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Fall in Wine Country

Things move slow here in Northern California. We aren’t in a rush to do much, and it seems Mother Nature is on the same page. While the rest of the country has already gone through fall foliage and moved onto winter weather, our vines and trees are just getting around the changing color. I’m not sure if the copious amounts of Humboldt County weed have anything to do with the slower pace, but whatever dictates our pace of life, it’s a comfortable way to ease into the holiday season.

Around mid-August we start to get morning fog in Napa Valley, which normally burns off by the afternoon. That little bit of fog cover protects the grapes from getting overly cooked from morning until sunset, and the cooler temperature gives the grapes just the right amount of acidity.

Everywhere you look, there’s something to be excited about. The bounty of local foods coming into farmer’s markets offers a cornucopia of goodness. From the various mushrooms and oddly shaped vegetables you’ve never seen before to a wide range of herbs and proteins, this part of the world has it all.

On top of that all the leaves in the vineyards are changing color as grape bunches get picked for the vintage.

I took my Mom to Opus One for a visit during harvest. We had a chance to see Opus’ state of the art winemaking facility in action, including optical grape sorter that has a little laser that spits out subpar grapes.

My Mom was illegally parked next to the destemmer so they wrote her a ticket.

Just kidding. The VP of Public Relations at Opus One has a funny sense of humor—we totally staged this.

Over in Dry Creek Valley I had a chance to visit Rafanelli to see how their 2012 Zinfandels were looking. I love this winery—they’re one of the top Zin producers in Sonoma.

Here, Zinfandel grapes from the 2012 vintage just came into the winery and have started the soaking and fermentation process. This is where the grape skins will give the clear juice its color.

Over in Alexander Valley Jordan is again looking like a postcard. This is one of the most beautifully kept winery’s to visit. When the autumn sun hangs low in the sky it casts a golden hue across this impeccable winery building, which could be mistaken for a chateau in France.

Mrs. B and I visited Joseph Phelps in Napa during Flavor! Napa Valley. The organizers of Flavor! picked the best time of year to lure people to Napa with famous chefs and food geekery. We had a fall wedding in Boulder, Colorado and every year fall reminds us about that perfect fall day.

I hope everyone reading this is enjoying the change of the seasons, and hope Thanksgiving isn’t weird. Family and friends around the table mixed with alcohol can be really enjoyable, or really dysfunctional. Wishing the prior for all of you…cheers!


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