On Friday morning, deep in the vines at Norgard’s
Vineyards, across Old River Road from Seebass Vineyards, some of the county’s
finest gathered. “It’s like the Olympics,” said Ben Byczynski, Director
of Vineyards and Grower Relations at Fetzer. “These guys are the best of
the best.” Byczynski and Dave Koball, Director of Research and Education at
Fetzer, formed one of two teams of judges, appraising the work of the
It was the 15th annual pruning contest, the fourth one organized by Mendocino
Winegrowers Inc. Dave Downey, of Downey Vineyard Management, explained that “we
try to get the top guys…to get a good competition.”
Jesus Garcia, also of Downey Vineyard Management, was eliminated in an early
round, but said it was an honor to be invited to compete. “Maybe next year,” he
said of his own chances at winning. Asked who he thought was likely to win this
year, he hesitated only long enough to locate a powerfully built man with
a beard and a youthful appearance. “Him,” he said calmly, like someone had just
asked him if he thought the sun was going to rise
Gregorio Velasquez, number 21, clearly knew what he was doing. He took an easy
stance in front of his vine, crouching like a boxer. He was utterly relaxed,
and his concentration was perfect. He moved lightly on his feet, grasping the
severed branches in his left hand as he clipped them with his right. He
ripped them from the wires with exactly as much force as he needed, and slapped
them down in the middle of the row. He did not appear to be moving fast, but
just a little more than
five minutes later, he stepped away from his vines and raised his arms in the
air. His eyes were bright, and he was breathing evenly through his nose.
Each competitor was judged on how long he took to prune five vines to a high
level of quality. Two judges at a time went down the rows, one on each side.
They were there to assess the quality of the cut, how close it was to the buds,
how many dry spurs were left on the vine, and if debris had been left on
the wire or in the lane. That’s just an excerpt of the page-long list of
possible deficiencies when you’re trying to prune a vine in a hurry.
The judges were taking it as seriously as the competitors, scrutinizing and
discussing each cut. “I’m tough, man,” Byczynski said; but he agreed with
Koball when they came to a thick dry unit that had been left on a vine. “If I
was a guy pruning, I’d shine that too,” Koball concluded; “because it
would take more than five seconds to muscle through.” They discussed a presentation
they had recently heard in Napa, regarding the flow of the sap through the
vascular tissue of the plant, and counted the number of buds left on the
vines. “Like a lot of things in farming,” Koball said, “it’s a science and an
art.” Each cut represents a judgement call.
Glenn T. McCourty, a Winegrowing and Plant Science Advisor with the Mendocino
County Ag Center, was keeping time at the contest. “I hope this doesn’t
disappear in the near future,” he remarked, adding that he saw a great deal of
mechanical pruning in the South of France, where labor is costly. He
described the pruning machine as like “a series of knives” that “makes the vine
look like a box.” Still, he acknowledged, the machine is faster than the
fastest set of human hands.
But no machine ever accepted a prize in front of all its friends, who stood
around in the sun admiring its work. After the raffle, where competitors
received prizes ranging from baseball caps to a leaf blower, the winners were
announced. Marcos Lopez, of Ardzrooni Vineyard Management in Philo, took
third place, with a prize of $150 and a pair of pruning shears. Salvador
Gutierrez, the champion from 2012, won second place this year, with $300 and a
pair of shears.
And Jesus Garcia was right: Gregorio Velasquez, of Seebass Vineyard’s vendor
Chevalier Vineyard Management, one of the premier vineyard and viticultural
businesses in Mendocino County, won the grand prize of $500 and a basket full
of tools, with an estimated value of $400. According to Bernadette Byrne,
Executive Director of Mendocino Winegrowers Inc., Chevalier will match the
prize he received from MWI, and give him “a fancy new Chevalier jacket.”
“Chevalier Vineyard Management has been farming our family’s estate vineyard
for over 25 years,” said Scott Willoughby, Director Marketing and President of
The Board of Directors of MWI, “their work in our vineyards has always been an
important part of our crop’s success, and now the critical acclaim our
Family Wines are achieving. We sell each year around 400 tons of grapes, and
use only our Estate-grown grapes in our brand Seebass Family Wines. Our 2014
Grand Reserve Chardonnay won Double Gold Medal at the San Francisco
Chronicle Wine Competition in January, and our 2014 Family Chardonnay got First
Prize a week ago at the Mendocino Coast Clinic’s (anything but) Crab Cake
Cook-off and Wine Competition, in the professional judges category. The
Chevalier family has always worked very hard to help us grow premium fruit here
in Mendocino County.”
This is the third win
for Velasquez, who started working in Mendocino vineyards twenty years ago,
when he was seventeen years old. Asked if he planned to celebrate his victory,
he simply smiled and said, “Yes.” Then he hoisted his basket of tools and joined his
colleagues, pausing every few feet to have his picture taken.
Seebass Family Wines is launching two new Los Angeles area restaurant placements this week, and co-hosting a very special narrated flight and food pairing.
Our pairing dinner features a four-wine flight exclusively prepared by Bernard Louberssac with Seebass Family Wines, will be Tuesday December 15, from 7-9, at Bernard’s Le Cellier Restaurant and Bar, http://ift.tt/SIUmz0. The meal begins with the flight and detailed descriptions about each wine, terror, winemaking and his experiences with the varietals.
Le Cellier, a French-Vietnamese gastropub, emphasizes social dining, exquisite dishes and a lively atmosphere. Call Le Cellier for reservations a 425 – 28 – 5491. 417 Washington Boulevard, Marina Del Ray.
Bernard Louberssac, general manager, chef and wine enthusiast, takes great joy in hand-selecting rare estate wines to pair with Le Cellier‘s farm-to-table menu. Louberssac concentrates on understanding the taste and nature of the wines and how they blossom when opened to bring out the full flavor of both wine and dish. Bernard crafts his wine flights to showcase wines from a region, such as Tuesday night’s flight of Seebass Family Wines 2014 Rosé of Grenache “Fantasie”, Seebass 2012 Grand Reserve Chardonnay, Seebass 2012 Grand Reserve Syrah, and Seebass 2012 Grand Reserve Merlot. These wines are limited in allocations and are all top point and awards-earning wines, made by winemaker Stéphane Vivier and are 100% Estate grown. Seebass Vineyards are located in the inland Russian River Valley portion of Mendocino County, near the town of Ukiah, where the Seebass family estate has grown grapes for over 30 years.
On Monday December 14, from 7-9 Seebass Family Wines is celebrating the new addition of their 2014 Rosé of Grenache, “Fantasie” at Plant Food and Wine, 1009 Abbot Kinney Boulevard, Venice CA. 310-450-1009. Visit www.matthewkenneycuisine.com for more information about the restaurant. The launch event is invitation-only, so call ahead for a reservation and invitations. Plant Food and Wine, one of the hot new restaurants on Abbot Kinney Boulevard presents a beautiful selection of locally sourced fare in a seasonally crafted menu, enriched by an extensive wine love of organic, craft, and biodynamic varietals. The restaurant offers and innovative approach to plan-based cuisine through an evolving menu prepared by Chef Scott Winegard, that includes vegetables, seeds, grains, legumes and house-made cheeses, enhanced by the onsite edible garden.
Wednesday, Seebass Family Wines celebrates with our client Wilde Restaurant and Bar, the new addition of our 2012 Grand Reserve Syrah onto their menu, with a special pairing flight and small bites meal. http://wildela.com, located at Wilde Wine Bar & Restaurant320 South La Brea Ave,Los Angeles. The event is open seating, call ahead for reservations at 323-932-9500. An intimate oasis off bustling La Brea Avenue in LA’s Miracle Mile, Wilde is one of LA’s best kept dining secrets, and was voted the winner, Diner‘s Choice for 2015 through OpenTable. Their focus is on rare, esoteric, small-lot production wines Like Seebass Family Wines, and this addition to their wine-by-the-glass menu is a great addition for the restaurant. The project of former Playboy CMO Lorna Donohoe and husband Nader Naderi, both born and raised throughout Europe, Wilde is inspired by the brasseries and wine boîtes of their youth. The couple stripped the old 3Twenty Wine Lounge of its wine machines and added an extensive, personalized wine list that is meant to respect each bottle’s terroir. This means patrons in the mood for fish will be recommended a wine that comes from a small fishing town, paying homage to the wine’s roots.
For one famous PlacerCounty vintner, the release of that first sweet, fruity syrah was the precursor of a much bigger splash.
When your name is Dusty Baker and you’re hired at about the same time last month as new manager of the Washington Nationals baseball team, the rookie vintage of vino coming fromGraniteBay is dropped a little further down the batting order.
But for the Baker brand and PlacerCounty’s growing wine industry, the limited release is still a big step forward.
Baker’s Baker Family Wines released its $60 a bottle syrah last month. San Francisco Treasure Island Urban Winery is in partnership to stock it at its Treasure Island winery and tasting room inSan Francisco.
Seebass Family Wines welcomes you to our vineyard Tasting Room, 3300 Old River Road, Ukiah, CA 95482, for Seafood and Barrel tastings. Alongside Mendocino County’s Everything but Crab, Wine and Beer Festival, many inland Mendocino vineyards and wineryies are hosting Barrel Tasting 101, a great opportunity to try new wines before they are bottled or released. Online tickets are available for $20 and tickets purchased at the door are $30. Your entry to ALL participating tasting rooms, a logo glass and event map are included with the purchase of your ticket. We’ll be pouring our unbottled 2015 Rosé of Grenache, “Fantasie” as well as our unbottled 2015 Family Chardonnay.
Inland Mendocino Offers Warm Weather and Rustic Charm
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Imagine your guests and friends seated in a historic barn setting, surrounded by lush green grape vines, miles of gorgeous sunset views, the only sound perhaps the call of a Red Tail Hawk, and your bridal party there to celebrate your wedding day! Seebass Family Wines is opening their rustic barns and covered event spaces for weddings and other private events, beginning Spring of 2016. Previously an 1800’s vintage fruit orchard and packing facility, the spacious covered work areas have been restored to create a one-of-a-kind event space that features 180 degree views of vineyards, the Mendocino coastal mountain range, and mile after mile of valley views. Contact Michelle Myrenne Willoughby at 707-463-9467 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for booking information and additional pictures. We look forward to helping make your big day as special as possible!
Your friends will remember you forever! Now you can give the gift of a Seebass Family Wine Club Membership. For your business associates, children, friends – a gift of the Seebass Family Wines Club Membership will be a treat all year. Our wine club only ships its members wines twice a year, either six bottles, 12 or two cases. We prefer to transport our wine in cooler months, so the shipments tend to arrive in October/November, and again in March/April. Visit http://ift.tt/1Rf020o or call 707-467-9463 or email at email@example.com and we’ll take care of the rest. It’s an easy way to send someone some truly special wines, wines that they get to select before shipment!
On January 20, 2016 celebrate the New Year with delicious seafood and Seebass Family Wines! The evening event will be featuring the latest release of the 2015 Grenache Rosé “Fantasie” and other award-winning wines by the Seebass Family winemakers. Tickets are $75 and available through Crush Italian Steakhouse in Ukiah. The dinner is limited seating so don’t delay in securing your tickets. Call Crush at 707-463-0700, all credit cards accepted.