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Singing “Purple Rain” to the end of Harvest 2014

What a great fall season (earthquakes notwithstanding).  We celebrated the official end of harvest for Amici on Monday as we brought in our last load of grapes (from the famous Tokalon vineyard, no less—look out for that one in a couple years).  After nine weeks of harvest craziness, the last grapes rolled off the sorting table as the crew cheered and champagne corks popped to the strains of “Purple Rain” by Prince. We caught it all on video, so we hope you enjoy this little glimpse of life around our winery.
Loud music warning:  if you’re watching this at work, you might want to get those headphones on!

Celebrating the Close of Harvest 2014

A Look at Amici Harvest Boot Camp

Every fall we have fun hosting a series of visitors from the wine industry who come to us to take part in Amici’s “Harvest Boot Camp.” It’s a unique way to truly understand what happens at a winery during the harvest season, and provides an opportunity for our “boot campers” to put their own personal stamp on a wine, knowing they played a part in its creation.

One of our recent boot campers, Heather Boysen, wrote an article for the Argus Leader on her experience at Amici:

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http://www.argusleader.com/story/wineblog/2014/10/01/amici-farm/16540209/

The Napa Earthquake: Showing the Spirit of Cooperation

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You’ve seen the photos: barrels toppled into chaotic heaps and rivers of red wine running though floors strewn with the glass shards of broken bottles. As Napa struggles to recover from Sunday morning’s 6.0 earthquake, the valley’s well-known spirit of cooperation amongst its wineries is once again shining.

We were one of the lucky ones: our winery was unscathed and the only sign of the earthquake was a slight shift in the barrels stacked six high floor-to-ceiling. Our wine inventory, which sits in a warehouse just a quarter mile from the epicenter, remains fine. You can bet we’re counting our lucky stars.

About 80% of the wineries in Napa fared well through the earthquake with little or no damage. But for the ones that did suffer damage, the timing was about as bad as it gets. With harvest having arrived about two weeks earlier than normal, and what looks like an exceptional-quality vintage in store, wineries across the valley were in full-action mode when the earthquake hit. Newly harvested juice is undergoing fermentation, a process that needs to be watched and controlled carefully for the best outcome. And new loads of beautiful quality grapes are coming in daily, whether or not wineries have recovered enough to resume harvest.

But this is where the Napa wine industry shines: there is a long-held spirit of professional cooperation here, which means that this week all hands are on deck helping our fellow vintners restore power, clean up barrel rooms and fix equipment so that harvest can continue. No one wants to see a fellow vintner have to miss out on an excellent harvest, one that last week we were all so excited about.

Most vintners attribute the spirit of professional cooperation in the Napa wine industry to Robert Mondavi. He always had a generous “we’re all in this together” approach to building the valley’s reputation as one of the world’s premier wine regions, recognizing that he couldn’t successfully build his own winery’s reputation without first promoting the region as a whole. There are well-known stories amongst the older generation of vintners of Bob Mondavi pitching in to help fellow vintners down on their luck, lending his equipment or doing whatever he could to help rescue a neighbor. Something tells me that at a time like this, he and his legendary generosity would really shine.

Are We Looking at a “Three-peat”?

Sauvignon Blanc grapes from the Laurent Vineyard in St. Helena ready for crush at Amici Cellars.

Sauvignon Blanc grapes from Laurent Vineyard in St. Helena ready for crush at Amici Cellars.

That’s the question on everyone’s lips these days as we start harvest under what appears, for now, to be ideal conditions for a third year in a row. After the banner vintages of 2012 and 2013, which delighted everyone with exceptionally high yields and gorgeous, complex flavors, vintners across the valley are knocking on wood after daring to hope that we just may be in for yet another ideal vintage.

At Amici we kicked off harvest last week, bringing in our Sauvignon Blanc from St. Helena and Rutherford. “Everything looks absolutely perfect right now,” says winemaker Joel Aiken. “The flavors and the sugars in the grapes are ideal. We’re bringing in the Sauv Blanc at 23 brix and are starting another fermentation today.” This year’s harvest is about two weeks earlier than normal.

The current weather of foggy mornings and warm days in the mid-80’s is ideal for this time of year. The red varietals, which are still on the vine, are enjoying slow, even ripening in the sunny days and cool mornings, allowing complex flavors to develop without the threat of sunburn or rains. And although this past winter was one of the driest on record, the springs rains that did come were in February and March, at just the right time to create slow and steady growing conditions perfect for a high-quality crop.

Joel estimates that if the weather stays consistent, we’ll start bringing in our Cabernet grapes early to mid-September. Stay tuned for more harvest updates!

New Release: Amici 2012 Pinot Noir Russian River Valley

We’re happy to announce the release of the newest wine from Amici Cellars: the 2012 Amici Pinot Noir Russian River Valley.

There’s been a lot of buzz about the 2012 vintage for Pinot Noir from Sonoma County appellations: Robert Parker rated the vintage 93 points (“outstanding”), his highest rating ever since he started rating the vintages for this region in 1978. Wine Enthusiast, meanwhile, rated the 2012 vintage for Russian River Valley Pinot Noir a staggering 95 points (“superb”).

This wine certainly delivers on the promises of those enthusiastic ratings: Beautifully aromatic, the wine opens with a dazzling bouquet of rich raspberry and fragrant violets. On the palate, flavors of black cherry, raspberry and cola spice swirl around hints of earth. Velvety tannins lead to an excellent length on the finish, with a persistent core of fruit that lingers for minutes, not seconds. A true beauty of a wine, it is delicious now but will age well for 5-7 years.

You can find the 2012 Amici Pinot Noir Russian River Valley on our website.

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2013 Harvest Boot Camp with Amici Cellars

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Here’s a great blog post from Total Wine on the Harvest Boot Camps we hosted last fall. If you work in the wine industry and want to join in the fun and hard work next fall, just let us know!

Originally posted on Total Wine & More:

When you work inside a retail wine shop, your exposure to the wine industry is a bit one-sided.  We see a skillfully crafted, finished product.  A beautiful wine, inside a beautiful package, that customers pick up for a variety of reasons.  It is a package that elicits a wide range of emotions and caters to varied tastes and desires.

That, of course, is just one side of the wine equation.  Behind the scenes, there is an incredible amount of planning, scrambling, organizing, cooperating, praying and hard work. I was part of a small group from Total Wine & More invited to experience this other side at the Amici Cellars’ “Harvest Boot Camp” in Calistoga, Ca.

For a week, six of us joined the Amici crew to participate in the 2013 harvest.  We contributed our labor and lived the winery life alongside owners, winemakers and interns.

(L to R) Rebecca Davidson…

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Announcing our Newest Pinot Noir — It’s a Game Changer!

What are you used to paying for that killer Pinot Noir from Sonoma that you love so much? $40? $50?  What if we told you that you could have a Pinot that good (maybe better) for $20? Seriously.

ImageAnnouncing the newest member of the Amici family: the 2012 Olema Pinot Noir. This is some exciting stuff: a Sonoma Pinot Noir for $20 that tastes fantastic? That’s a game changer. We promise you, this wine competes way above its weight class. A blend of 80% Pinot Noir grapes from Russian River Valley with 20% from premier vineyards in Sonoma County, this Pinot features the classic Russian River Valley characteristics of perfumed aromas and bright, focused red fruit flavors framed by delicate tannins.

That perfect 2012 vintage has created some of the best Pinot Noirs to come out of Sonoma County. The 2012 Olema Pinot Noir opens with a burst of beautiful berries intertwined with sweet florals on the nose. Flavors of cherry, cola and raspberry with a hint of sweet vanilla and a silky smooth mouthfeel make it a deliciously drinkable wine.

If you want to check it out for yourself, you can find it on our website.

A New Look for Olema

Over the next several months, wine stores across the country will be unveiling a brand new label for our Olema wines.  For the uninitiated, Olema is Amici’s sister brand showcasing excellent quality wine at friendly prices, and it has gained a tremendous following over the last couple years. We thought that it was only fitting that a rising star like Olema get a makeover suitable to its pedigree:  and so, violà, a brand new look:

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The new look!

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…and the previous label.

How did we end up with a wine named “Olema” anyway, you ask? Good question. While Amici’s primary focus is on showcasing the best of Napa Valley, Olema looks to celebrate Sonoma. The name Olema, which means “coyote” in Miwok, honors the Coast Miwok Native Americans who lived along the Sonoma Coast and in northern Marin County. Olema wines feature fresh, vibrant flavors and excellent value.