the untucked class of '77) I was compelled to plant a small block.  Keith has done a wonderful job in the cellar handling the mix of extremely high sugars and high acids in the grapes at harvest.  It has a little Pinot Noir in its DNA and we add a splash of our Pinot Noir to it for good measure.  It's a team of destiny. A dark, complex wine with a hint of Bing cherry in the finish.  Summa Cum Laude!  

Baby Bottles

“Some people like to go out dancing. Other people, like us, we’ve gotta work.
— -Lou Reed

After less than three months on the job Gwen has been temporarily elevated to assistant winemaker. She has exhibited a wonderful (and very cute) nose, a very sensitive palate, and is certain to grow into the job.   "Some people wait their whole life for an opportunity like this," said Gwen's mother Amanda. "Well, technically, I guess she did too." Gwen obviously has her mother's smile, her father's eyes, and her grandfather's hair.  One can only imagine what a little bottle time will do!  

The new Razz M'Tazz is now available.  Comes in a small package.  

Devil Inside

A friend of the devil is a friend of mine.
— The Grateful Dead

The wait is finally over.  The Devil's Head Red has arrived!  After winning the trophy last summer for best semi-dry red in Michigan we quickly sold out.  Now our 2013 vintage is ready for tasting and it is better than ever.  It has the black pepper like our Syrah, but with a softer, low acid finish.  We think we will have enough on hand to get us through to the end of the year, but you never can tell. After all, it is one helluva wine!  

Peach Train & Muscat

"So tired, tired of waiting, tired of waiting for you."

             -The Kinks

Seems like it's been a long winter doesn't it?  Mid April.  Still cold.  May spit snow tonite.  How heartless can mother nature be?  On the other hand...We are finding many more live buds out there on the farm than we have a right to expect.  Winter low temps were somewhere in that 15 below zero range a couple of times.   Probably don't have the right to expect any live buds at this point, but we've got em.  We're kind of in uncharted territory here.   Just don't need to lose any more to spring frost.  Haven't got any buds to spare at this point.  What's the best way to avoid spring frost you ask?  Just so happens the best prevention is a late, late spring. The later the weather breaks, the less likely we are to have freezing early morning temps.  Once the plants finally come out, they are off to the races and can make up for lost time quite quickly.  So while everyone else is cursing mother nature right now, we are keeping our mouth shut and quietly slipping on heavier clothes.  Last average frost date is around May 10th.  That date looks pretty close right now, but let's not jinx it by talking about it.  Perhaps if we don't curse mother nature, she will return the favor.   

Instead, we are busy bottling.  We just released our 2013 vintages of Valvin Muscat and Peach Train.  Some fantastic stuff, if I do say so myself.  April is Michigan Wine Month and we hope to have many more new releases bottled before the month is done.  In order to accomplish that we need some cold weather so we are not distracted by all there is to do outside on the farm.  Fortunately, the forecast is in our favor.  At least for the next week.  Are we lucky to live in Michigan or what?   

Keith, the day after his 30th birthday, nose to the grindstone, or stainless steel as it were.  

Keith, the day after his 30th birthday, nose to the grindstone, or stainless steel as it were.  

Latest Vintage Arrives Early

I ain’t got time to think about the weather, or how long it might last. ....Too busy thinking about my baby, and I ain’t got time for nothing else.
— Marvin Gaye

Everyone wants to talk about this winter and how cold and nasty it was.  Was it?  We didn't notice.  We were a little preoccupied with the arrival of Gwen Renee Herman, Keith and Amanda's new baby and our first grandchild.  She arrived two weeks early on February 1st in order to  better enjoy Valentines Day, which was her original due date.  Our other nice surprise this winter was the gold medal we received at the San Francisco Chronicle wine competition in January for our Reserve Syrah.  We were the only gold medal winner in this Syrah category that wasn't from the west coast, so that's pretty cool.  Kind of the second big deal to happen this winter.  The tasting room opens March 1st, so spring must be just around the proverbial corner.  We have a lot of wines to bottle.  Still have a lot of snow to shovel.  Grapes to trim. But being around Gwen reminds us how important it is to get a good nap once in a while.  She puts everything in its proper perspective.  What an amazing winter!