Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Why So Quiet?

This blog has been quiet lately, with the blame falling squarely at my feet. After months of relative inactivity, punctuated by the occasional post, I decided it is time to talk a little bit about what has been keeping me busy as well as sapping my energy to post blog entries on a more regular basis.

This October, I started making wine for the first time. This is the real thing, and will be released as a commercially sale-able product when ready. I had initially picked roussanne and mourvedre to work with, but ended up with neither this year. The mourvedre was already allocated to people higher on the grower's customer list than I (typical and completely fair in this industry). The roussanne I so lusted after ended up being lost to Mother Nature, as the relentless summer sun caused the vineyard to lose around half its yield. What remained went to prior customers.

I ended up with petite verdot and tempranillo, two grapes I am thrilled to be working with. Total intake for 2012 was .82 tons of petite verdot and 1.1 tons of tempranillo from the Horse Heaven Hills AVA south of Prosser, Washington. The clusters on each were absolutely beautiful, with minimal raisining, no rot, and hardly any bugs!

Fortunately for me, I had a lot of assistance from the Kramers, especially Kim, in walking me through the process of selecting yeasts, must treatments (or lack thereof), barrels, and much more. The Kramers also helped with the nitty-gritty, punching down and pumping over the fermenting bins when I was away at my day job.

The day job. I began to look for another job in mid-July, when I realized I was not a good fit for Cathedral Ridge. To succeed in the wine business you must be passionate about the wines you are selling, and I simply couldn't find that passion. In September, I went to work for a distributor here in Oregon, working the Portland Metro area, selling Pacific Northwest wine and craft beers. The job is great in many ways, offering good compensation and benefits, while challenging me to see how far I truly want to go in sales. Each month I am amazed with what I've learned about selling for a distributor, and I'm taking away many things both good and bad from my experiences.

The last week of September saw me in Bordeaux with a group of wine bloggers including Jameson Fink and Joe Roberts. Balzac Communications and Planet Bordeaux were generous enough to include me on this trip, for whatever reason. I confess that despite the incredible experiences I had, I struggle to write about my time there. Whenever I begin to write about Bordeaux, I get frustrated that my writing skills aren't enough to suck you in, dear reader. You will see more Bordeaux posts from me in the future though.

2012 ended with a flurry of activity, and I proudly proclaim that in the last six to eight weeks of the year, I drank more Champagne than I ever have before. A rough guesstimate puts it at a case and a half. As you can tell, I am quite proud of this factoid.

What does 2013 promise then? The search for new grape sources. I haven't given up on my dream of working with grenache, and I may have a source for some of the finest domestic cabernet franc grapes, period. White wines also call to me, to that end I am actively seeking white Rhone varieties and sauvignon blanc. I hope that my Tempranillo will be released this fall, and that the petite verdot will be released in spring of 2014. Hope is just that, because as we know, the wines themselves will decide when they're ready to be released.

2013 also will bring some changes to this blog, when I move away from reviewing wine and more towards just talking about cool wines I drink. To my PR/Media friends, I'll still accept samples for review, but not nearly as many as before. I'm tired of all the crappy wines and Becky says they take up too much space in our house. She is right.

My personal journey with wine will see me buying more aged Bordeaux and Burgundies as well as continuing to explore Champagne, Alsace, and the Rhone Valley. Of perhaps some interest to my readers, I'm also embarking on a quest to find California Pinot Noir that my palate enjoys. After nearly a decade in California wine sales, I tasted most of the big name, "cult" pinot noirs, and can't stand them. The search is on for cooler climate, higher-acid, restrained examples of what the state can do. Of course, this will limit my search to more recent vintages, but that's ok.

Here now I ask you, did you make any wine resolutions this year? Did you have any wine epiphanies last year?

A toast to 2013, thank you for reading along!

Beau Carufel


  1. Nice post Beau, that was an enjoyable read. I don't make resolutions, but I was very happy to see that last year was full of reasonably priced discoveries for me. I know there are always things to learn, but I'm nervous about getting in too much of a rut with what I drink. To that end, finding entry level Nebbiolo that I can get excited about was probably the biggest discovery for me.

  2. I love that the last photo is a picture of you and Missy! 2012 was a fun adventure in wine and I look forward to seeing what 2013 will bring for you and us!

    My resolution is to get more familiar with more European regions. I do not know enough and would love to know more!

    My wine discovery: exploring international muller thurgaus! *Boom*

  3. Great blog, Beau. You've been a busy man, so I understand the blog getting less attention. That said, I look forward to the new direction of the blog as well as trying your wines, and drinking more with you in the future.

    My wine resolution: To buy less wine. I have a lot of good wine in my collection that needs to be enjoyed in the next few years, so I need to put effort there. My epiphany: Syrah, which I was not terribly fond of before this year. I had some great ones in 2012. Also, Willamette Valley Syrah. Marcus at Matello really knocked it out of the park with his Syrah/Viognier blend so I am really excited to seek out more.

  4. Excited to try your wine once it is bottled. Congratulations on your new path. So blessed to have both you and Becky in our circle.