If you’ve ever been to Tom Eddy Wines in Napa Valley, you know that we’re located about 4 miles out of Calistoga and about 1,000 feet higher.  What you may not know is that we are not open to the public.

In other words, according to County law, you must first call to make an appointment.  Since this is our home, workplace, studio, garden, etc. you can imagine that we’re pretty private and not keen on having a lot of visitors, normally.  But having serious wine buyers over? That’s a different story.

So the other day my sister, Laura, asked me how we decide who comes to our house to taste our wine. The funny thing is that Tom had just been interviewed by Kris Chislett at BlogYourWine.com, and that was one of the questions he asked, too.  So I’ve attached that portion of the interview for your reading pleasure (scroll down).  To read the entire interview, go here:  

http://blogyourwine.com/interview-with-tom-eddy-from-tom-eddy-winery/#disqus_thread

Cheers,

Kerry

(An excerpt taken from http://www.BlogYourWine.com talking to Tom Eddy about our winery project):

Kris: Are you going to open it to the public?

Tom: It’ll be very private. By appointment only. You know, since 1991 in Napa Valley, they passed a law that any new winery must be “by appointment only” and cannot be public.

 Kris: Is that right? I didn’t know that! I’m learning a lot here…

Tom: What happens, as a consumer coming to Napa, you don’t notice it. If you knock on a winery door and ask for a tasting, the winery has to say: “Yes, but you need an appointment.”
And the consumer will say: “Well, it’s 5:10pm right now, what time can I make an appointment for?”
The winery will say: “You can make an appointment for 5:10pm,” and then let them do a tasting that way. It’s pretty silly, but it works.

For guys like me, we don’t want a tour bus pulling in to our winery, looking for a tasting. We want people that are passionate about wine, that understand wine and who will buy wine that will come to our ranch. Remember, we have to live here. This is our home. We try and screen people a little-bit. If I’m not here, they can’t come up, because I personally want to take them and show them around the vineyard. 

Kris: Ok, I want to know your secret…what questions do you ask to screen people?

Tom: We ask them about 3-4 questions. First, we’ll ask them how they found out about us. If they can’t remember, they’re out. If they say they bought the wine at the grocery store, and the wine was 10 years old, and they got it for $19 and it was the best wine they ever had, then they’re out.

We’ll also ask what wine you drink, and if you reply Sutter Home White Zinfandel,” then you’re out.

The last question we’ll ask is: “How big is your cellar?” If they reply with “3,000 bottles,” we’ll say“Well, we’ll send a car to pick you up.” <laughs> If they say, “We don’t have a cellar, but we have 2 wines in our refrigerator,” then chances are they’re not serious about wine.

It’s not that we don’t enjoy people; but as I said, we live here and it’s like having house guests 24 hours a day.

(To read the entire interview, go to:http://blogyourwine.com/interview-with-tom-eddy-from-tom-eddy-winery/#disqus_thread )

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Pruning decisions are perennial choices made by every vineyard manager across the globe. With a few years behind it now, Kerry’s Vineyard (www.kerrysvineyard.com) is graduating from vinifera adolescence and transitioning into adulthood.  As the vineyard solidifies into a relatively permanent yearly routine, a very important decision needs to be made regarding the training system of the vine.

The inherent nature of a vine and its chaotic growth patterns allows it to be sculpted into an infinite variety of somatic plant structures. There is no one right way to train a vine, but through cultural influence, local trends, experimental research and historical practices, certain standards of training have emerged. In Napa Valley, there are three main styles of pruning in the vineyard: head-trained, cordon, and cane pruning.

Head-training

Head-training

Cane

Cane

Cordon

Cordon

 

This year, in Kerry’s Vineyard, it is time to decide between either cordon or cane pruned training (if we wanted to go head trained, that decision must be made almost immediately after planting the vineyard, whereas the first few years of cordon or cane pruning are the same).

To put it simply, the arms of the vine that run parallel to the ground eventually produce many new shoots which will be the source of the individual grape clusters. In cordon training, the parallel arms are permanent structures on the vine and remain year after year whereas in cane pruning, the parallel arms are formed every year by leaving one-year old shoots leftover from the previous harvest.The main difference between the two styles is that cane pruning will yield slightly more fruit.

Because Cabernet Sauvignon is a lower yield variety and because Kerry’s Vineyard is on a hillside (as opposed to the valley floor), we have chosen to go with cane pruning for the Estate vineyard. As you drive up and down Hwy 29 and Silverado Trail in Napa Valley, you will see mostly cordon trained vineyards. Because these vineyards are planted on the valley floor, which is rich in nutrients and water, the vineyard managers are hoping to lower the yields of these vines by using the cordon training method. This will in turn help to balance the vine and produce better quality grapes. However, on a hillside vineyard, nutrients can be limited and water tends to drain very quickly, both factors that lead to lower yields on the vine. To compensate, the technique of cane pruning is utilized. Another benefit to cane pruning is it less harsh on the vine itself. With cordon pruning, each new shoot (usually 8 to a side for a total of 16) are pruned every year leaving the vine with many pruning scars. This leaves the vine much more susceptible to infections (such as Eutypa, described earlier). Because of this, excessive pruning can lessen the lifespan and efficiency of an individual vine.

So, as you can see, many key decisions are made when planting a vineyard and lots of work goes into maintaining a vineyard as well…..and we have barely even scratched the surface of the complexities that go into creating and maintaining a vineyard that will produce quality fruit year after year. It’s a good thing that we enjoy it so much!

Jason

Yes, the 2008 vintage (affectionately now known as the “wildfire vintage”) took us by firestorm (I know, cheesy pun).  No one winemaker in the North Coast was immune to some challenging maturity schedules with such a moderate spring, but an extraordinary summer dry period, culminating with a significant amount of heat in the months of August and September, ensured our salvation.

One of the blessings we have is that with a small program such as ours, and with talented growers working with us in the mountains with their small ranches, looking at the vineyard row by row, and even vine by vine, we were able to manage literally every plant (as impossible as it may seem).  I would liken this care and attention to herding cats on a hot, sandy beach. You might ask how we could do such a thing…..Catskills!  But honestly?  Leaf canopy manipulation and very conscientious irrigation (to give those babies a drink at the correct time) was really the difference in our program in 2008.  While some folks were lamenting about prunes turning to raisins, we were dancing lightly on our feet, and skipping around the vineyard coaxing in the upper-elevation breezes (cooling type that is).  

The glorious 2008 vintage was one of the smallest in our long wine career.  From top to bottom, start to finish, we knew that we were facing a small, but high quality crop.  Early indications showed few fruitful buds and Mother Nature had her way with us……..I think in an effort to prevent greed from setting in. No worries.  Not only was the crop smaller but the berries were smaller.  Normally, for most farming endeavors, this would be a difficult pill to swallow, but for our hillside winemaking with a singular goal of making elegant, long-lived wine, this was literally a God-send.  Our benefit (or your benefit) is a very highly-structured, powerful, long-lived monster.  I use this term “monster” with a timid piety, as well as a jaundiced eye, because our monsters are more cuddly and complex than most (kind of like the Sesame Street cookie monster washing down his Oreos with Bordeaux……….).

That said, this may be the most robust and age-worthy wine we’ve made in a decade….almost similar to the 1992 vintage upon release.  The flavors are evolving like “monsters”, so let’s go there and hold on the cookies for now. (this guy will age well for a long, long time).

 The 2008 vintage is very condensed, both organoleptically and quantitatively…….only 700 six packs will be bottled (same a350, 750ml- cases).   

“Oh no!” you might gasp.  But for quality, we want to go for small volumes.  The 2008 TE is unique in many ways, including the fact that we tickled the blend of Cabernet with 7% Petite Verdot from Pritchard Hill.  With the immensely violet floral addition, the very masculine and robust beast has been tamed. For the most part the 2008 is a quintessential balance between Stagecoach (Atlas Peak), Spanos-Berberian (Pritchard Hill), and Meteor (Mt. St. George).  The appropriate color and thick tannins from Stagecoach, with the background silkiness from Pritchard Hill and the classic ripe blackberry from Mt. St. George marries the 2008 into longevity and regal structure.    TE