Your Resource for Wine Region Travel

Brandon Beginning of harvest '08

Dear Reader,

I hope you had a nice summer.  We officially have three more weeks of summer, but once the kids go back to school it's basically over.  I've been really busy since my last newsletter was sent out to you. celebrated its one-year anniversary, concluded our Haiku contest, announced our Educational Wine Tours, bought a camcorder and have put two interviews up on YouTube and also on our website.  One interview was with Hardy Wallace, the winner of the Murphy Goode Winery lifestyle correspondent contest, who will take care of all their social media outreach needs for the next six months.  The other interview is part 1 of "Harvest '09 with Winemaker B", as he is getting ready for harvest to begin any day now. We have also just put up a Q & A style interview that we did with Emtu Vineyards from the Russian River Valley. is having an end of summer advertising special, buy one get one FREE, which expires September 30, 2009.  For example, if you buy 3 months of ad space you will get an additional 3 months for FREE.  Plus we have kept our introductory ad rates for the second year now, which will be going up on January 1st.

Our readership continues to grow thanks to you and your friends. :)  We are getting over 6,000 unique visitors and 50,000 page views each month!  We are so excited about these numbers and especially the 11% growth we are doing each month.

Fall is the best time of the year to go visit the wineries, especially if you want to see a lot of action.  The grapes are ripening more and more each day and will be picked and delivered to the wineries' crush pads all over the Northern Hemisphere through the end of November.  The wineries can't waste any time so they immediately crush the fresh grapes to capture the perfect balance of acid, sugar and tannins in the grapes.  If you go to any winery within the next two months you will be in for a treat.  Be sure to ask if you can go around to the crush pad to see the activity.  Do not be shy.  You might be surprised and get a tour.  If you call ahead you might be able to arrange to help out with the crush in some aspect.  Some wineries take the time to train new helpers each year, others will let you watch and will explain to you what they are doing.

Most wineries have bottled and or released their wines from the last year or two to make more room for the up and coming harvest.  This means that when you go to the tasting rooms, they should have samples of the wines that haven't been distributed to the wine clubs or to the restaurants and stores yet.  That is always a nice treat.

If you have any type of question about wine and winemaking, please send them to Winemaker B at, he will be more than happy to answer them.  Also, if you've had any wine travels, tasting, or pairing experiences that you would like to share, please write about it on our discussion forum or blog  It's really so easy to do.  If you're not comfortable writing on our discussion forum just send your article to and we will post it for you.  Reading about your experiences adds to all our knowledge, education, and depth about wine

Don't worry, drink happy!

Lori Lapides
September 2009


Harvesting Grapes

Precisely when to pick the grapes is an agonizing decision for growers.  Picking at optimum ripeness depends on the climate.  A cool spell in late summer may hold the grapes back, only for a hot week to accelerate them to the brink of overripeness.  Do you pick them before they are properly ripe, hoping to chaptalize and add sugar to compensate or do you hold your breath and wait and hope the rain will hold off?  As grapes ripen, their acid levels reduce, while sugar, color and tannins increase.  A wine's need for acidity must be balanced with the desire for richness gained from ripeness.

How does one know when the grape is ripe?  A grape that is considered ripe in Champagne would be thought unripe in the Napa Valley.  The high acid/low sugar "ripeness" that is crucial for making sparkling wines of balance and vivacity in Champagne make painfully acidic table wines.  Napa's sun-soaked grapes make full-bodied table wine but would make fat, flabby fizz.  A ripe grape has brown seeds, not green.  When you taste it a red grape should have no vegetal green bean flavor, and its skin tannins shoyld be soft and velvety. 

Harvesting by hand vs. machine - If you have a very large property there is no way you could harvest the grapes in the proper time allotted unless you use a machine.  Using the machine you can't be particular which bunches to pick and the grapes could get a bit mishandled.  Picking by hand is very slow and labor intensive.  It does however allow pickers to choose the best grapes and the yield of grapes is usually greater.

Next month - "Making White Wines"

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Vintage Humor for Wine Lovers is a website dedicated to help you learn more about wine region traveling through education:  how each wine region is unique and what it has to offer, the art and science of wine making, some FAQ's on wine etiquette, recipes that go great with different wines, plus much, much more.

Our Website Features:

Articles and Recipes which has the Ask the Winemaker column where our dedicated consultant, Brandon, answers your questions;
Interviews where we get to know different wine industry personalities; Our Haiku Contest; Wine FAQ's, & Food and Wine Pairing Recipes.
Wine Region Info offers you detailed data from wineries and lodging to restaurants, spas and other activities in that wine region.
Educational Wine Tours is where you tell us what you want to see and do on your next wine region getaway, and we will plan it for you from an itinerary style to all inclusive.  We have the Seeker, the Explorer and the Ultimate Adventurer Tours.
Botique is where we sell our unique wine related items such as books, wine glasses, decanters, art, cheeses and chocolates, etc.
Forum or Blog to write about your wine experiences and read what others wine and food lovers have to say.
Links to other companies that are related in someway that we feel would be interesting to you.
About Us - Here you can read the bio of Lori and Larry Lapides, the founders.

Be part of helping our website get off the ground, it's easy!  All you have to do is to forward this newsletter to as many of your friends and family who you think would enjoy reading and learning more about wine and the experiences that traveling in the different wine regions offer.  We would greatly appreciate it.

We will send you periodic newsletters to update you and keep you informed with our most recent adventures and sippets of what's going on in the wine world.

Check it out at

Wine Quote

Zinfandel Prayer

"Know me, stranger,
For I am thy life blood
and thy nectar.
I shall wet thy lips, parched
by the winds of deprivation.
And nourished shall be thy body,
dessicated by the scorching
inferno of temperance.
Rest thy head upon my bosom,
Lose thyself in the ecstasy of
my caresses,
And know me,
For I am

From the back label of a Cline Zinfandel:

   Avocado, Bean & Corn Salad
Main Courses
   Spiced Tuna Steaks
   Apple Cheddar Pizza w/ Toasted Pecans
   Sparkling Cranberry Cocktail

Copyright (c) 2009

Ask The Winemaker
Brandon #3
Winemaker B Answers:


Vineyard Views
Hidden Creek Winery, Livermore;
Peachy Canyon Winery, Paso Robles;
Cedar Mountain Winery, Livermore;
Harvest Moon Winery, Santa Rosa;
Mitchell Katz Winery, Livermore;
Benovia Winery,
Santa Rosa;
Dark Star Cellars,
Paso Robles;
Emtu Estate Winery,
Russian River Valley;
Murphy Goode Winery, Healdsburg;

with more to come.