Paloma Vineyard Tag

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The Wine Spectator placed our wine in the top 100 again; the 2002 Paloma Merlot was 54th of over 12,000 wines tasted this year. Another exceptional honor! This year, the Merlot blooms suffered severe damage from “shatter”, which resulted in half the normal crop. Shatter is caused by excessive moisture during bloom; the blossom does not pollinate and the fruit does not set. It is common with Merlot, which is more susceptible to shatter than other varietals, but we had never been effected so adversely. We pulled our small block of Syrah, which produced about 150 cases of wine per year and replaced it with Cabernet Sauvignon. There were many

Our son Sheldon, who had been living in Canada for 35 years, joined our business in August, just in time for harvest. Fortunately, he was here when The Wine Spectator magazine named our 2001 Paloma Merlot their "Wine of the Year" for 2003. We were pleased with the honor, but hardly prepared for the avalanche of calls, faxes and emails requesting wine or just to be on next year's mailing list. We sold out of wine in very short order. We don't like to be out so early, but it was a "good" problem to have. Our grandson, Caston, didn't realize that when he had helped with harvest

In December, we had the most snow we have ever seen on Spring Mountain. We got six-inches in a very short time. We had several days without power and the roads down the mountain were blocked with fallen trees. Our old dog is at an age where strange lights (flashlights, lanterns, candles) drive her around the bend, so we spent several stressful evenings with her barking at anything and everything!

Our Canadian grandchildren always visit in the summer and help around the vineyard, but this year our oldest grandson, Caston, 14 years old from Calgary, Alberta, joined us for a strenuous ten days at harvest. He was a lot of help, but I think we wore him out. He must have had a magic touch; this harvest would end up being one of our most import harvests to-date.

After a year and a half of filing forms and going to hearings, we finally started construction of our own winery at the vineyard. It was barely finished by harvest, but we got to do our own crush. It was a bit chaotic, using equipment that we had never used before, while learning by trial and error. We were fortunate to have the guidance of Bob Foley, Pride Vineyards' winemaker; we are humbled at how easy he makes it seem as we bumble through. What a year to have a first crush! The grapes could not figure out the weather and we had to pick thirteen times to get

This year was the El Niño effect. We fought the weather and dropped, literally, tons of fruit until harvest so the grapes would ripen. The upside is that we hired our first full-time helper - Vidal. What a luxury to have an extra pair of hands out in the vineyard! Our first Syrah was released and did very well; we produced 150 cases and we should produce a similar amount for years to come as we have no more room to plant.

The 1994 Paloma Merlot, our first wine, was released – all 575 cases of it. The wine is a blend of 88% percent estate grown Merlot and 12% estate grown Cabernet Sauvignon. It was a hit with the wine critics and, more importantly, with the public. After three years of making non-commercial Syrah for ourselves, we made our first resale vintage.

In March, we moved into our home and acquired a new friend, Aussie, the vineyard dog. She is an Australian Terrier who loves to hunt; this trait will put her on a collision course with our local rattlesnake population. The Prides released their 1991 Merlot, which was made from our Merlot grapes, as well as a small amount of their Cabernet Sauvignon grapes – it was a smash hit! We agreed to sell our grapes to the Prides starting the next year, 1994. Their wine maker, Bob Foley, will also make us our first vintage of Paloma Merlot from a small amount of the grapes. Each year, we will

In May, we finally started building a house at the vineyard. Jim closed his office in Midland, Texas and moved to California full-time. Andy Isdahl, a skilled builder and our close friend, built the house with the help of his assistants – us, and our son Sheldon during the summer. It took us nine months to complete the house, while taking care of the vineyard at the same time.