Neyers Vineyards

Bruce's Journal

February 19, 2020

A Textbook Blend

by Bruce Neyers

– By Bruce Neyers

The idea behind our Left Bank Red began at a meeting we had in the fall of 1984 after we purchased our 45-acre Conn Valley Ranch. We bought the property as a potential vineyard site and hired a consultant who specialized in Soil Analysis and Geology to help us with the planting decisions. He drilled test holes, examined the soil under a microscope, and did some complicated laboratory work.  He wrote a lengthy report with his suggested farming plan and advised us that Conn Creek – the stream that flows year-round through the south end of our ranch — is well over a million years old, so we’d probably find deep gravel deposits along its left bank.

He suggested we plant Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

When we started to work the land, we found gravel almost immediately, and our original optimism was confirmed. The following spring, the land was cleared, ripped, and deer-fenced, and we planted low-yielding 5BB and 5C rootstock. The parcel closest to the creek where the gravel was likely to be deepest was later budded to Merlot.

In 1994, we bought a second parcel — also on the left bank of the creek — and planted it to Cabernet Sauvignon. For several years we bottled separate wines from each vineyard, but the similarities between the two wines were striking. With the 2014 harvest, we blended the entire crop from these two blocks together and made one wine. It was about 55% Cabernet Sauvignon and 45% Merlot, and we named it Left Bank Red in recognition of its site along the left bank of Conn Creek. The inaugural bottling from the 2014 harvest was selected by the ‘Wine Spectator’ for inclusion in Jim Laube’s November 2016 piece on the year’s best bottlings of Cabernet Sauvignon where it was rated the number one wine in his ‘Top Values’ category – an impressive debut.

A few years ago we drilled a new well on our property, and the drilling company suggested we locate it at the edge of the Left Bank Vineyard. After reaching a depth of 15 feet, the drill rig encountered gravel, then emerged from it almost 50 feet later. Gravel has an important effect on red grapes, especially Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Because of the absence of nutrients, it throttles back their natural vigor. It’s well drained and doesn’t trap water, so the berries are small, concentrated and produce an aromatic wine that is dark colored.

It’s no coincidence that Barbara and I enjoy the red wines of St. Julien in Bordeaux. Many of them are made from grapes grown in the deepest gravel deposits in the region. One of my favorite wines from St. Julien – Château Gloria — is an everyday Cru Bourgeois grown not far from the Gironde. It has a high percentage of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend, and both are grown in soil loaded with gravel from the nearby river. I love the flavors of this wine as they roll around the tongue. They are moderate in acid and tannin, making it a lovely model of restraint. I think of our Left Bank Red whenever I open a bottle and find many similarities.

February 18, 2020

Chardonnay produced using traditional old world winemaking

by Bruce Neyers

Chardonnay vines in the El Novillero Vineyard of Sonoma’s Carneros District

We’re now ready to start shipping our 2017 Carneros District Chardonnay. We’ve enjoyed watching it develop into one of the stars in our history of benchmark Chardonnay bottlings, and we predict and even brighter future.

The 1992 Chardonnay was our first labeled as ‘Carneros District’. It was made with the help of celebrated winemaking consultant Helen Turley. Helen’s winemaking ideas at that time were new and considered radical. They made sense to me only because I had partnered with Kermit Lynch, and was regularly traveling to France to meet with producers in Burgundy whose wines we imported. Her connections to several of those producers increased my confidence in, and comfort with, her techniques.

Helen used the term ‘Double Wild’ to describe her winemaking. It was a reference to the use of wild, native yeast for primary fermentation and wild, native lactic-acid bacteria to support the secondary or malo-lactic fermentation. Crucial to Helen’s process, as well, was pressing the fruit in whole clusters with stems intact to reduce the amount of pulp or solids in the fermenting juice. She fermented in 60-gallon French oak barrels and encouraged a complete, 100% malo-lactic fermentation. The latter allowed her to bottle the wine without filtration.

Few producers in California were willing to take the risks involved in using these techniques in 1992, but now it’s more commonplace. Helen’s ideas raised the consciousness of winemaking during her career, and we at Neyers were one of the beneficiaries. Over the past two decades, our winemaker Tadeo Borchardt has brought his own set of talents to our pursuit of quality.

We have chosen three vineyards as the source for the grapes used to produce this wine, all of them from the Sonoma County side of the Carneros District — the Sangiacomo Vineyard and the Yamakawa Vineyard, just southeast of the town of Sonoma, and the El Novillero Vineyard, in the hills at the far western limit of the Carneros AVA. Each is planted to the ‘heirloom selection’ of Chardonnay known as ‘Shot-Wente’, a small and especially flavorful version of the variety. Tadeo continues to fine-tune our traditional winemaking, and his contributions have brought us even greater recognition.

In a recent review in the ‘Wine Spectator’, Kim Marcus commented on our 2017 Chardonnay ‘Carneros District’:

Refined and refreshing, with lively green pear, apple and citrus flavors, powered by zesty acidity. Quince paste and dried savory notes show on the finish. Drink now through 2023. 5705 cases made. 92 POINTS

February 12, 2020

A textbook blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot

by Bruce Neyers

Looking northeast towards Conn Creek, located at the treeline, c. 1940. The Left Bank parcels are on the far side of the creek.

The idea behind our Left Bank Red began at a meeting we had in the fall of 1984 after we purchased our 45-acre Conn Valley Ranch. We bought the property as a potential vineyard site and hired a consultant who specialized in Soil Analysis and Geology to help us with the planting decisions. He drilled test holes, examined the soil under a microscope, did some complicated laboratory work, and then wrote a lengthy report with his suggested farming plan.

He also advised us that Conn Creek – the stream that flows year-round through the south end of our ranch — is well over a million years old, so we’d probably find deep gravel deposits along its left bank. He suggested we plant Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. When we started to work the land, we found gravel almost immediately, and our original optimism was confirmed. The following spring, the land was cleared, ripped, and deer-fenced, and we planted low-yielding 5BB and 5C rootstock. The parcel closest to the creek where the gravel was likely to be deepest was later budded to Merlot.

In 1994, we bought a second parcel — also on the left bank of the creek — and planted it to Cabernet Sauvignon. For several years we bottled separate wines from each vineyard, but the similarities between the two wines were striking. With the 2014 harvest we blended the entire crop from these two blocks together and made one wine. It was about 55% Cabernet Sauvignon and 45% Merlot, and we named it Left Bank Red in recognition of its site along the left bank of Conn Creek. The inaugural bottling from the 2014 harvest was selected by the ‘Wine Spectator’ for inclusion in Jim Laube’s November 2016 piece on the year’s best bottlings of Cabernet Sauvignon, where it was rated the number one wine in his ‘Top Values’ category, an impressive debut.

It’s no coincidence that Barbara and I enjoy the red wines of St. Julien in Bordeaux. Many of them are made from grapes grown in the deepest gravel deposits in the region. A few years ago we drilled a new well on our property, and the drilling company suggested we locate it at the edge of the Left Bank Vineyard. After reaching a depth of 15 feet, the drill rig encountered gravel, then emerged from it almost 50 feet later. Gravel has an important effect on red grapes, especially Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Because of the absence of nutrients, it throttles back their natural vigor. It’s well drained and doesn’t trap water, so the berries are small, concentrated and produce an aromatic wine that is dark colored.

One of my favorite wines from St. Julien – Château Gloria — is an everyday Cru Bourgeois grown not far from the Gironde. It has a high percentage of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend, and both are grown in soil loaded with gravel from the nearby river. I love the flavors of this wine as they roll around the tongue. They are moderate in acid and tannin, making it a lovely model of restraint. I think of our Left Bank Red whenever I open a bottle, and find many similarities.

There’s a hint of ripe cassis in the 2017 Left Bank Red, along with a note of earth and mineral. There’s some chocolate here as well, and an attractive sour cherry flavor in the finish. I sometimes find a hint of fresh tobacco leaf here, and in small doses it’s irresistible. About this time of year, the Daphne plants along our walkway begin to bloom. Their aroma is hard to describe but it’s captivating, and resembles the heady nose in a glass of our Left Bank Red.

January 29, 2020

The 2018 Vista Notre Zinfandel

by Bruce Neyers

I’ve been working with Zinfandel grapes since my first California harvest, the 1972 vintage at Mayacamas Winery. My fondness for the wine began by drinking it with the meals Barbara prepared after watching Julia Child on ‘The French Chef’. While I’ve enjoyed Zinfandel from many producers, the best bottlings I’ve had are those Tadeo has made from the ‘Vista Luna’ vineyard, a beautiful parcel in the Sierra foothills Borden Ranch AVA. Three characteristics of the vineyard make these grapes especially well-suited to the style of wines I like:

-The plant material is an heirloom selection of Zinfandel, with smaller than normal clusters that ripen evenly, avoiding over-ripe raisins and under-ripe green grapes, producing a more flavorful wine.
-The vines are planted on a rocky outcropping formed by a large natural deposit of quartz and granite, adding an attractive mineral component to the wine.
-The generally warm climate is artificially chilled by a phenomenon known as the ‘Sierra Rotor’, a steady, cooling breeze that originates in the Pacific Ocean just off the Golden Gate, then drawn to the Sierra foothills by the high barometric pressure of the Central Valley.

This combination of heirloom plant material, unique soil, and cool weather yields grapes that reach full maturity at lower sugar levels, and results in wines that rarely exceed 14% alcohol. For the past decade or so we relied on a single vineyard in the Borden Ranch AVA for these grapes, but in 2018 we added fruit from two neighboring vineyards, each with similar characteristics. We can no longer call the wine ‘Vista Luna Vineyard’ now, so we call the wine ‘Vista Notre’, thinking of it as our vision of Zinfandel grown in these conditions. All three vineyards are in the same general area of the Sierra foothills, so they share a similar terroir and climate. The result is a style built around ripeness with low alcohol, and we’ve grown increasingly comfortable with this combination of bright fruit, low alcohol and attractive minerality. We’ve learned as well that while the wines made from this area can be enjoyed immediately, they age with both style and grace. Here is the inaugural look at the Neyers Vineyards Zinfandel ‘Vista Notre’. There will no longer be a separate bottling of Zinfandel labeled as ‘Vista Luna’.

January 27, 2020

There is Nothing More Serious than Risotto:  A lesson learned

-by Bruce Neyers

In the spring of 1971, I began working for Connoisseur Wine Imports in San Francisco. It was my first serious job in the wine business, and the owners hired me soon after I was discharged from the army. They suggested that I would learn the wine business there, although most of what I did was unload containers, hand-truck wine around their vast cellars, and build displays – work requiring a strong back and not so strong a mind. We specialized in the wines of France, and while I didn’t know much about them, I tasted them often and learned to love them.

Early on a Monday morning, soon after I arrived for work, one of the owners gave me a list of red Bordeaux wines he wanted me to assemble in the back room, an area that doubled as our lunch room and client tasting room. Modesto Lanzone, I was told, was coming in to taste recent arrivals for his wine list. I didn’t know Modesto, but I had walked by his namesake restaurant in Ghirardelli Square a number of times. It looked fascinating – and expensive — so I was eager to meet him.

I assembled the wines, opened them, set up for the tasting, and Modesto arrived. The owners of the business were brothers-in-law, Art Formicelli and Bal Gibson. Art guided Modesto through the wines, while I looked on. When finished, Modesto wrote down a substantial order and handed it to Art. Art in turn passed it along to me with instructions to isolate the wines Modesto wanted and set them up for delivery. I delivered them the next day. While I was unloading the shipment, Modesto stopped by and, recognizing me from the tasting, started up a conversation. I explained a bit about my background, including my recent discharge from the army, and expressed my enthusiasm about learning the wine business. I also mentioned that my wife was a talented cook. When he learned that I had never eaten at his restaurant, he quickly invited us to come as his guests.

We acted on his generous invitation that weekend and enjoyed one of the best meals ever. The centerpiece of the meal was Risotto, Modesto’s specialty. With the Risotto, Modesto brought out a bottle of one of the wines I had just delivered, a red Bordeaux from 1966 that was way beyond our budget. I declined, but he insisted, reminding me that we were his guests. The wine was extraordinary, I thought, but I was struck by how well it went with the Risotto. I mentioned that, and Modesto replied simply, “Properly made Risotto requires the best wine you can serve with it.” That’s a lesson I’ve never forgotten.

Barbara has a gift for making Risotto, and prepared some for dinner last week. With it, we opened a bottle of our 2017 ‘Napa Valley’ Cabernet Sauvignon, a new wine that we just began to sell. It’s Cabernet that comes largely from a vineyard in the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley, a relatively new AVA that sits in the southern-most part of Napa Valley, along the Silverado Trail. I learned about the area in 1975 when I was at Phelps. We bought grapes from the area, and I was impressed with the finished wine. It’s a cold weather region, and produces wines that are elegant and nicely balanced, but there was concern that the area had trouble fully ripening grapes. In vintages like 2017, that wasn’t an issue, and the low pH and high natural acidity gave us a wine of dark color, gratifying richness and attractive complexity. Tadeo added 5% Merlot to the finished wine, so one of its most charming features is an amazing softness. It was easy for me to guzzle a couple of glasses with the Risotto.

I’m enthusiastic about this wine. I’m similarly enthusiastic about Barbara’s Risotto, which I’m told is easy to make. I asked her for the recipe, so please try making it at home, and accompany it with a bottle of our newest wine.

“I was impressed with the finished wine.”

Wild Mushroom Risotto per Barbara Neyers

Serves 6

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
6 cups chicken stock
2 cups wild mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and sliced into ½-inch pieces
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preparation
In a large pot heat the chicken stock
Sauté the mushrooms until cooked, then set aside
Heat the rice and olive oil in a pot until the rice is coated with the oil
Slowly add the warmed chicken stock to the rice, stirring the rice with each addition
Once the rice is cooked, add the mushrooms
Remove from heat and season to taste
Top each serving of Risotto with grated Parmesan

For her recent preparation, Barbara was able to locate fresh Morels, Chanterelles, Oyster Mushrooms and Boletus Edulis at Sunshine Grocery in St. Helena. She often adds cooked Pancetta to the dish with the mushrooms.

January 21, 2020

Inspirational Pinot Noir that raises the bar

by Bruce Neyers

Over the past few months more than we had expected has been written about our 2017 Pinot Noir ‘Placida Vineyard’, a bottling made from grapes grown by Chuy Ordaz and his family on the slope of the Russian River’s southern bank. Chuy is a master at the peak of his craft, and few growers have his combination of technical knowledge and practical experience. Recent reviews have called the wine ‘Well-knit, filled with minerally richness’; ‘a wine of charm and elegance that walks a delicious tightrope between red fruit and earthy flavors’. Numerous other positive mentions have been made, and each bottle I’ve tried has been memorable. My favorite comment, though, rings not with hyperbole but with pure emotion, and comes from one of my heroes in this business — Master Sommelier Chuck Furuya. Chuck works from his base in Honolulu where in 1989 he became one of the first Americans to be recognized as a master sommelier. He’s now a partner in a group of vibrant, successful restaurants. I don’t know anyone who knows more about wine than he does, or has tasted as many wines. Chuck invited Neyers Vineyards to be involved in a recent industry seminar, Wine Speak, and asked to show two of our wines to the scores of wine lovers who will be traveling to Paso Robles from around the world to attend. When communicating his selections to us, Chuck remarked:

“I was thinking, let’s show the 2017 Pinot Noir ‘Placida Vineyard’. It’s soooooo inspiring right now!”

We’re wildly enthusiastic about this Pinot Noir we make from Chuy’s Placida Vineyard. The climate there is chilly, giving the fruit a longer than normal ripening period or ‘hang time’. The soil is Goldridge Clay, well-drained sandy loam that’s low in nutrients, so the vigor of the vines is kept in check while an attractive element of minerality is introduced. Most importantly though, the plant material is from a non-clonal ‘Heirloom’ source that was imported directly from Burgundy, then planted 60 years ago in the Joseph Swan Vineyard in Forestville. The yields are low, the colors are bright and fresh, and the wine is just brimming with flavor. Here’s a bottling of Pinot Noir that’s inspiring.

January 13, 2020

Here’s a wine for your next Risotto

by Bruce Neyers

In the spring of 1971, I began working for Connoisseur Wine Imports in San Francisco. It was my first job in the wine business, and the owners hired me just after I was discharged from the army, offering to teach me the wine business. Most of my job was to unload containers, and then move wine around their vast cellars, building floor displays. They specialized in the wines of France, and as I learned more about them, I developed a fondness for them that exists today. Early one morning, I was handed a list of red Bordeaux to assemble for a tasting planned later that day. Modesto Lanzone, I was told, was coming to taste wines for his wine list. I didn’t know Modesto then, but I had walked by his namesake restaurant in Ghirardelli Square a number of times. It looked fascinating – and expensive — and I was eager to meet him. I assembled the wines, opened them, then set up the wine glasses. Modesto arrived, and we began. The owners of the business were two brothers-in-law — Art Formicelli and Bal Gibson. They guided Modesto through the wines, and when he finished, Modesto wrote down a substantial order – 20 cases or so — and handed it to Art. Art in turn passed it along to me with instructions to isolate the wines and set them up for delivery. I delivered them the next day. While I was unloading the shipment, Modesto saw me, and recognizing me from the previous day’s tasting, started a conversation. I explained a bit about my background, including my recent discharge from the army, and expressed my enthusiasm about learning the wine business. I also mentioned that my wife Barbara was a talented cook. After hearing that we had never eaten at his restaurant, he quickly invited us to come as his guests. I acted on the invitation immediately, and we made a reservation for the next weekend. It was one of our most memorable meals, ever. Surprisingly to me though, at the center of the meal were Pasta and Risotto dishes — specialties from Modesto’s family home in Genoa. With the Risotto, Modesto brought out a bottle of one of the wines I had just delivered, a red Bordeaux from 1966 that was way beyond our budget. I declined, but he insisted, reminding me that we were his guests. The wine was extraordinary, I thought, but I was struck by how it tasted with the Risotto, something I looked at as a ‘simple’ dish. It was fascinating how they improved each other. I mentioned that, and Modesto commented, “Properly made Risotto demands the best wine you can serve with it.” It’s a lesson I’ve never forgotten. Barbara makes wonderful Risotto, and she prepared some for dinner recently. With it we opened several wines, including a bottle of our 2017 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, a new wine that we just began to ship. It’s made largely from fruit grown in the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley, an AVA that sits in the southern part of the Valley, north of Napa city along the Silverado Trail. I learned about grapes from the area in 1972 when I was at Mayacamas. It’s a colder region, and produces wines both elegant and balanced. In 2017 the low pH and high natural acidity yielded a wine of dark color, gratifying richness and attractive complexity. Tadeo added 5% Merlot to the finished wine, so one of its great charms is its beautiful early softness. It was easy to guzzle a couple of glasses with the Risotto. We are now shipping this wine, and you’ll probably want to guzzle some too. Barbara’s recipe for Risotto is simple, and it takes only 20 minutes. Try making it at home, but be sure to accompany it with a bottle of Neyers 2017 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

Wild Mushroom Risotto by Barbara Neyers

Serves 6

Ingredients
1 and ½ cups Arborio Rice
6 cups Chicken Stock
2 cups wild mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and sliced into ¼ inch pieces
4 Tablespoons olive oil
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup white onions sliced thin

Preparation
In a large pot heat the chicken stock

Sauté the mushrooms and onions in 2 Tablespoons of olive oil until cooked, then set aside

Heat the rice with 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a pot until the rice is coated with the oil

Slowly add the warmed chicken stock to the rice, stirring the rice with each addition

Once the rice is cooked, add the mushrooms

Remove from heat and salt to taste

Top each serving of Risotto with freshly grated Parmesan

For her recent preparation, Barbara used fresh Morels, Chanterelles, Oyster Mushrooms and Boletus Edulis from Sunshine Grocery in St. Helena. You should be able to find some in your neighborhood as well. Occasionally she cooks some Pancetta to crispness, then adds to the dish with the mushrooms.

December 18, 2019

Levi Dalton and I’ll Drink to That

by Bruce Neyers

I was in San Francisco recently to pour our wines at a restaurant wine tasting. The sommelier seemed to know me, and when I asked him if we’d ever met, he said no we hadn’t, but he had listened to Levi Dalton interview me on ‘I’ll Drink to That’, and felt like he knew me well. I realize that I’ve met a lot of people new to Neyers Vineyards over the past few years, and many of them probably never listened to Levi’s Podcasts of our interviews. I decided to correct that. I met Levi almost two decades ago. He was Restaurant Manager for the newly-opened Ritz Carlton in Boston. I was staying just down the street – at a more modest hotel – but someone had suggested I have dinner at the Ritz so I did. After the sommelier brought and opened the lovely bottle of red Burgundy I’d ordered, the server brought my mouth-watering steak, and I began to eagerly dig into both. At that moment, the fire alarm began to sound. An officious-looking person appeared at the door with a loudspeaker, instructing us to leave the premises. Within minutes the dining room was completely overrun by fireman dragging hoses. We began moving towards the safety of the street, and I gave one final, longing stare at my perfectly grilled steak, and that beautiful bottle of Burgundy. I walked to my hotel and ordered room service. A few years later, Levi and I met again, this time in New York, where he invited Barbara and me to dinner at a high profile restaurant. We had a fabulous meal, replete with great wines and magnificent food. I grabbed for the check when it came, but our server shook his head, and told me that we were ‘guests of Mr. Dalton’. Levi looked at me and said that we were now even for the ‘disaster’ in Boston. That tells you a lot about Levi. He gives everything, and asks for little in return. Levi’s Podcasts on ‘I’ll Drink to That’ include in depth talks with some of the most important wine figures of our time. He’s a natural at pulling complicated yet illuminating stories from them, and it’s fascinating listening to his interviews. In addition to being one of the nicest people I know, he’s also one of the smartest. I was flattered to be invited to an IDTT interview in 2014 – Episode 167 – and then invited back a year later in November 2015 for a second run – Episode 316. My life has changed pretty dramatically since then, thanks to our relationship with Trinchero Family Estates, and we now have an almost completely new list of folks with whom we work. If you’re new to Neyers Vineyards, and interested in some of our early history, you may want to listen in. It’s easy. Simply go to the IDTT Website, and click on:
Episode 167 from April 29, 2014
Episode 316 from November 24, 2015

December 9, 2019

A Night at the Opera

by Bruce Neyers


The original poster for Puccini’s Manon Lescaut

A few years ago, through a combination of fortunate events, we sold some wine to a cruise ship line. In the course of the sale, I became friendly with the beverage director, and he soon offered me the opportunity to sign on for a cruise to Glacier Bay Alaska. In exchange, I agreed to conduct a series of wine tastings for interested passengers. Barbara and I left for our first major outing on a ship. Soon after getting underway, we were introduced to the passengers by the cruise director, and during the introduction we met Emil Miland, a cellist with the San Francisco Opera orchestra. Emil supported himself in part by performing on cruise ships during the opera’s off season. Barbara and I were occasional opera attendees, so we struck up a conversation with Emil, and it quickly blossomed into a cordial relationship — we attended his recitals, while Emil attended our wine tastings. I was struck not only by his talent but by his enthusiasm as a teacher, as he spent hours explaining classical music to me. We shared a few bottles of wine together as well. When the cruise ended, Barbara and I flew home to San Francisco, but we became more frequent opera attendees and ran into Emil regularly for several years. We’d often get seats in the front row from Barbara’s friend Robert, a Chez Panisse employee who doubled as the opera’s staff photographer. From our perch we could clearly see Emil and the other musicians in the orchestra pit. We exchanged pleasantries with him during intermissions, and occasionally got an insider tip or bit of gossip. He was a rock star to us, and clearly a fabulously gifted musician. We hadn’t seen Emil for a couple of years, until last Sunday when we attended a matinee of Puccini’s Manon Lescaut. Early Puccini works – of which this is one — were heavy on strings, I’m told, so Emil was pretty busy holding up his part of a demanding Cello performance. He was seated in the semi-circle formed around the conductor, along with the concert master, another cello, and the first violin, and the opera was lively and upbeat — at least for a love story that ends badly. Act III of Manon Lescaut begins with a stirring Intermezzo, as Puccini depicts the journey from Paris to the Harbor of Le Havre. The music is extraordinary, one of those tunes that you simply can’t get out of your mind. It includes a hauntingly beautiful cello solo, and Emil performs it with brilliance. At the conclusion of the piece — before the curtain rises on Act III — the conductor, Nicola Luisotti, motioned for Emil to stand. He did so, and was met with a rousing ovation. It was a highlight for us to witness. We had dinner with Robert after the performance, and he explained the background of the opera to us, including the importance of the Intermezzo. We told him of our meeting with Emil, who he knows, and he agreed to deliver some wine to him as a gesture of our appreciation. Once again, our world met Emil’s.

I recalled that Emil was fond of crisp, dry white wine, and selected our 2018 Chardonnay ‘304’ as a gift. We just sent a six-pack to him with our compliments. If you too have a fondness for dry white wine that is crisp, fresh and thirst-quenching, you owe it to yourself to try the Neyers 2018 Chardonnay ‘304’. It takes its name from the stainless steel tanks in which it’s fermented. Our winemaker Tadeo Borchardt – inspired by the classic wines of Chablis — fashioned it from grapes grown in the cool weather and rocky soils of two Sonoma County regions — the Carneros District on the north lip of San Francisco Bay, and the gentle slopes of the eastern end of the Russian River Valley. It has provided satisfaction to demanding wine drinkers for years, and can be found in places as geographically diverse as Thomas Keller’s French Laundry in Yountville, California and Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak in Aventura, Florida. There are plenty of spots to enjoy a bottle in between too. We think it’s an ideal accompaniment to almost any Cello piece.

December 2019

November 25, 2019

One of the best in recent memory

by Bruce Neyers

This report just came in from a local agricultural information source:

November 20, 2019 – Wine Industry Advisor
‘Wine grapes across California ripened at lower sugars, thanks to the extended, cool growing season, and vintners are praising the full flavors, fresh acidity and superb balance of the 2019 fruit.’

This is great news and accurately depicts the status, as well as our current state of bliss. As much as we appreciate the Wine Industry Advisor for their reporting though, it might be even more important to hear the verbal harvest report from Dave Abreu, given when he stopped by our St. Helena office a couple of weeks ago. Dave may be the most respected viticulturalist in the Napa Valley — if not he’s certainly on many short lists. When I asked him how his harvest was going, he remarked that 2019 may be the best year for wine grapes in his career. That’s extraordinary news. Look for some remarkable wines from the Napa Valley in vintage 2019.

We finished picking the last of our grapes three weeks ago, and above is a photo taken by my daughter Lizzie on October 21 when we picked our Neyers Ranch 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s a cluster from ‘North Vineyard’, a parcel that Dave Abreu planted for us in 1992. The vines are 27 years-old, and the crop from this vineyard was 3.2 tons/acre. Note the ‘bloom’ or waxy substance on the skin that serves to trap the wild yeast that we rely on for fermentation. You won’t see a cluster more beautiful than this – anywhere. In the photo below, vineyard manager Raul is driving a tractor hauling two bins of just-harvested Cabernet Sauvignon from our ‘Knoll Vineyard’. Each bin holds about one-half ton. All grapes have been harvested by hand, working with a crew of 6-8 people.

November 22, 2019