2017 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival and an Early Peek into the Vineyards

One of our favorite wine events is the Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival. Brian and I started going to the festival probably around the year 2001 and began pouring Waits-Mast Family Cellars wine at the event’s Grand Tasting in 2009, so it’s always a great opportunity to see many friends and fans and meet other Pinot Noir lovers.
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The big tent at Goldeneye Winery during set up for the 2017 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival Grand Tasting. Photo: J. Waits

At this year’s 20th anniversary event, held May 19-21, we not only shared our wines at the Grand Tasting, but also co-hosted a winemaker dinner held at Scharffenberger Cellars. Additionally, we visited a couple of the Anderson Valley vineyards that we source fruit from, including Wentzel Vineyard and Nash Mill Vineyard.
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Bottle of Waits-Mast Pinot Noir at our table at the winemaker dinner at Scharffenberger Cellars. Photo: J. Waits

Since ...
Nash Mill Vineyard, May 19, 2017. Photo: J. Waits
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The growing season begins at Wentzel Vineyard, May 18, 2017. Photo: J. Waits
Wildlife at Wentzel Vineyard. Photo: J. Waits
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Waxing nostalgic as we release our 2016 Rosé and 2014 Pinot Noir, Mariah Vineyard

In honor of our Waits-Mast Family Cellars late spring release (the 2016 Waits-Mast Rosé of Pinot Noir and the 2014 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir, Mariah Vineyard), it’s a good time to reflect back on the early days of these wines. The rosé is a mere babe, crafted from a blend of luscious pinot noir juices harvested last August and September from some of our favorite Mendocino County vineyards. Nash Mill Vineyard, Mariah Vineyard and Oppenlander Vineyard make up the blend, which is being released just in time for this week’s heat spell. We only made 20 cases of this wine, so enjoy it while you can.
2016 Waits-Mast Rose of Pinot Noir just off the bottling line, February, 2017. Photo: J. Waits

2016 Waits-Mast Rose of Pinot Noir just off the bottling line, February, 2017. Photo: J. Waits

Our other new release is the 2014 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir from Mariah Vineyard in Mendocino Ridge. It’s hard to believe that back in August, 2014, we were wandering ...
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Mariah Vineyard on September 5, 2014. Photo: J. Waits
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Pressing 2014 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir, Mariah Vineyard on October 1, 2014. Photo: J. Waits
Bottling 2014 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir. Photo: J. Waits

Picks, Bins and Burgers: Behinds the Scenes at Harvest

On Thursday we had another Waits-Mast fruit pick, this time some Pinot Noir grapes from Mariah Vineyard in Mendocino Ridge. It was a jam-packed day at the winery (we make our wine at Roar Wines in San Francisco) and a particularly hectic day for our winemaker. She awoke in the wee hours for a grape pick for another winery (complicated by a tree falling in the vineyard too!) and spent the day sorting that fruit and doing other harvest work. She wrapped up in time to brave rush hour traffic, meeting us at our San Francisco facility by about 6pm.
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Mariah grapes hanging out in the cold room before sorting on Sept. 15, 2016. Photo: J. Waits

After picking the fruit in the middle of the night, Mariah’s owner Dan Dooling delivered it midday and the staff at Roar greeted him and moved our bins of fruit into the winery’s cold ...
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Harvest 2016 Craziness: What Didn’t Happen this Weekend?

We are just back from a long weekend in Mendocino/Anderson Valley for several Winesong-related tasting events. It’s also the thick of harvest, which necessitated a few vineyard visits as well as picks at another two. Meanwhile, Brian celebrated a milestone birthday, so we tried to squeeze in some cake amid all of the wine work.
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Birthday sign for Brian at the Andiron Inn. Photo: J. Waits

We truly love crafting wine and it’s at this time of the year that we are particularly grateful to everyone who is helping to make that possible, including our dedicated grape growers, our talented winemaker Shalini Sekhar, the hard-working staff at the winery and everyone who has assisted with the never-ending logistics, including hauling fruit and pick bins for us. We couldn’t do it without any of you.

Tastings

The weekend started with A Pinot Noir Celebration tasting on Friday afternoon. After ...
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Harvest 2016 Begins

And we’re off…On Labor Day, the 2016 harvest began for Waits-Mast Family Cellars. We brought in our first pinot noir pick from our little section (the Clos) in Wentzel Vineyard in Anderson Valley yesterday. As predicted, we were exactly one week later than our first pick (also from that vineyard) in 2015.
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Wentzel Vineyard pinot noir grapes. September, 2016. Photo: J. Waits

Owner Roland Wentzel kindly made the trek down from his Philo-based vineyard to San Francisco with two bins full of grapes for us and while we awaited his arrival, Brian and I realized that this will mark our 10th harvest as a commercial winery. Coincidentally, our very first commercial vintage in 2007 was also a pinot noir from Wentzel Vineyard. Time flies.
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Waits-Mast winemaker Shalini Sekhar (on forklift) greeting Roland Wentzel. Photo: J. Waits

The fruit looked gorgeous and hand sorting it was a breeze, with just a ...
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2016 Harvest is Looming

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Fruit at Wentzel Vineyard on August 28, 2016. Photo: J. Waits

Over the weekend we headed north to Mendocino County to see how all of the Waits-Mast pinot noir vineyard sources are doing. Harvest is in full swing for many wineries already and we are getting close to picking our first fruit. We trekked up to Mendocino Ridge first to visit Mariah Vineyard. Fog was rolling in as we arrived at the vineyard on Saturday morning and owners Dan and Vicki Dooling told us that it was the first fog that they’d seen in about two months. We walked the rows with them and based on the color (there were still some green berries), taste of the fruit and sugar measurements (our winemaker Shalini brought along her portable refractometer), the Doolings are estimating that harvest for us is about 2 to 3 weeks away.
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Fog hovering over newer plantings at ...

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Summertime Peek at our Vineyard Sources: Part 3 – Wentzel

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Wentzel Vineyard in July, 2016. Photo: J. Waits

Harvest is getting closer, so I wanted to wrap up my series of vineyard visits from last month. On July 23, we took a trip through three of the Anderson Valley Vineyards that Waits-Mast sources from. I’ve already covered our visits to Deer Meadows Vineyard and Nash Mill Vineyard and in this post I’ll focus on Wentzel Vineyard. Located in the hills above Philo, Wentzel Vineyard is a magical place surrounded by woods. Touring our specific sites requires a short hike up a road and then uphill through vineyards. Along the way we passed the Wentzels’ chicken house and then journeyed near a tree stump that was riddled with acorn-stuffed holes. Nature was all around us, reminding us of the many inhabitants of the area, including lizards, hawks, coyotes, fox, and bears.
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Acorn-stuffed tree trunk at Wentzel Vineyard. Photo: J. Waits

As ...
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