Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Harvest is done!

It has been a busy season and the weather hasn't worked with us!  The rain has caused issues with ripening and grape chemistry, the weeds have been out of control and we have had issues with mice and snakes!  Nature it is!!

We are done with harvest and Thank You to all the harvest helpers.  With our new crew for 2016, we had lots of lessons learned, lots of mistakes, lots of successes and most of all, lots of great memories.  We are shaking things up - we are working on some new wines (making the best of what nature gave us), we are creating some new partnerships and creating new experiences.

This is just a short note for now - more to come.  A rebuilding year - yes, it has been.  Thank you for your continued support as we continue to work on a great wine experience for you!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Renewed beginnings!!

We planted new vines a few weeks back – not just replacement vines but new varietals.  We also formed a new team – a variety of backgrounds and experiences.  All of this newness means we learn together, we relearn what we thought we knew in our last plantings, we revisit mistakes previously made (hopefully don’t make them again) and we challenge the norms.  A few things to reflect back on – the common mistakes we all have made, watched our peers make or been cautioned about.  They really are common sense but maybe that’s why they are common mistakes – we often focus on the hard stuff and miss the easy stuff.  What are some common mistakes?  Pretty easy list really – balancing the rain with the need to spray (spray before it rains or wait)?  If we wait, can we get back in to spray in a timely fashion?  What about the REI (restricted entry interval – which is important if the tasting room is right next to the vineyards)?  What about PHI (pre-harvest interval – important to balance the grape chemistry, growing conditions and expected harvest times [especially when your harvest crew is weekend volunteers])? Grow tubes – how long do we keep them on? Weed wacking or herbicide?  Fertilize?  How best to approach a balanced vine (fruit and foliage)?  If you have different varietals, how best to manage the individual needs of each?  There is no absolute, no one way it should always be done and no one answer for every season.  Reflection, inspection, observation and contemplation are often the best guide and in my experience, communication.

The new blocks certainly deserve and get a lot of attention.  Establishing them correctly and deliberately is essential.  The precision used in marking the rows and vine placement, the ground prep, the actual planting and watering, the constant checking of the grow tubes and bamboo support to ensure a straight truck, all of it – important and constant because you can’t easily replant a vineyard.  And planting the vineyard isn’t all of it – there is watering, weed control and parallel effort for trellising & fencing.  Planning for the new vineyards took a fair amount of time and focus and much effort was spent in establishing the right vision with the new team.  It isn’t about getting it done – it is about getting it done correctly. 

The first time around (2007), it was work but it was a labor of love and we didn’t know what we didn’t know.  We studied and read, we asked for advice and listened, we interned and volunteered, we talked and planned.  But it was a singular focus – grow grapes.  There was no winery.  There was no tasting room.  There was no business to run.  There was no brand to protect.  Just, grow grapes.  Worry about the rest later.  This time around, all those lessons learned come into play.  But it’s a new team – they don’t know the lessons and they don’t know what they don’t know. 

It’s later.  Fast forward 9 years – existing vineyards in place.  They need care and attention too and their needs are very different than the new vineyards.  They need to be combed, crop balanced, suckered, weeded, sprayed, and the list goes on.  The existing vineyards are the focus for the coming vintage.  We are only two months away from harvest.  What is our previous experience with these varietals?  How did the weather play into it?  Have our viticulture practices remained consistent?  What did we learn from the previous harvests that we want to ensure we benefit from in this harvest?  Were we happy with the grapes?  Were we happy with the wine? 

New team – new vineyard manager (luckily, we still have Richard through this harvest season and then adhoc as needed), new winemaker, new tasting room team, new events to coordinate!  And, more elements to manage – we have a winery; we have a tasting room; we have a business to run; we have a brand to manage & protect, and yes, we still need to grow good grapes.    Hopefully all the new energy can benefit from previous experience so we can innovate and create something even better than what we have today.  Many of our guests have become part of the experience (and extended team) – we benefit from their energy and ideas as well.  The singular emphasis and laser focused purpose of nine years ago has grown into a lifestyle, a family, a tapestry, a community where everyone that engages with us makes us better and every experience we have makes us healthier.  We won’t avoid mistakes, oversights and missteps.  To overcome these, the anticipation is that the renewed beginnings come with collaborative alignment, strong communication, shared patience, collective vision and resilient resolve.  And of course, continued support from our friends, guests and community.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The new landscape at Fence Stile

As you may know, the landscape at Fence Stile has changed over the last few weeks.  We have planted two new varietals - Crimson Cabernet & Cabernet Dore.  Both of these varietals are from Davis Viticultural Research and are now grown in 26 states but taste different based on the regional differences of terroir and the vineyard management. 

Crimson Cabernet is a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Norton.  Cabernet Dore has a more complicated parentage - 25% Sauvignon Blanc, 25% Cabernet Franc, 25% Vitis Cinerea, 13% Enfarine Noir and 12% unknown but takes on most of the characteristics of a Sauvignon Blanc.  We should be able to release the Cabernet Dore in 2020 and the Crimson Cabernet in 2021 (depending on how we choose to make these wines).  Both of these will have a percent of the harvest allocated for CELLAR57 wines and the rest will be in the tasting room.  We are very excited to work with these two new varietals.

This last week of prep and planting reminded me a lot of our 2007 days when we first planted - while the varieties were different, the energy and excitement are the same.  And planting these new blocks gave me lots of time to think - the last year has been about mourning what was - the new plantings are about a new beginning and the next phase.  As I said a few months ago, 2015 was about surviving, 2016 is about rebuilding.  These new blocks represent the 2020 vision.  We have new vines, a new team, more progress on the building and landscape and renewed energy to provide a memorable wine experience for every guest (new and returning)!  

New events are being added with more to come.  The new deck is finished and furnished!  The CELLAR57 club has launched and has several members enjoying the wine and the space.  The Cellar Garden is back in bloom.  The landscape at Fence Stile has changed but the goal has not - provide a memorable experience.  Thank you to everyone who is participating in the journey!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

New Vineyard Blocks

We are currently planting - weather has presented a little challenge but we are still confident we plant on Memorial Day weekend!  I haven't had a chance to put a lot of details here but over the coming two weeks - I will be posting pictures of the progress to this space.  Stay tuned!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Spring 2016

Yes - the spring has been odd - a little late winter (snow and hail last week) and an early spring (weather in the 60's and 70's a few weeks ago) but that is a pretty amazing thing!!  Our vines are pruned, we are working on servicing the tractors and sprayer, working on soil samples and the spray program.  We feel the vineyards will start budding early but really hope that we actually do get a little more moisture in the coming weeks.  For all those that are complaining about 'being done with winter', I would say - what winter?  And we need the moisture so let's accept that April showers bring May flowers and that rain (not torrential downpours) are welcome!  So, we watch the weather reports daily and adjust as necessary.

We are welcoming the longer days, the seasonal visitors back to the winery and all the folks in the area for wine fests, wine dinners, weekend getaways.  We are ready to start the movies and are excited for the music on the patio (we love them in the tasting room but if there is a crowd, it is hard to hear at the tasting counter).

2015 was our year of survival - 2016 is our year of rebuilding.  And with that - we are rebuilding!!  The new deck is built so the Assemblage room will soon be in use.  We are replacing the overhead canopy in the coming weeks (oh yes, we are welcoming strong volunteers), we are working on getting the inside/outside serving window open, rewiring the AV for the movies, adding more speakers for the music and getting the front fountain installed!!  As always, our to-do list is long!

 We are on the eve of our 7th anniversary as a winery - April 10th is our 7th anniversary as a winery.  Our very first customers were Colette and her family - Colette continues to be a good luck charm for us sending us prayers and good wishes whenever needed (and they paid cash which was great since my credit card machine wasn't working yet!).  While they are not heavy wine drinkers, they are great supporters in all the ways that count - thank you!  The next set of customers (Bernadette and Christine) have become family - we have traveled to Italy, done numerous projects around the winery and they have been and continue to be a respite for needed downtime.  And, they are trustworthy - I sent them home with several bottles of wine the night I met them with no currency exchanged - they didn't have cash or a cheque and I didn't have a working credit card machine so we agreed on trust and they not only came back the following week with money but 10 friends who have also become part of the support system at Fence Stile - thank you!!

Along the way, we have met INCREDIBLE folks who have provided support, guidance, friendship, advice, muscle power and a shoulder to lean on (and occasionally cry on).  One of these great souls is Karen - you know her - you have seen her at the winery frequently.  She is the 'Norm' of Fence Stile - if you are a regular, you know Karen!  Karen has been at the winery before we were a winery - she has been at every planting party, every weeding party, shooting thinning party and most harvest parties (she only missed the 2015 parties due to health issues).  Karen is turning 80 on July 23rd and we are celebrating!  Mark that date - more details to come but the winery is celebrating Karen on July 23rd!

Well, the Assemblage room and deck will open soon.  We are enjoying our Soulful Sundays and painting parties (planning on a painting party where the painting is of Becca)!  We have a new winemaker (her introduction is coming next time).  We will launch TravelStiles in the next month.  The Cellar 57 space is almost ready, the labels have been submitted for approval and the wine is bottled!!  We are even considering adding the 4 acres of vines William had planned on - yes, we would love help getting those planted!!  And we are getting ready for the upcoming winefest season!!

Cheers and Thank You!
We appreciate your friendship and loyalty - Shriti, Amrish & Becca

Monday, January 25, 2016

Love Lock

We are grateful we are nearing the last of the 'firsts' but have been blessed to have been supported by so many friends and an incredible number of strangers that just care.  

The first lock on the Love Lock wall says what we spent our entire time together doing - and today (Jan 25th) is another one of those 'firsts' - today would have been our 10th wedding anniversary.  And most likely, we would have been working on the long list of things that need to get done but we would have done it together!  

It is fitting that our first day in the new building was Valentine's Day last year and this year, the first seating in the caves will be on Valentine's Day weekend.  Anyone that has seen the caves will agree - a lot of love and care has gone into designing and building the space. And, so there is no misunderstanding, much work remains to be done and in loving memory of William, we are continuing to build upon what we started!  As I shared previously, 2016 will be our year to 'refine or perhaps redefine'.  Thank you for sharing in the journey, for all the help and for all the support.

P.S. sharing a Valentine's Day card from 2013!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy 2016 (& goodbye to a bitter sweet 2015)!

A brand new year - a new calendar - a new cycle - a clean page - a new set of goals - new beginnings!

In 2015, our goal became just to survive the year so 2016 is the year to 'refine' or perhaps to 'redefine'!  The first day of a brand new year (especially a bright sunny day) carries hope, promise, wonder and anticipation.  We are very grateful to have the support of our friends and family as we face the new year and all the challenges we know lie ahead as we continue to find our way and 'redefine' our new normal!  Thank you for your continued friendship and support!

Happy New Year - we hope it is filled with peace, joy & love!