Stillwaters Vineyards

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Syrah vs. Petite Sirah

Posted on by Still Waters Vineyards

Throughout history, mankind has faced a myriad of questions in which the mind reels and boggles with the enormity of said idea. About this time one would assume man also learned how to make alcohol to help with those hard to take facts of life. Today we’ll explore one such question…What is the difference between a Syrah and a Petite Sirah? If you’re anything like the rest of us, you’ll have grappled with this question time and time again when presented with a choice between the two. Why are there two? Is one smaller? Why is it spelled differently? Were you drunk when you wrote this? As we said earlier… hard hitting questions. So, without further ado, let’s start our exploration.

 
Syrah and Petite Sirah are two different varietals with very different flavor compositions. Syrah is the older of the two grapes and originates from the northern Rhone region in France. Syrah has a bit of an old, murky past dating back (predating even!) to the Roman times. Pliny the Elder may or may not have written about Syrah in his Naturalis Historia but DNA testing being what is was back then, we can’t know for sure. Syrah is the product of two obscure and now relatively defunct varietals Dureza (father) and Mondeuse blanc (mother), both native to areas close to the northern Rhone region. Syrah flavor composition is heavily dependent on the climate in which is it grown. Syrah does best in a warm (but not too hot) climate, and on well-drained, rocky soils; it buds relatively late and ripens relatively early; is not prone to disease or rot, making it a hearty yet valuable varietal. Paso Robles offers a warmer climate and varied soil conditions that generally impart flavors of dark fruits, sometimes smoke, meat (particularly bacon), leather and a white pepper finish. Syrah will benefit from being laid down for about 5 years and will make you forget about Bordeauxs. You’ll probably have heard of Shiraz, which is what the Australians and South Africans generally label their version of Syrah. The climate is hot and dry and gives forth a markedly younger, jammier Syrah. For that reason, a distinction is made, but is not legally enforced in the United States. Syrah has a lengthy and illustrious history, it is worthy of our admiration for its durability and adaptability.

 
Petite Sirah has a much younger history. Also commonly known as Durif, Petite is a cross between Syrah (father) and Peloursin (mother), another red grape from the Rhone region. Sometime in the 1880’s French botanist Francois Durif found that his Peloursin had been pollinated by his Syrah and had produced a vine marked by saturated color (the skin is nearly black) and very dense fruit clusters. In 1884 Petite Sirah was introduced in Alameda County (East Bay) and has steadily grown in popularity ever since. Petite Sirah is a very late ripening grape with a thin skin and is hence susceptible to the ravages of late season rains common in the Rhone region. Today Petite Sirah is virtually nonexistent in its native France but thrives in the United States, Australia, Israel, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Mexico. Petite Sirah is a big bold red that you can remember by noting that there really is nothing Petite about this wine. The grapes are small and concentrated, but the flavor they impart is huge. The tannins are strong, the color a deep inky red and the flavor fairly acidic with firm texture and mouth feel. The bouquet has herbal and black pepper overtones and typically offers flavors of blue fruit, black fruit, and plums.

 
So what have we learned? Syrah and Petite Sirah are their own varietals. Never again will you have to gaze confused at a tasting menu wondering if you should just pick the Syrah because why would you want a smaller version? In fact both varietals offer a lot, whether you want to just open a bottle to share with friends or pair it with something particularly delicious for dinner. The fun about wine is that it is ever evolving and the flavors always will show you something new. Don’t be afraid to try new things and don’t worry that you’re not a “wine connoisseur”. If you like it, drink it. And you won’t ever know if you like it, until you try it…am I right or am I right?

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Barrel tasting results are in!

Posted on by Still Waters Vineyards

With over thirty barrels to taste and eight different varieties, the 5th annual Still Waters Vineyards Roll out the Barrels tasting was a BLAST! This year we had two sessions and over 150 club members helping us taste the 2011 wines.

This event is typically a tasting of our Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Due to the fact that 2011 was an interesting year. we decided to bring in some Rhone varieties also. At Still Waters, we let Mother Nature play a huge roll in the way our wines taste from year to year and the growing season can completely change how a vintage of wines will develop.

The 2011 growing season started our perfect. We had four inches of rain in late December 2010, which was followed by two inches of rain on January 2nd. From February 1st to the 10th we had many days in the 70′s. Finally, we say five inches of rain in March and had a perfectly timed bud break on April 2nd. Unfortunately, all of that great spring weather came to a screeching halt! We experienced three days of temperatures below 28 degrees after bud break from April 7th to the 9th. We lost 50% of that year’s crop in just three days. YIKES!

So what does all this men for the 2011 vintage? It means these wines will be very different than past wines since all the fruit comes from the secondary fruit the vines produced. The wines will be higher in acid, dryer, lower in alcohol and less fruit forward. You will find them very food friendly, easy to enjoy and they should be able to age for years.

The following chart shows where each barrel that was available to taste ranked overall. Thanks to all who attended. We had the very best time and truly appreciate your help.. We look forward to tasting the final product!

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Merlot Wins Best in Class – San Francisco Chronicle

Posted on by Still Waters Vineyards

We are thrilled to announce that our Estate 2010 Merlot won Best in Class at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. Please come out the the tasting room to give this beautiful wine a taste and take a bottle home to share with your family and friends.

 

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Bleu Cheese Crusted Grilled Lamb Chops – Perfect with our 2010 Petite Sirah

Posted on by Still Waters Vineyards

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Bleu Cheese Crusted Grilled Lamb Chops

Ingredients:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. cracked black pepper
2 Tbs. red wine vinegar

3/4 cup crumbled bleu cheese
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
1 Tbs. red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs. chopped mint
4 lamb rib chops, frenched

Fresh mint sprigs for garnish

Directions:

Light the grill or start the fire if using wood burning barbeque.

In a small bowl, mix the olive, salt, pepper and vinegar. Place the chops in the oil mixture and coat on both sides.

In a separate bowl mix the bleu cheese, bread crumbs, vinegar, mint and garlic. Remove the chops from the oil mixture and coat them in the cheese/bread crumb mixture. Place the chops on the grill. After flipping once, add a heaping teaspoon of the cheese/breadcrumb mixture to the top of each chop. Grill each side for two to four minutes to preferred doneness. Plate the chops and garnish with a few sprigs of fresh mint.

Rosemary Potatoes

8 small potatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 sprigs fresh rosemary

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Slice and quarter the potatoes and place in baking dish. Pour olive oil over the potatoes and toss with the garlic and fresh rosemary. Bake for 35 minutes and serve.

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Harvest – Right Around The Corner

Posted on by Still Waters Vineyards

August is upon us and with it, much excitement. Summer is trudging ever faithfully towards autumn, though not without imparting its brightest rays and warmest temperatures. Our vines have been dutifully prospering, making due with the conditions nature has bestowed upon us this year. Harvest is on everyone’s mind and the grapes seem to be relishing in this. They are, in fact, so eager that the traditional timeline of harvest just isn’t fast enough this year. The first fruit samples taken on July 28 indicate that the first of the whites will be ready about two weeks early. Read on to find out what this means for the fruit, for us, and for you!

 
Veraison : French for “the onset of ripening”, Veraison simply put is the physiological process of the fruit ripening. Before the grapes enter veraison, they are green and hard with low sugar levels and high levels of acid. As veraison progresses, the sugar and the PH levels rise and the acid levels fall. The goal is to find that perfect combination within the right timeline.

Petite Sirah grapes going through Veraison

Petite Sirah grapes going through Veraison

Acid: As sugar levels rise in the grape, acid levels fall. It is crucial to have a certain acid level in the fruit to provide a balance to the sugar and create a palatable wine. Titratable acidity or “TA” measures the total amount of protons available in the juice or wine and is measured as the date of harvest approaches.

PH: pH is the measurement of free (H+) hydrogen ions. A low pH number indicates a high concentration of acids in a solution. As the acid levels in ripening grapes fall, the concentration of acids are lessening which means the pH level is rising.

 
Sugar: The increase of sugars in the grapes comes from the storage of carbohydrates in the roots and trunk of the grapevines as well as through the process of photosynthesis. The rate of this build up will depend on several factors, including the climate, as well as the potential yield size of grape clusters and young vine shoot tip which compete for the resources of the mother grapevine.

 
In short, all of this information tells us that not only is wine making complicated, but farming the grapes with the right balance is a highly delicate and specific process. We have two weeks to raise the sugars, lower the acid, and bring up the ph. However, this sweet spot takes luck, dedication, and skill, ensuring that like a shepherd tending his sheep, Still Waters will be diligently monitoring the fruits of our labor to bring us a truly special wine.

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Celebrating 10 Years at Still Waters Vineyards

Posted on by Still Waters Vineyards

Today marks our 10 year anniversary of the Still Waters Tasting Room opening!

Still Waters Vineyards began 10 years ago as a dream of Paul and Pat Hoover to have a small family vineyard and winery growing some of the best fruit in the Paso Robles region. What started as a dream 10 years later has developed into a successful business in the growing Central Coast wine region.  Ten years have flown by and every year, month, week and day have been better than the next and we are proud to have held tight to our original mission statement  -  “Stay  Small, Have Fun and Focus on Quality!”

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Still Waters has evolved over the years and we are excited to see where the next decade will take us. Here are what we think have been some of the highlights of the last 10 years.

 

 

Ten years have flown by and we are thankful to every guest we have had the pleasure of meeting and with whom we have enjoyed a glass of wine.  We are amazed at what has come from the last ten years and are excited to see what the next decade will have in store.

Thanks for being a part of our journey and the Still Waters Family – Cheers!

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The Results Are In!

Posted on by Still Waters Vineyards

Thank you to everyone who joined in the fun this past weekend for our 4th annual Still Waters Vineyards Roll Out the Barrels. This year we split the day up and had two days of wine tasting and more than 110 guests. We loved having so much help tasting through the wines. With over 30 barrels of 2010 Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, there was A LOT of wines to taste! It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it.

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Over 30 barrels to taste!

This year we are looking at the results a little more in-depth. Not only will these results help us decide which barrels to use for our reserve wines, we are also using the findings to help determine which barrel manufacturer, toasts, and profiles are the best compliment to our wines and your palettes.

Here are the trends we found this year at our tasting.

Barrels: Barrel Cooperage is a craft and each manufacturer has a different style. What tight grain and medium toast means to one cooper may not mean the same to the next cooper.  This is why we purchase barrels from different manufacturers. The Cabernet Sauvignon is a great example of how certain barrels did better than others. With 24 barrels of Cabernet to taste and majority of them being in the Tonnelliere Barrels, the World Cooperage medium plus toast and profile 80 were in the top three. This makes a big statement to Paul and most likely we will use more Profile 80 from World Cooperage in our Cabernet barrel program.

Pick Date: Pick date in the Cabernet Sauvignon didn’t seem to make much of a difference in tasting preference. This is most likely due to the fact that the 2010 growing season was long and steady without spikes in weather during harvest which would cause a large variation in brix (sugar content).

Barrel Year: Other than the landslide win for the Neutral American Oak Barrel of Merlot, the New French oak was preferred over the older barrels. It isn’t surprising that the Neutral Oak would stand out after tasting 30 new oak barrels, the 2004 barrel tasted more fruity and easier on the palette.

Here is a list of the barrels you tasted and what wines the barrels will be used for when bottled. If you see a trend we didn’t pick up on, please let us know.

 

Pick Date

Barrel Number

Barrel Manufacturer

Profile/Toast

# first place votes

total votes 1st, 2nd or 3rd

will be bottled as

Cab Sauv

25-Oct

2010-F32

Dubreuil

Mt

1

Hillside Cab Sauv 2010

Cab Sauv

3-Nov

2010-F18

World Cooperage

Med +, Profile 11

1

Hillside Cab Sauv 2010

Cab Sauv

25-Oct

2008-F15

Tonnellerie du Val deLoire

medium

1

4

Hillside Cab Sauv 2010

Cab Sauv

14-Oct

2008-F21

Tonnellerie du Val deLoire

Med +

2

4

Hillside Cab Sauv 2010

Cab Sauv

16-Nov

2010-F43

Tonnellerie du Val deLoire

CH Med+

1

5

Hillside Cab Sauv 2010

Cab Sauv

3-Nov

2008-F8

Tonnellerie du Val deLoire

medium

1

5

Hillside Cab Sauv 2010

Cab Sauv

23-Oct

2010-F31

Dubreuil

Mt

2

5

Hillside Cab Sauv 2010

Cab Sauv

16-Nov

2010-F7

Tonnellerie du Val deLoire

medium

3

5

Hillside Cab Sauv 2010

Cab Sauv

25-Oct

2008-F16

Tonnellerie du Val deLoire

medium

2

6

Hillside Cab Sauv 2010

Cab Sauv

14-Oct

2008-F34

Tonnellerie du Val deLoire

Med +

3

7

Hillside Cab Sauv 2010

Cab Sauv

3-Nov

2008-F7

Tonnellerie du Val deLoire

medium

0

8

Hillside Cab Sauv 2010

Cab Sauv

23-Oct

2010-F45

Tonnellerie du Val deLoire

CH Med+

3

8

Hillside Cab Sauv 2010

Cab Sauv

23-Oct

2010-F46

Tonnellerie du Val deLoire

CH Med+

6

8

Clone 3 Cuvee 2010

Cab  Sauv

14-Oct

2010 -F54

Tonnellerie du Val deLoire

CH Med+

3

9

Hillside Cab Sauv 2010

Cab Sauv

3-Nov

2009-F5

Tonnellerie du Val deLoire

Med +

3

9

Hillside Cab Sauv 2010

Cab Sauv

16-Nov

2010-F8

Tonnellerie du Val deLoire

medium

5

9

Hillside Cab Sauv 2010

Cab Sauv

29-Oct

2010-F38

Dubreuil

Mt

6

9

Reflections 2010

Cab Sauv

29-Oct

2010-F48

Tonnellerie du Val deLoire

Med +

4

10

Hillside Cab Sauv 2010

Cab Sauv

14-Oct

2010-F53

Tonnellerie du Val deLoire

CH Med+

3

11

Reflections 2010

Cab  Sauv

3-Nov

2010-F20

World Cooperage

Med +, Profile 11

3

11

Reflections 2010

Cab Sauv

3-Nov

2009-F6

Tonnellerie du Val deLoire

Med +

3

13

Reflections 2010

Cab  Sauv

3-Nov

2010-F19

World Cooperage

Med +, Profile 80

2

16

Barrel Select Cab 2010

Cab Sauv

25-Oct

2010-F22

World Cooperage

Med +, Profile 80

6

18

Barrel Select Cab 2010

Cab Sauv

16-Nov

2010-F44

Tonnellerie du Val deLoire

CH Med+

9

22

Barrel Select Cab 2010

 

Pick Date

Barrel Number

Barrel Manufacturer

Profile/Toast

# first place votes

total votes 1st, 2nd or 3rd

will be bottled as

Merlot

29-Oct

2008-F19

Tonnellerie du Val deLoire

medium

3

11

Merlot 2010

Merlot

11-Nov

2007-F3

Tonnellerie du Val deLoire

Med +

5

15

Merlot 2010

Merlot

6-Nov

2010-F25

World Cooperage

Med +, Profile 58

7

15

Merlot 2010

Merlot

27-Oct

2010-F30

Dubreuil

Mt

7

20

Clone 3 Cuvee 2010

Merlot

27-Oct

2010-F29

Dubreuil

Mt

4

21

Merlot 2010

Merlot

24-Nov

2009-F26

Tonnellerie du Val deLoire

Med +

4

21

Merlot 2010

Merlot

6-Nov

2010-F21

World Cooperage

Med +, Profile 58

7

21

Reflections 2010

Merlot

24-Nov

2010-F11

Tonnellerie du Val deLoire

medium

11

21

Clone 3 Cuvee 2010

Merlot

6-Nov

2004-MC-A1

Mendocino Cooperage

Med +

17

25

Clone 3 Cuvee 2010

We hope you enjoyed tasting with us and feel free to ask for another sample next time you’re here.

Cheers!

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Celebrating California Wine Month

Posted on by Still Waters Vineyards

The wine industry in California deserves to be celebrated, and September is the month to do it. Not only is September one of the most beautiful times in wine country, it also marks the start of harvest for many wineries.

There are plenty of reasons to love great wine, from the intricate flavors, beautiful aromas, to the fun social atmosphere of enjoying a nice glass of wine. Here are a few other statistics of why the Wine Industry in California should be celebrated:

·         There are over 450,000 acres of wine grapes planted in California

·         90% of all U.S., wine is produced in California

o   The U.S., is the 4th leading producer of wine behind France, Italy and Spain

·         The California Wine Industry brings over 300,000 full time jobs to our state

·         California ranks first in wine consumption in the U.S.

·         20.7 Million tourists visit California wine regions each year

·         California wines have been around for nearly 250 years

So maybe you are wondering how you should celebrate California Wine month… Well there are plenty of events and celebrations going on throughout the state, but Sunset Savor the Central Coast is happening right here in our backyard and Still Waters Vineyards is proud to be a part of the main event.

Sunset Savor, Main Event Sept 28th and 29th at Margarita Ranch

The Main Event will highlight the talents of winemakers, celebrity chefs, brew masters, fishermen, artisanal food producers, Sunset experts, and many more artisans and producers.

Taste from over 100 local wineries, sample small bites dished-up from local restaurants, and enjoy vendors showcasing their crafts.

In addition to the Main Event, Sunset Savor the Central Coast will be highlighting experiences all across the central coast. From the oyster farm, dinner at the famous Hearst Castle, and horseback trail rides, to a concert by Grammy award winning artist Colby Caillet there are plenty of ways to Celebrate California Wine Month on the Central Coast!

 

We hope you find a fun way to indulge and celebrate our wonderful wine industry

 

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Give your glass a rinse with wine, not water.

Posted on by Still Waters Vineyards

We see this is a lot in the tasting room and at offsite tastings, people rinse their glass between tastes with water. Although this isn’t a huge problem, (sometimes you really want to drink water), it definitely can change the taste of the wine you are about to receive. Rinsing your glass with water will dilute the wine, can leave a chlorine taste or aroma in the glass and possibly even change the alcohol content. The residual water left in the glass will change the texture of the wine, alter the finish, and you will have a hard time getting the wine to coat the glass to evaluate the legs.

What should you do instead? Remember that there is no real need to rinse between tastes. Most wine tastings are designed to taste from lightest to heaviest. The composition of the small remainder of wine that is left in the glass is more similar to the wine that you are about to taste than water would be. If you still feel the need to rinse, you can “prime” your glass with the next taste of wine. Ask your server for a very small sample to rinse your glass then dump and ask for your full taste. They will appreciate that you are asking for a proper taste of their wine.

 

Cheers and enjoy your next wine tasting!

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Expressions of Still Waters Vineyards 2010

Posted on by Still Waters Vineyards

Light and delicate, this GSM is ruby red in color and bursting with ripe fruit flavors. Pair this wine is your favorite pasta or fish and you’ll have a perfect meal

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