2012 Harvest/Life notes

As turkey day approaches, we hope this finds you flush with funds and good health! We brought in the Cab last Monday which is quite a bit earlier than the last two years, and what a beautiful year it was. As I type, an inch of rain is falling across the bay (Go Giants!). So it was time. The concentration was phenomenal with very small berries and nutty brown seeds. I was happy and Claude was happy. My only issue was that I picked less that I should have for TateDog.

The chard came in a few weeks ago and after two difficult and one cruel year, we had no issues and ended up with great flavors. I am looking forward to tasting this vintage next spring.

My crop in both the chard and cab was lighter than the industry norm which is confusing given the year and the condition of the vineyard. We suffered a significant percentage of blind shoots where the shoot is healthy but there just is no cluster. Upon inspection, the leaf that should be opposite is missing too which leads us to suspect an abiotic or non disease cause. Talking with the neighbors, there was a problem with voles or meadow mice (so cute but deadly). It appears that they got hungry in very early spring and decided to climb up the canopy and have a salad of our emerging leaf and cluster tissue. Unfortunately for us this occurred when the cluster buds were forming and they gnawed them off. Voles are normally a problem when there is excessive vegetation (weeds) around the base of the vine but we were clean, perhaps too clean. They are subtle as they only work at night and the damage is very discrete. It is always something new in our attempt to grow a tasty treat against the wishes of the other inhabitants of Mother Nature’s garden.

I (and you in the future) was extremely lucky due to the bigger than norm crop. One of my ex coworkers, Carlos, had some extra Pinot Noir fruit out of his vineyard in Carneros. As this is an industry of relationships, he called me with the offer. His daughter preceded mine in the soccer then college search/choice process so we have had much to talk about in the past. Given his history working for me and his 50 years in the industry I didn’t feel the need to, but…, I went up and tasted and as expected it was wonderful clone 115 fruit. I then had to rush about in search of a winery facility, transportation, picking and sanitary clearance due to the European Fruit Moth issue. Once again my relationships new and old came together and we were able to get the fruit in and processed. Our struggle now is finding barrels appropriate for the quality as we are late in the ordering game and barrels are scarce. But..a few more relationships will play a part in solving that puzzle and in 18 months we should be sharing a great vintage of Carlos Cuvee!

Just got back from Parents Weekend at daughter’s college. It appears that the social life has a few openings in it for the scholastic side. When questioned by the mother about time management (a paper had been hurriedly prepared), the reply was “I have great time management, I changed the priorities. Enjoying life should be highest”.  We shall see when the grades appear but the transition is wonderful for her as it appears to be for most of her good friends scattered about the country. Once again, congrats to her and all her amazingly bright and just as hard working friends.

I enjoyed shopping for suitable gear to wear to one of her events, and after eight hours of pleasure, I ended up wearing my wedding jacket. Fortunately, there were medics on site to resuscitate my crushed rib cage once we got the jacket button unbuttoned. Also fortunate, they ran out of coffee before I could spill it on my pristine white shirt.

A bit of advice, when you check your car at a large hotel and have a very important timeline to meet the next morning, take the claim check with you. It is unbelievable how many car keys (a thousand?) they have on the board that look identical when you are in a rush. It was almost funny that I told them that it was a charcoal grey Prius with “USC mom” on the back with 707 in the license plate. When I came down, all happy that they had located it, there was a charcoal grey Prius, license # 770 with a “ucla mom” sticker on the back. I did laugh as we finally pulled out in the right car.

For those concerned, Sophie is doing quite well, having been off her psyche meds now for two plus years. She has not protectively (in her mind) attacked anyone for some time and will actually “play” with a couple of special dog friends. Time and love seems to be working. We try not to focus on the reason that we are working, that is, to pay for her arthritis meds and the rugs she has destroyed. Watching her run on her artificial knee is still a joy.

*Standard Sales Pitch* We are actually doing nicely but a fine finish for the year will make it easier next spring when sales traditionally slow. So here is where I remind you great fans, fam and friends that our TateDog motto – “Named for love, fueled by passion, driven by necessity” is still very true with slightly more emphasis on the latter. Where else do you get personal delivery by the grower/ vintner?


Our newly released 2010 TateDog Wisner Vineyard Chardonnay is quite tasty, and a bit different than last year. It is still newish in the bottle and evolving but at this juncture it is crisper and more mineral than the 2009. I believe this makes it an even better “food” wine as it is not quite as filling. The 2010 vintage was a pretty cool vintage which I am sure contributed to this minerality while we still get the same wonderful rich and yeasty finish that is appreciated by most and “lusted for” (which may be a bit strong, but close) by many. I continue to push it on those who “only drink red” and to date, and have not disappointed many. So those of you who are “forced” to drink red but would like a white once in awhile, fight back, this should be a perfect foil. Once again, I find that while it goes nicely with ribeye and certainly by itself I think this vintage should work wonderfully with lighter fare too. Newsletter bargain price is $166/case with multiple cases, $180 single case. Please load up for Thanksgiving and Holidays.

We have just released the 2009 TateDog Wisner Vineyard Cabernet. I believe this is the finest wine we have made from this vineyard and many of my gatekeepers are vigorously agreeing. We find that the wine is opulent in red and black fruits with a full body for sipping alone or supping with meals. The tannins are quite developed for such a recent bottling already smooth but ageable. The finish lingers nicely. We feel this is a great, elegant, smooth well balanced wine. It has nice mocha and cedar notes. We have had wonderful feedback from friends, consumers, trade and my associates in the industry.  $250cs.

We have only a couple of cases left of the 2009 Carl’s Carlton Cuvee Pinot Noir. This is wonderful compilation of Pommard and 115 clones. This was an amazing vintage as we had a great finish to the year and got fruit nicely ripe. Wonderful rich flavors, black cherry, strawberry and some pick up a bit of spicy cinnamon. Will age for some time. Has been popular in Spice I am Thai restaurant in Alameda. Most artisan Oregon Pinots sell for$35+. For you all, $160 / ½ case or $300/case.

One case left of  the wonderfully extracted and complex 2006(who is the lucky winner?), from the Holland Cabernet vineyard in Rutherford. By the time you get this, I may have the 2009 assuming I can get the capsules found and applied(or without for those who don’t care). As we replanted it will be a while before the next vintages so I would stock up. Hints of leather and cedar with black fruit and nice red fruit notes. $300/cs

Come spring we should have Sauvignon Blanc back and in a year a very good Carneros Pinot grown by one of my ex employees(a 50 year grower and a very neat American success story).

I am repeating a request: If you know of any establishments near here or anywhere that you think should carry our wines, please let me know. A number of our placements have come from such suggestions.

Happy Halloween and Turkeyday,    Cheers,

Mike Wanless                                    510 773 0905                     TateDog@pacbell.net

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