Posted By : Chris Corley
As the harvest slowly approaches, we have been very busy bottling wine, finalizing barrel orders, and starting to walk the vineyards more often pulling grape samples. This time of year is always very exciting with the fruit in the vineyard approaching ripeness, the activity in the cellar at full tilt and football season starting up. My sons team (7-9 year olds) won their first game of the season Saturday and the 49ers sealed the home opener in exciting fashion with a couple of touchdowns in the last six minutes of todays game.
Cabernet Sauvignon, Valle de Guadalupe, Baja, Mexico
Adding to my personal harvest adrenaline, for the last five years I've been consulting on an wine project in Valle de Guadalupe of Baja, Mexico. It has been a wonderful project to work on as I have had the opportunity to work with fruit in a very different region than I am used to here in Napa. I think this has helped me improve my skills as a winemaker and helped to broaden my perspective, both as an individual and as a winemaker. The people involved in the winery are fantastic. They are a friendly, welcoming, family-oriented group. The owner is the British Consul for Northern Mexico. My south-of-the-border winemaking office in Tijuana is sandwiched between the British Consulate and a whiskey bar. Thats the way they roll in TJ.
I was just down last week to check on the grapes in the Valle de Guadalupe. Its not unusual for us to travel in the consulates armored Jeep Cherokee, which looks like a beater from the outside, but is fully replete with armored doors and bulletproof windows. You'd never know it seeing it from the sidewalk. About halfway to Valle de Guadalupe on a very hot Thursday last week, the engine started overheating. We had to shut the AC off, which meant we were now hurtling through the hot afternoon in an armored incubator with 1/2 inch thick windows that couldn't be rolled down! We were blazing. Just up the road was a military checkpoint. The strategy was show them the British diplomat plates and let them draw their own conclusions about the gringo (me) in the backseat. We went through unquestioned.
Sierra Blanca, Valle de Guadalupe, Baja, Mexico
After a few hours walking the rows and sampling grapes at the vineyard, during which time we got the Jeep all fixed up, we made our way back to the winery facility in Tijuana. To my surprise, the winery had a mesquite grill going with carne asada, fresh made pico de gallo and a few bottles of 2007 Pinot Noir, the first wine we bottled down there. They had made me a special lunch for my 40th birthday, which was a complete surprise and greatly appreciated. The power went out about halfway through our party, which we found out shortly was part of a much larger blackout that covered parts of Arizona, southern California and northern Mexico. All the flights that evening were cancelled, so we made arrangements for me to stay the night in Tijuana. Although I had just scheduled to be down for the day, it ended up a being a very productive and enjoyable two day trip. My crew at Monticello managed our activities up north without grief.
I've worked at Monticello my entire life. This will be my 22nd harvest at my family's winery in Napa, the last ten as head winemaker. We are very busy at Monticello, and I'm not looking for more things to do, but something really struck me about this project in Mexico. It was such a unique opportunity, and I was very impressed with the quality of the vineyard and the nature of the people involved. It has been as satisfying as I had imagined and a reminder that, ironically, every now and then we need to break our rhythm in order to keep our rhythm. Here's to a great harvest!
Posted By : Chris Corley
Today, we're looking forward to fireworks, swimming with the kids and maybe a barbeque this evening. I wanted to write a short piece about the 4th of July. The more I thought about what to write, the deeper the days meaning became to me. I took a little time to read The Declaration of Independence this morning, and it became very clear to me that there were no new words to be written today. I hope you can take a few minutes to read this incredible document and reflect on the events that transpired on this day 235 years ago. Then enjoy your freedom to have a hot dog and cold beer.
THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
Posted By : Chris Corley
We spend a lot of time talking about wine in our family. We talk about how certain wines taste, how they tasted in the past, how they’ll taste in the future, what foods they taste best with. Wine runs through our blood to the point that my son, Jackson, wrote the following Mothers Day note to my wife, Julianna, in his first grade class – “Happy Mothers Day. My mom is soft like a dog and ruff like a lion. Thank you for makin good wine …”. I wonder what his first grade teacher thought of his poem when he turned that in.
In talking about wine, we use a pretty diverse vocabulary. We speak of wines in every metaphorical means imaginable. We refer to wines in terms of colors – ‘black, blue, purple, red, golden’. We speak of wines in terms of textures – ‘smooth, rough, rich, grippy’. We converse about wines in terms of weight – ‘fat, thin, heavy, light’. We debate wines in terms of numbers – ’96, 91, 89, 92′. We revel in wines in terms of sensuality – ‘elegant, sexy, voluptuous, alluring’.
In every instance we use language to convey the message. We discuss, with words, the emotions or feelings that the wine has invigorated within us. Most of us in the professional wine tasting world understand each other when we’re in the midst of a winespeak tasting session. I imagine that it might sound like a load of gibberish to someone who is not immersed in this metaphorical world of winejaw.
When I’m presenting wines to visitors at Monticello, one of the first things I try to glean is their understanding of wine and more directly, at what level do they engage in winespeak. We don’t have a babel fish to put in our customers ears to translate my enological ramblings, so it’s important to communicate in language that everyone feels comfortable with. Note : A babel fish is a small fish that when placed in the ear will translate any language in the galaxy for the listener (from ‘The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy).
Today we are hosting our Spring Release party, and will be releasing our 2008 Corley Proprietary Red Wine. The festivities will include a wine component / blending presentation that will be largely conveyed via my piano (my babel fish). I’ve deconstructed a song I wrote on the piano and matched the three main preliminary components of our 2009 Proprietary Red Wine to three main components of the song – the bass line, the melody, and the chorus. We’ll taste each of the wines while listening to the musical component. We’ll taste the blend while listening to the song as a whole. The goal is to convey one art form by using another, to minimize the words and revel in the emotion of the blend. Most everyone can feel music. You don’t need to have perfect pitch or be able to snap your fingers to a complex 7/8 rhythm. Most of us can tell when a note is out of tune, or a basic rhythm skipped. Music is a wonderful means of communication. Its inside of all of us.
A Babel Fish Composition
Today, I want to share that visceral pleasure that I enjoy when blending our Monticello wines. At the blending table, I like to close my eyes and savor the wine, to instinctively feel and experience its pleasures or faults. I like to clear my mind of titratable acidities and tannins, and focus on the ethereal and sublime that can be found in the glass. The intellectual aspect of winemaking is done before and after the blending table. The blending table is where art is created, where the paint wets the canvas, the pen hits the paper, and the fingers strike the keys. I’d like our wine club members to experience this today. And I’d like to share it today through music
"We were in Brooklyn a few weeks ago visiting our wine broker and spending a few days with my wife Julianna's sister, Joy, and her husband, Noureddine. Depending what airline we fly, we either check our wine (Southwest - bags fly free) or we send it ahead (all others). This time, we shipped several cases ahead (it cost the same to ship as it would to check, so may as well let the shipper lug it around!). It's nice to have wine ready for you upon arrival, and we were looking forward to some great bottles during our trip. Approximately a third of the wines we took to taste with our broker, but we also had plenty of nice wines for drinking, including plenty from other producers (we don't just drink our own stuff all the time!)
On our first night there, I was craving a big fat glass of red wine after a long day of family travel, and was almost salivating on the way from the airport, just thinking about popping a cork. We pulled out our first wine, and to my great disappointment, the wine was corked. It wasn't terrible, but it definitely had that familiar wet cardboard, aquarium gravel kind of smell that I just can't get out of my head once I smell it.
Cork taint is a topic that we as an industry pay close attention to. It can arise from the combination of wood product, moisture and chlorine. The offending molecule that raises the stink is called trichloroanisole (TCA). A lot of corks (wood) used to be sanitized (moisture) in chlorine based washes (chlorine), an malevolant olfactory trifecta. A winery could have a systemic problem with TCA. Many older wineries were stick-built (wood), are humidified (moisture) and historically used chlorinated tri-sodium phosphate (chlorine) as a sanitizer. Most wineries and cork producers have moved on from chlorine to other forms of sanitizers. We stopped using chlorine-based cleaners years ago, and keep our cellar relatively dry to avoid having too much moisture creating mold in our cellar.
Back in Brooklyn, we had plenty of other bottles to open, so we did, and we moved on, but it kept bugging me, and we had a fair bit of conversation about the corked bottle. I remembered reading something somewhere about using cling wrap to help remove the cork taint from an afflicted wine. I'd never tried it, but why not? It was the perfect opportunity, we'd be tossing the wine out otherwise. We wadded up a ball of cling wrap and tossed it into the decanter and swirled it around and let it soak for a few minutes, then fished it out. Interestingly, our anecdotal conclusion was that it did seem to have an impact on reducing the impact of the TCA in the wine. Not a major difference, but something noticeable and positive, and what harm is done? You've got a bottle that you've put aside anyway due to the TCA, you may as well play around with it. I'll add that this 'highly scientific' test was conducted while drinking a fair amount of other wines. While traveling, we try to complement all of our activities with copious amounts of wine, including our 'scientific' tests on the road!
Cork taint is a big topic in the wine biz, and I'm just keeping it light and anecdotal this evening on The Corley Blog. For the curious, you can read a little more about TCA at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cork_taint ."
I walked into Ed Beards St. Helena Insurance office in 1987, the day I turned 16. Fresh from the DMV, and with a 1979 Chevrolet Caprice Classic station wagon awaiting, I needed to sign up with Ed for my auto insurance. All went well and my adventures in driving were underway that afternoon. Ed was a friend of my dad's, and as I recall there was really no question where I would go to get insured. My dad sent me down to talk to Ed.
Twenty four years later, I still have my family car insured with Ed's office. And my house, my wife's business, and my life. I grew up with Monica, who has worked in Ed's office for as long as I can remember. That tells you something. People can make choices about where they work, and when someone works at the same place for the better part of their adult lives, it tells you a lot about the people there.
We do some custom winemaking at Monticello, and Ed would send over a few tons of Chardonnay each year that we make for him and bottle under his family's Beard Vineyard label. Ed liked a clean, crisp style of Chardonnay and his vineyard suits that style. The wines were fermented in stainless steel, and aged in neutral barrels. Ed would call to check in on the wines from time to time. His deep, somber voice on the phone was always comforting. "Chris, it's Ed Beard ..." he would say, and I can hear him saying it now as I write this. It was always a pleasure to talk with him. Always even, consistent, ever present. I miss talking to Ed on the phone. I wish I would have saved one of his voice messages.
Ed Beard was a kind man that touched many lives. The world is a better place for having Ed in it. I'm a better person for having known him, and I'll miss him. Rest In Peace Ed.
Posted By : Chris Corley
A wonderful aspect of wine is its seemingly endless variety. Wine is produced in all the major regions of the world, many of which produce wines with distinctive characteristics that over time can be consistently aligned with that areas. In general, when we talk about ˜wine', we're really talking about wine made from grapes, but there are lots of wines made from other fruits as well. I've been consulting the past year on a potential project that would produce pomegranate wine.
My wife and I are having an early celebration of our 10th anniversary, which is next month. We're spending a week in Jamaica, and as can be expected are enjoying all of the wonderful bounties of the island ¦ rum, snapper, conch, jerk chicken and herbs, rum.
Interestingly, when we visited a little shop in Negril to pick up a few things, I noticed about 4-5 different Jamaican wines available on the shelf. All of them were very inexpensive, a couple of bucks a bottle, and the fruit they were made from was not identified. Sugar Dandy, our sometimes ride, said that he had homemade a batch of wine from sea grapes that worked out alright for him. I don't know if these wines were made from sea grapes or not, but they definitely had some added flavors mixed in.
Admittedly, I didn't go to too much trouble to seek out any particular wines or even do much homework on them ¦ I'm on vacation and the Red Stripe and Rum Punch has been sufficing my needs for libation. It was fun to grab a few small bottles of what seemed to be the most popular brands in the store to get a sense of the local taste. I'm a winemaker, not a critic, so out of respect for my fellow craftsmen, I will stick to describing the wines and withhold judgment when writing on our family blog.
All of the wines were sweet and had very basic fruit flavors like cherry, strawberry and cola. The ‘Red Label’ wine was the sweetest and fruitiest, very viscous and almost syrupy in texture. The ‘Mandingo’ was listed as roots tonic wine, and it had a gingery kind of floral aroma and a sweet-tart bite. The “Old Pirate” was candied fruit on the nose and real easy-going on the palate, not supersweet nor acidic. The sweetness in these wines is almost port-like, it seems as though the local taste is for very sweet wines, with strong berry flavors. No right or wrong tastes, just fun for us to get a taste of the local flavors!
Posted By : Chris Corley
I'm in Southern California for a few days to pour our wines at the two Family Winemakers of California (FWC) tastings in Del Mar and Pasadena. In addition to showing our support for FWC, which is a valuable industry resource that works on behalf of family-owned wineries across California, these tastings give the members a forum for presenting our wines to existing and potential new accounts.
A wines journey from the winery to the dining table is largely based on relationships. There are lots of nice wines being produced all over the world, and lots of them are being sold for fair prices. With wine, its not just as easy as making a good product and selling it for a fair price. Those are only the first steps. Maintaining healthy relationships at every step of the process, both internally and externally, is critical to our winery's success and longevity.
Our previous broker in the Los Angeles area retired this past year after many years of representing our wines. We wish her well and hope that she can enjoy a well deserved spell of rest and relaxation. I met with our new broker at Palate Food and Wine Bar in Pasadena last night. I'm very excited by their energy and commitment to representing wines that they feel strongly about. We had a wonderful meal, one of the best I've had recently, and the enthusiasm at the table was infectious. Chef Octavio visited us at the table and sent out some fantastic off-the-menu treats from the kitchen. I was impressed with fluidity and balance of his dishes. Balance and seamless transitions is something we strive for in our wines, and last nights meals was one of the best examples of accomplishing this with food that I've experienced lately.
As a family, we've spent the better part of the last 40 years giving everything we've got to make Monticello Vineyards be the best it can be. We've had ups and downs, but we have always maintained good internal relationships within our company and external relationships with other companies and individuals. This is why we have such a large percentage of staff that have been with us for 20-30 years, and why we tend to think for the long term and maintain long-lasting relationships with our vendors and brokers and all the other people who are critical to getting our Monticello wines from the winery to the dining table. I think this is also why our fans of the winery are so loyal. Its not just about the wine, its about the relationship, too.
Posted By : Chris Corley
These last few days have been busy and also a lot of fun. Monticello participated in four appellation tastings and a trade-only tasting hosted by the Napa Valley Vintners, Premiere Napa Valley (PNV), at the Culinary Institute - Greystone, in St. Helena.
We have five vineyards spanning the valley floor that we either farm ourselves or are in control of -
Monticello Home Ranch Vineyard in Oak Knoll District (Big Ranch Road)
Knollwood Vineyard - Oak Knoll District (Big Ranch Road)
State Lane Vineyard - Yountville (State Lane)
Tietjen Vineyard - Rutherford (Niebaum Lane)
Yewell Vineyard - St. Helena (Ehlers Lane)
This year, our unique auction offering was monikered 'The Five Boroughs of Monticello', and is a Cabernet Sauvignon based blend incoprorating all five vineyard sites. The wine is rich in texture with dark fruits, smoky oak accents and a long finish. I'm really happy with this blend.
The Premiere Napa Valley event is always a pleasure to attend, and it gives us a chance to visit with all the incoming trade (distributors, restarateurs, retailers) that are in Napa for the week. Its a great opportunity for us to introduce our wines to new trade and also to visit with friends and existing reps. The resulting auction also raises a lot of money for the Napa Valley Vintners (NVV), an organization that our family has dedicated a lot of effort to support. Our father, Jay Corley, is a past President of the NVV. Stephen Corley is currently in his second year as Vice-President, and Kevin Corley has spearheaded the volunteering of time and leadership of the Beverage Committee at Auction Napa Valley for the last couple of years.
Most of the winewriters and bloggers are in attendance for the Premiere event and the appellation tastings preceding it. Over the last few days, I've spent roughly 12 hours standing on the other side of the table pouring our Monticello wines for various tradespeople and winewriters. This year I was struck by the differences in approach of different writers and tasters. At PNV, there are 200 wines that are being poured. I know of only one writer that commits himself and maintains the discipline to go through all 200 wines and keep organized notes of each wine. From my side of the table, Alder Yarrow, of Vinography (www.vinography.com), with his tasting notes going directly into his iPad, clearly is the writer that walks away with the most comprehensive view of this tasting. My apologies to any other writers that are attempting to put together comprehensive reviews of these tastings, but from my side of the table, Alder seems to me be in a league of his own in his approach to tasting at these types of large scale events.
The bidders are typically pretty organized in their approach, as they are determining what lots they are going to invest their auction budget into. These bids are based on wine quality, but also a large part based on brand. As with most auctions, you pretty much know which ones are going to be the big bids going into the day. While our 5 case donation does not generate the stratospheric prices of some of these top lots, we're very proud of the time and energy that we've put into the NVV, related organizations and our community over the last 40 years.
A lot of the money raised by the Napa Vintners goes to a lot of great causes around Napa that eventually helps lots of people in our community. From our side of the table, we are proud to be a part of a community that cares for and puts so much energy into the others that need help in the community.
This past week I had a chance to visit the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida. This was a highlight of our family trip back to Florida to spend Thanksgiving with family. My 6 year old son and 5 year old daughter were enthralled with the 3D Imax movie of the International Space Station, the simulation of the launch in the control room, and the opportunity to walk underneath the massive Saturn V rocket mounted overhead. The experience was a lot of fun for all of us, and educational as well. After spending the day at the Space Center, the kids had been introduced to a whole new world in a very meaningful way, and my wife and I had a deeper understanding and appreciation for what theses brave and creative men and women did back in these early days of the US space program.
APOLLO 11 COMMAND MODULE USED TO LAUNCH ARMSTRONG, COLLINS, AND ALDRIN TO THE MOON IN THE SUMMER OF 1969.
Most all of us are familiar with the widespread images of the first lunar landing of Apollo 11 and the famous words of Neil Armstrong upon placing mans first foot on the moon. What I have a much better appreciation for now is the unbelievable efforts of all the men and women that led up to that historic moment. There were many flights to test systems and equipment, some more successful than others, some resulting in fatality.
My immediate reaction to seeing the actual capsules and the massive Saturn V rocket (longer than a football field) used to launch them into orbit was that these guys were absolutely out of their minds to strap themselves into these things and blast themselves out of our atmosphere. I still think they were out of their minds. But they were also courageous and honorable men and women, striving to learn more about a new frontier. What a fantastic opportunity and honor for a talented and curious pilot to be accepted into the space exploration program. And it is not just a self-serving motivation of adventure. These brave men and women paved the way for the future International Space Station and Space Shuttle missions that advance science by means of the experiments that can be conducted out of our atmosphere.
In July of 1969, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin were shot into space on the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. It must have been an extraordinary event to observe and follow at the time. My dad, Jay Corley, was 38 at the time, a year younger than I am now. What a thrill for him to follow this adventure. These brave men representing a curious mankind leaving their home planet to travel to the moon. They were to investigate the surface of the new region and collect soil and rock samples for further study.
That same summer of 1969, Jay Corley was readying for a launch of his own. Driven by a similar curiosity, he was preparing to launch from his home to the north. He also intended to investigate the surface of a re-emerging region called Napa Valley and to collect rock and soil samples for further study. As did Apollo 11, my dad had a safe mission, was encouraged by the results of his rock and soil samples and planted his flag in the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley. My brothers and I are proud to carry on his tradition and fly the flag that he planted on our property over 40 years ago. The result of those early missions and subsequent efforts is Monticello Vineyards.
REPRESENTATION OF THE GERMAN-BUILT COMMAND MODULE USED TO TRANSPORT JAY CORLEY TO NAPA VALLEY IN THE SUMMER OF 1969. TESTING ON TRACK PRIOR TO LAUNCH.
In the same way that the early astronauts, engineeers and technicians paved the way for future generations to appreciate and strive to learn, so has my dad and all the other vintners that were planting vines in Napa Valley 40-50 years ago. As young vintners, we owe a lot to this previous generation, and I try to say thank you at every opportunity. When you're a kid, you believe that your dad is a superhero, he may as well wear a cape. I've got my own kids now and would be humbled and honored if they felt the same way ... but I still kind of feel that way about my dad, especially when I indulge myself with the time to reflect on his accomplishments. I hope that my generation can contribute as much to the generational dialogue as those before us. They were pioneers in their own right."
Posted By : Chris Corley
In a previous post a few months ago, I wrote about the intentional shearing of my longbeard and how the timing of the annual shearing of the harvest beard is a lagging indicator of the how the growing season is developing. Yesterday, I made a rookie accident that resulted in a facial follicle tragedy, but also has a correlation to winemaking. Somehow, in the 20 years I've had a beard on my face, through many nights of travel and mornings of self-induced grogginess, I've managed to avoid this peril. The clippers were carefully set to 5, but the guard was not in place, resulting in a runway across my cheek that the Space Shuttle could land on upon its return to our atmosphere.
I was temporarily blinded by the bright virgin cheekskin that had not seen the light of day since 1991. Once I regained my vision and senses, it was clear that there were not many options. I had to go barecheeks for the first time in 20 years. Sideburns and Goatee, Moustache, or a complete face-razing. A moustache seemed completely out of the question considering I don't have a pair of reflective CHP sunglasses to go along with one. A face-razing was too much to consider under the circumstances. Sideburns and Goatee.
These kinds of things happen in winemaking as well. In spite of all the careful planning, written and signed work orders, data entry and double checking - every now and then shit happens. 10 barrels, instead of 9, get pumped into a blend. Maybe the correct lot was pumped into the blend but the wrong barrel was pumped, resulting in a different new oak composition than intended. Fortunately, I have a long time crew that really cares about the wines that we , as a team, are making. In those unfortunate and uncommon situations, they react the same way that I did when I sheared a runway across my face. They stop what they're doing, assess the situation, and then we can move forward with the best option given the circumstances.
Fortunately these types of situations are as infrequent in the cellar as they are in my home barbershop. If you ever see a new brand on the market called 'Goatee', maybe the loyal readers of our blog will know the story behind the blend ..."