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Ganau…it’s Italian for cork!

For over 20 vintages, I have been a loyal customer of Ganau America, a cork company based in Italy, with natural cork sourced from Sardinia and Portugal. Join me on a pictorial journey through their impressive Sonoma processing facility…

Ganau warehouse image

The cork arrives in bundles stacked on pallets. Each bundle contains 5,000 raw corks from Europe. The white bundles are from Sardinia, the beige bundles are from Portugal. The bundles are shipped in food-grade controlled conditions. Click here to watch a brief video of the warehouse:

Video: Ganau warehouse

Ganau lab image

From each bundle, several hundred corks are removed and sent to the Ganau internal lab for testing. The most common problem is TCA taint, a naturally occurring and rather common chemical that causes wine in bottles to become “corked.” TCA is “2,4,6-trichloroanisole,” essentially anisoles with some Chlorine molecules attached. TCA comes from microorganisms found in nature on almost all damp woody material.

Not long ago, most wineries sterilized buildings and machinery with chlorine-based compounds, unwittingly introducing TCA to entire tanks of wine. Now more is know about this process, and most wineries completely restrict potential chlorine-based sources.

“Corked” wines smell and taste of damp, soggy, wet or rotten cardboard. In small amounts,

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2019 wine grape season is (almost) a nightmare so far…

Update – May 29th, 2019 – Republishing this blog post with more current information – the rain is over, the sun has arrived, and the vineyards have dried out enough to rush labor and tractors into the vineyards. As of today, it looks like we avoided most of the shatter risk, but traded that in for the risk of mold and mildew pressure  All of our vineyards are managed organically. In the past few days we’ve sprayed a expensive “cocktail” of Serenade (Bacillus subtilis strain QST 713, a beneficial bacterium), BioLink-Fe-Mn-Zn and B (micro-nutrients Iron, Magnesium, Zinc, and Boron), BioAtlantis Super-50 (designed to reduce abiotic stress by priming the plant in advance of stress), and Sulfur (fungicide). More to follow as the season advances…

Spring 2019 organic sprays

Listen to Sonoma Radio KSVY on May 22nd – start at time mark 26.15 to 38.00 minutes:


May 19th, 2019 – I just sent this letter off to all of my vineyard and wine clients. Thought our blog readers would find it interesting:

Dear Clients –

2019 is, so far, a vintage like no other.
After the terrific harvest right before the fires of 2017, and the huge ripe crop of 2018,
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Hydeout Sonoma in documentary at Sonoma International Film Festival

Very excited to make this ‘world premier’ announcement…for almost a year, famed documentary filmmaker Joe Daniel followed over a dozen Sonoma hobby grape growers and home winemakers through the 2018 season. The resulting film “Tiny Vineyards” is premiering at the Sonoma International Film Festival on Saturday evening, March 30th at 7:30pm in Veterans Hall Theatre #I.

Tiny vineyard poster

Several Hydeout Sonoma clients, as well as our home-ranch Dysfunctional Family Red Blend project, appear in the film. I have not yet seen the film – but the process of being followed around day and night with microphones and cameras and drones was harder and more disconcerting than I ever expected.

Everyone is warmly invited to join us for the premier. And we’ll be tasting many of the local Sonoma wines featured in the film immediately after the screening, including our “Dysfunctional Family” Red Blend 2016.

Please scroll down for ticket ordering instructions. Apologies in advance – it looks like the on-line system for the premier Saturday screening might already be sold out. The festival office may re-open ticket sales, or schedule a second screening time. Please check back on-line regularly to see if tickets are available or if a second screening has been

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Celebrating 20 vintages from the Santa Cruz Mtns. to the Sonoma Valley

As I happily enter my 20th wine vintage (1999-2019), please join me for a quick look back…

What started in 1999 as a small vineyard development company (Post and Trellis Vineyards in Burlingame, Ca.) grew in 2003 to include a winery (La Honda Winery in Redwood City, Ca.), and eventually in 2006 our branded wines which were distributed throughout the Bay Area.

This was the original team. That’s me in the cowboy hat, foreman Salvador in the green T-shirt, and asst. winemaker Colin in black sweatshirt and white ball cap. Quick back story – I was looking for an assistant winemaker to help me with the growing winery workload. I passed on many candidates – until I received an email from Costa Rica, from an American dude who was on a surfing safari. Winner winner chicken dinner; Colin took the job and is still at La Honda today, now making great wines as Head Winemaker:


Here is the start to one of the earliest vineyards we developed in Woodside, San Mateo County. In those days, we marked out the vineyard old-school style – with string and stakes. And then used a bobcat to drill the holes for the end posts:

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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 the stories below, Hydeout Sonoma is responsible for all vineyard farming, winemaking, and the brand identities of these hand-made boutique wines…

Featuring an incredibly lovely and fun couple from New York, and their very authentic Italian patriarch, Pasquale, (bottom row, second from left), these clients celebrated their 3rd harvest of mountain-terraced “field blended” Cabernet, Sangiovese, and Zinfandel. This fruit was harvested in the early morning hours and rushed to the winery to be turned into a singular ‘estate’ wine. Available for sale in 2019!

client 1

Hailing from San Francisco, with children, aunts, and uncles all pitching in, this new client recently acquired their steep 100% hillside Sonoma Mountain Cabernet vineyard (which we have been farming for three years for the prior owner). As you can see from the white 1/2 ton bins, this vineyard yields spectacular dense fruit that delivers a classic Sonoma Cabernet. Inky, full of dark fruit, and soft silky

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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 is that lab report?, where are the lugs and bins?, get the tractor over here asap, tell Don Tacho to grab more diesel fuel, make sure we have the crew ready to go…oh no, the bin trailer broke down!, get the welder on the phone, and how late is Sonoma Market open for burritos? These are some of the features of getting ready for the nighttime harvest…


Do you love that cool-climate Pinot? Maybe that spicy Syrah or that dark inky GSM blend? To make these wines, the grapes must arrive at the winery very chilled. Warm grapes will begin to ferment almost immediately. Start picking at 7:00am, and the grapes will be 85 degrees by mid-afternoon. And that’s how bad flavors can arise – like vinegar (acetobacter) and nail polish (acetone). So picking at night assures the grapes will arrive at the winery in mint condition.

Many vineyards are too large to be

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