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Hope for the future of wine and food

From my view on the Advisory Board of the Sonoma Valley High School Agri-Tech Academy, I get a first-row seat to watch some of our best and brightest explore their love of farming and plan for their (and our) wine and food futures. Pictures are worth a thousand words,...

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Sonoma Harvest 2018 – Part 2 “The Day”

Sonoma Harvest, Part 1, "The Night" featured some harvests at night. As the sun rose and fruit was loaded onto the trucks, here are some daytime images of a few of our client's harvests. And check out the winery videos and fermentation chemistry at the end. In all of...

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Sonoma Harvest 2018 – Part 1 “The Night”

Here is your Sunday Morning just before brunch wine podcast. While you were sleeping, Sonoma Valley was hard at work harvesting wine grapes at night. You might ask, "hey Ken, what's it like to prepare for a night harvest?" I'll tell you...Are the grapes ready?, where...

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Dysfunctional Family Winery grand debut…

On a gorgeous Sonoma evening, Dysfunctional Family Winery made its official and exceptionally grand public debut. The town mayor sang the star bangled banner (no, she did not). The Wine Spectator immediately awarded 100-points and declared it the 'wine of the century'...

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Vacation rentals are a fixture of wine country

Focusing on vacation rentals is a bit afield from our usual topic - Sonoma grapes and wine. It's all well and good to grow great grapes, make delicious wine, and build beautiful wineries. But we'd better have customers to enjoy it all. Many growers and winemakers rely...

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New York wine client “Sovare” visits Sonoma…

Hydeout Sonoma has many wonderful clients. Our New York-based clients, owners of the Sovare label, came into town to taste their 2017 vintage. Sovare is an estate hillside vineyard near Sonoma Mountain comprising equal percentages of Cabernet, Sangiovese, and...

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Farming Sonoma vineyards organically

  Farming Sonoma vineyards organically is expensive and time consuming. And it makes the wine more expensive too. Why? One of the biggest risks to vineyards around the globe is mold and mildew. Mildew spores over-winter in dormant cane buds and under bark. For...

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Fun with Wine Science…

You love wine. But maybe you never gave much thought to the science of wine? Here is a post that reveals some science behind wine... The preeminent magazine for wine professionals is Wine Business Monthly, headquartered in Sonoma. Last week, I attended their...

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Sonoma “Bee Hive Dive” at Nick’s Ranch

My motorcycle buddy and all-around renaissance man, Nicholas Freedman, hosted a very special lunch and 'bee hive dive' at his east-Petaluma ranch, benefiting the Sonoma Academy. Many bee experts, aficionados, interested parties, and Sonoma Academy supporters enjoyed a...

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A winery on the Equator? Yes! (and a coffee plantation too)

On our motorcycle tour through the central Andes of Columbia, we discovered this winery, the Marques de Villa De Leyva... This is the road with a first glimpse of grapevines as we approached the ranch. Could be anywhere in wine country, right? And yet here we are on...

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Sonoma International Film Festival

Join me for a quick visit to the Sonoma International Film (and food and wine) Festival, as seen through the eyes of Hydeout Sonoma: Our houseguests during the festival were the director and stars of the documentary film, Grand Cru. Focussed on the trials and...

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Meet the winners…

Meet the winners of the Hydeout Sonoma blogpost contest. These 3 eagle-eyed readers spotted my-newt joke in the previous blog post.... For their efforts, they each received a bottle of 2016 "Dysfunctional Family" wine ( a new 'second label' project we introduced this...

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Wine Industry Convention

The Grape and Wine Symposium, in Sacramento every January, is THE largest grape and wine industry convention in North America. Here is a quick 'beginner's tour' for those who are unfamiliar with our industry -  Quick questions -  Reader poll - please let me know what...

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Sonoma Firestorm, Part 3, Hiking Arrowhead Mountain

In my final post on the 2017 Sonoma Firestorm, (Part 3) come along as we hike through Arrowhead Mountain, the southernmost flank of the Mayacamas Mountains that splits Napa and Sonoma Counties. The hike started at the base of Arrowhead mountain and climbed up to...

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Hydeout clients release their first estate wine this week…

Congratulations to these three Hydeout Consulting clients – each of whom released their innaugural vintage this week. Each has a unique story to tell…

SOVARE 2016 Sonoma Valley red blend – This client spared no expense in the farming and winemaking to produce a unique ultra-premium inky red. It is a field blend of equal parts Sangiovese, Zinfandel, and Cabernet Sauvignon from their rugged hillside vineyard on the flanks of Sonoma Mountain, just south of Kenwood. Aged in 50% new French oak and 50% one-year old American oak, it is a deep, dark, and spicy wine with evident body, offers superb balance between tannins and acidity, and will age to perfection over time. The name ‘Sovare’ deconstructed means ‘Sonoma Valley Red.’ This wine will be available only in the Bay Area and New York.

Little Gidding 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon – 100% estate Cabernet, an incredible hillside vineyard also flanking Sonoma Mountain, just 2 very special acres wrapping around a steep hillside with exposures to the east, south, and west, the wine was aged in 100% new French oak, and is a direct hit for what Sonoma Cabernet can be – austere, bright, cherry red, with smooth

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Six days of fire in Sonoma

Six days of fire in Sonoma…

Everyone in Sonoma has a story to tell about their experience with the 2017 firestorm. Here is ours…

Monday, October 8th, around 1:30am, friends visiting from Indiana were staying in another room when they awoke to see fire out of their guest room window. They ran over to our bedroom window and pounded furiously. In a matter of minutes, we were all up, dressed, and formulating plans. This was the view from our backyard in the very first minutes of the firestorm:

We should have been evacuated, but the systems for determining evacuation were not in place for a couple more days…

As the sun rose that morning, we found ourselves in a total news blackout. The fires had just started all over the Sonoma and Napa wine country. The fire was so fast and hot, there wasn’t really any time for first responders to address it. By the time a command-and-control center was in place, the first responders concerned themselves primarily with life safety, mostly in Santa Rosa. So for the first 48 hours of the fire, we never heard a siren, or saw a fireman or a firetruck. We rushed to fill …

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Sonoma grape harvest 2017, a brief video and pictorial essay…

The Sonoma grape harvest of 2017 is almost over.

Here is video and imagery from the field and at the winery…

First, the videos:

Video: Fruit being loaded into half ton bin

Video: Time lapse of removing stems on the sorting table

And the still images:

Syrah ready to be picked…

Harvest crew (yellow) works a line of Merlot while foreman (orange supervises) and the bobcat with a half ton bin follows:

Closeup view of a hillside block of Cabernet…

The last of the rows of this block almost picked…

The crew departs this hillside block with 3/4 ton picked…

The 40 pound picking lugs get cleaned…

The Mustang loads bins onto the pickup truck, bins go on the trailer next…

Closeup view of Hydeout fruit…

An example of a Cal State ‘Weighmaster Certificate’ issued to me when this small lot of Cabernet arrived at it’s destination, the custom crush winery, Deerfield Ranch…

 …

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Sonoma Ag Boosters party at the Hydeout

The Sonoma Valley Ag Boosters, supporters of the Sonoma Valley High School "Future Farmers of America" and the "Sustainable Agriculture Academy", held their annual fundraising gala last night at the Hydeout in Sonoma...       A huge crowd of students, teachers, staff,...

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Nighttime grape harvest in Sonoma

A pictorial essay of Hydeout Consulting's first nighttime harvest for 2017 Below is a pictorial essay following a nighttime harvest of Pinot Noir from our arrival on-site at the vineyard through to delivery at the winery. Hydeout Consulting directed the management of...

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Countdown begins for harvest 2017 in Sonoma

In Sonoma, the harvest is already well underway for sparkling wines and some Pinots. But for the deeper darker reds, we are just starting to do field sampling of berries. And beginning to forecast the harvest schedule. This is vital because every winery has a...

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1st annual wine and music party Hydeout Sonoma 2017

Normally we concern ourselves here with serious topics about growing grapes, making wine, building brands, and occasionally irreverent chatter about the mathematically proven variability of scores, points, and contests. And occasionally we make light-hearted fun of...

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Managing vineyard irrigation with high technology

Vineyard irrigation systems, even in small vineyards, are either under-featured or overly complex, and most controllers are prone to problems. In the vineyard, risers get run over by tractors, drip hoses get chewed by coyotes, and drip emitters suddenly crack, plug,...

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It takes a lot of beer to make wine!

It's an old adage in the wine profession, often said with a knowing laugh, that "it takes a lot of beer to make wine." Why? Because working out in the vineyards in the heat of the day is a really sweaty proposition. And equally, standing on your feet all day and night...

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What are they growing in that vineyard over there?

Standing out in the middle of a vineyard in Bennett Valley yesterday, it struck me how many times I have been asked, "hey Ken, what are they growing in that vineyard over there?" I almost always have to give the same answer - "almost impossible to say." This is...

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Sonoma mobile bottling line in time-lapse video

I have some of my client's wine made at the Deerfield custom crush facility in Kenwood. I stopped by the other day to check on some barrels of 2016 Cab and Syrah. They had a mobile bottling line running under the tent at the crush pad. After watching this video, we...

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Sonoma hits record high temps

Roaring hot in Sonoma this week... Anecdotal information is always susceptible to mental inflation, especially when it comes to weather. Fact-based meteorology is more reliable. But still, it sure felt like this was the hottest temperature any of us could recall in...

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Sonoma vineyards in June after record winter rain 2017

After three consecutive years of record drought, record rains in NorCal in the winter of 2016/2017 have left excess moisture in the ground and created enormous canopies in the vineyard. Extra time and labor, and therefore money, is being expended to keep the vineyard...

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Hail storm in the vineyard in June in Sonoma

The weather on Sunday got a little crazy in Sonoma as a rain and hail storm raced across from Bennett Valley and Kenwood in Sonoma to St Helena in the Napa Valley. Even during the last three very bad drought years, we almost always get a brief spite of rain around...

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Welcome to the Hydeout Sonoma vineyard and wine blog

For 20 years, I have been growing grapes, making wine, launching my client’s wine brands, and hopefully entertaining people with candid anecdotes from the wine industry. In this weekly blog, expect to see reports from field, crush pad video, commentary on misconceptions, and eventually (when I get brave enough to stick my neck out!) leaning towards politically incorrect material about the wine business. I hope to post once per week, typically on Sunday mornings. Comments always welcome. Outrageous entertaining replies encouraged.

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