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Laird Foshay
 
January 20, 2023 | Laird Foshay

Rangeland News January 2023

Contents: Wonders and Waterfalls, Watershed Special, Cellar Sale February 18

Many of you have heard me say that our Adelaida Springs Ranch estate vineyard forms the headwaters of Jack Creek, which flows all the way to Monterey Bay, first south via Santa Rita Creek and then north for 175 miles via the Salinas River. Our vineyard also drapes over a ridge and slopes westward to the Las Tablas Creek drainage which flows to the Salinas via the Nacimiento River, forming a watershed or divide between two local creeks. 

When we are experiencing the relentless sunshine and searing heat of a "golden" Paso Robles summer, all this talk of drainages and flowing water seems pretty fanciful, if not hallucinatory. But during most winters in California, the picture changes abruptly to a world of green grass and gently flowing seasonal streams. As recently as a few decades ago the Salinas watershed was a spawning ground for steelhead and even chinook salmon during wet years. In some winters, like the one we are having (already over 40 inches of rainfall on our ranch), these seasonal streams turn to churning monsters of water and debris (see video), blasting down the canyons carrying whole trees and cutting the earth into a frothy brown soup. It's as if the very coastal mountains of Calfornia are screaming "I'm melting," like the forlorn witch from the land of Oz.

Good farming, ranching and forestry practices can mitigate this erosional process, but cannot stop it. Nor would we want it to. In fact, the fabled fertility of California farms, and those the world over, is based on the tectonic rising of mountains and their utter destruction by weather into rich valley alluvium that will feed our children's children for generations yet to come. Back upstream on the marginally fertile and often steep hillsides of coastal California, the venerable grapevines mostly hold the ground in their dormant state, waiting for the spring incandesence and green shoots that will signal the beginning of a new vintage, with all its sweet promise.

How Special is Our Watershed

Now that you know about the natural origins of our Rangeland 2019 Watershed Bordeaux blend, we'd like to remind you of its stellar drinkability and offer it to you at a special price. Wine Enthusiast's Matt Kettmann rated our 2019 Watershed 93 points with the following notes:

"Intense aromas of cassis are dark and yet still fresh on the nose of this 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 15% Petit Verdot and 10% Malbec, which looks creamy in the glass. Polished tannins wrap around the jammy berry preserve flavors, with bold floral elements and a nice acidity pumping throughout."

You can purchase this outstanding single vineyard, estate grown wine by the case for just $399, or $33.25 per bottle versus a list price of $45. Wine club discounts apply and shipping is included. Order here

Cellar Sale February 18

Come join us in the Rangeland barn on Saturday of President’s Weekend, 10am-12pm.  For the price of a tasting fee (free to club members), you can taste and buy rare, discounted Rangeland library wines and snack on charcuterie. Reserve your spot here.

Time Posted: Jan 20, 2023 at 12:10 PM Permalink to Rangeland News January 2023 Permalink
Laird Foshay
 
November 3, 2022 | Laird Foshay

Rangeland News November 2022

Contents: Peak Rangeland, Wine Specials, Wreath Workshop, Sunset of the Lambs

Rangeland Scores Again

Several of our 2019 wines were recently reviewed by Wine Enthusiast's Matt Kettman for their December issue. The eye popping results confirm what our customers have known for a long time: Rangeland is making one of the finest lineups of estate wines anywhere at any price. These across-the-board results are a tribute to the noble terroir of our Adelaida Springs Ranch estate vineyard (which we planted in 2002) and to the deft hand of our departed winemaker Paul Hinschberger, who left for Oregon in 2021. Thanks Paul! And thanks to my family and team members over the years who made these beautiful wines possible. Viz: 

  • 95  2019 Limestone Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, $55
  • 93  2019 Cabernet Sauvignon, $45
  • 93  2019 Shepherd Rhône-style Red Blend, $45
  • 93  2019 Watershed Bordeaux-style Red Blend, $45
  • 92  2019 Mistletoe Red Blend, $35
  • 91  2019 Ultramafic Reserve Merlot, $45

All of these wines are available to Rangeland club members for under $50 per bottle and most are under $40, compared to $75-$200+ for similar wines. Buy Rangeland wines by the case now while you can at these prices. Set some aside for a decade or more of enjoyment. Our wines are all Paso-fruit-forward, easy to drink but with ample power. They are refreshingly food-friendly with acidity from our limestone soils. They all carry wild notes of savory and herbacious complexity that reflect our coastal mountain terroir. 

Limestone Cab Vertical Special

One bottle each of Rangeland’s flagship wine from recent vintages; 3 bottles for $150:

  • 2017 Limestone Reserve, library price $85
  • 2018 Limestone Reserve, list price $55
  • 2019 Limestone Reserve, 95 points, list price $55 From Wine Enthusiast: "Clean lines of pure black raspberry juice are spiced by lilac and white pepper on the refreshing nose of this bottling. That purity extends to the palate, which is loaded with acia, blueberry and violet flavors, proving focused and elegant."

$195 value. You save $45 and your club discount applies with shipping included. Order here.

Mistletoe Case Sale

Great for holiday gifts or for your wine fridge.  A 12 bottle case of our 2019 Mistletoe for just $350 or $29.17 per bottle. You'll save $70 plus your club discount and shipping is included! Deep in garnet color, the 2019 Mistletoe evokes aromas of sage, lavender, and pomegranate/cranberries. The silky mid-palate precedes a lingering finish of baked spices and black cherry. Drink now or over the coming years. Pairs well with roasted meats and poultry. 92 Points WE. 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Syrah, 14% Merlot, 6% Malbec. Order here

Wreath Workshop December 3

Lisa has been making Christmas wreaths from greenery on the ranch since we moved here in 2001. Past workshops with friends and customers were a hit. She's offering a wreath workshop in the barn at the tasting room on Saturday, December 3 from 10am-12pm.  You'll learn how to make a wreath, enjoy snacks and beverages, and leave with beautiful handmade fresh wreath AND a bottle of 2019 Mistletoe! If this doesn't get you into the holiday spirit, we can't help you. Tickets are $60 (club discount applies.) Space is limited, so sign up now

Adios a Los Borregos

We introduced sheep to Adelaida Springs Ranch and into our lives in 2011. For years they helped us graze and enrich the vineyard and many other pastures on the ranch and at our tasting room property. We have raised over one thousand lambs over the years but, due to multiple factors, we have decided to exit the sheep business. We are a small family enterprise that grows grapes, makes wine, raises cattle, processes meat, sells beef and hamburgers directly to our customers. In the end, the sheep were one responsibility too many. We'll miss their energetic antics and precious lambs. We proudly sold the wonderful meat through our Lamb Club and relished it in our home. But in these droughty and challenging times, the sheep cost us more than they contributed in both ecologic and economic terms. We have decided to concentrate on wine and cattle for now. 
         

Time Posted: Nov 3, 2022 at 4:44 PM Permalink to Rangeland News November 2022 Permalink
Laird Foshay
 
September 19, 2022 | Laird Foshay

Rangeland News September 2022

Contents: Harvest!, Wine Club, October Winemaker Dinner, November Pick Up Party

So Hot Harvest 

Hot weather is no stranger to Paso Robles, but this year's Labor Day heat wave (August 31 to September 9) was one for the books. It threw an already early harvest into overdrive. There were ten consecutive days of 105 degrees Fahrenheit, with a few peaks above 110.   

Wine tasters retreated indoors. Grape sugars soared. Vines turned their leaves to the sky and silently declared "Pick me! I am done for the season." Our contract labor crews picked every night for a week, staggering through the work. Our Vineyard Manager Eusebio was like a relentlesly effective smiling zombie, driving tractor and directing the mayhem, night after night. The whole county seemed to be in motion: picking, trucking and processing fruit. One winemaker had a dream that a volcano had erupted and was burying him in relentless flows of hot, ripe grape lava. Ahhh! Now that we are mostly through picking and temps have dropped back below seasonal average, our winemaker Alex and many of his peers will have their hands full trying to make the best of this lightning vintage. 

Wine Club Cometh, Doppel-Style

Our fall wine club selection, featuring some exciting new releases, is detailed below:  

  • 2019 Limestone Reserve Cabernet*, 95 points (boom!), Wine Enthusiast, new release
  • 2019 Cabernet*, 93 points, Wine Enthusiast, new 
  • 2019 Shepherd*, Rhone blend, 93 points Wine Enthusiast, new 
  • 2019 Mistletoe, 91 points, Wine Enthusiast
  • 2018 Watershed, Bordeaux blend*
  • 2021 Sauvignon Blanc (2018 Ultramafic Merlot for reds only members) 

*denotes 4-bottle intro club selection

If you are a six bottle or more club member, you can double your order for an additional 10% off with $1 shipping. For example, a 6-bottle, 20% off Estate Club member would get a full case at 30% off, or about $100 in extra savings. If you would like to take advantage of this fantastisch offer to stockpile a little wine for the holidays, please email us.

We will start billling the wine club October 17 and ship in early November, but if you want wine earlier you can pick up starting October 1.  Please let us know by email if you'd like to customize your fall shipment. All the available wines are listed here. Please update your credit card and shipping information, if necessary, at www.RangelandWines.com. You can use your email address to retrieve your password and login.

Winemaker Dinner, October 15

There are a few tickets left to our October 15, 6-9pm, winemaker dinner. Join Winemaker Alex Kemp and the Rangeland crew on the tasting room lawn. The meal will feature estate raised, ranch oak seared, grass-fed beef tenderloin steaks accompanied by seasonal greens and root veggies. We'll also serve our usual abundant selection of appetizers, including grilled local sausage. Save room for a dessert of carmelized pear cake. Rangeland wines will paired throughout. $100 per guest before club discounts. Purchase tickets here

Pick Up Party, Saturday November 12, Noon to 2pm

We'll be serving a buffet of treats in the winery: our grass-fed beef chili, some delicious charcuterie, grilled lamb and, of course, Lisa's famous cookies. We'll be pouring the Fall Wine Club lineup, so you can taste, fall in love, and add to your order when you pick up your shipment.  For wine, beef and lamb club members only. Reserve your complimentary ticket. Space is limited. 

Time Posted: Sep 19, 2022 at 10:30 AM Permalink to Rangeland News September 2022 Permalink
Laird Foshay
 
August 14, 2022 | Laird Foshay

Rangeland News August 2022

Contents: Wine Special, Vacation Rental, Winemaker Dinner

Rangeland vs. Inflation

Our government thinks it can reduce inflation by spending more, but I have a better idea. I'm going to lower prices on some remaining 2018 Rangeland cases to brighten up your August. This will help put some power back in our sails, no pun intended, which are fluttering slightly in the recessionary headwinds. Also it makes me feel like an inflation fighting superhero.

  • 2018 Limestone Reserve ($55/bottle list price), just $399 per 12 bottle case or just $33.25 per bottle, before your club discount. Exotic aromas, dark fruit flavors, trademark acidity and a haunting finish. Pow! Shipping included. Order here.
  • 2018 Watershed ($45/bottle list) $360 per 12 bottle case or just $30 per bottle, before your club discount. Savory scents, herbal complexity and a vividly tannic finish are highlights of this rustic beauty. Hiyah! Shipping included. Order here.
  • 2018 Ultramafic Merlot, ($45/bottle list) $360 per 12 bottle case or just $30 per bottle, before your club discount. Welcome to the dark side of Merlot: brooding, supple, lingering. Kablooee! Shipping included. Order here.

All kidding aside, these are wonderful wines at outstanding prices. Full cases only. This offer is valid only through Labor Day, September 5. Order here

Vineyard View Vacation Rental: Open Dates!

We have a few openings in August, September and October.  Our 3BR, 2BA Vineyard View Cottage has a spacious deck and lawn, outdoor BBQ and hot tub, and lots of room inside for relaxing with a glass of Rangeland wine. And, you have access to the grounds of our tasting room during and after hours--coffee by the pond? Wine at the top of the hill? Whatever you desire! Book here.

Winemaker Dinner October 15

We have changed the date for our next winemaker dinner from September 11 to Saturday, October 15, from 6-9pm.  Join Winemaker Alex Kemp and the Rangeland crew on the tasting room lawn next to the pond. We'll be serving estate raised, ranch oak seared, grass-fed beef tenderloin steaks accompanied by seasonal greens and root veggies. These will be preceded by a few appetizers including grilled J&R Meats local sausage. Dessert to be determined. Rangeland wines will paired throughout. $100 per guest before club discounts. Purchase tickets here

 

Time Posted: Aug 14, 2022 at 9:54 AM Permalink to Rangeland News August 2022 Permalink
Laird Foshay
 
July 13, 2022 | Laird Foshay

Rangeland Mistletoe: Christmas in July!

Mistletoe Release Special

Years ago I was making wine from my new vineyard in the family cellar. We bottled a curious blend at a holiday party and a great time was had by all. Good cheer, a feeling of love and some actual lust ensued. We called the wine Mistletoe in appreciation of the season and the countless local oak trees that bear the picturesque bundles of this hemiparasite. Look it up. Myth would have it that mistletoe bestows fertility, protects against poisons, wards off evil spirits, and is an aphrodisiac. But I wouldn't know anything about that, baby. 

Well, people have been asking about our 2019 Mistletoe. Our tasting room manager Michelle has had to ward off hundreds of inquiries since the 2018 Mistletoe sold out in a blaze of glory last year. So we are bringing a little Christmas cheer to July and unleashing the 2019 Mistletoe kraken. 

As in previous vintages, the 2019 Mistletoe includes Cabernet and Syrah, which is the unconventional hero among Paso blends. It was awarded a gold medal and 93 points in the prestigious Sunset International Wine Competition. Its beautiful dark garnet color yields sagey aromas. A mid-palate of raspberry compote is energized by vivid acidity. It finishes with silky tannins and savory notes of baking spice. I recently brought a case home to trial. My family and guests wiped it out in a matter of days, with the following profound commentary: "Yummm."

For July only, we are offering a 12 bottle case of Rangeland 2018 Mistletoe for $300, shipping included, plus your club discount. That's just $25 per bottle versus the list price of $35, plus your discount. Order here

Time Posted: Jul 13, 2022 at 12:44 PM Permalink to Rangeland Mistletoe: Christmas in July! Permalink
Laird Foshay
 
June 20, 2022 | Laird Foshay

Rangeland News June 2022

Contents:  Quiet Time?, Dinner June 18, Watershed Terroir, Beef Club News, Vineyard Vacay 

Summer has a different rhythm at Rangeland. The tasting room is quieter while customers are elsewhere with graduations, weddings and vacations. Our team stays busy with many behind-the-scenes projects. Winemaker Alex Kemp is prepping for a big July 1 bottling of our 2020 red wines. He's racking, sampling and blending. He's ordering supplies like bottles, corks, labels, nitrogen tanks and more. The wines have been tasting beautiful and they are ready to bottle age. We have to make room in the barrels and tanks for the upcoming harvest. In the vineyard we're mowing, tilling, irrigating, shoot thinning, lifting trellis wires and working on the vine canopy.  Not to mention the endless battle against rodents. Lisa and I will spend  a few days in the meat shop sorting and packing our beef into club boxes and shipping to customers. We should probably delegate this task but my wife is a meat packin' mama and she won't let go. Love her for that. In July we'll gather all our cattle for the annual calf branding and health check. Theorectically we'll get a chance to kick back before grape harvest, which will likely commence by Labor Day, but I ain't countin' on it. 

Full Moon Dinner, June 18 6-9 pm at the Ranch

We still have a few seats available for the Full Moon Dinner at our Adelaida Springs Ranch ranch--you'll enjoy a great meal featuring our own beef, lamb, some tasty J&R meats, and of course our delicious wines. Since June's full moon is called the strawberry moon, expect some berry fine desserts! Dress is casual, the 50 mile views of the Coast Range are magnificent--we hope to see you there! Tickets are $100/guest, before your club discount. Order tickets here.

The Watershed 2018 

The name of our Bordeaux-style cabernet blend derives from our vineyard location, which is planted on a divide, or watershed, between the Jack Creek and Las Tablas Creek drainages. That's appropriate, because we are crafting a wine that expresses our vineyard and environs. A wine of place. Our Adelaida Springs Ranch is just inside the Santa Lucia Coast Range, on the far western frontier of Paso Robles Adelaida District. The 2018 Watershed, like the hills around the vineyard, is redolent of bay and chaparral. It echoes the vibrancy of our calcareous limestone soils and the suave, dusty richness of our sandstone soils. The Watershed is rustically tart, textural and energetic on the palate. It notably complex, with dark fruit and herbaceous highlights, woven all the way through the sassy, lingering finish. It's a very good tasting wine and an outstanding food wine. It's a transcendently worthy dinner companion when paired with roasted or grilled pasture-fed meat, like we produce here at Rangeland. When people ask me what's my favorite Rangeland wine, I often say, "It's like my children, depends on how they are behaving." Tasting Room Manager Michelle likes to tease my son Jackson, who also pours, by saying, "The Watershed is Lisa's favorite child." It's also the favorite wine of many customers.  You can tap into the Rangeland Watershed zeitgeist and terroir with the following offer: Order 3 or more bottles of The Watershed 2018 and get 10% off (plus your club discount), shipping included.  Order here

Beef Club Coming Soon!

We are very pleased with our grass-fat beef this year, which came in a little heavier than usual. We'll begin processing beef club orders on June 22 for pick up in early July and delivery mid-July. If you haven't already, please update your credit card, shipping or pickup information using your email as login at RangelandWines.com. If you have enjoyed our grass-fed burgers at the tasting room and considered joining the beef club, now's the time! The 25 box includes 6 lbs steaks, 6 lbs roasts, 8 lbs ground and 5 lbs assorted cuts (stew meat, short ribs, etc.)  The cost is $280 for club members--you can't beat the price. Expand your culinary horizons, enjoy our delicious pasture-fed beef year-round, and know that your meat is raised sustainably and ethically. Sign up for the beef club here or order a box a la carte here

Summer at the Vacation Rental--A Few Weekends Open!

If you're looking for a peaceful, relaxing spot in the middle of westside Paso wine country, we've got you covered. Our 3BR, 2BA Vineyard View Cottage has a spacious deck and lawn, outdoor BBQ and hot tub, and lots of room inside for relaxing with a glass of Rangeland wine. And, you have access to the grounds of our tasting room during and after hours--coffee by the pond? Wine at the top of the hill? Whatever you desire! Book here.

Time Posted: Jun 20, 2022 at 3:59 PM Permalink to Rangeland News June 2022 Permalink
Laird Foshay
 
May 24, 2022 | Laird Foshay

Here and Now

It's All Here, Right Now

Lisa and I took a short driving tour to celebrate our 34th anniversary, plus the five bonus years, for 39 total years of sweet cohabitation. (Applause.) Thank you, thank you. And thank you, Lisa, for putting up with me.

Our trip was an homage to our 1988 honeymoon from Lake Almanor to Sequoia National Park, down the highway 49 trail, into and out of the ravishing mountains, forests and fields of California.This time we went from south to north, starting in Sequoia on a 20 degree May morning, with a speckling of snow.  We had a blast. We saw big trees skirted by blooming dogwoods. We saw granite domes perched over yawning chasms. The canyon walls were draped with diverse foliage, gradiated by altitude from darkest forest green to desert pale. As we progressed north over several days, we saw the snow-fed rivers watering thousands of farms in the Great Valley. They rush from a dozen roaring gaps, with songlike names: the Kaweah, Kings, San Joaquin, Merced, Tuolumne, Stanislaus, Mokolumne, Cosumnes, American, Yuba, Feather (ah, Plumas County), Truckee (goes east!) and, not least, the impressive Sacramento. We saw snow capped peaks, including the sublimely sawtoothed Sierra Buttes. The mountain ranch meadows were grazed by uncountable cattle and many deer, belly deep in lush grass and wildflowers. We even saw a herd of bison, lazing around in the afternoon sun with a flock of Canada geese in the foreground and miles of piney mountains rising behind them. We saw a badger and a coyote. The latter emerged from a Dixie Fire-ravaged forest, crossed the dirt logging road into a field of golden wildflowers, loping lightly, his thick coat billowing in the breeze, looking back with cautious curiosity. We see these animals at home too, but we witnessed all these scenes with the fresh eyes of Travelers. 

We read the plaques and visited small museums that told the history of California: native abundance for thousands of years, pioneer hardship, native tragedy, as well as the insane determination and exploits of the immigrant gold miners and railroad builders. Did you know that Sierra Valley, north of Tahoe is the largest alpine valley in North America? It contains the tiny town of Beckwourth and is flanked by Beckwourth Peak, named for America's most famous black mountain man. James Beckwourth sold Rocky Mountain furs to John Jacob Astor. He lived in the Crow Nation, becoming a chief and later had a trading post on the Santa Fe Trail. When he came to California in 1848, he was the pathfinder of the lowest pass through the Sierras, which allowed immigrants to avoid the travails of Donner Pass. 

We saw some other travelers, especially European visitors to the national parks. We saw a few hikers, cyclists and fishermen, but the two lane roads were almost completely free of traffic, once we were outside of the metros and the big parks. We had the vista points all to ourselves. As we headed back, we saw the familiar grit of roadside trash, high fuel prices and homeless people encamped by the freeways. Approaching home, I began to tense-up about returning to work (like writing this newsletter) and my many self-inflicted responsibilities. We all have dreams of achievement and fulfillment. Our dreams empower us but they also burden us. Once home, after a long day on the road, I noticed the roses were blooming in the garden. Pendulous oak limbs were waving slightly in the spring breeze. I unwound with a glass of good wine, sinking into the moment. There was a riot of bird calls from many species--just like there often is at the Rangeland tasting room. A cow bellowed in the woods.

It is fashionable now to dump on California, even to leave the state because of its many problems. We have a lot to worry about but also so much to appreciate, right now. At Rangeland we are focused on the best of California. We are in the appreciation business: of fine wine in good company, natural pasture-fed meats and the sweet, slightly wild hills of Paso Robles. And we feel very fortunate to share that with you. Click here for a photo travelogue.

 

Time Posted: May 24, 2022 at 5:18 PM Permalink to Here and Now Permalink
Laird Foshay
 
May 24, 2022 | Laird Foshay

Rangeland News May 2022

Contents: Wine Specials, Wine Fest, Ground Lamb and Beef, Full Moon Dinner, Here & Now

Doppel Deja Vu, New Members Also Invited 

It's been a few days or weeks since most of you received your Spring wine club selections. You've probably torn into the goodies and quaffed a couple (all?) of your favorites already. So if any of you would like to reorder your club shipment and double it, we are offering an additoinal 10% discount off your usual price. If you haven't yet joined our wine club, we are extending this offer to new members. You can join the 6 bottle Estate Wine Club (normally a 20% discount) and get a 12 bottle case for 30% off.  Email Michelle if you want to reorder (or join) and double your wine club. 

Rosé Special Still Live

Our 2021 Flora Rosé ($30) is a beautiful rendition of a perennial customer favorite.  A blend of 53% Mourvedre, 27% Zinfandel and 20% Grenache, this year's light pink rosé has a floral bouquet with hints of citrus. Nectarine fruit flavors and mouth watering acidity yield a crisp finish. It's the perfect accompaniment to fresh oysters or a summer salad. Drink now or over the next year.

Last year's Rosé sold out before the summer was over, so you may want to stock up at this price: 6 bottles for $150 plus club discounts, shipping included. Order here.

Wine Festival: Lamb and Beef Sliders

Paso Robles Wine Festival is this weekend, May 21-22. We will be serving a special menu of grass-fed beef and lamb sliders, pasta salad and Lisa's cookies from 11 to 4, Saturday and Sunday. Reserve your seating for an outdoor tasting and food here

Ground Beef and Lamb Available!

The lambs we harvested this spring were extra fat, so that gave us a small surplus to offer. We have lamb shares (20 lb boxes of mixed cuts, $350 before club discount) and ground lamb (10 x 1 lb packs, $120 before discounts.)  Free shipping.  We also have have ground beef (10 and 20 lb boxes) and bull beef patties available. Your wine, beef or lamb club discount applies to everything Rangeland. Free shipping on the lamb and ground beef through June 15. Order here. 

Full Moon Dinner, June 18

We are serving dinner at our home place, Adelaida Springs Ranch, on Saturday, June 18, from 6 to 9pm. Enjoy the 50 mile coastal mountain views at sunset, as well as our estate-grown beef and lamb, seared scallops, sausage, salads and fresh coastal strawberries, paired with a stellar (lunar?) line up of Rangeland wines. $100 per guest. Club discounts apply. Order tickets here

Time Posted: May 24, 2022 at 5:16 PM Permalink to Rangeland News May 2022 Permalink
Alex Kemp
 
April 8, 2022 | Alex Kemp

Rangeland Terroir and Technique Part 2, In the Cellar

Last fall, I left off describing the barreling down of the 2021 harvest. While winter and spring are not as bustling as harvest time, there is plenty to do in the cellar “offseason.” One of the ongoing challenges in winemaking is that there are at least two vintages in the winery at any time. Currently,  while the 2020 vintage is approaching bottling, the 2021 vintage needs to be tasted and blended. 

The overall quality of the 2021 vintage is exceptional with ample color, texture, and depth. It’s the sort of vintage that makes any winemaker’s job easy and fun. The tricky part comes with the myriad possible blends. In prior years, we’ve waited until near bottling to complete our wine blends, but I like to blend earlier in elevage (raising and nurturing of wine). Just like slow cooking, it’s often best to get all the ingredients in early to integrate. We start this process after the wine has gone through primary fermentation (yeast converts sugar to alcohol and carbon dioxide) and malolactic fermentation (bacteria converts malic acid into softer lactic acid), roughly a few months after harvest. I then use a minimal addition of sulfur dioxide to prevent oxidation and browning of the wine before I begin racking and blending. 

Racking is the process of using gravity and inert gas pressure to move wine from barrel, off its fine lees (sediment). In this case, we are racking to a tank to blend varieties or lots. Then we transfer the wine back to barrel to integrate and age. Early racking aids in retaining fresher aromatics and a softer texture. Lees may have some complex aromatics but can also hold onto some grippier tannin. I use racking on a case-by-case basis; for example, “bigger” varieties such as Petit Verdot can improve with softer tannin, while some of the complexities of a lighter Grenache sitting on lees are best left alone. 

We begin the blending process by tasting every barrel of wine; roughly 60 barrels. I take notes on which wines work best with the newer barrels. If I don’t like the taste of a particular barrel on a wine, I can switch it up after racking and blending. About 25% of our barrels are new and can add sweet tannin and toasty warm flavors to our wines. The other 75% of our barrels are deemed “neutral.” These barrels are depleted of oak flavors and merely used as storage vessels while allowing limited amounts of oxygen into the wines to soften tannin and allow flavors to evolve. 

Barrels, like grapes, are produced from many different terroirs and express a wide range of styles from various coopers. Most of ours are from France, although we have a few from eastern Europe. It takes a lot of trial and error to match the right barrels with our wine and terroir. On our full-bodied wines, we will be looking for a barrel that can bring more structure to the palate, and on our brighter wines we may want a barrel that adds richness. 

It often takes ten to fifteen mock-up blends to get a single wine hitting the right notes of energy, depth, and focus while remaining representative of our terroir, the vintage, and the varieties. Since it’s my first year here at Rangeland, all possible blends are on the table. These combinations are further complicated when considering our diverse soil types. Wines like the Limestone Cabernet Sauvignon can be straightforward to blend, because the energetic limestone terroir is the focus. By contrast, the Watershed and Shepherd blends are a culmination of our top lots from different soil types within a vintage. These two wines go through the most rigorous blending process in our lineup. Limestone soils impart energy, bright fruits, and tension. Sandstone soils bring density, broad tannin, and richness to the wine. Also, due to the droughty nature of the sandstone soils, we pick earlier in those blocks, which lends seductive herbaceous and savory notes often found in classic wines. I run many of these samples by Laird, Lisa and the team to get their feedback and inform my final decisions. Generally, blending is a game of Tetris trying to bring our favorite blocks into the right fit with one another. Once we rack and blend these wines, it’s back to barrel for aging until bottling the following year. 

Next time, in Part 3, I’ll cover the second year in the barrel leading up to bottling. Cheers!

Time Posted: Apr 8, 2022 at 5:33 PM Permalink to Rangeland Terroir and Technique Part 2, In the Cellar Permalink
Laird Foshay
 
April 7, 2022 | Laird Foshay

Rangeland News April 2022

Contents: Springtime, Field Day, Wine Club, Winemaker Tastings, Tock Reservations

Springtime at our Adelaida Springs Ranch means tiny lambs are hopping with excitement across the green hillside. New calves suckle their mothers, whitefaced with milk. And new grape shoots are reaching for the sky, growing several inches per week. In the winery, Alex is sampling barrels from vintage 2020 and blending with increasing urgency as bottling time nears. Wildflowers, budding oak trees and rolling coastal mountains form the scenic backdrop for all this activity. We hope you can recall and savor some of this when you sip our wine and taste our meat. Our products are truly an expression of this rare place and our efforts to capture the magic. Click on the images below for more photos. 

Don't Miss Field Day, April 23

There is no better way to appreciate Rangeland and the beauty of rural Paso Robles than at Field Day, our spring party in the pasture. Join us April 23, 12pm to 3pm, for wine, copius good local food, great music and livestock on display in the field next to the tasting room. We blew our entertainment budget wide open by booking Moonshiner Collective, featuring lead singer and guitarist Dan Curcio. A barbecue lunch will include estate beef and lamb, local sausage from J&R Meats, a salad, Lisa's fab cookies and more. Order: $80 per person, $50 for kids 5 to 20. Club discounts apply. 

Wine Club + Doppel Offer

Our Rangeland spring Wine Club selection has several delicious new releases, detailed below. The 2021 Flora Rosé is the first release from our new winemaker Alex Kemp. It's wonderfully aromatic, fruity and still crisply dry. If you are a six bottle or case club member, we are offering an additional 10% off with $1 shipping if you double your order. For example, a 6-bottle, 20% discount Estate Club member would get a full case at 30% off, a savings of about $40 on that case of wine, plus shipping savings. Please let us know by email if you'd like to double your club order. 

We will start billling the wine club April 14 and your shipment will be available for pickup starting April 18. We will begin to ship wine clubs the week of April 25. Here is wine club selection:

  • 2021 Flora Rosé - new release! (or 2018 Ultramafic Merlot for reds only members)
  • 2018 Limestone Reserve Cabernet* -new!
  • 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon* - 93 points Wine Enthusiast
  • 2018 Watershed*, Bordeaux blend - new!
  • 2019 Zinfandel* - new! 
  • 2018 Shepherd, Rhone blend
    *denotes 4-bottle Intro Club selection

Please let us know by email if you'd like to customize your spring shipment. All the available wines are listed here. Please update your credit card and shipping information, if necessary, at www.RangelandWines.com. You can use your email address to retrieve your login password. 

Private Winemaker Tasting, Any Day of the Week

We are now offering private tastings with our winemaker Alex Kemp, any day of the week, by appointment, including Tuesday and Wednesday, when our tasting room is normally closed. Alex will personally pour the wines, explain our approach and give you a taste of the future with some barrel sampling. The cost is $50 per person and the minimum party is size is 4. Schedule your tasting by email . 

Tasting Room Reservations with Tock

If you are a Rangeland club member making a tasting appointment reservation on TOCK,  please use the email address associated with your membership. The system will automatically comp the appropriate number of tastings. 

Time Posted: Apr 7, 2022 at 4:26 PM Permalink to Rangeland News April 2022 Permalink
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