There's Mt. St. Helena in the distance, looking NW from Villa Ragazzi. In spite of its suggestive blown top, it is not an extinct volcano. If you want to know more, check out the vintners' Napa Rocks program on youtube.
As many Napa Valley winemakers who jumped on the Sangiovese bandwagon in the 1980's learned to their chagrin, this is not an easy variety to grow or to vinify. Here's a blog discussion from The Corkdork that touches on some of the issues.
Looks like drainage won't be a problem.
The vineyard crew showed up this week to lay out a small new block at the home ranch soon to be planted to Rodeno clone Sangiovese. They used a laser instead of a surveyor's transit, very cool. Before they could mark the vine rows they had to move dozens of large rocks unearthed by ripping, hence the (temporary) piles of rocks. If you look closely you can see the white plastic knives (center vertical line to the right of the biggest rockpile, marked by red arrows), each representing the spot where a new vine will be planted. But first, those rockpiles have to go somewhere else. Free rocks, anyone?
Today's vineyard tour (a dissertation on eutypa) and wine/cheese tasting for Women for WineSense Grand Event attendees provided more insight into what works and what doesn't (see post of 2/12/12). Once again, Parmigiano reggiano got mixed results. The big winners were Midnight Moon, an aged goat cheese, and Cabot clothbound cheddar (cow). The ringer, Brie Nangis, didn't fool anyone: though tasty, it was too soft and creamy to work well with the Sangiovese. This lively group offered plenty of suggestions for future research: Humboldt Fog, Cowgirl Creamery's St. Pat and Pierce Point, Papato (whole peppercorns!), aged Gouda and Mimolette. We may be accepting applications for the next research tasting, and asking for a government subsidy -- good cheese is expensive! A highlight of the afternoon was a detailed accounting by John Rodeno of how he made the 2009 Sangiovese without benefit of modern equipment.
Several years ago a group of my high school girlfriends started getting together annually for a long weekend in interesting places like Sea Ranch, Napa Valley, Tahoe, Boulder Creek and Ashland. We eat well, drink very well, talk a lot, giggle more, laugh 'til the tears roll, reminisce, take long walks, and generally enjoy one another's company.
Last weekend, nine of us rented a beautiful house in Aptos and proceeded to cook 3 days of excellent meals, reject only one of many bottles of wine (I returned with 4 bottles from my mixed case because there was so much other wine to try -- but we made sure to drink the Villa Ragazzi Sangiovese!), hike 8.7 miles through a hilly forest and on a beach, finish the NYT crossword puzzle in record time, compile a shared list of books and movies we wanted to read/see, assemble a Wayne Thiebaud jigsaw puzzle and then another one with many more pieces...you get the idea. I failed to elicit much enthusiasm for Negronis, new to most, so the Campari came home with me, too.
When we took the tour at Bonny Doon I had the opportunity to say hello to Randall Grahm. I hadn't seen him in person since late in the '80's when he arrived at Villa Ragazzi in an ancient Citroën DS to pick up the Sangiovese budwood we sold him. We found in him the cellar, ensconced in a sagging, stained armchair writing the winelist for his new restaurant Le Cigare Volant. Lunch there was the only meal we didn't cook for ourselves, and we're all still talking about it. The reserve winelist was what you'd expect: esoteric, intriguing, accessible and fun to read.
Recommendations: (1) cherish your best friends from long ago, and (2) try Le Cigare Volant for its organic little plates next time you're in Santa Cruz.