Winemaker Diary – April 20, 2020

We could never have imagined an extended period of home quarantine but that’s exactly what we’ve been doing for the past month here in Sonoma County due to the COVID-19 virus.. While we do have a farm exemption which allows us to keep working in the vineyards, we are not leaving the house and traveling into town unless it is absolutely necessary. Thankfully, we have plenty to keep us busy.

Spring Vineyard ViewOut in the vineyards, we’re discing between each row of vines to incorporate the cover crop into the soil. Cover crops add vital nutrients and organic matter, creating a nourishing foundation for this years crop. All of the pruning of the vines is complete and now our team is doing “shoot thinning.” While every vine grows lots of new bright, green shoots, we must carefully thin and balance each vine for optimal fruit composition.

In the wine industry, tasting rooms and live wine events have been suspended. We are hoping that they will return this summer with appropriate social distancing in place.

In our homes, we are seeking comfort in this very stressful time. For us, that usually means getting back into the kitchen! There is nothing more comforting than filling your home with the scent of fresh baked bread, cookies, homemade soup or stew.

Fresh Sourdough LoafWe’re now playing with an old, beloved tradition – homemade sourdough bread.  Daughter-in-law Jenna received sourdough starter from a friend and has made traditional white and whole wheat sourdough loaves, dinner rolls, focaccia and pizza. We highly recommend Emilie Raffa’s fabulous book Artisan Sourdough Made Simple. We can’t wait to make our first pizza in the new outdoor pizza oven that Tom is building. Next year, we hope to have pizza parties under the oak tree in our back yard.

One of my favorite comfort foods is hot sourdough bread with a charcuterie plate.  Try some of the newer goat and sheep cheeses, known for their lovely, distinctive flavors. I absolutely love Manchego cheese from Spain, made from sheeps milk. For your charcuterie plate, look for some of the newer “peppered” meats, smoked hams and, of course, some uncured Genoa or Soppresseta Salami.  Add your favorite glass of Estate 1856 wine and you’ll have a lovely treat for family and friends. Salud!

From our family to yours, we wish you good health and happiness! Stay safe everyone!