David Girard | 11.3.2016

It's Always About the Vineyard

We welcome any number of spectacularly interesting and enjoyable visitors to our Vineyard throughout the year. It’s a lot of fun. We are most fortunate. We are able to hear stories as varied as our visitors. We hear about how it is to work in New York for a lifetime and retire to El Dorado County and how that came about. We get a peek into what it's like to have worked as an illustrator for Walt Disney. We get to share the aches of riding the 100 mile Tevis equestrian endurance ride from Squaw Valley to Auburn and being thrown from a horse off a 40 foot cliff. We listen to experiences about Viking River Cruises, teaching kayaking in Costa Rica's wild whitewater rivers, standing in the Machu Picchu citadel, refereeing NFL games, PAC 12, and NBA games, meeting the Queen of England, and working for a U.S. Senator from California. It's amazing! We just hang out at the Vineyard and it all comes to us as our visitors taste wine.

It's a pleasure for us to play our part. The by-appointment tasting format we have had in place since last January is low key and unhurried. There are no lines or need to engage in neck craning to get someone's attention. No more than eight people join together in tasting wines and sharing stories at the beautiful walnut table we had made for us in northern Michigan special for our tastings. As usually is the case, when people, who may not know each other, come together, the tastings start out a little quiet. However, it usually doesn't take all that long before it's hard to get a word in edgewise. For us, we're just happy to stand back pour and explain our wines and listen. We hope you are as happy with the format as we are.

We have other less talkative Vineyard visitors as well. We recently had a visit from a bear. He, or she, as the case may be, hid out in the woods just behind the Galleria for a bit, perhaps got bored and moved on. A pair of coyotes also paid us a recent visit, sang a few chords and moved on, as well. We wish the turkeys, geese, deer, raccoons, and possum would move on too, but they don't. Apparently, they like us or maybe I should say they like the Vineyard and tolerate us.

This time of year we don't worry all that much about our, mainly, nocturnal visitors since the harvest is in the barn, or better said, in the barrel. It now beginning to quiet down somewhat after the busiest time of year for us. The weeks past are the busiest time of year for us not just because we have to pick, crush, and ferment our grapes to make our wine, but, as we have for some 25 years, we sell some of our grapes to other wineries as well. That means batching, weighing, measuring, and early morning deliveries to other wineries as far away as Napa, Sonoma, and Berkeley, yes even Berkeley.

Actually, we are quite pleased by the fact that some of our grapes find their way into a number of other prestigious California wines. Some of our client wineries are very proud to point out on their labels that their grapes are sourced from David Girard Vineyards in El Dorado County. We don't blame them.



Grayson Hartley | 11.2.2016

Winemaker Notes | Harvest 2016 Recap

Nine inches of rain – an October record! – has fallen since we put our last barrel of this year’s wine in the cellar on October 12th, so it feels like we’re further removed from Harvest than we actually are. The rain is vital in so many ways that we all know, but I often forget how much it dictates the rhythms of the year here in the Foothills. In this case, it has encouraged a pause to reflect and breathe deeply after the fast pace of the Harvest season, a pause that we might have forgotten to take if the rain came later.

Violet Beauregarde impersonation

Harvest 2016! What a truly fun, fulfilling and exciting time; and the first harvest with our new helper, pictured to the right. There is no feeling quite like Harvest in the wine world. You are literally fueled by passion and driven by instinct; there’s no other way to wake up at 5:00 am to pick grapes after getting home at midnight soaking wet from cleaning the press, when that’s exactly what you did yesterday, and what you’ll do again tomorrow. You can, and of course should, plan – but once it all starts you have to let go to something greater, be along for the ride, and never once doubt that it’s worth it. Now, that said, I once tried to relate it to another feeling, one that my wife Allie has known well in the past 6 months, but I was quickly told no, no way, don’t even try – Harvest is nothing like motherhood! Oh well.

Some stats: This year we harvested 98 tons from the Estate, which is about 95% of our seven year running average, and up significantly from last year but not quite at the bumper crop of 2012 and 2013. Quality appears to be outstanding in all varieties, but if I had to pick a winner it’d be Mourvedre, which loved the relatively cooler nights this summer and ripened evenly to quite intense flavors, with moderate sugar and no sunburn. Speaking of sugar, 2016 likely has the lowest average in our history, although acidity levels are normal. I think this is the ongoing drought at play; the vines, indeed all the vegetation on the property, seem to have been pretty tired as they crossed the finish line this year, having given it all they’ve got over the last four years. I like to think they’re pausing to catch their breath right now too.


This November’s wines were selected specifically for the Thanksgiving table, where many of our most memorable bottles have been opened. Happy Thanksgiving!

No wine we make is better captures the essence of a vintage than the Coda Rouge, which is a blend of all four red Rhone grapes we grow. 2013 was a sunny, blockbuster year with bold wines, but a softer, sensitive side is starting to emerge. This complexity is on full display in the Coda Rouge: Grenache is at the helm for this blend, but the other three – Mourvedre, Syrah, and Counoise – have a spicy synergy that forms the wine’s soul and gives a darker edge to the flavors.

Our plan for the 2015 Rosé was to make enough to slake everyone’s thirst all Spring and Summer, but have just enough leftover to release again on Thanksgiving, where it’s a cornerstone of the holiday. The tangy, ruby-grapefruit and berry flavors somehow both cut through the fat of the turkey, gravy and buttery mashed potatoes, yet complement the other flavors of the season. Usually we ask a wine to do one or the other – contrast or complement – but this time of the year this unassuming pink wine does it all. Very cool.

If there’s any hunted bounty on your table, the gamey, wild 2013 Mourvedre is the way to go. This grape has always defied simple descriptions, but we tried to do it justice on the back label, saying “it contains seeming opposites of dried herbs and sweet fruit, and somehow fits an earthy wildness into its civilized whole.” If the table is full, this is the wine to lay down for Thanksgiving 2019 or beyond. Don’t forget to report back!