Operation: Over a Barrel

Our local cooper, Bernandino, has over 20 years experience making barrels and learned his trade in Napa Valley. We’re so lucky to have him!














I finished paying for and picked up my last barrel. It was the only new one I bought. The other three are reconditioned, heavy toast French oak barrels from local cooper, Bernandino Guttierez. I chose a heavy toast for the Grenache and Mourvédre because a heavy toast seals the grain for less wood extraction and more emphasis on fresh fruit which is the style I’m looking for in these wines. My long awaited new barrel came from Radoux, a well-known barrel making company in Napa Valley. I chose it for the Syrah which is the most tannic, robust wine I’m making by myself this year and will age for 9 to 12 months, though I think it already tastes pretty good. The barrel maker says of my choice: “Appalachian oak barrels have pepper and spice and a long, lemon cream finish.” Medium plus toast is described as “The apex of aromatic potential, adding pronounced vanilla, sweet chocolate, maple syrup and spice.” Wow. Right? Barrel shopping is like a trip to the pâtisserie and makes my mouth water!


A Little Cheese With My Whine, Please?

My winemaking boots are at rest










The frenetic pace has slowed down. I brought the girls home and my pink boots have been retired for the time being. We were too spread out, with a couple of wines on one end of town and several others in the next pueblo down the way. I was getting pretty road weary with all the running back and forth, having joined the ranks of weary winemakers all over the valley. However, after all my wines had gone to press and some were ready for the barrel …. Well, it just seemed sensible to have them all in one place. Someday I’ll have my own little winemaking bodega and a cellar for storing barrels. But for now I’ve renamed my house “Casa mi Cava”. The wine, mama winemaker, the pink boots, and even the dogs are all resting. Whew.


Romancing the Grape

A clean harvest of quality fruit has the potential to develop into a great wine

What do winemaking and lovemaking have in common? While I’m searching for a punch line, picture this: an exacting young woman. Inexperienced but with brilliant aspirations and all the makings for greatness. She wants to give her all but conditions need to be just right. Too hot and she exhausts herself too early. Too cold and she becomes sluggish. Treat her roughly and she may become bitter. Neglect her and she will desiccate. And every woman is different and will respond differently to her environment. So will every grape respond with a life of its own to the longing winemaker’s advances.