Spring Open House

Saturday, April 29th:

Picnic Lunch: 12-2 PM (by reservation, $15)

Tasting: 2:30-5:30 PM (Taste a mini-vertical of all Clos Saron wines, including pre-release samples, all current wines, and numerous Library releases going back to the mid 90s. Meet our friends and neighbors Cara & Aaron of Frechtown Farms and taste a range of their delightful wines. No charge, no reservation required.

Dinner: 6-9 PM (Chef Joshua Eubank of Ordinaire) Our own farm-raised meats with local produce, all super fresh and tasty food (other than some fragrant French cheese at the end) alongside a string of wines, young, old, light, and rich. (by reservation, $75)

2017 NY in NYC

On January 22-28, a small band of North Yuba vigneron-pioneers will be visiting NYC and Philly together: Yours truly, along with a group of young wine producers who have sprung into being in part thanks to their connection to Clos Saron: Frenchtown Farms’ Aaron and Cara Mockrish, who were our apprentices in 2015, La Onda’s Dani Rozman, who was our intern in 2013 and stayed connected ever since, and Thee & Thou’s John Donaghue, who was our first ever intern in 2010 and 2011. The common thread linking us all together, is everyone’s commitment to farming and/or sourcing chemical-free fruit grown in the North Yuba section of the Sierra Foothills, and shared dedication to minimalistic wine making practices. While La Onda and Thee & Thou have a few vintages under their belts, for Frenchtown Farms this occasion will mark the release of their first wine: 2015 “Cotillon”, which was made here, at Clos Saron.

Our plan is to offer at least one dinner and one consumer tasting in NYC, and one dinner in Philly. Locations are still being determined and details will be posted here as they come into focus.

The following week, Frenchtown Farms and Clos Saron will visit the Washington D.C. area on Monday and Tuesday, 1/30-31. On Tuesday, a dinner will be cooked by chef Rick Cook of Blacksalt fame at his home (4 seats available, first come first served, $125 all included). Other events and details to follow.

Please email us for any additional information.

Harvest 2016

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Our 2016 harvest started on August 1st, with a first pass through the Sauvignon Blanc, farmed by our friends at Frenchtown Farms on the Renaissance property. Though not quite as crazily early as the last two vintages, this is still extremely early by our “old standards”.. Ever since that day, we have been at it, repeatedly going through each vineyard section at 3-9 day intervals, picking fruit by touch – feeling every cluster for its hardness/softness, which is the best indicator we can find of the elusive “perfect ripeness”. We only pick clusters as they start softening, and come back again and again every few days to do the same, until all grapes are gone. While this is still work in progress, we are nearly done, with only two or three days of harvesting left to do.

We foot-stomp the grapes in open top “T-bins” and wait for fermentation to take off on its own – with no adjustments, additions, or inoculations of any kind. If, by the time we get back to the same vineyard section, the pervious fermentation has not yet peaked, we add the new harvest into the same container and stomp it again (see picture above of a typical Pinot Noir fermentation). If the last batch is already too far gone, we start a new one.

This year’s main theme for us has been a severe shortage of grapes, coupled with an extreme case of uneven ripening. Nearly all of our vineyards, across all varieties, only produced between 50-75% of their expected crop, while taking far longer than usual to ripen all their fruit.

Quality seems very promising. Acidity levels are high and flavors are especially intense, most likely thanks to the feeble crop levels, which average at below one ton/acre (less than  17 hecto/hectare in the European way of measuring).

One of the bright spots was the first crop produced by our most recent planting just north of the Home Vineyard. We got microscopic amounts of Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Roussanne, and Syrah – not nearly enough for a commercial release, but plenty enough to  get a first insight into this terroir’s expression and potential.

Taste 1995 Riesling & 1999 Black Pearl at Terroir SF

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An Evening at Terroir SF:

Please join me for a Clos Saron tasting at Terroir San Francisco, one of the first wine bars to have given us their support!  Wednesday, August 3rd, 7-9 PM. 1116 Folsom St, San Francisco.

I will be pouring the following wines:

2014 Tickled Pink

2014 Carte Blanche

2014 Out of the Blue, Old Vine Cinsault

2012 Stone Soup, Syrah

1999 Black Pearl, “Once Upon a Time”

1995 Dry Riesling, “Once Upon a Time” (from magnum)

All wines will be available for purchase by the glass and by the bottle during the tasting.

Hope to see you there!

2016 Growing Season Update

We did get a bit more rain this year than in the past four, but not quite enough to take us out of the drought. Nature did seem to heave a sigh of relief in early spring, but by now – mid July – this is too little water under an oversize bridge..

Version! This is French for ‘Grapes Changing Color’. It has already started in our vineyards, especially in hot spots such as our Stone Soup vineyard, tying 2015 for the ‘Earliest Verasion Ever’ infamous record. That means we get to brace ourselves for another super-early harvest, which is no great fun. Harvesting in August compromise both fruit quality and harvesting & crush conditions. Hot days and warm-isa nights are neither comfortable for the harvesters, nor do they contribute to healthy fermentations. Well, we can fortunately complain about it (Farmers Bill of Rights 1837), since there is not much else we can do…

And this harvest, too, shall come and go as did all previous years. They all look terrifying as they come near, just like a Tsunami wave gathering on the horizon. The difference is that once the fruit is harvested and brought into the winery, the first morning you go in there and get greeted by the smell of fresh fermentation, your spirit soars and all is well!

 

 

An Evening at Heirloom Cafe SF

We will start at 4:30 with a conversation about the Wild in Food & Wine with Connie Green of Wine Forest Wild Foods, Matt Strauss, owner of Heirloom Cafe, and myself.  To help us all get into it, we’ll serve some nibblies and taste three wines while exploring the subject and sharing from our experience.

At 6:30 we’ll sit down for a 5-course dinner, properly libated with four of our wines: Tickled Pink, Carte Blanche, Out of the Blue, and Home Vineyard Pinot Noir.

I will tell you that two of the very rare occasions for Saron & myself to dine (together!) in San Francisco over the past few years were at Heirloom and, all I can say is that I am looking forward to this third opportunity!

Heirloom Cafe is located at 2500 Folsom St, San Francisco. Tel: (415) 821-2500. Make your reservation here.

2016 Spring Open House

Spring 2016 Open House 

Please join us on Saturday, April 30th, for a day of delightful company, farm-fresh food, and artisan wines:

12-1:30pm Picnic Lunch
First class farm-fresh catering by our friends Aaron & Cara and a glass or two of Tickled Pink rose. $15/by reservation.

2-5:30pm Free-Form Tasting
Sample 20-odd Clos Saron wines, including all current releases, a couple of pre-release sneak previews, and multiple Library selections, going back ~20 years. A mini-vertical of each wine we produce allows you to see how the wines develop with age, and the significant role the vintage plays in the expression of terroir. The tasting is free, and no reservation is required.

6-9:30pm Dinner
A food & wine extravaganza, featuring our own farm raised meat and farm-fresh local ingredients and, of course, amply libated with fermented grape juice. We will be posting more details here, as they become available. Limited seating. $75/by reservation.

Note: As of today, 2/29, the dinner is booked up. Please let us know if you’d like to be on the waiting list (there often are cancelations). 

For reservations, please email gideon@clossaron.com or call us at (530) 692 1080.

PLEASE NOTE – Clos Saron is a working farm, with livestock animals and guardian dogs. We ask that you do not bring your pets with you – Thank you for your understanding!

Hope to see you there!

Clos Saron Coming to the U.K.!

We are excited to have our wine represented in the U.K. by Les Caves de Pyrene. The first batch is on its way – 14 Carte Blanche, 14 Blue Cheer, 14 Out of the Blue, 09 Black Pearl, and 09 Heart of Stone.

A little known fact about me is that I lived in the U.K. for a few years in the late 80s – early 90s. Studied in the MW program, befriended a number of people in the wine trade, and fell in love with that country. Sooo happy to have our wines now available there!

Next Step: Stone Soup Harvest

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Our red harvest will start this year with a first pass through the Stone Soup vineyard this Saturday morning. We expect about 1/4 of the fruit to be perfectly ready now (do you know how to tell ripe from unripe grapes? squeeze each cluster gently, and your hand can tell by the slight softening of the fruit). Once they starts ripening, we go thought our vineyards repeatedly (every 4-7 days) using this method to select ripe clusters, until there is no more fruit left… This way we ensure that all the fruit we use is perfectly ripe – no unripe or over-ripe clusters.

 

2015 Harvest has begun!

July 25th: our first batch of grapes – Albarino and Verdelho for the Carte Blanche – were picked this morning and foot-stomped in the afternoon. A new record: two days earlier than last year! It still seems hard to accept the fact that harvest in California now starts in July.

We intend to let the must macerate for a few days and then press it. The sugar at crush was 19.8 Brix, which should be converted to about 11.8% alcohol by the end of fermentation. Beautiful acidity and delicate flavors.