Friday, December 28, 2007

Parker's Reviews

It is the time of year when we get Parker's reviews of our wines. As always, we are thrilled that he reviewed them and liked them. Highlights include be called "innovative" (perhaps he likes the ver jus or the puncheon fermentors) and having our 05 Fenaughty called "silky-textured" while he moved the score up from 88 to 90. Our Chardonnay is again called "Chablis-styled". Parker also increased our old vines score from 87 to 89. I hope he has the chance to re-taste all of these in another year or two - I would expect the scores to go up again.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Dumb stages of Roussanne...

Having just finished tasting through our 07 barrels (over the last month)and feely giddy of the quality of this vintage, I am sitting here enjoying a lovely bottle of our 06 Tamarindo. We have opened several bottles over the last few weeks to see how it is doing and are afraid it may be entering a dumb stage. Roussanne is known to do this and the best Roussanne we have experienced went through this stage.

Our natural wine making may have made this stage emerge sooner than expected. Being our first vintage of Roussanne, we aren’t sure how long it will last. That said, if you open a bottle and are not happy with it, just let us know. We will take care of you!

If you do have one and open it over the holidays, we recommend your decant it for a least 2 hours before serving. We learned this trick at Beaucastel while tasting through several vintages of their Vieilles Vignes Roussanne and it worked.


Shopdropping and the Rockettes

Today is the day where I think most of America has the time to read the paper. I read both yesterday's and today's sipping on our Roussanne. More about that later. Two articles caught my attention. One on shopdropping, the other on the Rockettes.

Shopdropping is the term for taking stuff to the store that doesn't belong and placing it on the shelf. The NYT has a great photo from Walmart with the cashier trying to ring up an Anarchist action figure. We shopdropped inadvertently in 2005 when working on our label. We took a bottle of our 03 Syrah with the new label to Wholefoods in San Francisco and placed it on the shelf to see how consumers would react. Several people looked at it and then it disappeared into a shoppers cart. We never did figure out if it got rung up.

The other article that struck a chord with me was about the Rockettes. Perhaps in April (we will be selling wine in NYT), we will go see them. I never have.

The Rockettes dance the American dream in wondrous synchrony — row upon row of long legs and glittering teeth. As an anti-depressant they could put Zoloft out of business. I like them especially with their antlers on. They can pull my sled any day. Only a young country could produce the Rockettes, and we should be very proud. - Bernard Holland


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Critics and wine boards.

It is the time of year where I wake up in the middle of the night and wonder what Robert Parker will say about our wine. We don't make wines that fit his style (or at least what many people think is his style) but, each year, he finds pleasure in our wines and writes positive reviews.

We also watch the wine boards and see what vocal wine drinkers think. Wine boards are an interesting beast. Users of the wine boards are not subject to the standards that critics are. One of my favorite posts, that seems to keep coming back, is about a winery that was great in the 90s but has recently faltered according to Parker. The owner/winemaker is a great person and these supposedly non-biased board members write endlessly about how the wine hasn't changed. Those in the industry know that Parker is right - the owner/winemaker stopped making the wines a while back and the current releases aren't reflective of their ability.

All of this is in context of what science can teach us about wine. Several well written studies have linked knowledge of the wine before tasting/smelling to what is experienced within the brain as viewed through a MRI machine. The classic study in this field was done with Coke/Pepsi. In a nutshell, tell the drinker what they are going to drink and, if they think they like it, their brain will process the experience differently. These influences can be color or perceived value (e.g. when tasting wine that a user thinks should taste good because of cost, the brain behaves differently).

So, do the board members who taste the wine and expect it to be great, experience something great? If so, is taste purely subjective? And thus, if one user likes our wines and posts and other follow does it mean anything?

Anyway, Parker's review are Friday. I look forward to sleeping again.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Tasting the developing wines barrel by barrel

It is the time of year where we want to get a better handle of the new wines. We do this two ways - the fun one is tasting each barrel. One or two nights a week, we taste through barrels. Usually somewhere between 7 and 14. (No special reason on the number except that our maloactic testing is limited to 14 barrels a night.) Last night we tasted through the Fenaughty Vineyard Syrah. This was the first wine we made in our 4 ton open top oak fermentor. The wine was showing well - across all 7 barrels. (We didn't get 4 tons of grapes.) Our notes include: pepper, basil, BBQ/smoked meats, graphite, fresh off the tree cherries, medium to look finish and good balance. The wine tasted like it was just finishing up malos - will know more today.

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Fun Photo - Not Wine Related

Back in 2004, we posed for a KQED photo shoot. At that point, I had a good friend who worked there and we made our wine across the street at Crushpad. (Tracey helped start the company and we rented space from them until they grew to big and needed the space.) Anyway, we posed and today, we are pack on their home page. They are a great radio and TV station which we listen to every day. Check it out at

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Giving thanks for the great harvest

Our daughter is just getting up from her nap and we will head over to an old friends house for a feast in a bit. In the mean time, I have been enjoying this wonderful day thinking about our great harvest. We made 68 barrels of wine this year - a record for us. (67 in barrel, one in tank that will go to barrel shortly.) More importantly, across the board, this year has treated us exceptionally well in terms of great wine and new friends.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Strong Fermentations

As usual, the Southern Rhônes took off quickly in the winery. For some unknown reason, this year it was the Mourvèdre that went first. The Grenache and co-ferms all started next with the Vieilles Vignes taking their time. (No surprise there, old vines are used to taking their time.)

Everything looks great in the winery. Pressing in another week or so.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Customer Reviews

When time permits, I read customer reviews. With our wine making style, I don't expect that everyone will love our wine but, of course, I take great pleasure in reading reviews where people do.

Tasted by Steam67. In light of the spritziness I found in my previous bottle, I uncorked this, poured out an ounce (into my mouth), and then upended the bottle with my thumb over the mouth and shook that sucker a few times. I then left it open in the fridge for 40 minutes. This procedure made all the difference. The wine revealed lively strawberry and red fruit notes in the nose, but it really shined on the palate. Strawberry, blood orange, rose, and other pretty floral notes came through with a slight minerality to the finish and great acid balance. Although I enjoyed the first bottle I tried, this one really was fantastic and more interesting. - Tasted 4/25/2007.

We bottled the Rose using CO2 which increased the spritziness as the CO2 dissolved into the wine and took time to dissipate out. Next year we will try Nitrogen in an effort to protect the wine and limit this short term issue.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Stomping Video from Saturday


Monday, October 15, 2007

Lizards and spiders - Vendage peaks

With the rain on Friday, we decided to pick our Vieilles Vignes and the rest of our Grenache, Mourvèdre and Counoise. We did manage to get the fruit picked before the rain and processed it on Saturday with the help of 21 friends and friends of friends.

The Vieilles Vignes was, as usual, full of spiders and other creatures. We caught a total of 5 lizards - very small ones. After being admired by numerous children, our daughter released them into our garden. We hope they are doing well.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Portfolio's recent urban winemaking article...

Great article that includes a bit about Tracey's forklift driving in Condé Nast's new magazine Portfolio.


Harvest, Harvest and Harvest

The last two weeks have been hectic to say the least. We spend every waking hour checking the weather. We have had three significant rain storms and so far have lucked out. Next up, old vines tomorrow morning and then, if the weather holds, some more Roussanne, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Counoise. If you are around Berkeley, come give us a hand.

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Friday, September 28, 2007

Grenache Gris

We picked the Grenache Gris this morning - 4,700 pounds worth. I think the quality of the fruit is the highest it has ever been. The morning started slowly - I made my coffee at 4:30AM with hand ground beans from Isabel (the name sake of the rosé). I didn't think it was strong - turns out she only grinds decaf.

We got at the vineyard around 7:20 and started immediately. The crew quickly picked/filled all 160 of our bins. In my sorting, the first of two for this wine, I only found two clusters with rot. Very usual for these vines which were planted long before I was born.

By 8:30, we were back on the road headed for Berkeley. The grapes are cooling off - going to 8 degrees (Celsius) getting ready to be sorted a second time.

Tomorrow morning, Fenaughty Syrah and our first use of the four ton fermentor.

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Sweet Smell of Grenache

Tracey and Tom spent the day fighting our over flowing Grenache. At the end of the day, I went over to do evening punch down. The sweet, cherry smell of Grenache fermenting is in the air. It is wonderful.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The weather

The winery has finally found its rhythm and the weather has improved. Over the last week, we harvested the second batch of Syrah and all of the Grenache from Lightner. After a 2 day cold soak, we moved these to the winery and they have started to ferment. The whole cluster puncheon seems to be the slowest moving of them - it didn't soak up as high in Brix as the others.

With the weather finally working for us, we will harvest Fenaughty Syrah and Grenache Gris this week and then probably have a final push the last two weeks of August. If you are in the bay area and want to help, we need sorters on Saturday.



Thursday, September 20, 2007

And the review ...

Accompanying the article on Oakland wineries, was a review by Charles E. Olken of some select wines including our Chardonnay.

2005 A Donkey And A Goat, Chardonnay, Brosseau Vineyard, Chalone ($40): Tracey Brandt told me recently that she did not expect me to like her new Chardonnay because it was high in acidity. Au contraire, madame, it is a very fine wine and I am quite fond of it.

While it is true that the wine is firm in structure with minerally, stony and green apple notes, it also has depth and refreshingly bright and brisk balance as part of it rewarding makeup.


Oakland Tribune Article

Jessica Yadegaran of the Oakland Tribune wrote an excellent article about the Oakland (and Berkeley) wine scene. The oce:

The Naturalists

-Winemakers: Jared and Tracey Brandt, A Donkey and Goat, Berkeley.

-What they make: About 1,300 cases of Rhone varietals and chardonnay.

-Old World education: The Brandts left their tech jobs in 2001 and headed to France to study winemaking for a year under Eric Texier, a Rhone and Macon area winemaker. A few classes at UC Davis filled in the blanks.

-Crushpad co-founder: Upon their return, Tracey and her former colleague Michael Brill launched Crushpad, a San Francisco custom crush facility. She and Jared made wine there before launching A Donkey and Goat in 2004.

-That name: In Cote Rotie, donkeys are used for organic weed control. After a long day in the vineyard, they become noticeably cranky. So winemakers bring in goats at night to keep them company and soothe them. According to the Brandts, the pairing dates back to 345 A.D.

-Their pairing: In many husband-and-wife winemaking teams the women focus on the books and marketing side of operating a winery, but Tracey is adamant about sharing the dirty work with Jared.

-Texier tutelage: In the Rhone, the Brandts followed the principles of biodynamic and traditional farming, and have incorporated some of these older and sustainable practices into their winemaking.

-Happy feet: Like famous Burgundian wineries, the Brandts practice pigeage a pied, or foot stomping. "We sterilize the feet first," Jared says.

-Why the East Bay: "Because we can afford to do what we want to do," Jared says. "We can take more risks. If we don't like the results we don't sell the wine."


Saturday, September 15, 2007

More Sampling and More Waiting

Thursday morning was spent in the foothills. It was a cool, crisp morning with my car reading 48 degrees when I stepped outside for the first vineyard check. You can feel fall it the air - it is wonderful.

The recent cooler weather is allowing everything to slow down. We will harvest the rest of Lightner Syrah and the Lightner Grenache next week and possibly our Grenache Gris. Everything else needs time.

Wylie Syrah is going to barrels on Monday! Whoa!

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Friday, September 07, 2007

Lightner Syrah

We also picked some of our Lightner Syrah this morning. The yield was below what I was expecting. We are trying two picks on Lightner this year to better understand when it is exactly right to pick this vineyard.

Last year we were only able to pick a barrel's worth. This year, we are getting more and are very excited! Steve Lightner has a great blog - On the Contrary. It is worth a read.

The fruit is in the fridge wait for an early morning sort before cold soaking. Flavors are great, sugar is perfect as are acid.



Roussanne is being picked this morning

Our Ellen Ridge Roussanne is being picked this morning. The vineyard is decomposed granite with low yields near the American River. I am very excited to see this come in.

The blue bubble is where our Roussanne comes from.

View Larger Map

Beaucastel, in CDP, picked their some of their Roussanne yesterday. They write a great blog which I highly recommended.


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Foot Stomping Danger

One of my favorite French Wine Blogs, Vinopsis: Vin et Œnologie, posted this video about the Dangers of Foot Stomping.

I have read the women is just fine.



Monday, September 03, 2007

Oak and tasting

Since we have been making wine, we have never been big fans of oak. We look for subtle oak - not over the top. We rarely use more than 25% 1 year old oak for our wines and never new barrels. It isn't that we don't appreciated oak - instead, we want the terroir to show through on our wines not the cooper.

Even with our restrained approach, people seem to taste more oak in our wines then we do. I suspect it is because of our wines are more precise and always have reasonable acid levels. The acid brings out the oak? Perhaps we will have to experiment in the future and see what we think...

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Wylie er Rome Rhythm

On Saturday, we got our first red into the winery - Rome Syrah (AKA Wylie of Wylie-Fenaughty fame.) We only get a ton of this fruit and it set a record - we have never had reds in the winery before September 1st. The very early start to the growing season allowed these grapes to achieve the required hang time for full flavor development

We tested our new elevator - photo coming soon -- which worked like a charm. Our grower always sorts in the field, so we only needed a quick sort and then into the puncheons for fermentation. We cold soaked until yesterday morning. Our natural fermentation started more quickly this year - one puncheon was going this morning.

Harvest brings many challenges - one is getting into the grove. We punch down two to three times a day and making that happen is a bit of a challenge but we are getting there.

Next up - not sure? We are going to the foothills to check our 3/13 grapes this Saturday and then off to McDowell for Rose.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

First Harvest of 2007


We harvested 1.9 tons of nearly organic chardonnay 9 days ago and I have been meaning to write about harvest ever since them.

Harvest itself seems to follow a rhythm that becomes second nature. After a fun East Bay Vintner tasting, we drove down the the Brosseau Vineyard and spent the night at their lovely B&B. The B&B is great - we just tend to get there too late and start harvest too early to really enjoy it.

On the morning of harvest, we got up at 5:30, checked our new walkie talkies (too make life easier) and headed out in different directions. Tracey took an ATV out into the vineyard to manage the pick. I drove the truck over2007octoberBlog to the scales for loading. Picking starts at 6 am. The grapes tasted great and I think they will get better over the next few years. Bill Brosseau's commitment to going organic and his father's hard work are already paying off.

2007octoberBlogAt 11, we finished with our 6 rows. Tonnage is down again this year - 1.9 tons which works out to about 1 ton to the acre. We started the trip back north and called my parents to check on our daughter and Tom, our harvest intern, to check on the winery.
By 3, we are back and sorting. We sort, then foot stomp and then press. We had a great turn out for our start of harvest party. 30 people sorting, stomping, eating, drinking and letting the kids drive the fork lift. And of course, cleaning...

Happy Harvest!


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Satellite view of our vineyards

Google Maps provides an awesome satellite view of our vineyards.



Monday, August 06, 2007

Tamarindo's Great Debut

This past weekend, we held our summer/fall open house. Attendees get a sneak peak at our 07 Fall release.

Our Roussanne was an instant hit. My favorite comment from a wine maker I really respect - "The best American Roussanne I have tasted". When we picked this wine, we got our grapes from the coolest corner of a high altitude, north facing vineyard with granitic soil . We tend to draw more inspiration from Bergeron wines more than the Rhone for this wine and we feel the results are shining through. Next year, we will increase our production slightly.

If you haven't had many Roussannes or wines from Savoie, Tom Hill and San Francisco Chronicle have both reviewed many wines some of which we find inspirational.

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Open House Saturday - Hope to see you there.

A Donkey and Goat and Broc Cellars
Fall Release Open House

You are invited to a rare opportunity to taste limited production wines from two boutique wineries not regularly open to the public. Meet the winemakers and growers, taste newly released wines and barrels samples, and enjoy live music while nibbling on hor d'oeurves. Admission includes wine tasting, food and a souvenir wine glass.

Saturday, August 4, 2007
(no early birds please)
A Donkey and Goat Winery
, 2323 B 4th Street, Berkeley
$20 cash only
, the day of the event
($15 for Rhone Rangers members with valid membership cards)

For more information contact tracey at or call 510-868-9174.

Directions: The winery is in Berkeley, between Channing & Bancroft and 4th & 5th Streets. From 4th & Bancroft, heading south on 4th towards Channing, our parking lot is the first left. The winery is only accessed from the parking lot (you will not see us from the street).

View Map

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Going Organic - Chardonnay is on its way

Our chardonnay vineyard is in the process of becoming organic. It will take some time, but as of 2007, all work in the vineyard is organic.

We are excited - this is a big step towards our goal of making bio-dynamic wines.

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Soulful wine and the Ver Jus

While enjoying some great wines at a Bastille Day party, we had an interesting conversation with a gentleman who had brought three great wines to the party. Perrin mentioned that some wines are technically perfect but have no soul an he believed wines need soul. We agree!

While the Ver Jus sleeps, we ran the numbers today. 6 Brix, 2.78 PH and 30 G/L TA. The Ver Jus tastes great - it makes one pucker but in a good way.



Friday, July 13, 2007

Making Ver Jus

Every year, our green harvest comes around way to early. Just as summer feels like summer, we have to pick some Chardonnay for our ver jus.

Yesterday, we picked (with the help of a small crew) about 500 lbs of Chardonnay, pressed it. and this morning, it went to the meat locker in beer kegs. Our new friend, Kim, helped us at the winery. The first juice is always amazing - vivid green. I hope we have some photos...

One of the great advantages of making ver jus - we get to test all of our equipment weeks before harvest. We found a small leak yesterday on one of our press trays. It should be easy to fix and happily it is our only problem.

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Langsam, Lentement, Lento, 遅い

Slowly - sometimes fermentations go at their own rate with natural wine making. Our Roussanne is slowly fermenting. It is legally dry and has been for several months but it keeps going. Every day it moves a little bit more. You can hear it going but tasting it is harder.

We are hoping it finishes sometime soon - it is tasting great and we want to bottle.


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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Purchasing Aromas

Having just finished The Science of Wine; From Vine to Glass by Jamie Goode, I am now wondering how one tests for Ketones. α,β-ionones are responsible for the smell of violets in wine. I wonder if the compound is present in our Broken Leg and thus responsible for the violet aromas.

Searching around online to learn more, I quickly found that you can purchase the compound from the Good Scents Company. While not interesting for me, I wonder if those that claim wine making is 90% science have considered adding aromas. (We claim that wine making is 90% art...)

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Some new East Bay Placements

We haven't been good about updating our list of placements lately so here are a few in the East Bay!

Prima Ristorante 1522 N Main St, Walnut Creek. I enjoyed my meal here a few weeks ago when Prima hosted a chardonnay tasting. The food was great and the service nearly perfect.

Rivoli, 1539 Solano Ave, Berkeley. After dinner last night, we had to drop off the Rose for them. I have heard great things and look forward to trying it shortly.

Somerset, 5912 College Avenue, Oakland. Another new place near our house. It is excellent - try the grilled peach salad!


Friday, June 15, 2007

New Old Fermenter

On Wednesday, we picked up our new 4 ton fermenter. It is an open top Rousseau that our friend Jérôme Aubin helped us find. (Jérôme is the owner of Artisan Barrels, a great resource for barrels, and the wine maker/owner of Aubin Cellars.) We especially like the shape of the Rousseau's - it is slightly narrower at the top. This helps keep the cap moist.

It has only been used for Pinot Noir to date - we plan to make two lots of Syrah in it this year.

More photos shortly.

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Broken Leg

On Friday, we spent an hour in the Broken Leg vineyard. It is an incredible place - as steep as Côte Rôtie with a similar climate. Côte Rôtie means roasted slope - it is about as far north as Syrah will ripen in France. (There is or will be some Syrah further north in the Beaujolais but that is another story.) Broken Leg is also a roasted slope. Very cool area but a pocket of warmth.

The vines look good. They have just barely begun to flower. We expect it to complete in the next few weeks. We are beginning to understand the vineyard - seems like it takes us about 3 years to really get it. This will be our third year and we are very excited.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

Hog Pen and the near end of the Prius

We spent the day in Anderson Valley seeing Broken Leg and Hog Pen vineyards.

Hog Pen will become a great vineyard. Last year and hopefully this year, we will get upper Hog Pen. It is planted with a variety of Syrah clones. Much more exciting, we went and saw lower Hog Pen. This vineyard, planted with Merlot in 1995, is being grafted over with Syrah - 877 and 174 and will be ours for the next five years at least. It is located in Mendocino Ridge Appellation tucked near the top of a ridge.

Lower Hog Pen won't produce fruit until next year. Upper hasn't flowered yet.

The only downside, it is beyond the Prius' reach. We were supposed to meet the grower at the end of the paved road. Due to the lack of cell phone coverage, we missed him. Wanting to see the vineyard, we ventured down the steep road with our little Prius. The Prius is great for vineyard visits - we often get 60 MPG on the road. We made it to the vineyard. It look great and we are very excited!

Only problem, the Prius didn't have the traction to make it our of the vineyard. We got about halfway up the hill and no go - we started to spin. We had to be towed - oh well, all in a days work.

Next time, we will take photos...

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Tasting tomorrow in Walnut Creek

As noted before, we will be pouring our Chardonnay tomorrow evening in Walnut Creek at Prima. We have heard it is one of the three best places to eat dinner on the far side of the hill and are excited. Hope to see you there!

Reservations should me made directly with the restaurant: 925-935-7780.
For more information:

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Monday, May 21, 2007

Chardonnay tasting in Walnut Creek, CA

Jared will pour our ‘05 Brosseau Vineyard Chardonnay along with 6 other Chardonnay producers. Guests can compare and contrast while enjoying an array of culinary delights that are meant to compliment Chardonnay.
  • Tuesday, June 5th at Prima Restaurant in Walnut Creek, CA
  • Reception 6:30, dinner 7pm
  • $130 per diner, all inclusive of tax and gratuity
Reservations should me made directly with the restaurant: 925-935-7780.
For more information:

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Syrah in the City

Imbibe recently published a great article about several of the East Bay Wineries including us.

On the asphalt outside Berkeley’s A Donkey and Goat winery, 35-year-old owner Jared Brandt is scooping grapes out of a 500-liter wooden barrel. His wife, Tracey, is moving more barrels around with a forklift, and several friends are helping out. Today they’re pressing their 2006 syrah, an elegant, medium-bodied wine made with grapes trucked in from Broken Leg Vineyard, a remote plot located in Anderson Valley, 100 miles northwest of San Francisco....

Read the article online or better yet, find yourself a copy of this months issue on a newstand near you.


Recording from the Commonwealth Club Event

You can now listen to Jared speaking in a forum on East Bay Urban Wineries. Topics range from how did the people get involved in the wine business to what is it like working in an urban environment.


Thursday, May 03, 2007

Are you going to be at Hospice du Rhone?

If so, Tracey has arrived in Paso and will be there all weekend. Drop by on Saturday and taste some excellent wine. She might have something special under the table if you ask...

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Santé Magazine May 2007 New World Roses

Santé Magazine's May 2007 issue included our Isabel's Cuvee in its recommend new world roses.

A Donkey and Goat
2006 Isabel’s Cuvée /McDowell Valley, California
100% Grenache
Light bodied with aromas of strawberry, tomato plant, rose sachet, and cinnamon; full flavored and floral driven with a spicy finish. Baked whole sea bass with lemongrass. 510-868-9174

The reviews have been published in PDF form and we are listed on page 15.



Photos from our open house

These were recently shared to us by Brad Rogers. Makes me want to have another party.








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Tuesday, April 10, 2007


If you happen to be in Slovakia, check out Mama and Papa and have a bottle of our wine! (Click the image to see a full res version of the ad!)



Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Winemaker Dinner in NYC - April 18th

Join Tracey Brandt and Colin and Renee Alevras at The Tasting Room for dinner on April 18th. More details are up in our news and events section.

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Friday, March 30, 2007

Being Green

Our little winery and natural way of doing things has just been featured in Oakland Magazine. If you live in the Bay area, you can pick up a copy of the magazine at many news shops. If not, you can read it online...


Sunday, March 18, 2007

Next Up - Family Winemakers

Tracey will be heading to LA Tuesday morning for Family Winemakers' Trade Tasting. If you are in LA and are "qualified", we would love to see you there.


Friday, March 16, 2007

Malos and another great review

Spring is in the air in Berkeley and at our little winery. Our reds have started malos and are going strong. We don't inoculate and it usually takes a little warm weather to get them going. This weeks beautiful weather has done the trick.

Laurie Daniel, wine columnist for the San Jose Mercury News, recently recommended our 2005 Brosseau Chardonnay. We had the pleasure of tasting with her a few weeks ago and are honored that she liked our Chardonnay so much.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Rhone Rangers Tasting and Seminar

The Tenth Annual Rhone Rangers San Francisco Wine Tasting
is this coming Sunday. We will be both pouring our wines as well as presenting our 2006 Rose in the educational seminar. Hope to see you there!


Saturday, March 03, 2007

Longer Barrel Aging

Our old vines and yet to be named Fenaughty Syrahs from 05 are both still in barrel. It is amazing to see how much they change from one month to the next. We are thrilled with how they are currently tasting and will bottle them in May for a fall release.


Friday, March 02, 2007

Label disclosures has recently released the results of a consumer and trade study it did on wine making enhancements. For example, 85 % of consumers who responded thought that wineries should not be able to add alcohol to wine or that they should have to disclose it. (Adding alcohol is illegal I believe.) Not a problem for us but an interesting read.

I think labels should have to indicate ingredients...

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Final touches for our open house

We hope to see you there - Saturday at 1.


Sunday, February 18, 2007

Upcoming speaking event with the Goat

Tracey signed me up to speak at an event in San Francisco. The Commonwealth Club of California is the nation's oldest and largest public affairs forum. When we lived in the city, we were members enjoying everything from a seminar on magnetic feng shui to a speech by the president of Rwanda. Hope to see you there.


A not-so-new kid on the block may be challenging the North Bay's status as Northern California's pre-eminent source for wine. Soon "wine country" may be no more than a short BART ride away. People have been making wine in the rolling hills of the East Bay since the 1970s, but it wasn't until 2006 that 12 of them banded together to form the East Bay Vintners Alliance. Taste award-winning wines and hear what it's like to produce them in a busy urban environment.


Sunday, February 11, 2007

Slow fermentations

Yesterday, we checked on our Roussane while topping barrels. We tasted this a few weeks backs with our grower and it was still sweet but not too sweet. It continues to drop suger.

We have had whites take up to six months before - as a result, we aren't worried as long as it keeps moving. When topping, taking the time to listen as the bung comes off gives the first clue. The little swoosh means gas. Next, an ear over the bung hole lets us know that the little yeast continue to be noisy.

We are really excited about this wine - very exotic.


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Open House Time - Hope to see you on Feb 24

We just dropped our spring offering in the mail as well as announced our annual open house and wine tasting. This year we are hosting the event with Broc Cellars who makes great wine. The event is the 24th of February. More details can be found on our events page.


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Corks and substainabilty

Over the past few weeks, we have finished bottling our Rose - the only wine which we use an artificial cork with. We made this choice several years back to help keep the price of the wine down. Making wine by hand is expensive and even with our Rose, we don't take short cuts. We still monitor the vineyard carefully, harvest by hand, sort by hand and ferment in wood. (We have experimented with stainless but still prefer wood.) Thus, saving a significant amount on the cork made sense.

We have stuck with real corks for several reasons with our other wines. We want the wines to breathe very slowly and we like the natural aspects of cork. (Why do everything in wood only to have the wine age against plastic?) We also choose them to make sure we were saving forests - I know this doesn't make sense on the surface. Audubon Magazine has a great article in its most recent issue. Give it a read and perhaps it will make sense.

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Racking and Aromas

We have started to try and move our rackings around the lunar cycle. Racking, moving wine out of the barrel (either to tank or another barrel), during a descending moon helps to compact the lees and thus improve the results with less effort.

Many believe this also helps hold the aromas in the wine - we are not sure about that...


Saturday, January 20, 2007

Four Scores (and some great notes!)

Robert Parker and Steve Tanzer recently reviewed our newly released wines. We continue to feel lucky that we are on the radar and amazed at how well our wines are received considering our winemaking style is not the current fashion and this is only our second commercial release.

Each year when we submit wine, it is with great trepidation. Should we submit wines we know are not made in the style that traditionally scores well? Will the critics appreciate our wines for what we are doing and evaluate them for what they ARE instead of what the are not? It is hard. Our wine making goals don’t align with the current fashion. We strive to make wines of originality and personality that express themselves, not our winemaking. We want to make beautiful wines, not over the top wines. We like balanced wines, with a strong (acid) foundation that will evolve and develop. We love minerality, especially in our whites. If oak is used, we feel it should (at best) be a part of the seasoning – not a primary flavor subduing the wine's personality.

In short, our wines do not shout from the rooftop and may not grab you with the first taste. But as they open up, and when paired with food we think they will slowly seduce you with each taste until you are enamored with their nuance and individuality. A friend suggested that relating to our wines is a love story, not an evening of instant gratification.

So I ramble. Back to scores. When we think about it intellectually, we don’t make those BIG wines the critics seem to like/score well. But yet we submit. And we, like most of us, hope to be judged favorably. While our scores are not the BIG screamers in the high 90's when we read the commentary we are very pleased because the critics do seem to appreciate what we are trying to do and think we are doing a pretty good job at it.

Parker’s review of our upcoming release:

Broken Leg: The best in the group appears to be the 2005 Syrah Broken Leg Vineyard. From a cool Anderson Valley site, it exhibits plenty of blueberry, raspberry, sweet cherry, floral, and spice characteristics. Pure, medium-bodied, elegant and authoritatively flavored, it will drink well for 5-6 years. 89

Brosseau Chardonny: is a surprising light for a wine form this vineyard. Made in a Chablis-link style, it offers notes of orange, blossoms, citrus, and lemon with the oak clearly pushes to the background. Enjoy this attractive Chardonnay over the next several years. 88

Three Thirteen: An hommage to Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the Three Thirteen is a blend of Syrah, Mourvèdre and Grenache. The name reflects the three varietals this estate uses as opposed to the thirteen grapes permitted in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. A Rhône Valley-like bouquet of strawberries, cherries, peppers, herbs, lavender and spice emerge from this straight forward red. Consumer it over the next 2-3 years. 87

Tanzer’s review:

Brosseau Chardonnay: Peach Skin Color. Pear, melon, lemon ice tea, incence and a leesy nuance on the nose. Juicy on entry, then nicely concentrated and rich in extract, although the wine’s saline character and edge of lemony acidity are not currently in harmony. Finishes quite dry, with an impression of solidity. 88


Sunday, January 14, 2007


With our post harvest free time (amounts to 15 minutes a week but that is another story), both of us have been reading. I am on my 5th wine book since the new year - several are from the 70s and 80s. I have learned about the 3 other grapes of Champagne, the 3 times during the first winter racking schedule of old Bordeaux and that Kermit Lynch actually imported every wine at one point or another.

My favorite quote is from of Lynch's 1982 wine mailers in Inspiring Thirst. "... there is a growing number of you wine drinkers who don't want a mouthful of oak and butter each and every time you drink Chardonnay."

As everything changes, everything stays the same.


Friday, January 12, 2007

3 / 13

Several people have asked about the approved grapes (13)in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. They are: Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Picpoul, Terret Noir, Counoise, Muscardin, Vaccarèse, Picardan, Cinsaut, Clairette, Roussanne, Bourboulenc. Maybe one day we will be able to get all 13...

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