2021 Year in Review
In August, we were all very excited to welcome a new member of the Richards family into the world: Fynn Carter Richards. Jace and Cait are the proud parents, and Sheldon is the proud grandfather, of a new baby boy!
2021 also brought with it the ongoing cleanup from the Glass Fires of 2021–removal of dead and/or dying trees and reimplementation of huge sections of the electrical and communication grids–our phones were down for nearly 3 months and electricity was non-existent for weeks. Our backup systems–diesel generator, solar system, and Tesla batteries–really saved our skin.
While the cleanup continued, COVID-19 dominated the landscape for much of the year, limiting our in-person time with our customers. It did, however, give us a chance to step back and reevaluate some of our practices. From our online presence to our farming and winemaking styles, we started to look at how we might be able to make some subtle changes that could lead to better wine and a better customer experience.
This was the first year that both of Sheldon’s sons, Caston & Jace, were actively involved in the business. Both on a part-time basis and remotely, they helped Sheldon implement a new online purchasing system, improve social media, and create a better overall customer experience. Jace’s wife, Cait, also pitched in, launching the new Paloma website that she had spent the better part of 2020 building. And what an amazing job she did! We hope you all like it!
In terms of farming and winemaking, a particularly hot, dry summer and warm fall meant harvest came early. By mid-September it had begun, and everything was in less than three weeks, which is very rare for us. While the dry conditions did mean that we had to drop about 25% of our fruit late in the summer which ultimately led to a smaller harvest, processing everything by hand as we do in a short window is a lot of work! As always, we are incredibly grateful to all our volunteer harvest helpers that make the time to come down and experience harvest with us firsthand. This year was a grind and we could not have done it without you.
This vintage also came with a challenging fermentation. A relatively small amount of Merlot did not fully complete its fermentation process as it should; it got “stuck” as we say. While this is something that happens from time to time in the wine industry, it did appear to be a phenomenon that showed up more than usual across the valley this year. We wish we knew why, but it’s a bit of a mystery to us all. We like to think of this as one of the many ongoing phenomena that don’t always have answers. As much as science continues to help us understand winemaking, there are still plenty of unanswered questions. We are happy to share that we were able to restart the fermentation and allow the batch to complete its process.
All in all, this year was another tough one, but we got through it and we got to welcome some new life into the world. Big thanks to all who supported us through online ordering–you kept us afloat!