Dear Club Members and Friends,

Well, here we are in April and the season feels like it is already warming up. Following a very mild and dry winter the recent rains of the last couple of months have been a welcome relief to the drought stricken region. Although the rainfall is not sufficient to completely ease the drought it has been well timed for the vineyard as we are into bud break and there had been quite some concern about root growth in what was nearly bone-dry soils before the rain started.

Features of the current season include planting a couple of acres of Pinot Noir at the Trinity Ranch property. Our trial rows appear to be performing well and so we have further invested in the variety. At this time our Pinot is the only wine we purchase fruit for. Despite having our own fruit available in 2017 we may well continue with the existing Pinot as well, because it is so good! As it happens we have just released our 2012 Pinot and it differs from the previous two vintages as we now get our fruit from a highly coveted vineyard in the Russian River rather than the previous fruit that was from Carneros/Sonoma Coast. The 2012 is altogether more elegant and tightly wound than the 2011, greater structure and, dare I say it, more Burgundy like.

News Max and BeesAnother seasonal note is the heightened activity of the bee colonies. One morning we arrived to work with the news that Maximiliano had found a new colony up a lemon tree on the property. This is the third year we have had bees and the honey is outstanding. Aside from being another delicious item produced at the vineyard the bees are important to the entire ecology of the region and we are happy to be doing our bit to help promote the bees as they have been struggling in recent times to keep their populations up. It is just another piece in the puzzle of an environmentally conscious organic farm.

Part of the expansion on the property is to enhance the visitor experience and to that end, as well as to run the hospitality provided in our wonderful venue, we are pleased to bring on board Anthony DiCarlo.  Anthony brings a wealth of experience and great deal of positive energy to the team.  In his role as Estate Director he is responsible for the overall leadership of all Hospitality and Estate Consumer Sales, Wine Club, and all Sales Channels. Anthony has enjoyed the opportunity to positively influence the experiences of many visitors to the Bay Area at some of the most remarkable and diverse wineries and enjoys meeting club members! Our goal, with Anthony, is to create Sonoma’s new winery experience in keeping with traditional Tuscan influences and an innovative take on hospitality.

Until the next newsletter…..

Ciao!

Martin Mackenzie
Winemaker

P.S. Please remember to join us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/PetroniVineyards

Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

February 2014 Newsletter

Dear Club Members and Friends,

Welcome and Happy New Year to all!  This is my first newsletter in a while and there is a great deal to write about, so lets get started. . . . .

In my last newsletter I lamented the mixed blessing of selling our entire 2012 vintage of Sauvignon Blanc to the first class cabins of British Airways. Happily our 2013 SB is to be bottled in later this month and will be available shortly after depending on how it rebounds from the shock of being bottled. It is another stunner, passion fruit, citrus and floral aromas with a juicy palate and a minerally, long and clean finish. This wine has developed quite a following and is one of our most popular wines. You can expect to see it in your next shipment, with great relief to some.

This year we are focused on providing more experiences to our wine club members; including more winemaker dinners and reaching out to our customers outside of California when sales trips take us there. First up is Texas from March 15 through 20th. Cities on the radar include San Antonio, Dallas and possibly either Austin or Houston. Wine club members in the region will be emailed regarding specific events they may wish to attend.

Another way we are working on making our Wine Club more exciting is by producing a few Limited Release wines. These are chosen by me and are small batch wines which are single varietal and represent a particular block in the vineyard, or a specific style that sets them apart from the rest. They are way too interesting and focused for blending, and they are attractively priced. A 2012 Cabernet Franc, which we have not previously ever released as a straight varietal, will be the first available. It is typically aromatic, solid and supple; already approachable and a delicious stand alone varietal. These wines are only available to the wine club, visitors to the Tasting Room and some selected restaurants. Typically only 100 cases will be produced of each.

Later in the year we will also release a much anticipated “Reserve” wine, super Tuscan in inspiration. It is a deep and rich wine with enough fruit intensity to accommodate 100% new oak which is not typically our style, but is well warranted in the case of this wine. One obstacle in releasing it is the difficulty we are having in agreeing on a suitable name for what will become our flagship wine. We need your suggestions for a great name – please send them in! We will send 3 bottles of this gem (we made only 100 cases) to the person who comes up with the winning name for this beauty. Help us out and win!

And finally we would like to give notice that from 2012 all Petroni Vineyards estate wines are labeled from the newly designated Moon Mountain District. This replaces Sonoma Valley, which while a fine AVA, it did not represent the unique location in the mountains that we share with a number of famous and historically notable vineyards.

Ciao!

Martin Mackenzie
Winemaker

P.S. Please remember to join us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/PetroniVineyards

Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

July 2013 Newsletter

Dear Club Members and Friends,
 
Welcome to the monthly newsletter…that has not been so monthly recently, but that is because we have been so very busy up here at Petroni Vineyards. Since the last newsletter we have produced our first honey, been to China, won Best Red with the 2008 Cabernet and bottled the last of the 2011 red vintage as well as the 2012 whites. Additionally, the cave continues to make progress and we are on the verge of opening a new downtown Sonoma Tasting Room. Little wonder this is the first newsletter I have produced in several months!
 
It is always satisfying when a vintage has been bottled and put away once and for all from the cellar. The 2012 whites are great. It was an outstanding vintage and the two whites both show great depth of flavor, richness and a wonderful balance of natural acidity. They are also both our first vintage of certified organic grapes (which was quite a process to go through just to have the statement in small print at the end of the back label). Just to be clear, we do not grow organically to be able to make the claim, but because we believe that healthy grapes make better wine.
 
Max spun our first batch of honey from the bee  hive frames last week. At this time of year the honey has been produced from a plethora of spring flowers and the resulting honey is creamy and delicately flavored. The late season honey (which we only got a couple of cups worth last year) was much heavier and stronger. The honey is available at the winery.
 
Amongst all the barrel work bottling I was lucky enough to travel to Beijing with Keith, our International Sales representative. Interestingly it is common there to have your wine not sold in stores, but to be sold to leading business figures who then pass the wine on purely as gifts. In line with this it was interesting to see that the gift boxes the wine is packaged in is almost as big a business and as diverse as the wines themselves. I love Asia. Beijing struck me quite differently however as it was very clean aside from the smog, not terribly crowded and quite sophisticated.
 
Last weekend we poured at the annual Golden Glass competition, which is coupled to a Slow Food event, held in San Francisco. In keeping with our successes there our 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon won the Golden Glass for Best Red Wine. Unfortunately we have less than 100 cases left so if you have not tried it as yet, or you would like some more I suggest you order soon before the remaining stock is moved into the Library reserve.
 
And finally we have the new Tasting Room location opening on Broadway just off the Sonoma Plaza. This will offer the opportunity of trying some Petroni wines without having to make the trip up Cavedale Rd. That said I am sure once people have tried our wine there and spoken to our wonderful staff they won’t be able to resist further exploring our beautiful vineyard.
 
 
Ciao!
 
Martin Mackenzie
Winemaker

Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

May 2013 Newsletter

Dear Club Members and Friends,

Welcome to the May installment of our newsletter. After an unseasonably warm and dry early spring we have been lucky enough to receive a brief but heavy rainfall that was a timely reminder that it is not yet summer. The warm weather has certainly promoted growth in the vines. We already have Sangiovese in full flower and several other varieties on the verge of flowering.

This bodes well for an early harvest, or at the least not a late one. The cool, damp pattern we are currently experiencing may have some effect on flowering and hence fruit set that may be of a concern to some growers. For us there is no real concern as the Sangiovese performs better with a slightly shattered set. It regularly “crops” on the heavy side and we then need to go through several times “dropping shoulders and bunches” to achieve balance in the vine. A naturally poor set means that each bunch will have fewer berries and be more loose and airy. This means a more even ripeness and less work thinning the bunches later as well as reduced disease pressure. 

At the end of the month we will be bottling the 2012 Sauvignon Blanc and the 2011 Rosso di Sonoma. It is always exciting to see the SB go to tank as each barrel is subtly different. We have three quite different batches being blended together and aside from some trials, it is the first time to see the wine as a whole. It is a beauty. It has a serious structure for that variety, intense fruit, densely packed with flavor and a very long finish of lemon and limes with the characteristic hints of herb. Delicious! It will be released later in summer when the 2011 runs out. I can wait, I love the 2011 equally and it has been received overwhelmingly well by the trade and public alike. We finish the SB ferment in barrel so these wines appeal to Chardonnay drinkers (who might not like SB as much) along with die-hard SB fans.

The beginning of May marked my second trip to Dallas for the year. The prior trip in January saw us tour many of the leading restaurants there that now list our wines. This trip took in more of the retail outlets as well as some wine events in restaurants we visited previously. One was a fantastic wine and cheese pairing event at Scardello’s Artisan Cheese. This was a revelation to me and I was super impressed with the pairings Rich put together and the variety of nuances he was able to draw from the wines depending on the cheese. One of my favorites was the salty Gouda paired with the slight sweetness of the 2011 Rosato. Another fun event was pouring wines at Vino Volo in Terminal A of the Dallas Fort Worth Airport. They have a chain of wine bars located in airports around the country serving an eclectic mix of fine wines and small plates to accompany them. It’s fantastic how much the quality of food and beverage available in airports has improved over the last few years. 

 Caio,

Martin Mackenzie
Winemaker

P.S. Please remember to join us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/PetroniVineyards

Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

March 2013 Newsletter

Dear Club members and Friends,

Welcome to the March newsletter. As I write this from inside our chilly cellar the sun is beaming outside and I can feel summer poking its head around the corner. Before that happens I will be on a trade trip to Texas. Part of the itinerary involves the Sonoma in the City event in Dallas on March 19th at the Rosewood mansion and I would love to meet any of our wine club members who might be attending the event. Aside from that, I will be touring the area with our awesome Texas distributors, Serendipity Wines, for the week.

We are well placed for the coming season. The pruning is complete and we do not have any significant planting to do this year. One job we have going is a fine-tuning of the trellis system in an area of Cabernet Sauvignon. It will benefit from a divided and more meticulous canopy. That is to say the shoots will be placed more carefully to maximize light interception by the leaves. The little tweaks we make here and there make the difference between good and great wines. Having vineyards that are all Estate owned and managed allows us to get exactly the results we desire. 

This is one of my favorite times of year; when the vines are dormant, the wines for the most part are resting and there is a calm feeling around the place while we await budburst (when the vines signal that it is time for us to get going again.) In the meantime we are preparing the 2011 vintage reds and 2012 whites for bottling in May and June. This is a fun time when the blends are finalized and we are able to enjoy the finished products directly from the tank for a couple weeks before they are consigned to bottles and dispatched around the country. It’s a little like sending your kids off to college, it’s a job well done but you will kind of miss having them around.

As I mentioned in the last newsletter, we have bottled the 2012 Rosato and 2011 Pinot Noir. Wine is a funny thing and you never know quite how it will react to bottling. The 2010 Pinot was not happy about being bottled and it took six months to recover from this bottle shock. Conversely the 2011 went to bottle well and, rather unusually, I like it better straight after bottling than at anytime before. The 2011Pinot Noir is fragrant with red berry fruit, strawberry and vanilla, the palate smooth and seamless and has a nice core of fine tannin beneath the fluid fruit. I prefer it to the very popular 2010 already!

The 2012 Rosato will be released sometime this summer and nothing looks as dramatically beautiful as the vivid deep pink of our Rosato with the turquoise blue swimming pool set behind it. Add some prosciutto, bread and Petroni Olive Oil and you arer set for an awesome day at Petroni Vineyards Tasting Room!

Ciao,

Martin Mackenzie
Winemaker

P.S. Please remember to join us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/PetroniVineyards

Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

December 2012 Newsletter

Hello Wine Club members and friends.

Welcome to the December newsletter – the last of 2012. What an exciting and eventful year we have had. The cave has progressed towards its expected completion next summer, we have milled the second vintage of olives with a record crop of 30 tons, and of course, we have had an outstanding vintage for the wine

Although last year was our inaugural press of the olives it lasted only a day due to an appalling fruit set (partially due to their tendency towards being biennial but also largely due to the cold wet and windy weather we experienced in 2011). It seemed like we hardly had time to start the olive press and get it tuned before we ran out of olives. It took only a couple hours to process the one and half ton that year. This year it took two weeks, processing three to five tons per day. Iit is fair to say we have fully come to terms with our new machinery. New olive oil is quite a treat with its green hue and generous aromas and this is what we smell each day when we work in the olive press room.

The wines also continue to contribute to the aroma on the estate. They are midway through malo-lactic fermentation, also known as secondary fermentation. This is the fermentation of malic acid by bacteria that convert it to the softer lactic acid. As the wines complete this final stage, each batch is ‘racked’ from the barrel to a tank and later returned after the solids that had fallen to the bottom of the barrels have been washed out with a hot pressure washing system. Once all the wines have finished this process I may even feel comfortable enough to take a well-earned break!

Another who deserves a break is Samuel, our tireless vineyard manager. Hard on the heels of harvest he has torn out an acre or two of the vineyard to make way for some improved plantings. He’s just finished the long and exhausting harvesting and pressing of the Olives. Now he has his sites set on planting, which will be followed by pruning our 30 acres of vines. On a diverse organically run property like this there is no end to the projects and we are all kept very busy all year.

With Christmas fast coming upon us we find ourselves considering our menu for the big day and, of course, wines to pair with each meal. My little family is as yet undecided. Perhaps have a go at an old classic, Duck l’orange, which I would rather decadently simultaneously have a glass each of the Pinot and the Chardonnay. But it is always hard to resist the Poggio alla Pietra, our signature wine produced from the Sangiovese perched on the terraced hillsides. It is perfectly acceptable to choose a meal to match with a wine rather than the other way around and for this my mother in laws whole fillet coated in fried peppercorns might well be the option.

A  final note, those of you who are considering getting some of our Pinot, our 2010 has Sold Out. (We have just enough for next Wine Club shipments.) The following vintage is not expected to be released until the middle of next year.

Merry Christmas!

Martin Mackenzie
Winemaker

P.S. Please remember to join us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/PetroniVineyards

Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

November 2012 Newsletter

 Dear Club Members and Friends,

Welcome to the monthly newsletter, although this time it is bi-monthly due to harvest getting in the way of last month’s newsletter! As you can well imagine when the fruit is coming in, the ferments are raging and the vineyards requiring constant inspection it can be difficult to find the time to sit down at all, never mind write a newsletter.

All for a good cause though! Most of you have already heard through the grapevine (so to speak )that it has been a monumentally great vintage. Those who are a good deal longer in the tooth than myself describe it as the best vintage since the 70’s. Others are saying it is the best since which ever vintage they can barely recall because it was so long ago. In any case, it is definitely the best vintage I have been involved with on these shores. As well as the wines looking great across the board, all our wines from 2012 are certified organic! So when you raise your glass and toast your good health you can feel even more justified than ever.

It is tempting to say that a particular wine will be a standout, but that would not do justice to the remainder of the wines. They are all quite sensational across the board. The whites are ripe and well balanced, poised, focused and with great palate intensity. The reds are inky, incredibly rich with a focus on the fruit flavors (a notable quality of the reds). The color is such that some of the reds seem to stain the glass they are sipped from. 2012 is definitely a vintage to look forward to in the coming years.

This is not to say that our current wines are any less delicious. This month sees the beginning of some new vintages for a couple wines and of course, that means the end of some favorites too. The 2007 Cabernet has run out and the 2008 is being released as we speak. I loved the 2007 for its balance and complexity rather than sheer power like  the vintages on either side of it. It is difficult to resist the power and silky texture of the 2008. It is a return to the big heavyweight style very similar to the delicious 2006 Cabernet. For those of you who recall that vintage it was a big wine; chunky, chocolatey, rich and smooth, perfect for winter nights, hearty meals and fireplaces.

I have also heard that the 2010 Pinot and 2007 Syrah are both running low in inventory – so anyone who would like to stock up on these wines should do so now before they are gone. Recently released is the superb and very serious 2011 Sauvignon Blanc. I love this wine, which is a surprise given that I struggle to find this varietal very appealing. We are fortunate that our two sites produce remarkable fruit for this wine. It is more powerful and concentrated than the 2010, and while it is still opening up, it already has great fruit expression in a tight sinewy structure. As it fleshes out over the next few months it is sure to become another Gold Medal winner.

The holidays are upon us so I would like to wish you a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

I must get back to press!

Ciao!

Martin Mackenzie
Winemaker
 
P.S. Please remember to join us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/PetroniVineyards

Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

September 2012 Newsletter

Dear Club Members and friends,
 
This September newsletter is written with some excitement, as it is the last day before harvest begins. Of course we are utterly prepared for this, having diligently worked through our preparation protocols. The equipment has all been pulled apart and cleaned thoroughly. The power is switched on and the machinery has been given their trial runs. Nevertheless, I remain edgy for the first run regardless the level of preparedness. It is only really when the fruit is coming in that it all comes back to me and we get in the harvest groove.
 
First up is the Pinot Noir. This year we have changed vineyards to one in the Russian River Valley. The Pinot is the only fruit we purchase, hence our only non-Estate wine. While our previous Sonoma Coast Pinot has been very well received, we are excited to begin a relationship with our new supplier in this most highly esteemed region for this variety. While they remain unnamed, I can tell you that they have some beautiful vineyards in an outstanding part of the valley, and that the fruit we get from them is the same as what they use for their own highly rated Pinot’s.
 
Following that, we are carefully watching our Sauvignon Blanc as it approaches full maturity. This looks to be an extremely promising wine. I have never seen the vines look so perfect, and although the yield is no doubt lower than what we would normally like, the condition is perfect. The flavors ripe and the acid balances right on target. We tentatively plan to pick the first lot of this late next week.
 
Obviously my mind is firmly focused on making wine so I am hopelessly bereft of information for you regarding other matters pertaining to the business. I did want to let you know that we are having a Harvest Party this year – check our website for details. It sounds like the team is planning something very entertaining and of course we will be pouring some unreleased wines as well as a few older vintages. Contact the office for details on how to secure your tickets for this event as numbers for this are very limited.
 
Until then, wish us the best! 
 
Ciao,
 
Martin Mackenzie
Winemaker
 

P.S. Please remember to join us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/PetroniVineyards

Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

August 2012 Newsletter

Dear Club Members,
 
Welcome to the glorious August newsletter. It is so pleasant writing while the sun is beaming down upon us and the weather is looking stable for the foreseeable future. The wine community is fairly buzzing about the ideal conditions we have been experiencing this vintage; something of a return to “normal” after several challenging vintages in the last three years.
 
So, what exactly makes a great vintage? A mild and early start to spring is always appreciated. A warm stable spring allows the vines to start early and for the fruit set to be even and productive. A cold late spring pushes the entire season later in the year and if the vines are unable to make up for the slow start it can become a challenge to get the crop ripe before the rains come, typically in mid to late October. No such concerns this season. While being warm, we have thus far avoided any damaging heat waves. So the season can be described as early, warm and even.
 
As things stand right now we are experiencing veraison across all varieties (the French term for the changing of color in the grape skins from green to either gold or black.) Simultaneously as the shoots cease to grow the vines turn their focus to ripening the fruit and sugar accumulation in the berries. This transfer from the vegetative growing season to the ripening season can also be facilitated with a final trim of any active shoot growth, encouraging the vines to redirect their energy.
 
While restricting water during the vegetative phase is desirable to control vine and berry size and promote earlier ripening, the vines must be kept hydrated during the ripening period leading up to a week or two before harvest. Stressing the vines from here on in can only retard ripening and risk leaf degradation and berry shrivel. We are very fortunate to have productive wells with very high water quality.
 
With the vineyard being the focus of attention it is easy to forget all the other developments of the property. Today we have two new 2,200 gallon wine tanks being installed taking us up to 16 tanks of various sizes. The cave will begin its final push to completion next week as the utilities are laid in the ground. And perhaps most importantly, for me at least, all the winery equipment is pulled out of it’s off season storage and pulled apart, cleaned thoroughly, reassembled and given a good long run.
 
All in all it is a very busy and exciting time up here on the mountain. Lets touch wood and raise a glass to the outstanding potential of the 2012 vintage!
 
 
Ciao,
 
Martin Mackenzie
Winemaker
 

P.S. Please remember to join us on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/PetroniVineyards

Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

Greetings from Petroni Vineyards

Dear Club Members,

I write this month’s installment, with the chatter of bottles rumbling down the bottling line, as the 2011 Chardonnay goes to bottle. All has gone exceedingly well with the Chardonnay passing through the sterile filter smoothly, which is to say the filter is not blocking. Nothing worse than a blocked filter! You must stop bottling altogether, set up another set of filter modules and run the wine through again. Aside from the tedium, it is a necessary process to have to put the wine through. We do not fine or filter our reds and so there is no such apprehension with those.

So why do we filter whites and Rosato, but not reds? Reds ferment dry, complete the secondary fermentation of malic acid to lactic acid and because of the dark color and high tannin, generally do not have clarity issues. Our whites by contrast, do not go through malo-lactic. In the case of the Rosato, it also has a trace of residual sugar, all of which could decide to re-ferment in the bottle resulting in a visual and unpalatable disaster that would inevitably lead to the firing of a Winemaker!

The Chardonnay has been the star performer in recent times consistently hauling in the gold medals, and the equivalent to that, 90+ points, in all shows it has entered. The 2009 is amazing with a huge volume of ripe fruit on the palate matched with toasty Brioche oak which is harmoniously integrated. We are due to run out in the next month or two so those who are loving this wine should consider stocking up. The next vintage has already picked up 91 points. It is less weighty but very classy and possesses a seamless palate. The 2011 we are currently bottling has a great deal of intensity, a variety of flavors and the same weight on the palate as the 2012. I love all three, and so the only real solution to this dilemma is to keep all three vintages in your cellar.

Obviously my mind has been focused on the winery and bottling but this is also primetime in the vineyard. Walking around after work yesterday with Samuel, our awesome Vineyard Manager, I was blown away by how perfect all of the vines looked. Every facet of the viticulture program has been met on schedule and I could not ask for more from the team. The weather has been outstanding; steady warmth, not too hot nor too cold; it looks like we are in for a classic California vintage. It really feels like the perfect combination of ideal conditions may be happening for us this year, let’s knock on wood, keep our fingers crossed and continue drinking great wine to celebrate!

 A quick welcome to Sabrina who started with us a few weeks ago. She is most likely the first contact you will have when trying to reach us and is also maintaining our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/PetroniVineyards), so be a fan, “like” us and keep up with the goings on here on a more regular basis.

Ciao,

MartinMackenzie
Winemaker

Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment