Autumn Newsletter 2004

Welcome to the autumn version of Ophir Wines newsletter. We use this bulletin to keep you up-to-date on coming events that will feature our wines, what’s going on in the vineyards, release of new wines, stores and restaurants that offer Ophir wines, and perhaps the occasional recipe or article that we found interesting and wanted to share.

The 2004 Harvest

Whoa! Was that the harvest that just came and went? Paul’s vineyard gives us the bulk of our grapes, and he says his tired muscles tell him the harvest is done, but his mind hasn't quite grasped the certainty of it. Unlike last season, when harvest lasted a leisurely seven weeks, this year’s harvest came two or three weeks early, and every single cluster was picked in twenty-one days. It was quite a mad house coordinating picking crews, crush crews and equipment, and finding fermenter and tank space for all the freshly made wine. From the growers’ immediate perspective, though, the long hours were worth it. Once the grapes are picked we no longer have to worry about birds, bugs (such as leafhoppers that suck the life out of the leaves and leave half-ripened fruit exposed to the brutal sun), the weather being too hot, or worst of all, rain. In fact, the thunderstorm of a week ago Sunday hit the day after our last big work day of this harvest. Now Paul can take a deep breath, then turn his attention to getting the vineyards ready for next spring and assisting Craig and Mike in turning all that sweet, raw juice into exceptional Ophir wines.

The complex relationship between yield and quality in every vineyard sparks animated discussions between grower and winemaker in every vintage. In a healthy vineyard, lower yield means more concentrated fruit and more flavorful wine – just what the winemaker seeks. But the grower suffers financially if the yield is too low. The best solution is for the grower and winemaker to work together to attain the highest yield of the best quality grapes. At Ophir Wines, we grow about 90% of the grapes that go into our wines, and we work carefully all year with our growers to ensure they produce the quality we’re seeking at a fair price in return.

And of course, the yield/quality equation changes each year. This year, our yield in tons per acre was slightly less than last year, but we still crushed 15 tons -- our largest total to date. The quality of these grapes is excellent. We grow eight varieties, and neighboring vineyards produce two more varieties for us. From the first -harvested Sauvignon Blanc to the last-harvested Zinfandel, we saw small berries (which means a high ratio of fruit to juice), resulting in spectacular color in the fermenting juice, and promising intense flavors in the finished wines of 2004. We’re happy. We’re tired. We’re relieved.

For more about harvest and "ripeness" follow the link to the right: "Picking Notes"

Auburn Wine Festival Information

It's this coming weekend. The venues will be similar to last year’s event with merchants in Old Town Auburn and downtown Auburn hosting wineries and food vendors offering their wares for tasting. The event is put on by the Placer County Wine and Grape Growers Association and highlights the award-winning wineries of the Sierra Foothills appellation. A number of these wineries are not open to the public so this is a not-to-be-missed opportunity to taste their wines.

This year will feature live music at several locations as well as an expanded list of wineries. Check our website for more information.

The $30 charge gets you into all venues and includes a logo wine glass for each ticket holder. Stroll the streets of this historic gold rush community and sample the finest foothill wines and taste treats from local restaurateurs and caterers specially selected to pair well with the wines being offered.

Sponsored by: Placer County Wine and Grape Association and the Auburn Chamber of Commerce
When: October 2, 2004
Time: 2- 5 pm
Where: Downtown and Old Town, Auburn, CA
Cost: $30 per person (advance registration) (must be 21 or older)
Information: (530) 888-3662 for more information or to register. For more information see the link to the right.
What’s happening: Wine Tasting, Appetizers, music and prize drawings
Festival Flyer: 2004 Auburn Wine Festival Flyer and Registration (60 kb .pdf file)

Wine Availability

Rather than just running out without any advance notice, we're letting our newsletter subscribers know that inventory is quite low on both the 2003 Sauvignon Blanc and the 2003 Oui (rosé). Both have proven to be quite popular during the warm summer weather. If you would like some of either wine, please contact us soon.

À votre santé!
Craig, Mike and Paul

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