Harvest Begins for Schramsberg Vineyards

Crews harvested 10 tons of Pinot Noir from the Richburg Vineyard and 12 tons of Chardonnay grapes from the Sisters Vineyard early Tuesday as harvest 2019 began for Calistoga’s Schramsberg Vineyards.

Mid-morning on Tuesday, Emrys Davies, 15, and his brother Hughie, 10, were on the crushpad with their young cousins and their father, Schramsberg vintner Hugh Davies, for the winery’s annual celebration marking the beginning of the harvest. It’s a tradition that Schramsberg founders Jack and Jamie Davies, Hugh’s parents, first began in 1965, just weeks before Hugh was born.

When asked, young Hughie couldn’t remember anything about prior harvest parties, although his cousin, Matthew Nelson, said he remembers a lot of people celebrating. And Emrys added he remembers stomping on the grapes when he was little. He also remembers his grandmother, Jamie Davies, who died in February 2008.

Later, after Hugh Davies spoke in English and Spanish to the crowd of about 50 people, Hughie was on top of the Pinot Noir grapes and jumped up and down, with his blue shoes on, crushing the grapes, while Brandy, a Golden Retriever, watched.

“This harvest will be a little smaller than last year, because the yields are expected to be smaller,” Hugh Davies said, adding that 2018 was “a monster year.” The 2019 harvest, judging by the picks done early Tuesday, will be “definitely lighter than last year, but closer to normal,” he said. “We’re planning to make a little less wine than we did last year.”

In 2019, Schramsberg is planning to harvest some 1,800 tons and is targeting 90,000 cases or maybe 95,000 cases, Davies said. “We selling about that much, so we should be making a little more to build a library, if nothing else,” he added.

Sean Thompson, director of winemaking, said he is expecting fruit from 10 new vineyards this year, thanks to the efforts of viticulturist Sam Rubanowitz, and for the first time will be crushing Chardonnay grapes from Anderson Valley. He introduced five of the six interns for this year, including Jack Davies, Hugh’s nephew and son of Bill Davies, Georgia Dale, Brian Hurley, Gita Mallya and Nathan Sneller. Michael Barrett was not present.

Hugh Davies addressed the interns and other vineyard workers present: “Thanks again for the hard work you’re about to do,” adding he expects the harvesting of grapes to go on for 10 weeks.

He also thanked the workers present, many of whom have worked for Schramsberg Vineyards for more than 40 years.

Davies admitted the start of harvest was about the same as last year, adding that both years were late. “Aug. 20 is a little late. Typically, I would say it is Aug. 14, so maybe we’re a week behind what would be normal.” In 2011, the first grapes were picked the first week of September, which he called “an extremely late harvest,” and in 2015, the first grapes were picked at the end of July. “It was a very low crop and the fourth year of drought conditions. It was early,” he said.

The grapes are brought in half-ton plastic bins, which Davies said are gentle with the grapes. “For the most part, the berries are unbroken and the juice won’t come out of the skins until it is inside the press,” he said, adding, though, that it’s impossible to have no juice at the bottom of the bin. Looking at the press, Davies added that even though it’s bigger than ones used in the past, it is part of a gentle process.

“We extract the juice fairly slowly,” with the press that was put in use in 1999, and “the amount of solids we get in our free-run juice today is minimal. It’s pretty nice and there’s a very crisp, polished feel to that free-run juice that is an improvement over where we would have been all those years ago,” Davies added.

The Pinot Noir and Chardonnay were picked at 20 Brix, which is higher than normal for winegrapes used for making sparkling wine, but Davies said last week’s heat spike raised the sugar in the grapes. “We’ll be picking more tomorrow from the Richburg Vineyard,” he said.

Part of the harvest celebration tradition includes a group of winery employees using sabers to open bottles of Schramsberg Querencia Brut Rose. On Tuesday, seven people took sabers to the bottles of 2015 wines: Hugh Davies, Sean Thompson, Sam Rubanowitz, Jessica Koga, associate winemaker, intern Jack Davies and two enologists, Shawn McIlvenna and Mara Ambrose.

After the bottles were opened, they were poured onto the picked Pinot Noir grapes, seeking good luck for the harvest.

And, so harvest 2019 begins. As the back of one of the workers’ T-shirts said, “Eat. Sleep. Crush. Repeat.”

By: David Stonberg,

What's Happening in Napa Valley in August & Hotel Deals

If you are going to be in Napa Valley or are interested in staying even just for a night or so here are some highlights of Wine Tasting, Festivals, & More:

Gary's Wine & Marketplace coming to St. Helena

Wine retailer Gary Fisch signed a lease Monday to open Gary’s Wine & Marketplace at the former Dean & DeLuca space in south St. Helena.

Fisch envisions a store “in the image of what Dean & DeLuca was in its early days,” except with more wine in the mix.

“Same concept, different name,” Fisch said.

The store, opening as soon as early September, will be the fifth under the Gary’s Wine & Marketplace brand. The other four are in New Jersey, two owned by Fisch and two owned by his wife, Liz.

Fisch is frequently one of the top bidders at the Napa Valley Vintners’ annual Premiere Napa Valley, which he’s been attending for more than 20 years.

“Spending more time in Napa Valley has been a dream of mine forever,” Fisch said. “This opportunity is allowing me to do it without retiring.”

Like Dean & DeLuca in its heyday, the new store will offer coffee and breakfast items, salads and sandwiches for lunch, charcuterie, cheese, olive oil, fresh-based bread, and light catering.

Fisch said it will offer “significantly more wine” than Dean & DeLuca ever did, focused on Napa Valley wine but also stocking a “hand-selected group of non-Napa wines” from regions like Burgundy, Alsace and the Loire Valley.

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“When you walk in, you’ll know you’re in the best wine shop in the Napa Valley,” Fisch said.

He also wants to offer a “concierge service” where customers can taste wine and arrange to visit particular wineries.

He called Dean & DeLuca an “iconic brand,” and he was sad to see it decline. When he visited St. Helena in May, the store was a shadow of its former self.

It didn’t close until early July, but by late May Fisch had already reached an agreement in principle with the family of the late Leslie Rudd to take over the space. The Rudd family continues to own the property even after Rudd sold the Dean & DeLuca brand in 2014 to Pace Development, a luxury real estate development company based in Thailand.

Fisch hopes to open in early September, as soon as the liquor license is in effect. On Tuesday, workers were starting cosmetic improvements inside the building.

When Fisch first visited the Napa Valley in 1979 as a sales rep for a New Jersey wholesaler, his first stop was at Louis M. Martini Winery.

“Forty years later we’re opening a store literally across the street,” he said. “For me it’s super-exciting.”

Article from Napa Valley Register

Mendocino Coast’s 35th Annual Winesong! Announces Jackson Family Wines as Vintner of the Year

It was announced on July 2nd that “Jackson Family Wines will be honored as 2019 Vintner of the Year at Mendocino Coast’s annual Winesong. The region’s Vintner of the Year designation is always a highly-anticipated award, and is especially significant this year as Winesong celebrates its 35th anniversary as Mendocino Coast’s capstone event. Set along the picturesque Mendocino coastline, the beloved two-day festival will take place September 6th and 7th 2019, and is both a showcase of the region’s exquisite wines as well as special wines from Napa, Sonoma, Oregon and beyond. The weekend event offers a full entertainment experience, characterized by local wineries, breweries and cideries, as well as regional culinary vendors, fine art, music, and charitable giving.

Jackson Family Wines Chairman & Proprietor Barbara R. Banke said, “I am honored to be named Winesong’s Vintner of the Year. My family has grown grapes in Mendocino County for more than 25 years and we’ve long believed the wines stand among the best in the world. We’re proud to support the region’s premier event that also gives back to vital health services in the community.”

The Jackson family has long been committed to Mendocino County. They acquired the Edmeades Estate in 1988 after falling in love with the Anderson Valley’s rugged beauty and distinctive wines. In addition to making Edmeades wines, the family also owns and farms the Skycrest, Sable Mountain, Edmeades and Maggy Hawk estate vineyards in the Anderson Valley. Their Maggy Hawk wines are dedicated to showcasing the region’s nuanced and elegant Pinot Noir. Today, several wineries within the family’s portfolio of wines, including Hartford Family Winery, Copain, Windracer, La Crema and Kendall-Jackson, continue to craft world class wines from estate vineyards and other exceptional sites in the Anderson Valley.

Winesong is hosted by the Mendocino Coast Hospital Foundation, and has raised more than $8 million to date for improvements in local healthcare, including equipment, facilities and services at the Mendocino Coast District Hospital. The centerpiece of Winesong weekend is always the Charity Auction, which will take place Saturday, September 7th, featuring both a silent and live auction (Silent Auction: 11am–3pm; Live Auction: 2pm–5pm. Celebrated author, writer and former Winesong Auction Director, Norm Roby, will serve as Honorary Auction Chair. Roby founded the Charity Auction and has been its beating heart for 30 years, “I am happy to be back for the 35th anniversary to reunite with those who attend and contribute to my favorite event. I like to think I still keep the exclamation mark in Winesong!”

In addition to honoring Norm Roby and Jackson Family Wines, Winesong will also honor longtime donor Karen Bowers as its 2019 Artist of the Year. Nationally and locally recognized for her evocative watercolor paintings, Bowers’ artwork will be featured on the official Winesong poster – always a treasured commemorative keepsake for event attendees.

A Pinot Noir Celebration will kick off the weekend on Friday, September 6th (from 1-4pm) when guests will enjoy 35 outstanding wineries (in celebration of 35 years!) in an intimate setting at the Little River Inn (two miles south of Mendocino Village) accompanied by a taste of the Inn’s famous culinary delights. Tickets are $85 and can be purchased here.

The Winesong Wine & Food Tasting will take place Saturday, September 7th, from 11am–2 pm in Fort Bragg’s lush Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, featuring world-class wineries from Mendocino, Sonoma, Napa, and beyond, as well as live music and regional bites from local gourmet food purveyors (see list of past wineries and epicurean participants here). 

Radio and television wine personality Ziggy Eschliman (aka Ziggy the Wine Gal from The Krush 95.9 FM) will build excitement as the newly appointed Auction Chair with lively bidding in the auction tents for nearly 200 live and silent lots, featuring spectacular wines from the world’s most prestigious wine producers, rare vintages, large format bottles plus special vertical and horizontal collections. Other auction highlights include original art from acclaimed California artists and photographers (including work by the renowned local photo-artists George Rose and Andy Katz), as well as highly coveted international wine getaway packages to South Africa, the Caribbean, and a six-night castle stay for up to six people in Mazzo di Valtellina, Italy, including a personal concierge to arrange comped private wine tastings, VIP historical tours, and a wine-paired dinner on Lake Como.

General Admission tickets are $150.00, and include a commemorative glass and plate, full access to the tasting & Silent Auction, and festival seating around the Live Auction tent. Auction Reserve tickets are $250.00 and include all of the above plus reserve seating, reserved parking and a commemorative tote bag, with wine and lunch in the Live Auction Tent. The Mendocino Coast Hospital Foundation thanks ticket holders for their support of its hospital!

A full list of events along with ticket purchase information (including pre-sale) can be found at Directions to all events can be found here, along with a generous Winesong shuttle schedule from a wide array of pickup/drop-off locations. For more ticket and logistical information, email

About Winesong!

Winesong is an annual charity auction and wine + food tasting produced by the Mendocino Coast Hospital Foundation. Proceeds are used to enhance equipment, facilities and services at the Mendocino Coast District Hospital. The Diagnostic Imaging Center, Medical Evacuation Helipad, Out-Patient Surgical services and Emergency Department Equipment are just a few of the vital areas that Winesong funds have enhanced. Since 1985 Winesong has raised over $8 million for improvements in local healthcare.

Head to for a comprehensive list outlining previous years’ capital improvements funded by Winesong proceeds and donations from the Mendocino community.

About the Mendocino Coast Hospital Foundation

Since 1984 the Mendocino Coast Hospital Foundation has engaged in fundraising and community activities to provide support for vital equipment and services at Mendocino Coast District Hospital. The hospital’s unique rural locale presents an environment in which the provision of comprehensive hospital services and up-to-date equipment is a tremendous challenge. The Hospital Foundation exists to help the Hospital and our community to meet these challenges.
About Jackson Family Wines

Jackson Family Wines is a family-owned wine company with a penchant for exploration. Founder Jess Jackson placed his faith in farming and a meticulous expression of wine with his first landscape-changing vintage in 1982, an ethos that chairman and proprietor Barbara Banke, the Jackson family and the company’s employees continue to uphold to this day. The family’s collection of 40 wineries span significant winegrowing regions across the globe, from California, Oregon, France and Italy in the northern hemisphere, to Australia, Chile and South Africa in the southern half of the globe. Artisan winemaking underscores a steadfast commitment to making exceptional wines in the most responsible manner. The Jackson family’s focus on vineyard ownership remains key to consistent high quality and environmental stewardship for future generations. To learn more, please visit:

Article from Wine Industry Advisor.

Safety Tips and Napa Valley Events for the 4th of July

With the 4th of July fast approaching it is always good to revisit safety tips. In our area we are not allowed to have personal fireworks for fire safety reasons. An average of 18,500 fires are caused by fireworks each year, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Such fires cause an average of three deaths, 40 injuries and $43 million in direct property damage.

Here are some standard tips to keep you and your family (including pets) safe:

  1. If you are going to be outside in the sun be sure to pack lots of water and sunscreen. Wear hats and/or sit under an umbrella if possible.

  2. Do not bring your pets if possible.

    • Lights and noise may frighten pets. Animals may fair better if kept inside during the display. Playing music or turning on the television can help distract animals from fireworks noise.

    • The noise can cause your animal to either run or possibly bite someone or another animal because they are scared. Both Animal Control and the Humane Society see an increase in lost animals around this time of year. Have your pet microchipped if you have not already. This way, if they do run away it will be easier to return them to you.

  3. Do not allow children to handle fireworks - Children younger than 15 accounted for 36% of fireworks-related injuries in 2018.

  4. Sparklers — can reach temperatures of 1,800 degrees, the city says. Don't let children play with them.

  5. Follow all local and state laws regarding the possession and use of fireworks.

    For more information, visit

    Events on July 4th

    1. NAPA

      1. Napa’s 4th of July Parade & Fireworks | 2019

        Thu, 10 AM – 10 PM

        Downtown Napa Association, 1290 Napa Town Center

      2. Red, White & Rosé

        Thu, 1 – 4 PM

        850 Bordeaux Way

      3. Fourth of July Dinner & Fireworks

        Napa General Store, 540 Main St Ste 100


      1. American Canyon Fourth of July Celebration

        American Canyon Planning Department, 4381 Broadway St # 201

      ST. HELENA

      1. 4th of July Bluegrass-Fed Live Music + BBQ:

        Live music, bites and wine. Doors 5:00 PM | Show 7:00 PM

        Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch, 738 Main St

      2. St. Helena’s 4th of July Fireworks Show | 2019

        Thu, 5:30 – 10:00 PM

        Crane Park, 360 Crane Ave


      1. 2019 Calistoga 4th of July Parade, Star-Spangled...

        Thu, 11 AM

        N Oak St

      2. Calistoga’s Napa County Fair, Free Rides ...

        12 – 11 PM

        Napa County Fair Main Office, 1435 N Oak St

      Have a Safe and Happy 4th of July!

Joe Montana's Rustic Ranch in Calistoga FOR SALE for $3.1M

Access to this beautiful two legal parcel site, totaling 87.25 +/- acres, is over a private gated bridge entrance. The parcels boasts spectacular vineyard views, a lake, 11 stall breezeway barn with tack room, covered arena, round pen and ranch office with arena activity viewing, bathroom and storage. Also listed as MLS #21915527

Click here for more information!

15 Things to do in Napa Valley in July 2019

If you are planning on visiting the Napa Valley during the summer or fall months visit this site for a complete list which includes the following JULY events (for fees and more specific details please click on the links):

Now You Know! 5 Myths About Wine

This article was in Wine Spectator and too interesting not to share.

Misinformation on wine and health is all around us, so we talked to the experts (actual health professionals, not your aunt's friend's know-it-all neighbor) to separate fact from fiction, breaking down five of the most popularly perpetuated wine-and-health myths, and revealing the truth behind each.

Alcohol Kills Brain Cells

Though your brain may feel fuzzy after a couple glasses of wine, it's not actually a sign of cell death. Ethanol (the kind of alcohol found in wine, beer and spirits) does have the ability to damage cells, but the human body has ways of processing it to curb major long-lasting destruction, including in brain cells. Typically, what you experience after drinking are short-term symptoms, which will go away once the alcohol is cleared from your system.

What can happen when you drink, however, is the damaging of dendrites, which are extensions of nerve cells that carry messages between neurons. While this effect of alcohol, which was discovered in 1999 by scientist Roberta Pentney, can alter the structure of a neuron, it does not totally destroy cells, and is believed to be mostly reversible.

Of course, there are serious concerns when it comes to drinking and long-term brain health. Exposure to alcohol during critical periods of development (such as in the womb or during teenage years) can cause lasting damage, as can binge drinking during any stage of life.

Specifically, heavy drinkers are at risk for developing a neurological disorder called Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, a chronic memory disorder that is caused by a deficiency of the vitamin thiamine.

On the other hand, recent studies have pointed to potential benefits of moderate wine drinking on brain health. As with most alcohol and health concerns, it appears moderation is key.

Verdict: False

Red Wine Is Healthier than White Wine

Red wine tends to get all the attention and praise when it comes to health benefits, mostly thanks to its polyphenolic content. Polyphenols such as resveratrol, quercetin and ellagic acid are all found in grape skins, and therefore are more abundant in red wine than in white. But while these compounds do have beneficial properties, they're not the only elements of wine that have health-boosting potential.

Whether red wine or white wine is "healthier" for you might depend on what aspects of your health you are focused on. A 2015 study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, showed that while red wine drinkers enjoyed boosted levels of HDL cholesterol (the good kind), white wine drinkers enjoyed better blood sugar controls.

There is also still much to be discovered about the health benefits of both red and white wine. "Many studies indicate that the type of alcohol—red wine, white wine, beer or liquor—likely matters less, and that the alcohol itself is what drives these observed benefits," Dr. Howard Sesso, a researcher at Brigham and Women's Hospital, told Wine Spectator in 2017.

Verdict: Not necessarily

A Glass of Wine Before Bed Is a Good Sleep Aid

Sure, drinking alcohol can make you feel sleepy, but it’s not a good idea to use booze to help you snooze. Thanks to alcohol’s sedative effects, a tipple before hitting the hay will help you fall asleep faster, and there is even evidence that some wine grapes contain high amounts of the sleep aid melatonin.

But that sleep is less likely to be restful and restorative. A study published in 2015 in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research revealed that subjects who drank alcohol experienced an increase in deep sleep early in the night, but then experienced sleep disruption, greater numbers of awakenings and more time spent awake later on in the night.

While you probably won’t cause any major sleep problems if you drink moderately in the evening, it is not recommended to use wine as a sleep aid.

Verdict: False

Men and Women React the Same to Alcohol

A 5'9" 160-pound woman should be able to process three glasses of wine consumed over three hours identically to a man of the same proportions, right? Wrong.

Alcohol affects women and men differently, in ways ranging from metabolism to hangover recovery. This is why the U.S.D.A. Dietary Guidelines recommend up to two drinks a day for men and up to only one for women.

We've all been told that our body size plays a big role in the way alcohol affects us, and this is true. But it also has to do with our chemical makeup, which differs. For example, according to women’s health expert and author Dr. Jennifer Wider, women do not have as much alcohol dehydrogenase activity as men do, meaning they’re unable to process the same amount of alcohol before it reaches the bloodstream. This means women generally grow more intoxicated more quickly than men.

Verdict: False

Sulfites Cause Headaches and Hangovers

Sulfites are probably the source of wine's biggest myth. They're naturally occurring, and most winemakers also add supplemental sulfites to wine to help protect it against spoilage and oxidation. Sulfites are also frequently blamed for headaches and hangovers. But, according to science, this is not a fair accusation.

Per the FDA, only 1 percent of the population is sensitive to sulfites. And even if you are among the small set of people who do have reactions to sulfites, these substances are not to blame for your hangovers. Instead, they might cause an allergic reaction.

Though there is no one answer as to what, scientifically, causes hangovers, we do know that the severity of a hangover can be directly correlated to how much alcohol was consumed and how rapidly. Dehydration also plays a big role, as does the amount of congeners that a person has consumed through their beverages.

Verdict: False

By Lexi Williams June 25, 2019