All the latest news, events, & wine notes
If you love talking about wine—especially Meeker wine—we have just the event for you. On March 7 and March 14, the Meekers will be talking wine, winemaking, and more with Tina Morey and a group of sommeliers, bloggers on #winestudio, a live Twitter chat.
At 6 pm PT/ 9 pm EST on both nights, Lucas Meeker, Kelly Meeker, and Jeff Shaeffer will join host Tina Morey for a discussion of Meeker wines. Here’s what’s on the wine list:
- Tuesday, March 7: Grenache (notes) & Cab Franc (notes)
- Tuesday March 14: 2013 Winemaker’s Handprint Merlot (notes)
So pull up a chair, fire up your Twitter account, pour yourself a glass of wine, and join the conversation. We’ll look forward to talking with you!
Just search hashtag #winestudio in Twitter or click this link to see all the conversation. Ask questions, share your thoughts, and join in! Just make sure to include the hashtag, #winestudio, in every tweet.
Not sure how to use Twitter? No worries! We have just the how-to video for you. Check out this (slightly outdated but still informative) “Twitter for Beginners” video by Kelly Meeker on YouTube.
We had our annual Tribe party at the winery yesterday, and it was another wonderful event. In the course of the party, a number of Tribe members asked me what I thought about the quality of this year’s vintage. We’re still in the midst of harvest with five grape varieties yet to be picked, so it’s too early to be definitive, but here’s how I responded to the questions at the party.
Spring-type weather came early this year in Sonoma County. The buds on many grapevine varieties were pushing out in February, which is at least a month early. In my experience, this can be a very good thing — at least so long as it is not followed by hard frost! We did not get such a post-bud-break frost this year, and the spring weather continued generally cooler than normal. As a result, the grapes had a longer-than-normal “hang time” going into summer. In the opinion of many winemakers, longer hang time is beneficial because the grapevine roots have an extended opportunity to pump desirable favor elements into the grapevines and, most importantly, into the grape clusters. So by the end of spring this year, Lucas and I were optimistic that we were headed for a high-quality vintage.
But then things changed even more! If during July of this year you had asked us when we expected harvest to begin for the red varieties that we use to make our “big reds”, we would have replied that we expected harvest to be well underway by the second half of August, and finished by mid-September. But then our weather took another positive winemaking turn. All of August was quite a bit cooler than normal. Indeed, it was the coolest August in Sonoma County I’ve ever experienced since Molly and I bought our first Dry Creek Valley vineyard in February 1977. This cool weather further extended the hang time of the grapes this year. Rather than having the “big reds” harvest starting in mid August (as we had predicted during July), they were delayed for approximately another month. At our winery we did not begin crushing grapes for our red wines until mid-September, and we don’t expect to be finished with harvest until mid October.
As a result of these unusual factors, the grape hang times this year have been much, much longer than normal, and we are optimistic that this will result in a vintage of very high quality red wines. We should know more about this by early next year when the grapes have finished fermentation and the resulting wines have had a few months to settle down in the barrels. We’ll keep you informed!
While I have your attention, I would like to report one other fun and tasty development. Over the years since we began our winery in 1984, we have tried to set aside cases of each of our red wines for our winery library. In theory, our theoretical goal was to send 20 cases of each wine to the wine library, but until 2014 when we moved the winery to Healdsburg, we never did a good job of keeping track of our wine library. Then, when we moved, for the first time we did a comprehensive listing of what the library contained, and we realized that in a number of instances fairly large amounts of wine had been put into the library storage area.
We are in the process of tasting many of the library wines, and we plan to offer a number of them for sale to members of the Tribe. Indeed, we opened several library wines at the party yesterday, and they were very well received.
Last night, after the party, Molly and I went to a Healdsburg restaurant to have dinner with a Tribe couple from outside California who are great friends of ours. We took along a bottle of 2001 Meeker Four Kings, and it was absolutely fantastic. Lucas reports that there is an unusually large quantity of this wine in the library, so you will no doubt be hearing more from us in this connection.
Our family sends our very best wishes to you and all of yours for a fantastic fall and holiday season!
It’s the heat of summer and we’re watching the Zin grapes ripening in our backyard. That inspired us to share this red hot, limited time only Zinfandel sale.
Get a great deal on a vertical of our Barrel Select Zinfandel, with two options depending on how thirsty you are:
- Barrel Select Zinfandel Vertical 6 Pack: Two bottles each of our 2011, 2012, and 2013 Barrel Select Zinfandels.
Price: $148.20 plus tax & shipping (That’s 35% off retail!)
- Barrel Select Zinfandel Vertical 12 Pack: Four bottles each of our 2011, 2012, and 2013 Barrel Select Zinfandels.
Price: $273.60 +tax (Shipping included. That’s 40% off retail and a huge shipping savings!)
Now we know you’re thinking it might be too hot to ship wine in August! Don’t worry. We’ve thought of that. We’ll hold you order here til September if you like (and we can even combine it with your September Tribe shipment!).
Sale expires August 31 and quantities are limited, so you’ll have to call or email to get in on this sale. Get in touch with Jeff at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 707-431-2148 ASAP.
Looking for a place to stay during your next visit to Sonoma County? The Dry Creek Inn is a convenient, comfortable, and cost-effective option right in Healdsburg–just a short drive from our tasting room!
And now there is now a promo code for Tribe members to use when making their online reservations that offers a 25% discount. Here’s how to get it:
- Go to www.drycreekinn.com and enter the dates you’re planning on staying in the reservations field.
- Hit “Book Now”.
- Go to the edit your search area on the left hand side, open the special rate box, and click Promotional Rate.
- Then type in the promo code “winery”, hit OK, and click on search.
- The Wine Club discount rate will show under the Winery Friends column and they are good to go.
This rate is offered seven days a week, subject to availability. If you’re having any trouble with online booking, just call the hotel to book directly at (707) 433-0300. Just tell the front desk that you’re a Meeker wine club member and request the wine club discount rate.
We hope this new discount means we’ll see you soon!
We are on the precipice of summer in northern California, and alongside sunburns, barbecues, and bragging about tomatoes from our garden, that means one thing: weddings. A lovely way to spend a summer evening, made even more lovely if the wine is good.
If you’re reading this blog post, that might mean you’re wondering how much wine you need for your upcoming nuptials. At Meeker, after years of working with couples planning their events, we have a tried-and-true formula we’re proud to share. These formulas also work for retirement parties, work events and holiday parties – any time you want to make sure you have the right amount of wine for a special occasion.
Step 1: How Many Drinks Do I Need?
The first step is to figure out how much alcohol your thirsty guests will imbibe overall. The rule of thumb is one drink per person per hour of drink service.
Meeker’s first law of wine dynamics:
# of Drinks Needed = # Guests x Hours of Serving
So, to figure out how much alcohol you will need, you need to know:
- What time will you start serving? What time will bar close? This is your “hours of serving”.
- How many people are coming? While it’s tempting to deduct children and other non-drinkers, I usually leave them in the count as a safety margin.
Multiply your hours of serving times your number of drinkers. This gets you your total number of drinks needed. For example if you have 100 guests, and will be serving drinks from 5-10 pm, you’ll need at least 500 drinks.
Step 2: How Much Wine Do I Need?
Now we have to figure out how much wine you need. Ask yourself:
- What will you serve besides wine in terms of alcohol? Only beer? Cocktails?
- Do you have a sense for if your people are wine drinkers vs. beer drinkers?
Typically, we recommend a 60% wine to 40% beer split, but you can customize this depending on your knowledge of your guests (or if you’re serving cocktails).
With our example from above and our standard 60/40 split, we’d advise planning for 300 glasses of wine. We assume 5 glasses of wine per bottle, which brings us to 60 bottles of wine, or, at 12 bottles per case, 5 cases.
Step 3: How Much Red Wine Do I Need?
In our experience, most folks prefer red wine, so we generally advise a ratio of 75% red wine to 25% white wine. The exception to this rule is if you’re going to have a very hot outdoor summer wedding – in this case, more folks might prefer a nicely chilled glass of white.
Other Words of Wisdom
We recommend keeping your wine selection to five wines or fewer, to make it simple for your guests to select a wine and to keep it streamlined for the servers, who may be asked to explain the choices several times over. On the same note, we recommend selecting recognizable varietal wines for the majority of your selections – this makes it easier for your guests to choose something they know they will like. Usually, the focus at a wedding is not on sampling and learning about wine, but on spending time with beloved friends and family. You want to help your guests make a good choice and get back to the celebration.
Step 4: Be Safe
For many, weddings are opportunities to over-indulge in fine wines and free drinks. If you think your guests might be the over-indulging sort, make sure to arrange designated drivers or provide taxis, shuttles, rides, and other transportation alternatives. In the long run, it’s not that hard to get a cab home and pick up your car in the morning. There’s absolutely no excuse for drunk driving, and providing transportation solutions for your guests will ensure that everyone has a safe and fabulous time at your celebration.
In closing, do you need help with wine and food pairing or would you like us to provide a list of suggested wines for your wedding? We’d be happy to, and we offer special discounts for weddings! Get in touch!
Alas, the Dry Creek Valley Skunk & Newspaper Patrol (the DCVS & NP) is no more. Its beloved members have passed on to the great dog parks in the sky. We are, however, pleased and a little befuddled to announce the recent formation of the Dry Creek Valley Coyote & Chicken Auxiliary (DCVC & CA). This proud and confused unit is comprised of Molly and Charlie’s two dogs, the ever popular and admired Austin, the Goldendoodle, and Remy, the recently acquired and somewhat irritating Maltese. The function and purpose of the DCVC & CA is twofold:
1) When coyotes pass by the Meekeria (where Molly and Charlie live), usually at night, they yip and howl to each other to communicate things like, “I caught a rabbit,” ” you smell like a skunk,” and “I wouldn’t have your pups even if you were the Alpha male.” These comments are delivered in extremely high, piercing yips and howls that are all way above high “C.” Austin, whose normal conversational bark and yowl are in the manly baritone range, for reasons known only to himself, tries to respond in the soprano range of the coyotes. He stands at the open sliding door of the Meekers’ bedroom and attempts the pure piccolo note of a healthy coyote. It is pathetic. Halfway through a sliding, glass-shattering aria, his voice breaks and he ends in a guttural “ooo” that sounds as though he ate a jalapeno. Remy’s recent participation has been to stand near his rear right leg and offer moral support by not outshining him with her natural ear-piercing yaps and leaning supportively into his ankle.
2) Every morning Molly checks on the chickens to make sure they are fed and the water is running. She also offers freeze-dried meal worms which are a great delicacy for chickens. There are eight hens and two loud, wussy, father-and-son roosters who do not much other than irritate the hens and make a lot of noise in the morning. (They also occasionally make little chickens but nobody wanted that.) Remy, all 3.3 pounds of her, has decided that hen herding is her job. Never mind that the roosters are taller, and that she dresses out at the weight of a decent free-range fryer, she follows Molly into the coop and addresses each bird as an equal. Meanwhile, Austin waits at the coop, ever hopeful for an egg, shell and all.
Stay tuned for more.
After our longtime and much-beloved tasting room manager Julia Berman departed for new adventures, we’d knew we’d have to hire someone new. It was a terrifying proposition–how do you replace someone who has become a member of the family?
We’re thrilled to introduce you to Jeff Shaeffer, our new sales manager. You’ll meet him in the tasting room and at events, so we want to make sure you get to know him a bit.
Introducing Jeff Shaeffer
Jeff’s been involved with agriculture for his entire life. Born the third son of Earl & Jean Shaeffer of Dos Palos, CA, Jeff spent his childhood working on the family farm, helping his dad in the cotton, alfalfa, wheat, and melons fields of the central San Joaquin Valley.
After graduating at the top of class in high school, Jeff attended Fresno State University. He jumped straight into the wine business, earning his first grape-stained hands as a production assistant for an upstart winery in the Barossa Valley, Australia.
After 6 months in Australia, Jeff returned to the San Joaquin Valley and took a position with a fresh produce company. He spent the next 15 years in the produce industry, where he found his passion in traveling and developing new markets for interesting produce.
In 2006, Jeff focused this passion on wine to create his own business importing and developing markets for international wines. While things were getting up and running, he started working in production at Siduri Wines, and soon found himself working in the tasting room while continuing to develop his import business. In 2010, with the import business struggling due to the global recession, Jeff accepted the position of Sales and Hospitality Manager at Siduri Wines and Novy Family Winery.
Jeff takes great pride in being a part of a small family business and being able to work closely with the owners to boost the footprints of their wines all over the country. We’re thrilled to have him spreading the word about Meeker.
Jeff and his wife Sharilyn call Windsor their home, where they pursue tons of adventures with their two year old son Everett. And there are more adventures on the way: they’re expecting their second child, another boy, in July.
During spring 2014 we moved our winemaking operations from Santa Rosa to a big warehouse-type building located about three blocks southeast of the Healdsburg town square. It’s an excellent winemaking facility, and we’re very pleased with the move.
In connection with the move, we arranged to have two large offices constructed in a corner of the warehouse. Unfortunately, however, there were some unexpected delays in completing all the many things required by the City of Healdsburg’s building permit. As a result, Molly and I moved our desks to our tasting room on a temporary basis, while Lucas set up a temporary desk on the floor of the winery.
All of the building permit requirements were finally completed and approved in the fall of 2014, and the City gave us permission to begin using our offices. After some delays caused by harvest and by Molly’s travel to various states to work with our distributors, Molly finally moved her desk from the tasting room to one of the new winery offices during spring 2015.
The office to which Molly moved also has a separate desk for me, as well as lots of filing cabinets and the like. Our plan was for me to move back to the winery office soon after Molly’s move. I have, however, intentionally procrastinated in making that move, and I have continued to spend the majority of my office time at my desk in the tasting room, with a smaller portion of my time at the winery office with Molly. Here’s why.
I thoroughly enjoy visiting and talking about our wines with our tasting room customers, and in particular with our wine club members. We started our wine club – i.e. the Tribe — about 24 years ago, and it is always a particular pleasure when I am able to visit with Tribe members from way back when.
For me, it also brings back wonderful memories when a tasting room visitor announces: “We remember tasting in your teepee!”
Also, as many of you already know, I love to tell stories about our family’s history with our winery, including buying our first vineyard in February 1977 in Dry Creek Valley, and thereafter establishing our winery during summer 1984. If time allows, it is not difficult for tasting room visitors to entice me into telling one or more of those stories.
Last, but by no means least, our son Lucas’ 2014 promotion to being our head winemaker has given me the freedom to work at my tasting room desk for substantial periods of time. Lucas has matured into being a fantastic winemaker!
Molly, Kelly, and I are very, very proud of him. Of course, I cannot be at the tasting all the time. There are times when I need to be at my winery office, and I also continue to travel from time to time to work with out distributors. Nevertheless, I plan to continue spending a lot of time at the tasting room, and I very much hope that I am there the next time you visit!
You might notice a difference when opening your first bottle of 2011 Handprint Merlot, and it’s one that we’re really excited to share with you. The 2011 Handprint is the first wine from Meeker to be closed with DIAM corks.
We are committed to using the wine closures that deliver you the best-tasting wines every time. That’s why we’ve switched most of our wines to screw caps to make sure you don’t ever get a “corked” bottle of wine. With traditional corks, taint affects 2-7% of all bottles of wine. That means something like 1 in 20 bottles of wine is ruined! Traditional corks also have more unreliable seals, which can cause problems like leaking bottles, pushed corks, and more.
We’ve continued to close the Handprint Merlot and Four Kings with cork because lots of people prefer cork on higher-end wines. We’ve now found a solution that is far superior to traditional corks and will replace all traditional corks for the Handprint Merlot and Four Kings moving forward. Here’s what you need to know:
DIAM corks are made primarily of natural cork, and they’ve been in the marketplace for more than 10 years. I wanted to be sure that we saw success and good history before switching Handprint and Four Kings to a new closure.
DIAM corks are 100% guaranteed to be 100% free of TCA 2,4,6 (the chemical responsible for cork taint or “corked” wine). They’re also guaranteed to be free of up to 160 other aromatic compounds that can change the taste of wine.
Not only does DIAM 100% guarantee the corks to be taint free, they have a 10 year guarantee to maintain their structural integrity and the seal of the bottle.
We’ve now eliminated the possibility of cork-tainted wine from all Meeker wines bottled after July 2014. That’s really exciting for us, and hopefully for you as well.
I just gave myself a high five I’m so excited about this closure. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me or check out www.diam-closures.com.
Thanks, as always, for your continued support, and I promise to do everything I can to continue to bring you the best wines we can.
Making Sure Every Bottle of Wine is Just Right add in last
Earlier this summer we launched our first Harvest Date Contest, challenging our Tribe members and fans to guess when our first load of grapes would arrive. Our first load of red grapes arrived Sunday, September 7 at 3:37pm. Fittingly for our newest release, it was the Dry Creek fruit for our Winemakers’ Handprint Merlot!
Longtime Tribe member Tom Martenson is our winner, with a guess that was just 20 hours off the mark. Tom and his wife Kristen take their duties as Tribe members and wine junkies seriously–they brought their whole wedding party to our winery for a tour, invited Molly & Charlie to their wedding, and travel to wine country often to quench their thirst for new wines and fresh adventures in wine country.
And, thrillingly, the grapes look great. The fruit, from Cam Mauritson’s vineyard off Canyon Road, is one of the star ingredients in the Handprint Merlot, delivering depth, tannin, and flavor. We’re grateful for our partnership with Cam and so many other fine growers–and proud to release another great Winemakers’ Handprint Merlot.