May 18, 2010

Marcia’s Spring update

Filed under: News — burke @ 3:51 pm
Marcia Mondavi Borger, Continuum Estate 2009

Marcia Mondavi Borger, Continuum Estate 2009

Spring has indeed been a busy time here at Continuum Estate.  Not only has Ryan and his crew been busy planting our new vineyard, our Sales and Marketing team has been on the road telling our Continuum story.  Carissa, Carlo, Dante, Stu, Burke, Tim and I have traveled across the US showing our exciting 2007 vintage.  The response to our family’s commitment to ‘one wine from one estate’ has been heartwarming and most gratifying.

In celebration of the release of our 2007 Continuum we hosted our 2nd ‘Pick-up Party’ for our Continuum members on May 1st.  It was a wonderful afternoon of sipping the 2007 Continuum and tasting five special food pairings created by Chef Sarah Scott.  As a sneak preview we also showed a barrel sample of our 08 vintage; a most exciting infant in which 70% of the wine is from Pritchard Hill fruit.  Eric Symons added a perfect tone to our sunny afternoon by serenading us with his classical guitar.  It was great to see so many of our members back again after last year’s very soggy, but fun party, and to meet many new faces.  Our Continuum family is growing! 

Spring also brings the release of our Estate olive oil, a whole 37 cases.  Not only do we have exceptional vineyards high atop Pritchard Hill, we also have well established olive groves.  This presented a wonderful challenge for us, to begin learning as much as we can about olives and olive oil.  Last year we picked all five classic varieties we have planted here at the estate, and created a field blend for our house oil.  Quite a lovely olive oil, but it also encouraged us to truly focus on the types of trees we have and the character differences of each variety.  This year we kept all of the varieties separated during pressing and were able to taste each of them selecting only the finest for ‘our’ blend, rather than a ‘field blend’.  It is wonderful to have this opportunity to offer our members Continuum Estate olive oil and further display the bounty of Pritchard Hill.

Our plans for our future winery are well on their way.  Howard Backen and his crew of John Taft and Silvia Nobili have been spending hours with Tim, Greg, and Kurt making certain that we have not only a beautiful winery but also a ‘winemaker’s winery’.  From grape receiving to final bottling we want this to be a state of the art winery that supports the development of this one exceptional wine and realizes the best of our experiences in winegrowing. 

The gravity flow winery itself will speak elegantly of our land, sitting on a knoll on the eastern edge of our vineyards.  The four corners of the building will be rammed earth, literally springing from the beautiful red soil of Continuum Estate, with caves below for barrel aging.  In the spirit of bringing the indoors out and the outdoors in the walls will be primarily glass, highlighting the beauty of our oak fermentation tanks; the heart of Continuum’s winemaking.  The views from within the cellar will be quite stunning as well.  They will enable us to see our distant history in St. Helena, our more recent past in To Kalon and our future as we overlook our Continuum Vineyards.  Hospitality will be outside the cellar and will also focus on our vineyards.  Future plans for a vibrant culinary program include a small kitchen with opportunities to entertain both indoors and out.    

We can hardly wait for construction to begin, but we do have a bit of a wait as the permitting process can take a very long time.  I assure you we’ll have a party to celebrate when the building begins in earnest.  However in the interim, we would love to host you here at the estate and have you follow the workings of Continuum through our website where you can keep up to date on our progress.

In Continuum!  

Marcia Mondavi Borger

May 5, 2010

Estate vineyard update

Filed under: News — burke @ 11:19 am
New vineyard staked and ready to plant, Continuum Estate May 2010

New vineyard staked and ready to plant, Continuum Estate May 2010

New vineyard development Continuum Estate 2009
New vineyard development Continuum Estate 2009


Ryan Gerhardt, vineyard manager for Continuum Estate

Its early May on Pritchard Hill and the vines are awakening from their long winter slumber with leaves and green shoots growing.

The seasonal turn from winter to spring has left us drought free with all the reservoirs full after a higher than normal rainfall of 36 inches. Temperatures have been fairly cool but warmer days are returning, and now that the rains have stopped, we are on schedule in the vineyard.

The big news is the development of 20 new acres of vineyard alongside the current 40 acres in production. Last summer we pulled out 13 acres of vines and dug up an additional 7 acres to continue the development of our estate vineyards.

This was not as simple as sticking a pitchfork in the back yard and turning the soil. We had to remove a humongous amount of andesite boulders ranging in size from ½ ton to 30 tons in size!

(See pictures to get a better sense of this process.)

Now that the boulders are gone, we are preparing a variety of rootstocks, assorted clonal selections and selective  irrigation practices to support 13 unique vineyard blocks within this 20 acre section . Isolating these vineyard blocks allows us to better understand each one’s unique combination of soil, aspect, water retention, and fertility. As the vineyard blocks mature, each will reveal their own unique flavor and character. Our winemaking team will then carefully select fruit from these different blocks  to craft the finest wine possible from this world class vineyard.

In total we will place 47,500 vines in the ground this year of which 2/3 are Cabernet Franc and the rest Petit Verdot. This works out to a fairly tight vineyard spacing of 3 ft x 6 ft; this tighter spacing promotes more competition among the vines, resulting in higher quality fruit. The late spring rains have been a real boon for the new vineyard blocks as the soil moisture is higher than normal, ideal for planting.

In addition to planting new vines, we have grafted 4 acres of existing vines over to 3 acres of Petit Verdot and 1 acre of Cabernet Franc.  This fruit will be harvested over the next couple of years, well before our new plantings which we expect to crush in 3-4 years.  

Other projects include a study initiated by University of California, Berkeley with various cover crops grown in the vineyard to increase predation of pests.  We are also taking advantage of the new ‘real-time’ sap flow technology by installing sensors to track the water needs of our vines.

I along with my crew-Lupe, Salvador, Luis and Juvenal- are hard at work getting the vineyards ready for another great year.

Come up and see us when you can and take a look at this great property!

May 4, 2010

Look for Continuum!

Filed under: Events — burke @ 4:30 pm

Tim Mondavi & guests May 1, 2010

Tim Mondavi & guests May 1, 2010

Upcoming public events-

Nantucket Food and Wine Festival
May 19-23, 2010
Nantucket, Massachusetts

2010 Auction Napa Valley 
June 3-6, 2010
Napa Valley

2010 Aspen Food & Wine Classic
June 18-20, 2010
Aspen, Colorado

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