Opening night of the 25th anniversary of the Sonoma International Film Festival. Here, in Sonoma’s art deco Sebastiani theatre, artistic director Kevin McNeely interviews the “Lost City” film’s directors, brothers Adam and Aaron Nee. This was the film’s premiere, featuring Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum (with a hilarious cameo by Brad Pitt) and the audience were roaring in their seats. One of the very best events in wine country, the festival runs over 5 days, 7 venues, dozens of fantastic films, and endless food and wine.
The new leadership of the Sonoma Int’l Film Festival for the 26th year: L to R, Kevin McNeely (Artistic Director), Bob Berg (Chair of the Board) Jon Curry (Immediately. Past Chair of the Board), Ken Wornick (Vice-Chair of the Board)
Sonoma grapevine bud break – 2022
What a cliché – bud break in wine country. And yet it is truly the annual renewal of life after a welcome and much needed cold rainy winter.
New arrivals – over 30 new chicks who will grow up to be egg producers of the team of Dysfunctional Family Chickens
Rain! After two atmospheric rivers in late Fall, it seemed the rain would never return. But in early April, a series of storms rolled through Sonoma. Here, the Hydeout weather station was so shocked by it all, it displayed 10.24 inches rain in an hour. Repairs are in order. But still, rain in any amount is welcome.
Hydeout Sonoma, a full-service wine country consulting firm offering vineyard farming, winemaking, and brand development services to a portfolio of private clients announces the appointment of its newest partner, Faith Armstrong. Faith will play an immediate full time role with the company in support of client farming and winemaking.
Faith received a full Regents Scholarship to the University of California at Davis, earning her B.S. degree in Viticulture and Enology with highest honors. She became the assistant winemaker at the renowned Frank Family Vineyards in Calistoga, Napa Valley. And while focussed on raising her children, Faith also established her own highly-acclaimed brand of modern wines, Onward.
Ken Wornick, company founder, works exclusively with the firm’s private clients, conceiving and executing vineyard, wine, and brand development projects, taking 100% ownership of all concepts and deliverables, leaving clients free to participate when/how interest and schedule allows. The firm manages sixteen boutique vineyards in Sonoma and Napa and produces the client’s branded wines. The firm also produces wine for its company-owned brand, Dysfunctional Family Winery.
Faith Armstrong and Ken Wornick – pictured at their winery in front of some client barrels of rosé.
Motorcycling through Mexico’s Guadalupe Wine Valley – the “Ruta Del Vino”
The sign welcoming us to the Ruta, you can spot a few vineyards in the mountains beyond.
Before the 2022 grape farming season got fully underway in late February, our middle son Dennis and I rode motorcycles from Cabo San Lucas, the southern tip of Baja Sur, Mexico north to Long Beach, USA. Below is a brief series of photos from the epic journey…
Dennis and Ken Wornick, riding in the gravel to reach the overlook of the Punta De Prieta, and the vast and empty Bahia De Los Angeles, in Baja Sur
A couple of days into the journey north, I remembered to shoot a photo of the Kilometers remaining until crossing the border back into the USA (something you can’t help bu have in the back of your mind when in the middle of nowhere in Mexico); in this case, 1161 Km.
Of particular interest to me was the somewhat new Mexican wine industry in the Guadalupe Valley (which is just south of the USA border, about 2 hours from San Diego). Initially founded in the 1820’s by Spanish missionaries intent on making their own wine, there was then a brief period when Russians fleeing the war with Japan ended up there and built most of the town. But in the 2000’s, industrious Mexican nationals have developed the valley in style and intent similar to Napa and Sonoma. Many of the wines were indeed delicious – fresh, fruity, exhibiting true terroir, and of high quality.
This map shows the location of the Guadalupe Valley relative to northern Baja, Tijuana, and San Diego. After visiting the Guadalupe Valley, we crossed into the USA in Tecate, which is a smallish border crossing with a significant new border wall.
Some of the newer wineries are ultra-modern and offer first class accommodations on site – like these at Encuentro Guadalupe.
Much of the food is sophisticated, and there is also plenty of really good and authentic outdoor food – like this at the well known Deckman’s.
An example of some of the more modern-style wines available from the Guadalupe Valley viticultural area.
Just one example of the truly endless Mexican roadside monuments to loved ones who died in car crashes along the highway.
Our group of riders traveling with Motoquest north through Baja on these rugged adventure bikes – BMW R1200GS’s and BMW F750GS’s. Why are we all bundled up in sub-tropical Mexico? On this particular day, we climbed multiple times up and over the Sierra Madre Occidental with elevations as high as 3500 feet. And on this day, a brutal weather system rolled in from the west. We rode through rain and sleet, precarious mountain passes, and even with heated handgrips found ourselves with chattering teeth and frozen toes.
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Give thanks for the rain in your life which waters the flowers of your soul.
Join us as we tour our way around Sonoma County and celebrate the arrival, finally, of the long awaited rains.
And at the bottom of this post, tell us your stories of how you’ve enjoyed the rainy weather?…
When it comes to growing wine grapes, the 2021 vintage in Sonoma was stressful. It rained a mere 13 inches total, and most of that rain fell in three brief events separated widely with hot sunny days. Hardly any water percolated into the root zone of the grape vines. So in many cases, growers had to use a lot of water from deep wells to drip into the vineyard. Conditions are already way better in the 2022 vintage – thanks to all of this early rain. It has rained over 13 inches and it’s still just December 2021. And even better, we haven’t had any sunny days or warm temperatures in between rain events, so the ground has remained saturated and damp. Rain water is far superior to drip irrigation. But that’s a science story for another time. For now, let’s just celebrate getting wet…
Rain poured off the roof and down the rain chains and sang it’s happy song. This rain water is going directly into our DYS Sagrantino vineyard, our estate red wine, a rare central-Italian red found mostly in Umbria. It’s recently been noted to contain some of the highest polyphenol (antioxidants) levels of any red wine on earth. (vineyard visible in the background).
Before the rains really got under way, contractors connected all of the Hydeout Ranch rain gutters to the hand-dug well capturing rain, stopping wasteful erosion, and recycled back onto the land (white riser pipe)
And they built a Gabian wall to capture most of the runoff into the ag sump from this small ditch at the edge of the ranch
Hydeout Ranch animal sanctuary – when we bought the ranch, a fence had been built long ago (as was the habit then) right up against the creek edge. That old fence prevented animals (and people) from safely visiting and moving along the riparian corridor. One of the first projects I undertook was to take down that old fence and built a new fence 150 feet west of the creek. In addition, I built just next to the new fence a long high pile of logs and green waste. Now, with several acres of land open adjacent to the creek, and lots of safe spaces to nest in the log piles, wild animals have returned to occupy this land, including hawks, owls, buzzards, skunks, rabbits, gophers, moles, voles, raccoons, and even a million worms in every puddle.
On my walk this morning along the edge of the creek, I came across the horseshoe. At one time, the Hydeout Ranch housed over one hundred horses and perhaps this horseshoe was tossed or thrown into the creek long ago.
One of the prized smaller oaks at the ranch responds to the rain with almost overnight new growth. The red bench sits under the tree next to the doggy cemetery where our Oliver rests. A few years ago, all five of us gathered, dug the hole, wrapped Oliver in a blanket and buried him here.
A quick ride around the ranch to check on things between storms
In other news:
In the lab at the winery, checking pH, TA, and VA levels for wines of the still-fermenting vintage 2021
Here is a quick pictorial essay of the entire 2021 season.
On a bright blue day in February, pruning of the dormant vines is the first order of business (here we severely pruned an old vine Zinfandel block and piled up these cuttings for a local artist’s wood project)
The vines after pruning, a bit of rain falls, and the mustard cover crop starts to push
Soon the mustard is towering over the vines (here I am in a drone-shot in a newly planted Cabernet block)
It will be time soon to begin actively farming for the season, and so we start prepping the equipment for the next few months of heavy use.
Enter the discount code on the right: SIZZLING (all caps) and hit “Apply”
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If you choose “pick up” we’ll have the wine ready for you here at the ranch next week. Or we’ll ship to you asap.
Order today before it’s all gone. Chill it or freeze it or put a few ice cubes in your wine glass and pour – anything goes with rosé!
About: This rosé was made in the classic French ‘saigneé style’ – ‘bleeding off’ the raw pink grape juice from a gorgeous tank of just-harvested red fruit – then cold fermented in stainless steel, lees stirred for a creamier finish, and then racked back to neutral oak barrels for settling and aging; all resulting in a wine that is a dark cotton candy in color, bright and racy and fruit forward, with a soft finish; perfect for warm sunny afternoons and summer poolside dining.
There is a Federally registered first-nations “Miwok” artifact site on the ranch. So, a new project – a totem pole.
Totem poles were monuments created by First Nations of the Pacific Northwest to represent and commemorate ancestry, histories, people, or events. We thought it would be fun to create a modern Sonoma version of a totem pole to commemorate the local ancestors who once occupied this land. Being careful not to appropriate and warp the native culture, we’re steering clear of traditional motifs and looking at alternate totem design ideas.
Another couple of hours and it’s starting to look like something that can be carved. Into what is the question? If anyone has ideas, please offer them up!
In and around the gardens – potatoes, lettuce, wild birds, and awards
The ranch veggie garden is in Spring mode and the first crop of ‘new’ potatoes are in…
…in just two small raised beds, over 250 heads of lettuce harvested and shared with friends and family. Seen here, the third and final heads of lettuce from the rather tired original roots.
Spring is definitely here when the trees, roof eves, and gutters are stuffed with tiny wild bird eggs…
SONOMA May 8, 2021 — Hydeout Sonoma has been selected for the 2021 Best of Sonoma Award in the Agriculture Cooperative category. Award winners include local Sonoma companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community.
Flashback – the terrible Sonoma and Napa fires of 2017 and 2020
Let’s hope we do not have to re-visit this ugly scene from 2017. But it is so darn dry out there already! Our weather station says we received only 11 inches of rain this season out of an expected 35 inches normally. Here at the ranch, we’ve cut way back on irrigation, let the lawn go brown, and doing everything possible to reduce aquifer usage.
Hoping for more of this…
…and less of this from the summer 2020!
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