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#Harvest2015 Update Highlighting @DRNKwines

#Harvest2015 Update Highlighting @DRNKwines

Harvest 2015 is underway!  To fully appreciate the art of winemaking, VAULT29 is taking you behind the scenes during the busiest - and most exciting - time of year in wine country. This week, we take an insider's look at what winemaker, Ryan Kunde, and DRNK's crush crew is up to.

Pinot grapes picked at Hallberg Ranch (Sonoma County; Russian River Valley) are ready for the sorting table

Pinot grapes picked at Hallberg Ranch (Sonoma County; Russian River Valley) are ready for the sorting table

 
The Setup:   On the right is the hopper which has an auger to push out the grapes, and they fall on to the sorting table. Then the grapes go into the destemmer, which separate the berries from the stem cluster.

The Setup:  On the right is the hopper which has an auger to push out the grapes, and they fall on to the sorting table. Then the grapes go into the destemmer, which separate the berries from the stem cluster.

 
The crush crew at DRNK. (Left to right) Ryan, Sonoe, and Michael.

The crush crew at DRNK. (Left to right) Ryan, Sonoe, and Michael.

 
Winemaker, Ryan Kunde,    pumping wine into a barrel. This batch of pinot noir was processed and fermented on the skins. First, we put the free run (aka   the juice that was extracted on its own) into barrel. Then, the grapes will be pressed and its juice put into a separate barrel.

Winemaker, Ryan Kunde,  pumping wine into a barrel. This batch of pinot noir was processed and fermented on the skins. First, we put the free run (aka the juice that was extracted on its own) into barrel. Then, the grapes will be pressed and its juice put into a separate barrel.


We encourage you, if you haven't already, to get acquainted with this gem. Join their mailing list and check out experiences which have happened at the winery by searching "DRNK" in the VAULT29 app - it's FREE - Cheers!

DRNK Wines

DRNK Wines

Aerial Imagery by Ryan Kunde of DRNK Wines

Aerial view of Pinot Hill Vineyards

Aerial view of Pinot Hill Vineyards

Grapegrowers and winemakers have been experimenting with grapegrowing and winemaking practices for millennia, this is not something that’s going to change; the technology we use for experimentation does, and constantly. I’ve been experimenting and using UAVs to image vineyards and orchards for 5 years now. I was initially inspired to do so by listening to other inventors and their experiences with the technology and to my professors at Davis and their experiences in research and learning about the most important factors that affect wine quality over time. The practice of using remote sensing data for the purposes of collecting information to improve farming practices is decades old; it’s generally known as precision agriculture for farmers and precision viticulture for grapegrowers and winemakers. What’s new are the community efforts by grassroots organizations cheaply bringing us breakthroughs in technology that level the playing field for remote sensing data and access to the skies. 

With the help of aircraft, satellites, and more recently, unmanned aerial vehicles, aerial imagery is widely available to all types of end users and applications. From law enforcement and forestry to city planning and government, to growers and vintners. Interpretation of the data that lies within an image is up to the end user. As a winemaker, my uses for aerial imagery are different than that of the grower who farms the vineyard. Although I can consult with vineyards about variation, ground truthing, and growing practices, I’m particularly interested in using imagery to help catalog vineyard sites we source fruit from, tie the site to the wine, and better understand the complexity of factors of variation and fruit selection. Everywhere in nature there’s variation, graphically described as a normal distribution or bell curve. I want to understand as much as I can about the nuances of a vineyard from the ground up, and the implications it has on maturity, concentration, and flavor.

\What’s interesting is that it’s not a binary problem. Reducing variation in every vineyard isn’t going to make better wine all the time. I believe it’s varietally dependent. Some varietals may or may not benefit by narrowing the bell curve. For instance, last year I made a Sauvignon Blanc from an old vine, dry-farmed vineyard site. After imaging I was able to clearly isolate and sample low and high vigor regions from within the block. Both had significantly different aroma, flavor, and chemistry profiles that I wanted for my blend. I selected rows with more variation, and it added great complexity to the wine. Other wines may benefit from as little variation as possible where optimum ripeness is key, and underripe or overripe characteristics are undesirable. The target moves by variety, style, and site.

Wine is an agricultural product, grown in an imperfect medium, outside of our sphere control. As it should be. We enjoy wine because it stimulates our senses and brings us joy. Really good wine can surprise, challenge, or confirm what we hold to be true about wine. Having an ah-ha moment with wine is, something many of you may already know about, it’s something you’ll remember the rest of your life and can make a person a lifelong devotee to wine. Aerial imagery isn’t about demystifying wine or taking away the ah-ha moment, it is a tool to help us get there and appreciate the complexities of our favorite wines.


As seen in the VAULT29 app!

As seen in the VAULT29 app!

View experiences which have taken place at DRNK in the VAULT29 app! Simply, download the free app in iTunes and search "DRNK" on the main Wine Wall!

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The Hit List: The Barlow

The Hit List: The Barlow

Photo cred: http://thebarlow.net/

Photo cred: http://thebarlow.net/

One of the greatest pleasures as a wine lover is to go beyond the "big names" and discover the smaller, boutique wineries in lesser known regions. As a Californian, our unlimited access to some of the best wine in the world is a car ride away, whether you're in Northern California (Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Anderson Valley), Central California (Monterey down to Paso Robles) or Southern California (Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and even San Diego). 

One of my most favorite places to visit is the small town of Sebastopol, 20 miles east of the Pacific Ocean in Sonoma County. In the past, the town was known for its sprawling plum and apple orchards, but today, most of the land is predominently vineyards. Emeritus Vineyards (recently featured in our inaugural Wine Mic Mondayseries) is a personal favorite, along with the very friendly folks at Dutton Goldfield, Marimar Estate and Lynmar. 

A new addition to the town is The Barlow: a state of the art "business community" made up of wineries, eateries and galleries. The concept is to bring together consumers to learn, enjoy and appreciate all that goes in to producing the best food, drink and art - a really cool concept!

WINE:  At the top of our list is MacPhail (no appointment needed, gorgeous tasting room and the ultimate hosts in Jim and his friendly staff!) Don't miss: (1) their "terrior wall," which showcases the different soil types in the vineyards they source grapes.  (2) the Gap's Crown Chardonnay and the Anderson Valley Pinot from the Toulouse Vineyard. They also offer food and cheese pairings - highly recommended!

For the religious Wine Spectator readers, Kosta Browne (appointment needed but their entire facility and operation is located here) is a must. The #1 in 2011 (Kosta Browne's 2009 Sonoma Coast Pinot) will be long gone, but they consistently make exceptional Pinot Noir year after year. 

FOODZazu Kitchen + Farm says "you don't get any more local than local can get." Bacon is the common staple here, with the brussel sprout salad and "bacon in the burger" pretty popular menu items. The wine list has lots of local varietals to try, and if you're in the mood for a cocktail, they have you covered too!

Black Pig wine at Zazu.jpg

Other notables: Spirit Works Distillery, Subzero Ice Cream and Yogurt, Taylor Made Farms (Organic Coffee) and Woodfour (Brewery). 

You can find our Barlow experiences in the VAULT29app, but we encourage you to visit and add your own!