Monthly Archives: January 2014

3,700 Year Old Wine Cellar


I had to repost this…a recent discovery of a 3700 year old wine cellar.  I sure hope the wine we are growing and making now at Turtle Vines is cellar worthy for several years but fruit forward enough to drink now!  Will see in a few months when we bottle our 2012 Pinot Noir.

A group of archaeologists have discovered one of the oldest wine cellars ever in a ruined palace in northern Israel. The palace once sat in the ancient Canaanite city of Tel Kabri. Interestingly, the ancient city isn’t far from the modern wineries in the country. The scientists discovered 40 3-feet tall jars in an ancient storage room.

No liquid could have survived thousands of years in storage. The scientists determined that the storage vessels held wine by analyzing organic residue left in the pores of the jar. The analysis reveled that they had contained wine made from grapes.

The researchers say that the ancient wine would have been sweet, strong, and likely medicinal. The team believed they were digging outside the ancient palace walls when they discovered the ancient wine containers. Another ancient wine cellar holding about 700 jars was found in the tomb of the Egyptian Pharaoh Scorpion I in Egypt dating to about 3000 BC.

Since grapes didn’t grow in the wild in Egypt, scientists had long believed the wine was imported form Canaanites. The finding of the ancient wine cellar in the Canaanite palace supports that theory. The scientists believe that if they can gather enough data about the ancient wine, they may be able to recreate the flavor.

So You Want to Buy a Vineyard – WSJ Article


I was reading a Dec 7th Wall Street Journal Article  entitled “So You Want to Buy a Vineyard.  It was about Manuel Pires, a self made Connecticut millionaire, who had a dream of owning a vineyard and winery.  Apparently the most sought after land is in Napa County followed closely by Sonoma County (yeah).  What was interesting is no matter how much money you have, the process of finding land and getting permits is the same as when we did it without the millions to spend.
They also posted recommendations from the real estate agents that I thought I would share.  I have bolded the ones I thought were especially relevant and added one to the end.

But before I list these, I have to tell you something funny.  We run a Vacation Rental (Dufranc Vacation Rental) and almost everyone who stays says we are “Living the Dream” when they show up.  After I tell them all the work needed to work the farm…almost everyone says they just want to live in wine country!!!

Dos and Don’ts

Few fantasies are readily realized, and becoming a producer of great wine is especially hard. The following are a few tips compiled from conversations with Napa Valley real-estate agents Katie Somple and Holly Shackford.

Do decide how much you can spend. If all you have is the purchase price, then you shouldn’t get into the wine business.

Don’t think the wine business is about making money. It’s (almost) never about making money. It’s about not losing money.

Do understand that it will take time to find the right property. Many properties are privately listed with an individual agent. Very few appear on multiple listings. Wineries often do not want their names mentioned at all; a winery that is for sale risks losing its winemaker or distributor.

Do work with local consultants—engineers, planners and lawyers, once you’ve found the property that you want. It will save money and time. But make sure the local is a popular local.

Don’t believe an agent who tells you that a piece of land is ‘plantable’ without an ECP (Erosion Control Plan). Plantable land means a vineyard already has an ECP. Planting ‘potential’ means it does not have an ECP. Buyers should verify the difference.

Do start with the best vineyard that you can buy. A good winemaker or a good vineyard manager won’t work with a bad vineyard.

Do figure out what kind of wine lifestyle you want. Is your heart set on an actual working winery? Or maybe you just want a vineyard view?

Ours – If you decide to make wine, realize that to market and sell wine is a full time job.

No Rain for 2013 !



As farmers we live and die by the weather, in fact I get a wine industry weather report sent to me every day via email so I can plan my week.  Grapevines need moisture in the winter and fall to replenish the soil.  They need to be warm in the spring and hot, but not to hot, in the summer and fall.  Pinot Noir likes the range of temperatures in the days and nights to be large to develop wonderful flavors.

This brings me to this post on rainfall.  Sebastopol (in Sonoma County) for 2013 has had only 8.1 inches of rain as of mid-December (I hope it rains during the holidays).  Normally we get 36.3 inches of rain, with most of it coming in the winter and spring to recharge the soil and fill the aquifers. .  If we don’t get much rain this winter I think the vines will suffer and we will get a smaller crop for 2014.  Global climate change, El Nino, who knows…I know I may regret saying this as I need time to get ready for the growing season and prune in the spring…but I sure wish it would rain a lot this winter.   Sure we can irrigate, but it is not the same.