Thursday, December 9, 2010

SF Vintners Market

The pictures are from the Vintners Market in San Francisco in November. It started out pretty quiet and then a few hours later the crowds hit the back where we were at. I tried to get a picture from the same angle of before and after the crowd came. These types of events are important to us because they give us a chance to meet directly with consumers and in turn these consumers (aka "you") can buy our wine that day and walk out with it. Since we are too small to have a tasting room, it is like a rotating occasional version of a tasting room. We met lots and lots of people during this two day event, thanks to all those who stopped by our table. The magnums were a big hit, maybe for holiday gifts? We will keep you posted on any other "try and buy" events we might be doing next year.

The Bay Bridge in the clear window pane.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

2010 Harvest: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Ah, 2010 vintage. For me this has been the most unusual year to date since I started making wine in Napa in 1999.  The Summer was very cool and the grapes were weeks behind a normal ripening schedule.

Newbie "Merus" Vineyard
The good was that my new vineyard looked great this year.  This site, that I share with Merus, is textbook perfect in appearance. Here's a pic on harvest day:

The fruit had great flavor and crop level through the Summer and was lookig like it was going to quickly ripen to perfection.


Thats when the bad happened.  Rain.  Lots of rain.  I was out in the vineyard in a rainstorm tasting grapes and I was surprised on how good the fruit was tasting.  The only problem was that the rain leads to mildew and the vines could only handle a week or so after the last rain before the fruit had to come in.  I think the full potential of this new site probably was not achieved but still I'm tasting some really excellent (and really young) wine from it.

All went well in the winery this year, Jeff and the crew were excellent as usual.  I caught this shot of the last of the juice leaving the hopper on the way to the destemmer-crusher.  I'm hopefull for a happy ending to this year's vintage, only time will tell but so far so good...
Last drops of 2010
The Ugly, 90% of Midoriya was lost

Oh, I forgot about the ugly.  Poor Midoriya Hills Vineyard was devistated by the weather.  The cool summer followed by a couple of heat spikes just killed the fruit on the vine.  It shriveled up and died a premature death, well before it was ripe enough to harvest.  I did manage to salvage about 1000 pounds of fruit, and while it looked less that ideal the wine is tasting surprisingly good!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

PRIME 2010 Chardonnay

Chard SS and oak barrels
The Berry Lane Chardonnay has officially finished fermentation and made the transition from grape juice to wine.  This is the view as you shine a flashlight into the barrel, the juice is bubbling indicating the release of carbon dioxide and the conversion of sugar to alcohol.

This last week each barrel tested at -1.7 Brix telling me that the fermentation is over (avoided the dreaded "stuck fermentation").  Today we will top up the barrels and send samples to the lab to find out the alcohol, acid levels, residual sugar etc.  Now I can go back to worrying about the Cabernet...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

HydeAway Events in San Francisco

On September 16th we participated in a very cool event on the San Francisco waterfront. There was a collective of six small vintners, music by a talented trio, more food that people could consume and it was held in the historic Maritime Museum which has recently been renovated. It is called HydeAway and if this name doesn't sound familiar to you then you are not on our mailing list. The location will change to other areas of the San Francisco Maritime National Park (all near and on Hyde Street Pier). It is invitation only but we do send out an invite to our mailing list so make sure you are on it today! The next one is in November.

View of Alcatraz from the top deck of Balclutha

Gerard's Paella

Trio - but you could probably figure that one out on your own

Thursday, September 30, 2010

2010 Harvest. What's that all about?

Winemaker update for y'all (just got back from Texas).  I think most of you may have heard but we have had about the coolest Summer on record in Napa.  That is until a massive heatwave at the end of August and then another one this last week.  Its kind of a catch 22 situation, if its too cool and foggy you have to pull leaves around the fruit to help it dry out and avoid molds.  Yet if you pull the leaves and then you get a ridiculous heat wave the fruit gets fried and can turn to raisins.

The "Merus" block has been saved from this predicament by Larry's quick action with the water valves.  Sadly, Midorya Hills fell victim to the heat spikes this year.  The good news is the damage to Midoriya seems to only be an issue with the quantity, not the quality of the fruit.  For some unknown reason the fruit that was exposed to the sun just decided to die off.  Hopefully what is left will have twice the flavor.  We will see.  The Berry Lane Chardonnay also shows the raisining effect with most of the fruit in good shape but some of the exposed berries turned scary black.

Our handy de-stemmer machine takes the grapes off the stems and leaves the raisins behind.  So, other than the lack of fruit we should be in excellent position for an amazing year when it comes to quality.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Glass of Wine, Dinner and a Movie!

Prime Cabernet is being poured by the glass at Foreign Cinema in San Francisco. This is a very unique restaurant that plays movies on the back wall while you eat dinner. The food is excellent too (we have been there recently). Here is the movie line up.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Wine labels: Paper vs Silk Screen

Monvera is company out of Ikeaville Emeryville, CA that produces some really cool "glass decor" as they call it.  They just started a beautiful bottle of the week series of videos and PRIME made it to episode #3!  Monvera is a great company with great people and we're excited that they picked our Midoriya Hills Cab for their video series.                                                                                                                                                                     

Obviously, since they are in the business of selling alternatives to paper labels they tend to have an anti-paper bias.  In the video you see our regular label as well as the screen print that Monvera did for us. Apparently more than 99% of wines in the market have paper labels so the screen print is somewhat unusual.
                                                                                                                                                                   It got me thinking, should PRIME go paperless?  I like the look on our "Reserve" wines but is it worth the extra $? Is there something to be said for the traditional appeal of paper? I'm not sure myself but we're always open to suggestions.  As in: comment please, what labels type do you like best traditional paper or fancy screen print?  Thanks!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Cause for Paws

We were invited to pour for the Cause for Paws benefiting Napa Humane and hosted by Mark and Anna Pope of The Bounty Hunter. The people who put this event on know what they are doing! There was a great array of food and wine and a giveaway bag for everyone who came (mostly stuff for your four legged friends, but some coupons for the human variety too).

We managed to mostly control ourselves, despite pouring next to Three Twins Ice Cream (three scoops between the two of us is showing self control right?)

We also met Amy from Oakville Ranch who was a pleasure to share a table with.

All in all, I would recommend this event to all who like food, wine, and animals. They had cats and dogs on site available for adoption, which was equally hard for us to resist. Our cat Baylee and our dog Murphy may have had an opinion on new family members but the kids wouldn't have been upset.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Where to find us!

Here are the places that have Prime Cellars wine in Southern California. Thank you for your support!

Broadway Deli - Santa Monica

Capo - Santa Monica

Cedar Creek Restaurant - Laguna Niguel

Cucina Urbana - San Diego

Golden Truffle - Costa Mesa

Sorrento Grille - Laguna Beach

Saturday, May 22, 2010

SF Chronicle recommends Prime- read all about it!

It was a great surprise to see a picture of our 2007 District 4 Cab in Sunday's Chronicle.  Its a big honor when the nation's best paper (west coast bias here) recommends people go out and try your wine.

Reading on it mentions that they considered 80 or so wines and booted out all but 15 that appear in the article.  Congrats to the winemaker (-Oh wait, that's me), to Carlos who did the most of the vineyard work and to Lisa who makes everything else happen!

In case you missed that link here it is again.  Also, since we are just releasing the '07 you might notice that it does not yet appear at our online store, we're working on that, it will be up soon.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

2009 Chardonnay- bottling already?

I can't believe its May already and we have bottling scheduled for the end of the month.

The Chard blend consists of two parts: Oak and Stainless.  The stainless portion is a real home run, great fruit and floral notes and serious acidity.  The oak (used, older oak that is) has a bigger mouthfeel and more creaminess.  I put the correct percentages together in this vial to take to the lab.  Its a really interesting blend, similar to the '08 but with a bit less oak flavor.

I just finished fighting with the TTB (government label approvers), scheduling bottling, ordering corks, glass bottles, capsules, labels and trying to get the wine in the right size tank.  I think I'm ready to get this bottling done.  I'll make sure to take some pics and post them here in all their glory.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Where to go in South Lake Tahoe

Other than the Red Hut's famous biscuits and gravy there are few options when it comes to dining on the South shore of the lake.  I guess the $2 dog and a draft at Bill's Casino could count but I mean fine dining like the special occasion, memorable kind.

Locals probably won't tell you because it only has 7 tables but Cafe Fiore is the best and one of the most popular restaurants in Tahoe.  Nick, the owner, is a super nice guy and the staff all seem like they love working there.  Make a reservation well in advance, order the swordfish special and ask for the PRIME on the wine list.  Its an honor to have our wine in the South Lake Tahoe's #1 restaurant.

(my aerial shot via Boeing 737 mounted iPhone)

Monday, April 19, 2010

2006 District 4 Cab is gone!

The last of the 750ml bottles of critically acclaimed 2006 "D4" Napa Cabernet went out the door last week.  A big thanks to everyone who bought the wine and supported out little winemaking adventure out here in Napa.  In this economy we are extremely thankful to have sold out in only 6 months.

We do still have some 1.5L Magnums as well as small quantities of the 2006 Reserve Cab.  The 2008 Chard is available and tasting great right now too, had a bottle over the warm weekend in Davis and it was excellent.

Look for the release of the 2007 vintage coming up soon.  A great vintage in Napa, its sure to be popular.  Sign up on the mailing list to make sure to get your release notice!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Check out the SF Vintner's Market at Ft. Mason April 10-11 (& get $10 off!)

We will be pouring at the Vintner's Market in San Francisco at Fort Mason on April 10th and 11th.  This is really a first of its kind event. Not only is it a massive wine tasting of over 200 wineries but you can buy any of the wines on the spot.  The "try it , buy it" model makes a lot of sense and I can see this becoming a really popular trend.  This is a great opportunity to taste some small production stuff (like Prime)

Super blogger Alder Yarrow writes about it here or go to the Vintner's Market site here.    Tickets are 25 bucks (but wait, there's more!) use this link to get a $10 discount:

Check it out and come by our table for a taste!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sights from Coombsville

Today, as you can see from the close up, is what I'm officially calling budbreak at our Midoriya Hills Vineyard. Now visible are the tender pink Cab buds just emerging for the 2010 season. I love the fact that the Cabernet Sauvignon is already taking off, it really shows how unique this site is. This early (normal for this vineyard)budbreak means more days in the growing season before the fruit is ripe. Usually this translates to higher quality, and in this case some great color too!

These are the prunings from 2009's vine growth. Removing last year's growth assures the best conditions for this year's crop. Without pruning you get a bush. A bush will overly shade the fruit and cause the vine to spend too much energy making vegetation. We want all the focus to be on the grapes. Pic of the California state flower just for fun.

Monday, February 15, 2010

PRIME scores a 93 in Wine Enthusiast!

February's issue of the Enthusiast included a great review of our 2006 PRIME "District 4" Cabernet. As per West Coast Editor Steve Heimoff:

A beautiful Cabernet that gives a nod to Bordeaux in its earthy dryness and moderate alcohol. There are plenty of blackberries, cherries and currants, but also notes of violets, mushrooms and herbs that make it complex. Fresh acidity and thick tannins provide structure to this wine, which comes from the cooler districts of Oakville and Coombsville. Now–2014. - S.H. (1/31/2010) - 93

We have already had a great response from across the country, thanks to everyone that has looked us up!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Used Shippers?

Okay, perhaps some of you may have noticed that we have shipped you wine in old, worn, often with Styrofoam and messy looking cardboard wine shippers. Here's the story:

We looked for good alternatives to standard, landfill filling shippers and there are not many out there. The ones we found were so expensive it didn't make sense to buy them. At some point over a glass or two of Chardonnay it came to us to seek out people that have shippers that they don't want anymore.

Lucky for us there are plenty of members of various wine clubs out there that are now saving shippers for us. We even had an offer from the good people at Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine to save all their wine packaging for us. We've started adding stickers explaining whats going on (see pic)

The point is we are re-using these terrible shippers to keep them out of landfills and back in the service of safely getting wine to your door. I hope that this can become a trend in the industry, remember that Styrofoam can't be recycled so lets keep them in service.

If you have shippers to donate email us at:

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Happy New Year!

A happy new year to all. 2009 was a great year for PRIME,(OK, economy issues aside) we made many new contacts got terrific placements and met some truly great people.

It amazes me how great our customers can be. We are very thankful for those people that have tried the wine and taken it upon themselves to spread the word to their friends and coworkers. Its your support that keeps the wine flowing...