Tag Archives: turtle vines

Vineyard Designate

gardener front label

We just received a case of “The Gardener” 2013 Pinot Noir  made from Turtle Vines grapes.

We sell excess grapes to Chris Condos and Suzanne Hagins, of Horse and Plow, and they make a Vineyard Designate wine.  This is a big honor in the wine business.  We like working with them,  because  as far as I know they only buy organic grapes.  This agrees with our principles!

We can’t wait until we open this bottle and compare it to our very own “Turtle Vines” 2013 Pinot Noir!  Of course, support Turtle Vines Winery first, but consider getting a bottle from “The Gardener” with our grapes as a second choice.

Gardener back label

Turtle Vines Kitchen Towel



Looking for a Turtle Vines gift item?  I have a limited number of these beauties available for purchase on my website or you can get them directly from Terrior by the Sea, a lovely company that contacted us a few months ago to add our logo to her Winery series of kitchen towels.

This multipurpose eco-friendly flour sack kitchen towel is made of cotton specially grown in India. It has a beautiful, natural, soft feel with a pre-washed, vintage look. Flour sack is definitely a one-of-a-kind deal being that it is extremely durable, super absorbent and lint-free. It is also iron-free and can be used for cleaning up spills or simply just dusting around the house. The dimensions are 17.5” x 27.5”. The fabric has been washed and pre-shrunk, which minimizes the amount of shrinkage and fading that could occur with home-washes.



Kelvedon (winner of Taste of Tasmania) vs Turtle Vines



When we were in Australia last year, we attending the Taste of Tasmania.  It was a fantastic festival where we got to taste Wines from Tasmania with 40,000 of our newest friends.

Last week we had guests over and decided to see if anyone could tell the difference between the winner of the festival, Kelvedon, and Turtle Vines Pinot.  Interestingly enough, they both had the same flavor profile and only 2 of the 5 people correctly named the wines.

The morale of the story is…we are on the right track with wonderful tasting wine!

One last note of interest.  Almost all of the Australia wines had screw tops and many were made with Flextank technology.




Winemaking Equipment -Enolmatic Filler

wine filler


I just finished a wine class from Vinquiry that focused on bottling and the keys to good wine preservation.  It was stressed over and over that oxygen is great for humans to breath,  but for wine after fermentation is complete, you have to limit the oxygen.

What does that me to a small winery.  After primary and malolactic fermentation is complete and you have racked your wine, give it a good dose of sulfur to stop any further fermentation, say 75-100ppm, depending on the pH of the wine.  Then resist the temptation to taste every week.  If you are using a flex tank, you can let it sit for several months since you won’t have any evaporation.  Sulfur as necessary and when you deem the wine is ready, rack one last time.  If you process >50 cases I would recommend a small vacuum filler like the Enolmatic.  It pulls a vacuum in the bottle and fills wine from your tank to the bottle.  Again…very little oxygen.  Then cork right away with a good quality cork.

They claim that the Enolmatic will fill a bottle every 10 seconds.  When we did the Sauvignon Blanc we added a 1u filter.  This slowed the process down but resulted in a very clean/clear wine.  When we do the Pinot in the fall, we will not use a filter to preserve the flavors in the wine.  The one draw back we have seen so far is that the level in the bottle was a little hard to control.  I’m guessing it was due to our inexperience and the filter…hopefully we will improve when we bottle in September.

Oh…it runs about $400, so with the corker, labeler and renting or borrowing a spinner you will spend about $1000 getting you wine from a tank to a bottle.

Winemaking equipment – Overview

TV Pinot on Rock 2


A few months ago we deemed our 2012 Turtle Vines Pinot Noir “finished”, but we needed to make it look as good as it tastes in a bottle.  What else did I need?… you ask.  Well, I had the label, corks, foil and the wine…but I didn’t have any equipment to put the package together.  So I needed a wine filler, a labeler, a corker and a foil spinner.  For runs under 100 cases you can get by with smaller equipment that will still make your finished bottle stand out.  What does this cost?  Under $1,000 and then some rental fee’s…but you can read about each of my purchases and issues over the next few posts.


Frozen Pipes – Update

cracked valve

If you remember, right before we went on vacation in December, we had a very cold week (by Sebastopol standards) and our pvc pipes to the vineyard froze and broke.  I repaired the broken pipe yesterday and turned on the water to the system to test it.  Low and behold, the pressure gauge broke and a 1″ brass valve cracked and was leaking.  I can almost understand the pressure gauge, but a solid brass valve, wow!  And it was only in the mid-20’s.

I learned my lesson…I have to winterize the pipes this fall.

Grape Buyers – Horse and Plow Winery


Why do I have a picture of another winery in my blog post?  Well, we sold 75% of our grapes to Horse and Plow Winery in 2013 and the rest went into our Turtle Vines Pinot Noir.

As a grape grower, I want them to be successful so the love and labor we put into the grapes show in their winemaking.  I also want a great relationship with them as I hope it can turn into a long term partnership.  They live 1 mile from our house here in Sebastopol.  As a wine maker, this is the first year I can compare our winemaking style to an experienced and acclaimed winemaker.  I can tell you from tasting a bottle of Gardener 2011 Pinot Noir Carneros that it was was wonderful.    I hope the wine they made from our 2013 grapes is just as good.  FYI…Gardener is a sister brand of Horse and Plow.

Here are their bio’s…

Chris is a California native, but only 3 generations from Greece. His Grandfathers made wine, his Dad sold wine, and Chris does both! Chris studied Plant Ecology at SF State and Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis, before beginning his career at Pine Ridge Winery. He started Vinum Cellars in Oakville in 1997, which currently produces 30,000 cases of wine. He has also been the consulting winemaker for Kathryn Kennedy Winery since 1998. Chris’s past experiences, hard work and talent as a winemaker are evident in every bottle of Horse & Plow.

Suzanne was born in Savannah, Georgia. Her interest in wine developed while working in fine restaurants in Charleston, South Carolina. The mystery and romance of food and wine led her to France, and her first harvest at Comte Armand in Pommard. She moved to California in 2000, working at DeLoach, David Bruce and Goldeneye wineries. Suzanne had a small, pinot noir brand called Lutea for seven years, before starting the Gardener with Horse & Plow. Suzanne takes a sensory approach to winemaking, and strives to capture the more esoteric aspects of time and place in each vintage.

Bud Break – Sauvignon Blanc…and plan for 2014

bud break sb

Bud break for our Sauvignon Blanc happened , March 25, 2014.  It is a week ahead of last year.  If you remember, due to the location of the very small Sauvignon Blanc vineyard, it does not get as much sun as the Pinot Noir.  Consequently we harvested these grapes 6 weeks after the Pinot Noir, at the end of October.  This year I will try and alter the vines so that we will pick in mid-September.  How you ask?  Normally each shoot will produce 2 grape bunches.  For the 29 vines near the house I will take off one of the bunches so the shoot will put all its energy into one bunch.  By the way, some vineyards in Napa do this to their Cabnernet to enhance flavor.  For the 5 new vines at the entrance of the Pinot vineyard, those get plenty of sun and I’ll leave 2 bunches.  I’m hoping this will both hasten ripening and also produce better wine.  I’m guessing we will get about 7 cases for 2014.  Follow along…and check back in September to see if this experiment works!

Front sb side sb

Racking the 2013 Turtle Vines Pinot Noir



Just a quick update on the 2013 Pinot Noir.  Yesterday I spent the morning racking off the lees (dead yeast).  Started with 73.5 gallons and after racking ended up with 71.5 gallons, enough for 30 cases.  The only thing left to do before bottling in 6-9 months is sulfur to prevent spoilage, taste and make any small adjustments for acidity.  How does it taste?  Wonderful for its age!  It has transitioned from fermented grape juice to young wine.

For those unfamiliar with the term, racking  is the process of separating the liquid on the top from the solids on the bottom.  You do this for several reasons; you want to end up with clear wine so you rack to get rid of the sediment, you need to get rid of the dead yeast because if you leave it to long it might give you a funky smell/taste.  However, for Pinot Noir, you don’t want to rack it to much as this variety does not liked to be handled.  Last year I racked the wine 3 times before bottling and this year I’m hoping that the day after pressing and this racking will be sufficient.