Via The Huffington Post Food Informants column; Food Informants is a week-in-the-life series profiling fascinating people in the food world.
Rudy Marchesi assumed ownership of Montinore Estates in 2006, but has had a hand in the estate since 1992 when he lead the fine wine department of the distribution house of Allied Beverage. In 1998, he began consulting on Montinore's vineyard management, winemaking and marketing. He became Vice President of Operations in 2001 and President in 2003. Marchesi obtained the Demeter Biodynamic certificate in 2008, which certifies wines based on the strict principles of biodynamic farming. This process involves an organic approach that treats the soil with fermented manure, minerals and herbs.
Monday August 6
6am: Started today on Vashon Island south of Seattle where my life-long best buddy has started a small vineyard/winery producing Pinot Noir in the Puget Sound area. He had his annual release party and I couldn't miss it. He makes a killer Crémant that sells out immediately and a really delicious Pinot. Food, great wine and old friends.
We caught the first ferry off the island and headed south to the Willamette Valley. Stopped at my daughter's house in Portland for a quick meeting. Kristin is the GM at Montinore and just had her first baby (my first grandchild!!) three months ago so works many days from home. We will be releasing our new 2011 Pinot Noir the first week of September so we have to make sure pricing is current and correct in all states before we ship. Selling wine in the U.S. is like selling to 50 different countries because of our arcane alcohol laws so it gets complicated sometimes.
11am: Arrived at the winery late morning and went immediately out to the vineyard to check for sunburn. We had temperatures as high as 98F over the weekend and I was worried that some of the tender young clusters would burn in the afternoon sun. Looking through the most susceptible vineyard blocks I found almost no damage except in a young Pinot Noir block with a light leaf canopy and a lot of sun exposure. There we had some burn. The burned grapes stop developing and when they get to the fermenter they give off green, unripe tannins that can add a bitter quality to the wine. The burned clusters will have to be cut off before harvest. This will be a loss of 4 to 5 tons of Pinot (300+ cases of wine), not devastating but a heartbreak never the less.
1pm: Back in the cellar things are progressing well -- pulling the Pinot out of the barrels it has been aging in since last harvest and blending the different vineyard lots for our Willamette Valley blend. The 2011 Pinots are surprisingly big for such a cool vintage. It goes to show that healthy vines can bring grapes to full maturity even in the coolest years if you just give them enough time.
Tuesday, August 7
5:30am: Up with the light, make my morning pot of yerba maté and walk around our home farm feeling the weather and observing the various plants we grow. I learn a lot about the general growing conditions by looking closely at the gesture and vibrancy of the plants and get a feel for how the growing season is going. So far so good this year.
6am: On the phone with Efren our vineyard manager. All together we farm 272 acres of wine grapes at four different sites and at times it's pretty hard to keep up especially when hand work is needed. Efren is great. He loves his works, cares deeply about the vineyards and is always looking for ways to improve our practices. Today we are trying to figure out how we can fit in our last Biodynamic horn silica spray and still get our last organic sulfur spray for mildew applied on schedule. We have eight tractors and it seems like it's never enough.