Andy Schweiger, Author at Schweiger Vineyards

New Release Preview for Club Members!


 

It’s hard to believe that spring is almost here, when we were just under a blanket of snow! 

Snow on Spring Mountain District Vineyard

Soon enough, though, we will be watching for bud break, and hopefully celebrating with you at our Spring Release party.  As a club member, you are the first to access wines – before they are released to our other customers…so make sure to add on some Sauvignon Blanc while you’re at it, before it sells out!

 

Uboldi VIneyard Sauvignon Blanc

There is so much to look forward to this year – traveling through Georgia, the Carolinas, and Florida to visit some wonderful wine club members and meet their friends.  Our cruise this year is down the Douro River of Spain and Portugal, exploring their many fabulous Ports and Riojas.

 

Fred and Sally Schweiger, owners of Schweiger Vineyards on Spring Mountain Road

Thank you for being a part of our family – we look forward to seeing many of you over the coming year!

Sally and Fred Schweiger

 


Sharks Sky Box for Camp Fire Relief!


In addition to what we have set aside of our 2014 Chardonnay to be specially designated for the Camp Fire Relief efforts, we have partnered with an anonymous donor on an exciting auction lot!

The winner is invited to bring your party of 8 to join us in a Sky Box at the SAP Center in San Jose on December 22nd to watch the San Jose Sharks play the Los Angeles Kings at 1pm.

These are some of the most luxurious boxes in the sporting world.  You will be hosted by the owners and winemaker of Schweiger Vineyards, pouring a selection of our estate bottled wines during the game along with some fun food.  As a rare treat, an alumni of the Sharks may drop by the box for a meet and greet.  This package also includes parking for two cars in Lot A.  Schweiger Vineyards will be donating 100% of the proceeds of this auction to pre-qualified charities serving the survivors of the Camp Fire.  Tickets will be sent via email or pick up at will-call.

Over the past few weeks, much of the nation was gripped in horror as we watched the entire town of Paradise reduced to ashes in a matter of hours.  This fire is now  the most destructive in California history, and while hours from our winery in St. Helena, this hits close to home.

Our goal is to raise over $150,000 for the relief, recovery, and rebuilding of our neighbors to the north affected by the Camp Fire.

If you have not ordered any of our Camp Fire Relief Chardonnay, it can be ordered on our website here or by calling us at 707-963-4882. We plan to begin shipping orders no later than December 17th.


Schweiger Vineyards Releases Camp Fire Relief 2014 Chardonnay


Over the past few weeks, much of the nation was gripped in horror as we watched the entire town of Paradise reduced to ashes in a matter of hours. As the fire and destruction spread beyond the city, it became apparent that the survivors will be struggling to rebuild for years to come. These individuals are resolute and determined to rebuild and we stand with them. This fire is now the most destructive in California history. Unprecedented tragedy requires unprecedented giving, and we want you to team up with us to help them rebuild.

Schweiger Vineyards has set aside a significant portion of their 2014 Chardonnay to be specially designated for Camp Fire Relief. 100% of all sales will be transferred to local banks which are coordinating the distribution of funds to qualified charities. Our goal is to raise over $150,000 for relief, recovery, and rebuilding the areas affected by the Camp Fire.

If you have enjoyed our 2014 Chardonnay before, this is a great time to revisit it after some additional aging in our cellar. This is a full-bodied wine with true varietal characteristics, hints of pear, kiwi, citrus, and apricots, and delicate undertones of oak and tropical fruits.  The body of the wine is rich and supple, filling the mouth with flavors.  The true nature of Spring Mountain Chardonnay comes through in its mineral character and distinct white peach components.

Many of you know from your visits to Schweiger Vineyards that this is a cause near and dear to the Schweiger Family. Fred Schweiger served Cal Fire from 1960 through 1965. Later, he joined Kenwood Volunteer Fire Department in 1976, serving as a firefighter for ten years. When he retired from Kenwood, he had the opportunity to purchase his favorite Type 3 Engine from Kenwood Fire. Winemaker, Andy Schweiger joined St. Helena Fire Department in 1999 serving as a volunteer firefighter for 7 years. Together, Fred and Andy continue to provide volunteer service protecting their region of the Napa Valley with their “old reliable” Engine 240.

Click here to order or call us at 707-963-4882. We plan to begin shipping orders no later than December 17th.


2017 At Schweiger – Harvest and the Year in Review


2017 – The year of our 34th harvest, record rainfall, record heat, a new wine is introduced, Fred turns 75, and wild fires in wine country. Here’s the lowdown from up high on the Schweiger estate.

Singing (and farming) in the rain – 34 harvests in, you’d think we have seen it all, but this is when Mother Nature belly-laughs as she throws us a curve ball or two. It began with an end to the area’s four-year drought when she gave us 87 inches of rain, over two times the annual rainfall average at the top of Spring Mountain.  As we broke out the umbrellas for the first time in years, the vines were soaking in the water. This led to fast and furious vegetative growth in the canopy, and as a result, more labor intensive farming by Fred, Andy and crew throughout the growing season. Keeping the canopy balanced to provide the perfect amount of sun and shade to the fruit zone is crucial, and in typical Schweiger fashion we touched every vine at least four times to make sure this happened. Once the rain stopped, the sun graced us with its presence, although sporadically. As the temperature fluctuated from over 100 degrees one week to 70’s the next, it made for an unpredictable year in terms of ripening and readiness for harvest. Despite this unpredictability, it was a dry summer and as always, we were up to the challenge. Our unique ability to farm the estate vineyards in-house rather than hiring outside consultants gives us a huge advantage; we give each vine the attention it needs and we pick when we want to pick. Despite the roller coaster ride of temperature variation, the fruit ripened beautifully, and we had a perfectly average yield from the vines.

“Vintner is coming” – Harvest 2017! – Every September, early in the morning, Fred and Andy are somewhere deep in the vineyards with a Ziploc bag, selecting random grapes for sampling sugar, acid, and pH levels, flavor and tannin balance. They do this every single day until they agree that the fruit is perfect and ready for harvest. When they conclude that nature has given us ripe fruit, our A-team of vineyard workers gets the call from Fred: “Let’s go”.  When the vineyard team arrives before daybreak the next day, the tractors are fired up and the crush pad is prepped by Andy and Becca to process grapes. Out in the vineyards, watching the picking crew is something to behold; they are fast, precise, and tireless. Just hours into daylight, bin after bin is filled with perfect, uniform grapes, and the fruit is de-stemmed and transferred to the stainless steel tanks. The smell of yeast and fermentation permeate the air. You can literally smell it while driving up and down the valley. This is the time of year when all of wine country is bubbling over with excitement. Locals love harvest season because we know what it means: this is our livelihood, our passion, and harvest is when it all comes together. It’s like opening day in baseball when the grass is freshly cut and the fans are filling the seats with their hot dogs and $20 beers. This is when all the hard work in the offseason counts for something, and we know we’ve done all we can to grow the finest wine grapes in the world. On the Schweiger estate at 2,000 feet above Napa Valley, or as Sally Schweiger calls it, “half-way to heaven”,  our 2017 vintage is looking like one of our best yet.

Premiere Napa Valley Auction – Every February, Napa Valley wine makers have the opportunity to show their stuff at Premiere Napa Valley, an important and exclusive trade auction that takes place annually in St. Helena.  Andy showcased a special lot of single vineyard estate cab produced in a French “Perle” barrel, raising thousands of dollars for local hospitals! The 10 case lot of wine was among the best from Spring Mountain.

Napa Valley meets the Douro Valley with “Napuro” – Here are Andy’s winemaker notes on his Chardonnay port-style wine project:

In the summer of 2015, one of my cork suppliers took me on a trip to Portugal. It was during this trip that I discovered the magic of White Port. During the harvest of 2015, while tasting our Chardonnay mid-fermentation, it occurred to me that if we could capture the aroma and flavors of this stage of the wine, it would be a transcendental experience. This resulted in an experiment in the 2016 harvest. About halfway through harvest, I combined fermenting Chardonnay juice with the brandy I had purchased for our 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon based dessert wine, Iteration. What resulted is an amazing dessert wine with honeysuckle, peach blossom and nectarine with a slightly sweet nectar flavor. Enjoy with your favorite pear tart, dried figs, or other magical creations.

The All-Terrain Vineyard Experience – In 2017 we elevated our tour experience, literally. Taking advantage of the dramatic terrain and vistas that make up the Schweiger estate, we introduced the “All Terrain-Vineyard Experience”.  During what may be one of the most comprehensive vineyard and winery tours in Napa Valley, our guests explored the Chardonnay, Malbec, Merlot, Cab Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards in an All-Terrain Vehicle with proprietor and viticulturist Fred Schweiger, or with Winemaker and Viticulturist Andy Schweiger. They heard the stories of what it took to develop the property, enjoyed the views from our highest elevations, and tasted the wines in the vineyards from which they were harvested. We take so much pride in what we do here at Schweiger Vineyards, and we’ll continue to share our passion as we offer this experience again in 2018.

The Epic Wild Fires – Despite many other exciting events, 2017 will be remembered for unprecedented wild fires in wine country. Through good fortune, we remained safe and untouched by flames here on the estate. This means the vines planted by the Schweiger family are intact, the buildings we built are still standing, and the 2017 harvest was officially declared smoke-taint free via lab testing. If you are concerned about the beauty of Napa Valley for your next trip here, don’t be. It is as gorgeous as ever, and green grass now covers the hillsides and the mountains around the valley. We count our blessings every day and our hearts go out to those that lost so much. We’d also like to thank all of you that expressed your concern during such a difficult time. You truly are our “Extended Family”.

Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for more photos and Schweiger news throughout the year. We hope to see you soon!

-The Schweiger Team


New Name for Fan Favorite


Juliet:

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet.”

Romeo and Juliet (Act 2, Scene 2)

-William Shakespeare

 

“Once you label me you negate me.

-Soren Kierkegaard

 

“I wish my name was Brian because maybe sometimes people would misspell my name and call me Brain. That’s like a free compliment and you don’t even gotta be smart to notice it.”

-Mitch Hedberg

Back in November we announced that we were giving up our legal right to the name “Port”. As I was unable to attend the ceremony in

Portugal, Paula and I were invited by the Portuguese government to attend a ceremony in San Francisco where I was inducted in as a “Cavaleiro” or a knight. It was a lovely evening with some of the top Port producers from their country along with three other Napa wineries who were giving up their legal right. Now, as a “Cavaleiro”, I technically enjoy diplomatic immunity while inside Portugal, however, I think I’ll still keep under the speed limit.

Our contest to come up with the new name was a huge success with many great names submitted! Everyone in th

e family and staff looked over the names and it eventually one name stood out amongst the rest.

If you’ll recall, our Port is aged solera style. Each release takes past vintages which were incorporated in the previous release. We then blend in the most current release to create the new version…or a new iteration. The name stuck!

Coming this fall: ITERATION® XIV

The numbering sequence shall continue. In addition, we have started some extended barrel aging programs on Iteration. In the summer of 2020, we will be releasing the first of these wines, 2009 Iteration, a single vintage dessert wine barrel aged for ten years.

We would like to thank …well, that’s the funny part. The person who came up with the name wished to remain anonymous. However, he or she received the first bottle of Iteration XIV off the bottling line along with five other current and library releases of our Cabernet Sauvignon dessert wine.

Andy Schweiger, Winemaker


Napuro is here!


“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

-Walt Disney

“Just try new things. Don’t be afraid. Step out of your comfort zones and soar, all right?”

-Michelle Obama

Frequent readers of our blog here at Schweiger Vineyards have heard many stories by now of my Portugal adventure in 2015. I’ve discussed cork harvesting, cork sorting, and even shared photos of a chapel made out of human bones. I got to sample hundreds of new wines from different regions around the country and discovered styles and nuances of Portugal that I never knew existed. There has been one find I made in Portugal I’ve been keeping to myself…until now.

White Port.

It’s a lesser known wine, typically  from the upper slopes of the Douro Valley, often made from Arinto, Malvasia Fina, Codega, and Gouveio varieties. Traditionally it is enjoyed on its own, slightly chilled, or the recent trend is enjoying it as part of a cocktail, a “White Port and Tonic”. My good friend Michael Riel brought one to me on our second evening in Portugal and I think I enjoyed two or five of these every evening. It was an amazing way to end a day, sipping your cocktail as the sun sets on the Douro River with your feet up.

So, fast forward to the 2015 harvest. As I’m monitoring our fermentations, the aroma of our estate Chardonnay drew me back to those sunsets in Portugal. White peach, nectarine, honeysuckle, dried apricot, and a slight fig note. If I could capture this moment in time, it would make such an amazing white port.

I gave this some serious consideration in the months to come and approached my dad early in 2016 with my experiment idea. I bought some white ports to try with him. “Will it work?” he asked me. I replied, “I honestly don’t know until we try but I’m pretty confident it will work.” With that, he gave me the thumbs up to try making one barrel of this experimental wine. I purchased some extra brandy from Germain Robin, and after harvesting our estate Chardonnay in the fall of 2016, calculated the exact moment when to add the brandy.

Things went exactly according to plan and even exceeded my expectations. The mid-fermentation aromas were perfectly preserved. The sweetness of the fruit creates a lovely balance with the smooth and subtle brandy components. My daughter, Megan, loves baking and even started playing around with food pairings for this wine. Pear tarts, Fig tarts, pecan pie, and pumpkin pie all shine when accompanied bywith this wine.

So, yeah, we had to bottle it and share it with our club. Remember we gave up our rights to the Port name, so we can’t call it “White Port”. Well, one of the name submissions in our Port contest summed this project up so nicely we had to run with it. This wine is a combination of Napa fruit and Douro traditions. Napa. Douro. So thanks to Chris Chiampas of San Jose, the name “Napuro®” was born!

We only bottled 60 cases of Napuro in 375 ml bottles and will be releasing it exclusively to our club members.  There will be a three bottle maximum and orders will be handled on a first come, first served basis. You can purchase here on the website, or by calling us directly at 707-963-4882.

I plan on making Napuro in the years to come, when conditions are right, and I hope you enjoy this as a new part of your special family gatherings.

Cheers!

Andy


Green Drop


Quality over Quantity.

This is not your grocery store wine. Don’t get me wrong, mass produced vino has its place, and it knows its place – quantity over quality to create a less expensive product. It’s what most of us call, “every day wine”. We’ve all been to the local supermarket chain and purchased a $12 bottle of “reserve” Cabernet from a 100,000 case lot, brought it to a friend’s dinner party or paired it with a slice of pizza. Even the most snobby of wine connoisseurs have done it and there is no shame in it. What we are talking about today is one specific facet of grape growing that separates great wine from the rest of the pack – “Green Drop”.

One of the most frequent questions I get from visitors to the Napa Valley is this: “Why are the wines here so expensive?” they ask, “when I can go to the store and get a bottle at $5 – $20!”. It is a valid question and I’m always glad they ask. Now, I can’t speak for our peers, but I can speak for Schweiger Vineyards, and the reason is this: we focus on growing the highest quality wine grapes in the world and, in-fact, purposely attempt to grow less fruit. We have Mother Nature to thank for low yields with our high elevation and volcanic soils, but in addition to her gifts, we employ certain vineyard practices such as what’s called Green Drop.

Recently, our winemaker and viticulturist, Andy Schweiger, brought me to the estate Malbec vineyard where he and our vineyard crew were literally taking half of the fruit off the vines and dropping them to the ground. There, these clusters will eventually become organic matter in the soil. Green Drop is done before the process of veraison begins when the grapes change from green to red and are pumped full of sugar. This enables the vine to focus its wine-creating energy on fewer berries resulting in more intense flavor, color and tannic structure.

If we were a mass producer, we wouldn’t do this. It’s labor intensive, costly, and sure; we could use the superfluous fruit if we wanted to. But we don’t. What we want is a more complex, age worthy, full bodied wine. “Green drop” is just one of the many ways we get there.

Cheers!


Sort, Wash, Sort (Part 8 in Andy’s Portugal journey)


When I first explained to Jerry (age 15 at the time) and Megan (age 12) that I was going to observe sorting while in Portugal, I’m very certain they visualized something much like this:

While cork sorting may not be that “magical”, the combination of science and hard work make the process seem even more magic than anything Hogwarts could ever dream up.

Even though the cork slabs were presorted before punching, there can now be some variability within a given lot of cork. All the freshly polished corks now go through one of several optical sorting machines that M.A. Silva has at this facility. This machine very rapidly takes a photo of both ends of every cork as long as a panorama of the barrel of the cork. A computer program measures the amount of “dark space” on a cork which represents a lenticel (or pore) on the cork. The

more dark spaces, the lower the grade. It then ejects that cork into one of several bins, further refining the quality of that lot.

Now that the cork has been sorted into “almost there” lots based on quality, it comes time to wash the cork. The intent is to provide a sanitary wash. This is done in a mild solution of Hydrogen Peroxide. Not only does this eliminate the majority of any potential harmful bacteria, yeast, or mold on the surface of the cork, it also removes the most of the dust from the processing up to this point.

The cork has one more sort before heading out of the factory now. Now is the time for the essential hand sort. While the optical sorter established a targeted quality grade, there is no machine that can compete with the skilled human eye. The entire batch of cork rolls on conveyers in front of highly trained women looking for nicks, mineral stains, and other imperfections in the cork. Each shift starts with, and at periodic breaks, they review, reference samples of what each grade should look like. If a cork doesn’t make the grade, it’s put into one of several bins where it may be reclassified, ground up for alternative cork products, or ground up for fuel for the cork boilers. Corks which pass muster proceed to the end of the conveyor where they are bundled up and, for the purpose of my cork world, shipped off to M.A. Silva, U.S.A.

 Samples are sent to wineries, and once a lot is purchased, M.A. Silva, U.S.A. will brand it with the customers logo and give the cork a fine coating (usually paraffin based) to help ensure the sealing of the cork. Sometimes a customer may request an additional upsort where a crew of hand sorters in the American Facility will run the sort again, removing 5-10% of a lot, improving the overall cosmetics of the lot.I do want to take a moment and point out something that really impressed me…the kind of odd thing that not many people would notice. I was really struck by the cleanliness of all the Silva facilities. Maybe it’s the fact that I do my best to maintain a clean facility here at Schweiger…one of the greatest compliments I can receive is when someone notices how clean our winery is. As you can see from the photos of the Silva facility, the concrete is clean and swept, trucks are unloaded under cover, and all cork material is stored inside. On our way out of the Silva facility, I noticed other facilities…these are smaller, independent facilities who source bark from other producers and will, in turn, sell their punched corks to any of a number of cork sales company here in the states. Look at the drive by photos of the gravel/dirt roads, the dirty buildings, the cork stored outside, sometimes under cover, but not protected from the elements. The degree of care and pride in their facility really impressed me.

So, while “my cork” journey is complete…there are more stories to come… I may even share some images from a tour of a facility making “FrankenCork”!


2016 Wineclub Appreciation Party (and Andy’s Rib Recipe)


Every year after harvest we pause and give thanks to our wine club members. These amazing fans support our wines year after year. Not only do they enjoy our wines in their homes, they are our greatest ambassadors, sharing their love of Schweiger with their friends and favorite restaurants. This years’ Wine Club Appreciation Party was such a joy to host. With food pairings provided by Marks the Spot Catering, local artisan cheeses, and smokey ribs prepared by yours truly, the crowd was truly well fed. Additionally, the crowd was entertained by guitarist Nate Lopez and sleight of hand master Brian Scott.

Many guests left wanting to know some of my rib secrets. While most pit bosses never give out their rub recipes, I’m going to reveal all…

Andy’s Ribs

  • Three slabs pork baby back ribs (I get mine at Costco: high/consistent quality, fair price).
  • 12 oz of your favorite commercial bbq sauce.
  • AndyRub
    • ¼ cup smoked paprika
    • 2 TBSP Smoked Salt
    • 3 TBSP turbinado sugar
    • 1 ½ TBSP ground dried chipotle
    • 1 TBSP Chili Powder
  • Rinse ribs well with water. Leave membrane on the lower side, but using a sharp boxcutter (why ruin a perfectly good knife), cut through the membrane between each bone. I leave this membrane on as it adds to the collagen we will be breaking down and collecting.
  • Combine Rub ingredients in a food processor and pulse to combine.
  • Coat the ribs liberally on both sides with rub.
  • Wrap the ribs tightly in heavy duty foil and refrigerate overnight to 24 hours (dry brine).
  • Preheat oven to 275F
  • After resting, lay ribs meat side down. With a fork, make small perforations at the bone tips, about four each side. Flip back over onto a deep, foil lined baking sheet (I use deeper disposable aluminum trays. These holes allow collagen and excess fat to drain onto pan. Do not over crowd/overlap ribs.
  • Bake for three hours. If your oven has a convection fan, use it!
  • At this point you can either finish the ribs or store them for future: open the foil, allow ribs to cool, and rewrap in foil and refrigerate for up to 3 days or vacuum pack and freeze for up to 6 months. After refrigerating, allow 30 mins at room temperature before grilling. If frozen, put in refrigerator overnight, then 30 minutes room temperature.
  • Collect all drippings from pan in a mason jar. Refrigerate until collagen sets. Remove “Hockey Puck” of yellowish fat (don’t throw this away…this makes an amazing seasoning fat for Brussel sprouts or other vegetables). Reheat collagen until liquid and combine 4 oz with 12 oz of commercial bbq sauce.
  • Prepare a medium heat fire on grill.
  • Grill meat side down for about 5 minutes, flip, brush on bbq sauce. Continue grilling meat side up for 5 minutes. Flip, turning 90 degrees, allowing sauce to carmelize but do not let it burn. Return meat side up after another five minutes, brush on more sauce and ready to enjoy!

No More Port ?!?


Many of our club members received a bottle of Port XIII in their recent club shipment. Now that this port has been released, I wanted to reach out and let you know that we reached a decision this summer to discontinue any future Port Production.

There will be no more Schweiger Port!!!

Now that I have your attention: Don’t panic! We will continue to make the same style wine you enjoy, we are just choosing to not call it “Port” anymore. After my trip to Portugal last year, I developed a fondness for the growers and winemakers of the Duoro and Porto regions. Even though we are grandfathered in and legally allowed to call it “Port”, we no longer feel right using their legally protected place name. Instead we will use a proprietary name and will continue the roman numerals for the releases, picking up with XIV when we bottle in the spring of 2017.

“So Andy, what are you going to call it?”
Well, funny you should ask; what do YOU think we should call it? We have so many club members with creative minds; I thought I’d give you the opportunity to help out. If we pick your submission, you will receive a special 6 pack of our dessert wines, including the VERY FIRST bottle of the newly named dessert wine to come off the bottling line in May.

Have a good idea? Please email submissions to notport@schweigervineyards.com by November 30th, 2016.

What’s the future of dessert wine at Schweiger?
Our Cabernet Ports have experienced universal praise by our club over the years, so we will continue producing this Cabernet dessert wine in years where growing conditions allow us to do so. Additionally, I came back from Portugal very enthused to not only continue our red dessert wine program, but expand on it a bit. This past harvest, I tried an experiment which tastes magnificent! I’ll share more about this in early next year.  Finally, there’s another project I’m working on which I intend to release in 2019. Stay tuned…it’s going to be great!

We are very grateful for your continued support of Schweiger Vineyards and forward to your name suggestions!

Andy “NotPort” Schweiger