Chris Corley
 
May 21, 2009 | Chris Corley

Full Court Press

Posted By : Chris Corley

Last week, we shipped out the second and last of our original two presses. These presses were purchased in 1981 & 1982, and we used them faithfully for 25 years until they finally gave out after the 2005 harvest. We replaced them with a single 50hL Diemme bladder press in 2006, which we are very happy with.

1981 Bucher Press (Shipping Out in 2009)

Still, I'm kind of sad to see the old equipment go out. Our dad was about my age, 38, when he came up to Napa and started our vineyard business. It would have been an exciting time for him, and probably spiced with a little anxiety. It would have been a large undertaking for a young man, and Napa in 1969 wasn't a guarantee. Keep in mind that Robert Mondavi Winery was only started 3 years earlier, in 1966. When our winery was built in 1981, our dad had about 11 years of grapegrowing behind him, so he was primed for making his own wines from the vineyard. These presses were some of the first equipment purchased.

 

1981 Bucher Press (Recently Installed in 1981) - Jay Corley & Alan Philips

I personally have spent countless hours crawling around inside these old presses, going back to 1990 when I started full time. At least twice day, the screens would need to be installed and removed, and they were a bear to clean. We had a kind of stainless steel toothpick that we would use to get the seeds out of the slots. That being said, those our some of my fondest memories of my early days on the crush pad. There's nothing better than being covered in sticky grape juice, a beard full of seeds, and sweatin' your stones off in a wine press sauna cleaning heavy metal screens. Seriously. The best cold beers in my life have been after I crawled out of those old presses.

The life span of these old presses is not unusual for us. We've been careful over the years to take good care of our equipment and make it last, sometimes for decades. When you work with a big piece of equipment like this for the better part of two decades, and you spend the amount of late night and hot afternoon hours with it as we have, you grow attached to it. So we're sorry to see the press go.

That being said, we're happy that it has found a new home through the work of our good friend Mark Burns, who has arranged for our old press to be a centerpiece of his winegrowing display, which will be featured in the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library, opening this September.

Chris Corley
 
January 17, 2009 | Chris Corley

Monticello Vineyards on Facebook !

Posted By : Chris Corley

Monticello Vineyards is now on Facebook! If you’re a member of Facebook, search through ‘groups’ and join “Fans of Monticello Vineyards”. It’s an open group and you’ll be able to share photos and comments about your visits to Monticello and wines of ours that you’ve enjoyed. You’ll also be able to keep up to date with events and news at Monticello !

Chris Corley
 
November 5, 2008 | Chris Corley

Anticipation

Posted By : Chris Corley

Anticipation is defined by Merriam-Webster as the "act of looking forward; a pleasurable expectation". Anticipation is an important aspect of our lives. We all have moments of anticipation. These moments excite us and send thrills down our spines. They make us feel alive. For me, anticipation is the thrilling blend of love and excitement that I felt standing at the altar in my clan kilt, watching my future wife walk up the aisle. For me, anticipation is the exhiliration of joy and nervousness as you await the birth of your children, holding tightly your wife's hand and sharing tears of happiness and disbelief of this magical journey of life and this beautiful little person that you're about to meet for the first time. Anticipation can be intoxicating, and always enhances the following act.

Growing grapes and making wine is full of anticipation. We get very excited at certain times of the year. Pruning in January and February inevitably leads to all sorts of wonderment of how the growing season will shape up. As the vines flower, and the berries are pollinated and develop throughout the season, we are constantly abuzz thinking about how the vintage will turn out. When the grapes are harvested, the bins are not just full of sticky grapes - they're filled with hope and future memories and celebratory occasions. When I taste wines from the barrel, which I do nearly every day, I'm not tasting today's wine. I'm tasting tomorrow's wine. I'm reveling not just in the wine as it comes out of the barrel, but also in its beauty that will be realized in time, perhaps years away.

Anticipation is what makes it exciting to hold on to a bottle for 10 years and then open it on a special occasion. Anticipation makes the wine taste just that much better ...

Chris Corley
 
October 31, 2008 | Chris Corley

Presenting the 2008 Harvest Cellar Crew

Posted By : Chris Corley

As I mentioned in my last post, it's people that make the difference. There are many ways to measure success in any business. This also holds true in the business of wine and grapes. In our family business, we pay close attention to the quality of our wines, the health of our vineyards and our financial statements, as any responsible business owner would. We have another important guage that we pay very close attention to that may set us apart from other wineries. We also measure our success in our people - our extended family. Happy employees that stay with us for a long time are indeed a major satisfaction and an important metric for us to guage how we are conducting ourselves as managers of our company. For this post, as we are just on the tail end of harvest, I'm going to focus on the Cellar Crew. Future posts will be dedicated to our other teams.

CELLAR CREW

""UNCLE"" BRIAN CRAWFORD ... Uncle Brian (my mom's brother) really has no title. Over the last 25 years at Monticello, Brian has done just about everything. He has run the frost in the winter, driven the tractor up and down every vineyard row on the property countless times, and literally supervised tens of thousands of tons of our grapes going through the receiving hopper. He built most of the inside of the winery including all of our catwalks and barrel racks. Brian has lived on the property at Monticello - a stone's throw from the winery for almost 25 years. Brian is known to everyone around Monticello as ""Uncle Brian"".

RODOLFO CUEVAS - ASSISTANT WINEMAKER ... Rodolfo has worked with Monticello for nearly 18 years. He started in the field, working with the grapes, and moved full time into the cellar about 14 years ago. Rodolfo and I have worked side by side for all of those 14 years. Rodolfo has diligently worked hard over the years, and has performed just about every task imaginable in our cellar. He is currently our assistant winemaker and is also responsible for running our botling line.

ISAC AVILA - CELLARMASTER ... Isac has been with Monticello for about 9 years. He manages the daily operations in the cellar, and tracks all the work tags. During harvest, Isac is our PressMaster and supervises all of the grapes that go through the press. This is an important step in the winemaking process, and we're very happy to have Isac monitoring the pressing of our fruit.

MARK SULLIVAN - ENOLOGIST ... Mark joined us as a harvest intern in 2006 and again in 2007. Leading into the 2008 harvest, we hired Mark on full time. Mark tends to all of the fermentation tracking during harvest and performs all of our in-house analysis and prepares our trials tastings. Mark has a degree in Organic Chemistry from UC Davis.

RAFAEL CORTEZ-PEREZ - CELLARMAN ... Rafael has worked with Monticello for about 13 years. Most of those years he worked the vineyards as our main tractor driver. He joined our cellar crew a few years ago and has been a great contribution to the cellar. Rafael works diligently at the task at hand. During bottling season, Rafael assists Rodolfo in running and supervising the bottling line.

FEDERICO GUITERREZ - CELLARMAN ... Federico has been with Monticello for about 3 years. Federico joined us with little experience but a desire to work hard and learn. He has blended in with the team and has proven to be a very productive and welcome member of our cellar staff.

HEATHER FOSTER - ADMINISTRATIVE ... Although Heather isn't out on the cellar floor, she's an important part of our Production Team. For the last 2 years, Heather has organized all of our winemaking and packaging compliance, and kept our winemaking records organized and accessible. Her efforts in keeping us organized have been an enormous help.

Here's to our Cellar Crew! On behalf of my family, I want to say Thank You. We appreciate all that you do, and sincerely hope that we'll spend many more vintages together. You've become part of our extended family ..."

Chris Corley
 
April 10, 2008 | Chris Corley

Blogbreak !

Posted By : Chris Corley

We're excited to launch our family's winery blog and happy that you are here to join us ! The timing is great as we're just about a month into the growing season, so we'll be able to follow the progress of the vines this year from not too long after budbreak through harvest. We'll also be posting about the wines that we're tending to in the cellar and anything else that comes up related to our activities at the family winery.

In addition to all the Corleys at the winery, we consider everyone here part of our extended family, so we'll have plenty of topics to discuss and stories to share throughout the year. Welcome to the Corley Family's Winery Blog !

 
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