On September 29, First Crush Savored the Central Coast with Sunset wine editor, Sara Schneider and a group of eager new Crush-tomers. After a sipping and picking about a 700 lbs. of Silver Horse Vineyard Syrah, the fun-loving group enjoyed a fabulous lunch prepared by Chef Julie Simon of Thomas Hill Organics paired with the wines of Chamisal Vineyards. Great wine and food, set to the melodious tunes by the Belmores and beautiful panoramic views from the Silver Horse Vineyard made for a fabulous day.
The First Crush "Berry-to-Bottle" tour was one of the tours featured as part of Sunset's Savor the Central Coast hosted by the San Luis Obispo County Visitors' Bureau. It was an abbreviated version of the Crush Encounters only available from First Crush in the beautiful Paso Robles wine region. Savor is a three-day event that highlights the best of the best of the Central Coast giving guests a chance to taste wines, visit attractions, enjoy farm and agriculture tours and much more.
First Crush enjoyed being a part of this fabulous event and having a chance to showcase its fabulous, fun and educational hands-on winemaking experiences. There's no other wine experiences like the First Crush available anywhere else. For the fall 2011 season, there are two remaining Crush Encounter winemaking weekends. They include Oct. 15 at the Cass Vineyard & Winery and Oct. 22 at Pomar Junction Vineyard & Winery.
Harvest is finally underway in Paso Robles. Things have been getting off to a slow start and yields are low, but spirits are high. Regardless of the trials and tribulations, harvest is by far the most beautiful and exciting time in wine country. And only First Crush puts you up front and center in all of action with our hands-on, educational, fun and fantastic Crush Encounters!
So what are you waiting for? There's still time to come to the beautiful Paso Robles wine region this fall to LEARN, SEE and DO a real wine grape crush! There's nothing else like it anywhere else, and it only happens once a year, and it's only available from First Crush! If you register by this Friday, Oct. 7 for either of your remaining Crush Encounters, you can bring a friend for half off. (See website for details.)
If Vines Could Talk...
They'd tell you they've had a really tough year! Due to the late spring frost, many growers and winemakers are seeing less than 50% of their normal yield come in from the field, and due to an unseasonably cool summer, it's coming in later. Growers are hoping that the lower yields will be compensated by higher quality, and increased fruit prices in 2011. Bulk wine supply has definitely dwindled with 2009 Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon vanishing faster than Houdini. And with slim pickin's this season, I think growers are right to be optimistic about 2012.
For First Crush, harvest is nearly half over. With three successful Crush Encounters under our belt, we head into the home stretch. So far, the weather and the grapes have been beautiful, and our Crush-tomers have all had a great time.We have two Crush Encounters left: one at Cass Vineyard & Winery on Oct. 15 and one at Pomar Junction Vineyard & Winery on Oct. 22. Don't miss these last two opportunity to enjoy a fun and fabulous Harvest and Wine Grape Crush in Paso Robles this fall.
Don't be Crushed
Despite the woes in the field, things are still busy in the winery. We are fermenting our first-ever First Crush Syrah Rose, which was harvested with loving hands by our Crush-tomers on September 24 from the Silver Horse Vineyards. The Rose is coming along nicely and has almost finished its primary fermentation. Our Savor Crush-tomers and Calypso Crush-tomers harvested Syrah on September 29 and 30, and it too is making its magical transformation from berry to world-class wine.
Savoring the Central Coast
Harvest Wine Weekend
There's a lot happening in Paso Robles in October, and the Harvest Wine Weekend is one way to check in on some of the action. It's three days of tasting, touring, wining and dining. Wineries all over the region invite you to visit Paso Robles and host parties, dinners and more.
First Crush is no exception. We've teamed up with Pomar Junction Vineyard & Winery to offer you three great days of winemaking fun. You can experience it in one or two days, and are invited to kick off your weekend FREE OF CHARGE at the Pomar Junction Train Wreck, Friday, Oct. 21 from 5 p.m. – dusk when you register for a one or two-day Crush Encounter. You'll enjoy VIP treatment at the TrainWreck, see and learn how wine is made with First Crush and Pomar Junction on Friday, and then get to bottle wine to take home on Sunday.
For a limited time, you can enjoy all of this for as little as $175/pp. A full day of wine making education, great food, music and fun for about the price of ONE winemaker dinner.For details and information about everything going on Harvest Wine Weekend, visit pasowine.com.
When someone talks about wine culture, most of us think about how our society is influenced by the highly regarding beverage we all love so much. But to real winos, wine culture takes on a whole new meaning.
Cultured wine yeasts are widely used in both home and commercial winemaking. They have been a boon to the industry and give winemakers control over the taste and development of the wines we drink. Most wine drinkers probably aren’t even aware that winemakers choose yeasts for their wines like women choose the right shoes to match their outfits. Nor do they know the important role these microscopic transformers (a mere 8/25,000ths of an inch long) play. There are literally hundreds of cultured yeast strains available for wines. Each of them have their own distinct characteristics – just like the grape varietal they are used on – and can significantly impact the taste and style of a wine.
Andre Austin, owner of CellarWise (a winery supply store in Paso Robles) is a 15-year veteran in the industry and he knows his yeasts . He will be the featured guest speaker at the July First Crush winemaking workshop: “Yeasts & Yields,” Saturday, July 23 from 2-5 p.m. at the First Crush Wine Workshop.
Austin will talk about proper yeast re-hydration, how to select yeast strains and conduct a comparative tasting with wines made with different types of yeasts. (To read the rest of the story, follow the read more link below)
Join us for our June winemaking workshop and find out how different types of oak influence wines. Joe Farley, representative for Radoux Barrels and the winemaker for F/S Cellars joins us for Shoots & Barrels on June 25, 2011 from 1-4 p.m.
In the winery, we're going to find out what a difference a barrel can make. You'll learn how barrels are made, the characteristics of different types of oak and oak alternatives, and taste how different types of oak influence wine taste by tasting wines aged in different types of oak.
Winemaker Joe Farley is the F in FS – a family-owned winery in Paso Robles. Joe has been passionate about wine since his time at Cal Poly University, San Luis Obispo. Since graduating in the 80’s, Joe has worked as vineyard manager for Martin Vineyards, (formerly Martin Weyrich Winery) and assistant vineyard manager for French Camp Vineyards – one of the largest wine grape growing operations in San Luis Obispo County. He also been assistant winemaker for Martin & Weyrich, his former family-owned winery called Abby D’Or and Tobin James Winery. Joe knows that great wines begin with the nurturing of the grapes, and he oversees the whole process from “berry to bottle,” making him a perfect presenter for our June “Berry to Bottle” winemaking workshop.
Next, viticulturist Lowell Zelinski is going to take you out into the "blooming" vineyard and talk about bloom time, and what it means to both the grower and the vine, and talk about fruit set, tissue sampling, fertility decisions, early yield estimates and shoot positioning. He’s also going to tell you what a “petiole” is then show you how to collect petiole samples and why.
Reservations recommended. Call (805) 434-2772 or check availability online.
California wine grape growers and vintners are tallying up the damage caused earlier this month when a bitter-cold Alaskan weather front slowly moved through a large chunk of the state’s Central Coast premium wine grape growing area.
Damage is unquestionably extensive in the northern San Luis Obispo and Southern Monterey counties around Paso Robles, Calif., and north to the King City area where tender 2011 crop buds were fried from hours of mid-20 degree temperatures.
(To read full story, click Read More button below...)
Your first glass of a great 2011vintage wine is being made right now. I know, I know…you hear it all the time: “great winemaking starts in the vineyard.” But is really is true, but more importantly, great grape growing begins with pruning. And there’s no better way to get an appreciation for what it really means than to experience it.
Pruning is the heart of grape growing and the process on which everything else depends. Training and pruning vines to establish a good fruiting framework is pivotal to producing premium wine grapes – the ones you rely upon for a great glass of wine.
It’s pruning season in Paso Robles right now. All over the AVA, you can see the spindly jungles of vines transformed into neat, well-groomed rows of soldier-like trunks standing at attention just waiting for their next orders.
Have you ever wondered what’s going in the vineyard and winery in January? Most people assume that just because the vines are dormant and the wines have finished their primary fermentation that we must be sitting around twiddling our thumbs. Balderdash!
The vines are busy accumulating water and nutrients to get ready for their big (bud) break onto the scene in the spring and some wines are still finishing up their secondary fermentation.
If you’d like to see what’s going on or learn more, join us for While My Vines Gently Sleep on January 22, at 2:00 p.m. Viticulturist Lowell Zelinski is going to talk about what’s going on with the vineyard and talk about terroir – that illustrious word that gets cast about in the tasting room like a magical spell. Becky, along with either Steve or Craig are going to talk to us about secondary fermentation and let you help us rack some wine.
Wine Workshop: 2010 vintage Wrap-Up – Nov. 20, 2-5 p.m.
The 2010 vintage is a year that Paso Robles won’t soon forget. Unusually cool weather resulted in a harvest that fell behind schedule, and equally unusual harvest dates for the many different premium wine grape varietals grown throughout the Paso Robles region: Zinfandels were being harvest before Viogniers, and fruit is still coming in off the vines, even though it’s already the second week in November.
During a November 20 winemaking workshop, First Crush will look back at the 2010 vintage, and give you an inside look at some of the wines that we harvested, and the wines that we have in barrel. You’ll have the chance to meet with First Crush’s viticulturist, as well as be some of the first to taste our newly pressed 2010 wines straight from the barrel.
These are our last winemaking events until January 2011, so you definitely don’t want to miss them!
You can register online by visiting our online store, or by calling (805) 434-2772.
The Art of Blending Wine – Nov. 20, 11 am – 1 pm
Blending wine is truly an art form, and First Crush blending workshops have taken on a new name to reflect what blending is all about. Formerly known as our “Blending Workshop,” the Art of Blending Wine will guide you to a whole new appreciation of wine.
These blending seminars are a fun way to learn about the art of blending wine, sharpen your palate and gain a new understanding of why blending is an important process of making great wines. You’ll also taste some great Paso Robles wines and have the opportunity to purchase your custom blend and create a custom label for your wine that will be made from 100% premium quality Paso Robles wine varietals.
At our newly opened First Crush Wine Workshop, you’ll begin by learning how to evaluate a selection of base wines for aromatics, flavor, texture and aging characteristics. After learning the nuances of each wine, we’ll give you the tools that real winemakers use (graduated cylinders and Erlenmeyer flasks) and let you create several unique blends.
When you’re all finished, you can create your own custom label for your wine using one of First Crush’s beautiful templates, or you can unleash your inner graphic artist, and design your own! Custom wine is an excellent gift for friends, family, and co-workers, and is a big hit at holiday parties and dinner tables.
First Crush makes your custom winemaking experience simple, and fun! Don’t miss it! Includes wine and cheese pairing. (Approx. 2 hours.)
$40/pp, $32 for Crush Club members in advance. $50/pp at the door. You can register by visiting our online store or by calling (805) 434-2772.
Most people know that “vintage” means the year that most, or all the grapes that went into a bottle of wine were harvested. However, a “vintage year,” means something else entirely. A “vintage year,” is a phrase used to describe the exceptional quality of wines produced in a particular year, usually as a result of a great growing season. And in spite of some unexpected weather, 2010 is definitely shaping up to be a “vintage year” for First Crush!
All of the fruit picked by the discerning hands of our First Crush harvesters (including Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah), looks absolutely fantastic. In a year filled with fruit ripening a bit behind schedule, First Crush had the advantage of working with many different local growers, so we could pick what varietal and what vineyard we wanted to harvest from for each of our Harvest Weekends. This helped ensure that our 2010 First Crush wines were made from some of the best fruit that Paso had to offer.
Thanks to the extra care taken by our First Crush harvesters, all of the fruit we picked came in from the vineyards in beautiful condition: bins filled with big, full clusters, and barely in need of sorting. The fruit also came in with perfect numbers (the sugar levels were right where we wanted them), and after fermenting away, most of the varietals are now ready to be pressed and put into barrels.
With the help of our winemaker, Steve Kroener, and those of you who choose to come back during our monthly winemaking workshops, the 2010 vintage will yield some incredible wines for you to share and enjoy with your friends and family for many more “vintage years” to come.
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Winery/Office: 2975 Limestone WayPaso Robles, CA 93446
(805) 434-2772 Fax (805) 434-3337