Back to our Rootstock: February

Pruning for our Estate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines began in late January, and finished by mid-February. While late pruning is better for disease resistance and can delay bud break, with the warm weather we have had thus far, vines are coming out of dormancy early so it was important to finish pruning expediently. This year properly timed pruning ended up being especially important as vineyards across California are experiencing very early bud break.

As many of you may know from your own backyard fruit trees, pruning is necessary to ensure the best quality of the fruit for the coming harvest. Each year grapevines produce new “canes” which will develop shoots to bear the fruit.  Pruning CloseupAs only one-year-old canes can bear fruit, each year we must remove older canes which no longer serve a purpose to the vine.  By making the selections about where and how we prune the vine, we will be affecting everything about how the year’s crop will develop- no pressure there! Pruning is one of the great arts of grape growing that can never be mechanized due to the precision and careful selection of each cut.

Luckily at Regale, we were fully pruned in both of our Estate vineyards before bud break! First signs of bud break come when the tiny buds on the vine start to swell, then begin to sprout shoots and eventually develop grape leaves. We always love to see some green in the vineyard, although this early in the year can be a bit nerve-wracking!  Some of our Estate Chardonnay vines in warmer spots have indeed begun to send out their leaves, as Spring is clearly upon us given the unseasonably warm and dry February we have been experiencing. If you haven’t been up to the winery lately, now is a great time to come check out the Estate Chardonnay vineyard, as vines are visible at each stage, from swollen buds all the way to actual foliage.

Budding Vine Leaf Unfurling Leafy Vine

Regale’s Transition to By Appointment Only Winery

As of March 1st, Regale Winery will be transitioning to By Appointment instead of holding regular hours on the weekends where we are open to the public. (Members will NOT need to make advanced reservations.) Our goal is to provide the best experience for all visitors to the winery and we believe this will allow us to have a more serene private winery experience for our club members, while also being able to fully focus on our public visitors as they learn the Regale story and experience our property and wines.

Also beginning March 1st, we will begin opening earlier for our members, with updated hours from 11-4pm on Saturdays and 11-5pm Sundays. Appointments will be available on the hour for our public visitors.

What this means for Club Members: Your experience at the winery should change very little as you will not need to make an appointment for yourself or to bring guests up to the winery on the weekends. You will have the benefit of additional attention from the staff, and a quieter experience throughout the winery. We still encourage table reservations for busy weekends or parties larger than 4-6 so we can plan for your arrival.

What this means for Public Visitors: We still would love to have you visit Regale and discover what makes our wines and winery truly unique.  In order to provide a more structured experience to include a tour, tasting, and personalized guide we simply ask that you make an appointment before heading up to the winery.  This can be done by calling our office, or on our website at RegaleWine.com through the reservation link.  There is no advance payment required, and reservations can even be made day-of if there is still availability.

We look forward to seeing you at the winery soon!

Sky Blue

Clones, Clones, Everywhere

This past weekend we released a number of new wines, including a Pinot Noir clonal blend labeled “Blend 667 & 115” which is sourced from the Santa Cruz Mountains.  What these numbers represent was a hot topic of discussion, leaning towards wine geek territory as we pondered blending preferences, planting decisions, yields, and climate worries.  At the basis of this numbers question, however, is another question- what IS a clone of Pinot Noir?

While many plants are grown via seed, wine vines are propagated via a cutting- that is taking a healthy “mother” vine and cutting a piece off.  This cutting is then planted and grows into a new vine with identical genetic material, therefore a clone of the mother vine. While the French have identified over 1000 different clones of Pinot Noir, most of which are spontaneous mutations, certain clones have been selected and propagated via cuttings for their flavor profile, heartiness, resistance to diseases, or ripening time.

With Pinot Noir, you most often hear two names associated with clones in California: Pommard and Dijon, both originating in the Burgundy region of France.  A subset of Dijon, clones 667 and 115 were some of the first registered Burgundy clones in the United States along with Pinot Noir 113, 114, and 777.  These arrived only in the late 1980s through Oregon State University from Dr. Raymond Bernard who was researching clonal selection at the University of Dijon in France.  The technicians at Oregon State nicknamed the cuttings “Dijon Clones” after the return address on the shipment, and clearly the nickname stuck!

Almost all Pinot Noirs are a blend of multiple clones, frequently 3 or more.  What makes our Blend 667 & 115 so interesting is that it is a blend of just two clones, which allows for more of the characteristics of these two beauties to shine through. Dijon 115 is the most widely planted and prized clone with a balanced full bouquet, supple tannins, and well-rounded fruit and aromatic characteristics of red cherry, dusty rose petals, leather, and anise. Dijon 667 came into the United States with the second wave of clones from Bernard, and quickly became used for the structure and persistence it added to clonal blends with angular, hearty tannins, and aromas of dark red fruit, black tea, and warming Christmas spice. Our Blend 667 & 115 has a solid backbone with layers of dark Bing cherry, a hint of earthy tobacco and a smooth long finish. While light in style, there is no lack of fruit nor tannins in this wine which has even affectionately earned the moniker “sneaky” around the winery because of how quickly it seems to disappear from the glass.

Sneaky makes for a good opportunity to debate clonal selection, and is quickly becoming the new staff favorite.  If you haven’t been to the winery to try it yet, you should… before it all disappears in our glasses!

sneaky 115 667

Back to our Rootstock: January

Although this January has been quite a lovely one here at Regale, with uncharacteristically sunny and clear skies, our Estate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines are fully aware that winter is upon us.  After harvest in the Fall, when temperatures drop and the first frost comes, vines enter into a state of dormancy (or as I like to call it Winterruhe from the German term for “winter rest”).  January is arguably one of the quietest times in the winegrowing year, with few decisions to make as both the vines, and our winemaking team can rest and look forward to the coming growing year.  During this time of dormancy, neither frost nor rain, sleet or snow can bother these normally temperamental plants.   As we look forward to February, we will enter the time when decisions must be made about pruning the now fully dormant vines. But for now we will simply enjoy the beautiful days, crisp air and time off from vineyard management.

January Vines

January Vines Close

The Cabernets

One of the most common questions we hear in the tasting room is about our Regale Napa Valley Cabernet Franc, a wine that spurs much debate with its feminine body, subtle black cherry and tobacco filled out with varietally correct earthy notes. It is a unique grape that many people have not had the pleasure of tasting bottled as a singular varietal.  Given its quiet history in comparison to the better known Cabernet, Cabernet Sauvignon, it’s no surprise that people frequently think Cabernet Franc is either made from Cabernet Sauvignon, or the new addition to the Cabernet world.  In reality, Cabernet Franc has been around for quite some time, playing a supporting role to Cabernet Sauvignon, and predominately used for blending such as in California Meritage blends, like our Ovation, which take their cue from the world-renown Bordeaux blends.

Although Cabernet Franc has in recent times been dwarfed by Cabernet Sauvignon, with its brazen charms and easy growing vines, people are often surprised to find that Cabernet Franc was actually in existence first.  Indeed Cabernet Franc and the classic bright white Sauvignon Blanc bred Cabernet Sauvignon.  You might be tempted to believe that this was the plan all along, but in fact viticulturists believe this was a spontaneous cross of the two varietals – a wonderful act of nature.  This parentage was only confirmed in 1997 by researchers at UC Davis, which leads to further confusion as to how Cabernet Sauvignon ended up with a blend of the two names, Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc when in fact no one even suspected the link to Sauvignon Blanc.  A mysterious coincidence indeed.

As lauded wine author and Master of Wine Jancis Robinson writes of Cabernet Franc, it is “subtly fragrant and gently flirtatious rather than massively muscular and tough in youth. Because Cabernet Sauvignon has so much more of everything – body, tannin, alcohol, colour – it is often supposed to be necessarily superior, but I have a very soft spot indeed for its more charming and more aromatic relative, Cabernet Franc.” Here at Regale, we have a soft spot for it as well.

Bottles

2014 Member Holiday Party

Annual Holiday Party
Sunday, December 7th 12 – 5pm
CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE TICKETS ONLINE

  • Our most festive Member event of the year! Share the holiday times with good friends, food and wine. If you’re looking for unique gifts, you will love our line up of vendors. (It’s so nice to be able to enjoy shopping without the crowds and get some beautiful, unique gifts.) Take a bit of the party home with you as you enjoy our annual special discounts on selected vintages. Purchase tickets early; this will be a sell out!$35 per person, plus tax. Includes first glass of wine and one personal pizza.
    Must be a club member to purchase tickets; maximum tickets allowed is 4.

A Season of Rest…

The Estate vines are hibernating after a busy harvest season last fall, and our organic gardens nestled below the winery are being stripped and re-planted for the coming year. As we prepare our plant beds for the next season’s bounty, it brings up the question – what are you doing to prepare for your seasonal produce? Do you shop local, organic, or farm-grown? We at Regale love the fresh fruits and vegetables grown at our garden at the winery. What are your favorite ingredients to use at this time of year?

 It is very cold outside today, which summons the image of winter. Just last week, it was starting to look like an early spring. The coldness of the last couple of days reminds us that our summer fruits and vegetables are further away than we thought!

Not to worry, though! If you are in a mid-winter slump and are wondering what’s currently in season, then check out our list (below) of the local produce that is currently in season:

Arugula
Asparagus
Beets
Bok Choy
Broccoli
Brussels sprouts
Cabbage
Cauliflower
Carrots
Celery
Cilantro
Dill
Fennel
Grapefruit
Kale
Lemons
Lettuce
Leeks
Oranges
Onions
Parsnips
Pears
Shallots
Sweet Potatoes
Tangelos
Tangerines
Turnips
Rhubarb

Also for your benefit, we have included a lovely late winter recipe that utilizes a few of our favorites from the list (recipe courtesy of Simply Delicious™). These Spiced Glazed Carrots can be made as a lovely accompaniment to any meal. We recommend pairing this earthy treat with a lighter wine, such as our 2007 O’Neel Vineyard, Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. Buon appetito!

Spiced Glazed Carrots with Sherry and Citrus

Ingredients

  • 2 bunches of thin carrots (2 lb.), cut into 1″ pieces (about 4 cups)
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt plus more for seasoning
  • 12 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Tbsp fresh tangerine juice
  • 2 Tbsp Sherry or sweet vermouth
  • 2 pinches ground cloves
  • 1 Tbsp fresh tarragon leaves
  • ¼ tsp freshly grated tangerine zest

Preparation

  • Bring carrots, butter, 1/2 tsp. salt, peppercorns, bay leaf, and 1/2 cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 7–8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer carrots to a medium bowl.
  • Add tangerine juice, 1 Tbsp. Sherry, and ground cloves to skillet and cook until glaze forms, 7–8 minutes. Stir in carrots and remaining 1 Tbsp. Sherry. Season carrots to taste with salt.