CLICK HERE to watch as Randy takes us through a walk in the vineyard to chat about grape pollination.
Where did you grow up? I grew up in a very small town in Wisconsin about 40 miles from Madison.
Where/what did you study in school? I went to UW-Madison, where I was a Political Science undergrad and a Business grad.
How long have you worked with us? I started at Harvest Moon in late August.
When did you get into wine and why? I started working in the wine industry 4 years ago because I love wine and love to see people enjoying it!
What is your favorite varietal? I like most red wines. My favorite depends on what I'm eating.
What do you do when you aren't at Harvest Moon? I read mysteries while sitting with my two cats. I also knit and quilt.
Favorite sports or past times: I'm a huge Steph Curry fan and like to watch the Golden State Warriors. I'm also a cheesehead and watch the Packers when their games are televised on the West Coast.
What is your favorite: -song: "Eugene" by Pink Martini -book: I have lots of favorites! Some of my favorite authors are Jacqueline Winspear, Anne Perry, Elizabeth Berg, Alexander McCall Smith. -movie: I love 40s movies. My favorite is "To Have and Have Not" with Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart. I also love the Thin Man series.
Why do wineries put a foil over the cork and neck of a wine bottle? I actually googled it and found lots of reasons. Some I found legit and others were more marketing and tradition.
The reasons I finally decided to stop foiling my wine necks were numerous. After 14 years of crafting small-lot wines, I found that foils obscure possible cork flaws, they're expensive and they're not environmentally conscious. When we pull a bottle to either sell in the tasting room or include in a shipment, if we can't see the cork we might be sending out a bottle with a cork that has leaked, which often causes cork "taint" in the wine. Note: Leaking corks are as natural as the cork itself. All corks have a percentage of leakage no matter the quality of the cork. The vast majority of wine people would agree that natural cork is still the BEST closure for the long-term aging of dry wine. Having said that, ALL CORKS leak.
One reason for foiling is that it helps keep the cork out of direct sun, which maintains some moisture in the upper part of the cork. I'd refute that by offering that if the wine is of any quality at all, the wine would not be left in the sun and always stored on its side in order to keep the cork wet.
I invested the money I saved by not foiling in much higher quality corks. I believe this will translate into fewer leaky corks, less possibility of "taint" (wet cardboard, musty odor/flavor) in the wine and a more aesthetic-looking cork.
So the next time you see a Harvest Moon or other small producer's bottle bearing a naked neck, know it's both green and a great way of assuring the the cork is of sound quality.
It's never to late to learn something new ... and for us, that is making sparkling apple cider from our backyard apples!
Did you know Sonoma County is home to the endangered Sebastopol Gravenstein apple? (https://www.slowfoodusa.org/ark-item/sebastopol-gravenstein-apple)
The celebrated botanist and horticulturalist Luther Burbank spent most of his life in our community and his farm in Sebastopol now houses a community apple press (http://www.slowfoodrr.org/projects/sebastopol-gravenstein-apple-presidium/sebastopol-community-apple-press/) where we pressed our own estate apples for the first time. Sydney has dreams of recreating the dry sparkling cider she drank daily in Brittany, now under fermentation.
Check out our video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDo8QC1G6-w
What bounties are in your summer/fall garden and local community?
When we hear you say "Shipping wine" there's a little part of me that becomes happy because that means that our wines were tasty enough for you to want to send those bottles of deliciousness home. When wineries talk wine shipping, there's a hundred or so things firing off in our minds. These include the ship-to state, data entry accuracy and IT issues, packaging, dealing with UPS or Fed Ex, printing labels, assembling the wine, and fair pricing.
The most important issue for the small producers is WEATHER, including seasonal extremes and anomolies that seem to occur more and more often. Having our clients like our wines enough for them to place a shipping order is key (hailing from a sales perspective); however, the actual logistics of getting the correct wine in the box and in the truck for a safe, timely arrival is paramount. It takes from 1 to 6 business days for UPS to reach you and even longer if the wine is shipped "third party." Wine shipped to extremely distant locations like Miami and the upper Northeast will probably sit in a truck or UPS warehouse for a weekend. If that wine experiences freezing Midwest storms or crazy hot southern heat spells, there's a good chance that it will suffer and might not taste the same as you remember it or as the winemaker intended.
Here's the worst case scenario. You open the wine for friends, family or a boss. You take the mic for the 2-minute presentation about how you went to the winery, pet the wine dog, tasted with the winemaker and joined the club and here's the wine that's been resting in your cool, dark cellar since. You pull the cork and WHAM, the cork pushed, it tastes cooked, or just, "off." You look bad, the winery looks worse and no one is happy. The hope for this post is that PATIENCE will ensure when the revisit of your wine country vacation happens. We want to get your wine to you as soon as possible WHEN the weather permits. We watch the weather in your zip code like Luna watches the parking lot for visitors. We're on it. We just need to ensure the weather not just in your specific zip is acceptable but the entire path that wine will take in arriving at your home or business.
When we do begin to process your order, we create a shipping tag and UPS notifies you that a shipment has been created and gives you your tracking number. We strongly encourage you to sign onto UPS and track the status of the package. You'll have a much better idea of where the wine is in the shipping process. Once the label is printed, the UPS page will read "shipment created," but this doesn't mean it has left the winery yet. You'll need to check back and look for "shipped." At that point you'll be able to see where the package is as it moves along the route. You get three chances for UPS to deliver your wine. If you miss all three delivery attempts, it is sent back to the winery and we’re charged for the return trip. Most wineries charge the client to have the wine reshipped. A great way to avoid this is to have us ship to a business address. This way UPS knows there'll be someone 21 years or older to sign for the package. Remember, it may be the nectar, but it's boozy nectar.
When the package does arrive, we recommend allowing the wine to rest in the shipping box in a dark, cool spot for a few weeks. This gives the wine time to settle down and restabilize itself. If you have a wine refrigerator, I'd pull the wine from the box and place immediately inside it.
So the next time you place an order for your favorite small winery's liquid love, please be aware of this: as the farmer in me knows, the weather dictates ALL.
For more info on our small, family winery, check out www.harvestmoonwinery.com
Where did you grow up? Actually, right down the street from Harvest Moon here in Santa Rosa!
Where/what did you study in school? I am currently finishing my degree in Psychology at the Petaluma Campus via the SRJC.
How long have you worked with us? I just came back after a few years over on the dark side (aka Napa), but I worked with Randy at Harvest Moon for a few years almost 6 years ago. It's so good to be back, it feels like coming home.
When did you get into wine and why? I was sucked into the wine world while out tasting at Davis Bynum Winery on my 21st birthday. I jokingly asked the guy behind the counter how a girl could get his job. The conversation went something like this... "Well do you like wine?" "I sure do!" As I cheers my glass with him.. "Do you like people?" "I like happy people, usually when they are drinking wine they tend to be pretty happy.." "Good answer, come in next week."
And the rest is history...
What is your favorite varietal? I am really an equal opportunist when it comes to wine and tend to be driven by either the weather or what kind of meal I'm pairing the wine with... That being said, having grown up in Russian River, I of course drink a lot of Pinot Noir. And I am addicted to the Pitts Home Ranch Zinfandel.
Where else in the industry have you worked? Ready? This is gonna be a long list... Davis Bynum Roshambo Papapietro Perry De La Montanya Paradise Ridge Nicholson Ranch Cosentino Winery B Cellars
What do you do when you aren't at Harvest Moon? I have a beautiful little dog child named Lucy, so when I am not at work she is by my side and we are out exploring. We love to go to the beach or out on hikes and sometimes she even gets lucky and gets to go to a local winery or brewery with me :)
Motto or Personal Mantra: "In this life you can be oh so smart, or oh so pleasant For years I was smart, I recommend pleasant. Being smart can make you rich and bring you respect and reverence, but the rewards of being pleasant are far more incandescent." -Scroobius Pip
I'm happiest when: I'm watching a sunset with good friends.
Favorite sports or pasttimes: When I'm not out and about with Lucy, I'm in the garden. There is nothing quite as therapeutic as getting your hands in the dirt. This also leads into my other favorite pastime, canning all of the delicious produce from the garden!
I'm proudest of: My beautiful and talented baby sisters. Both of them are such inspirations, each in their own unique way.
People would be surprised to know: That I have been working in the wine industry for 10 years now. For some reason it is always a shock to people.
What is your favorite: -song: It's actually an entire live performance on Halloween in by CocoRosie at Bouffes Du Nord -book: "The Kin of Ata Are Waiting For You" - Dorothy Bryant -movie: "Fifth Element"
A guest blog from our Collin, who started with us in the Tasting Room two years ago, and is now a world traveler! Here's an update on her experience working at a winery in Argentina.
My Adventures in Buenos Aires
It’s been over a month now in this beautiful city of Buenos Aires, the city that never sleeps. Street vendors fill the streets with all sorts of meat, empanadas, heladeria shops. “Open 25 hour” drug stores line ever block while taxi drivers and bus drivers drive erratically down the streets. Ive been working for a place called Anuva Wines (:https://www.anuvawines.com/wine-tasting-best-wines-best-people/), a wine tasting service that sells limited production boutique wines guided towards tourists. It has only been since the last 10-15 years small wineries have really started to gain some recognition in the industry. I’ve been tasting Bonarda, the “secret” grape of Argentina, Torrontes, the “holy grape” that’s only grown in Argentina, Malbecs and other varietals. Out of all the wines I’ve tasted, Torrontes is winning for me.
So far on this trip, I’ve visited Tigre located one hour north of Buenos Aires, where I took a boat ride along the Tigre River. Tigre is its own little community, isolated from the main city surrounded by palm trees, where I also visited the fruit markets. The shops seemed endless and I spent at least three hours walking through the fruit markets and souvenir shops. Plenty of street fairs line the streets of San Telmo, at least 20 blocks worth of walking.
Which brings me to my next trip; I can’t wait to travel to Mendoza in 2 weeks. I will be going on two different winery tours one day and exploring the hills of Penitents’, Uspallata Valley, taking a walk to Horcones Lagoon and all through the mountains the second day. I’ll also being going on a trip to Iguazu Falls the week before. The waterfalls of the Iguazu river divide the province of Argentina and Brazil. I’ll be taking a trip to Iguazu National Park as well, featuring a subtropical jungle with thousands of different species of mammals, birds and insects. When my trips come soon enough, I’ll make sure and post another blog. But so far with wine, Sonoma County wines take the lead.
For growers and winemakers, January is the season for rest and recuperation... When the vines lose their leaves from winter's frost and go dormant, so do the farmers who worked the fields... As the freshly pressed juice from the previous Fall's bounty stops bubbling and quiets its activity, so do the people who worked so hard processing it.
January is one of my favorite months... We are allowed to become normal human beings with regards to performing tasks from the "honey do" lists that have accumulated throughout the season. My wife learned fairly quickly that I want to do the things she asks me, however, until the grapes are off vine and wines are put to bed, I have limited time. This of course rings true until Nor Cal experiences an El Nino season where "atmospheric rivers" bring inundating amounts of rain to the point of making it impossible to do any work outside. Still, January rocks. Catching up on movies, hanging with non-wine industry friends, perhaps even sleeping in are activities that wine people get to do in January.
Each year, my wife Sydney marks a big X on the calendar days where I do not go into work. In 2015, there were only 14 days X'ed out. Many of those days were from January. The other days, I was most likely sick and couldn't make it to check on things. Projects and hobbies are once again taken up or resumed during the cold, dark month of January.
This January, I took on a huge project. It had always been a dream of Syd and I to buy an old RV and renovate it. Damn you, Pinterest! We purchased a 1975 Dodge RV in near dilapidation. I was able to drive it the 4 miles home with only 3 stalls. If one has never had to steer a huge motor home to the roadside with no power steering, I can only recommend it once. Of course the new model BM'er behind me had zero patience or understanding for my motor dilemmas. My hopes are to renovate the 21' of antiquity to a point of practical use... Perhaps even drive it 14 miles out to the Pacific and camp overnight with the Fam. But first, the roof needs to be resealed, the interior needs gutting, new electrical run, and I'm praying most of the hard-to-replace appliances work.
In between hobbies, belated honey-do projects, and resting my body after 10-14 hour days at the winery, I happily meet and greet the few clients who do brave the weather to visit the tasting room. One for you, one for me... one for me... ah hell, one more splash...
You may know her as the sweet, soft spoken red-head in our tasting room. After two years with us, our Sonoma State intern turned Jill-of-all-trades at the winery will now be moving to Argentina to continue her thirst for wine knowledge. We couldn't be more proud, and the bittersweet goodbye won't be for too long, as she will be a guest blogger for us on her adventures in South America. Good luck, Collin!
Here's some more about her:
Where did you grow up? Santa Rosa, in the heart of wine country :)
Where/what did you study in school? I studied at Sonoma State in their Wine Business program
How long have you worked with us? 2 years
When did you get into wine and why? I started opening the corks since I was a child, had sips here and there which turned into exploring the area and drinking wine in surrounding areas as soon as I could, legally of course!
What is your favorite varietal? Pinot Noir for its complexity year to year and earthy to fruity aromas
What do you do when you aren't at Harvest Moon? I explore other wineries and go wine tasting, go hiking, and bake.
Motto or Personal Mantra: Your passion will call to you, you won't have to search for it.
I'm happiest when: I'm with family and traveling
Favorite Sports or Pasttimes: Playing softball
People would be surprised to know: I have an identical twin sister.
An Interview with our newest team member, Lauren:
Where did you grow up? Point Pleasant Beach, NJ
Where/what did you study in school? Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY (left early to pursue horse training)
How long have you worked with us? Since October 2015
When did you get into wine and why? While managing restaurants and bars last year in St. Thomas, USVI, I had the pleasure of meeting many wine makers. One in particular (Regina Martinelli), convinced me to try working a harvest, and I'll never look back!
What is your favorite varietal? Changes constantly! Always love barabaresco and Cab Franc; newfound LOVE for RRV Pinot Noir!
Where else in the industry have you worked? Martinelli Winery (in the Cellar and Laboratory)
What do you do when you aren't at Harvest Moon? Lots of hiking, teaching myself banjo, crochet, yoga, wine
Motto or Personal Mantra: Be kind always!
I'm happiest when: I'm with my dog outside; Listening to live music
Favorite sports or pasttimes: Yoga, horseback riding, free diving, dodgeball
I'm proudest of: My lip syncing skills, especially Whitney Houston!
People would be surprised to know: I grew up on the Atlantic, lived on a tropical island, but I can't surf ... like at all.
What is your favorite: -song: "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes" by Paul Simon -book: The 99th Monkey by Eliezer Sobel -movie: The Departed (who doesn't love gangster movies?!)