May 8th, 2013
Family, Friends and Colleagues-
We are excited to announce the release of our third vintages of Balo Vineyards' Pinot Noir and Vin Gris (rosé) of Pinot Noir. These are the first vintages made entirely in our new winery and the 2011 Pinot Noir is the first wine produced by Balo under a full "Estate" designation.
*Due to the small quantity of wine produced, combined with the recent opening of our tasting room, we are once again making only 50% of our inventory available for online sales this year. We recommend that you wait roughly two weeks after delivery to allow the wine to recover from the shipping process.
(View of the Tasting Room from the Bocce Courts)
2011 Balo Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir
We made 214 cases of the 2011 vintage which is 34 cases less than we produced in 2010. The 2011 growing season was cooler than both the 2009 and 2010 seasons which resulted in longer hang time in the vineyard, a slightly lower alcohol level and a wine that is more reminiscent of Burgundy than California. The fruit was harvested starting at 3:00am and was immediately processed in our basket press to preserve structure and acidity. The wine is comprised of 5 clones of Pinot Noir and was aged for slightly over one year in French oak barrels, 30% of which were new.
Last weekend we tried this wine alongside the 2009 and 2010 from the growing library and if you still have some of our earlier vintages in your cellar we recommend that you do the same. Once again the same vineyard site, the same vines, the same clones, the same percentage of new oak and the same winemaker produced yet another unique interpretation of our terroir. It is always amazing to see how much a change in annual weather patterns can influence the finished wine.
There is a 12 bottle limit on the 2011 Pinot Noir.
2012 Balo Vineyards Vin Gris (rosé) of Pinot Noir
We produced slightly over 60 cases of our rosé this year and we think that our winemaker Jason Drew and assistant winemaker Alex Crangle both did a great job achieving a nice combination of fruit, structure, finesse (and a wonderful salmon color) with this wine. The fruit was sourced from 10 year old vines tended by the Ridley family in Anderson Valley and, like our Pinot, it was picked at a slightly lower Brix level, at very cool night temperatures, and was sent straight to our basket press. It was aged in a combination of neutral French oak and stainless steel barrels.
There is a 6 bottle limit on the 2012 Vin Gris (rosé) of Pinot Noir.
2012 Balo Vineyards Pinot Gris
We will release our first white wine, a new world Anderson Valley Pinot Gris, this Fall.
Last year we added New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon and Washington to our existing shipping states of California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Texas, and Virginia. Unfortunately, if you do not live in (or near) one of these states we can not ship our wine to you directly.
Tasting Room Hours and the Annual Pinot Noir Festival
The tasting room re-opened last weekend after shutting down in early December when we ran out of last year's wines. We will be open Friday through Monday 11:00am to 5:00pm this year.
The 16th annual Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival will be held from Friday 5/17 through Sunday, 5/19 in the valley. The grand tasting will be held at Goldeneye Winery across the street from Balo on Saturday afternoon and all of the wineries and tasting rooms will host an open house with wine, food and live music all day Sunday. For more information and tickets:
It has been over a year since you've heard a project update from us and that is directly related to how busy we've been. Virtually every aspect of the vineyard, winery and tasting room received significant attention over the last 12 months. Some highlights include the arrival of our first tractor (more exciting than anticipated), the installation of an outdoor kitchen with a wood burning pizza oven behind the tasting room, some landscape and hardscape projects around both buildings and the expansion of our parking areas. We look forward to hosting you for a day of wine and cheese tasting and a friendly game of Bocce in the near future.
(Alex taking delivery of the New Holland tractor)
We're thankful for the support that you've shown us over the last three years as we've built this business from the ground up. Your enthusiastic response to our organically farmed vineyard site, our winemaker and most importantly to our wines tells us that we're on the right path.
The Mullins Family, Alex and Travis
~Family Owned, Organically Farmed, Premium Small Lot Wines
February 8th, 2012
January 7th, 2012
Happy New Year to the friends of Balo Vineyards. The winery is in the final few weeks of construction and the most recent progress includes the installation of the cave doors (hidden behind tarps in these photos), staining of the redwood siding, mechanical/electrical/plumbing work inside and installation of the see-through garage style doors that will separate the barrel room and case storage areas from the central fermentation area.
View from the 777 block
View from Fermentation Area into Barrel Room
December 25th, 2011
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to our family, friends and colleagues. The winery project has been moving quickly since the last update in November and the projected completion date is now late January, 2012. All of the wood has been added to the structure including the redwood trellis that will cover the entrance to the barrel room. The latest photos are below, and to get a sense for the scale of the building take a look at the person standing on the roof next to the apple dryer vent in the second photo:
View from the Tasting Room Path
View From 777 Block
November 28th, 2011
The apple dryer vents have been enclosed, the front cave door frame was installed, the septic installation was completed, soffits were put in and the beginnings of the standing seam roof panels were installed over the past few weeks. This week the rest of the wood will be installed on the main building and on the apple dryer vents. The interior framing has been finished and most of the electrical and plumbing is also in place. A few updated photos below:
View from the Tasting Room Path
View from the Interior Road
November 8th, 2011
Significant construction progress has been made over the past two weeks as the building envelope was closed, the stone retaining wall completed, interior walls were framed out, windows were installed and the carpenters began covering the structure in redwood. The next major changes to the exterior will be the installation of the standing seam roof panels and the enclosing of the roof vents. A few updated photos below:
View from the Path
View From the Tasting Room Entrance
View from the Crush Pad
October 26th, 2011
The insulated side panels and roof panels are almost completely installed and the structure is starting to look a lot more like a winery. The improved weather over the past two weeks has allowed us to get back on schedule and it won't be long before we start covering the structure in redwood. In this picture you can see the framing for the twin apple dryer vents above the roof line. An updated photo:
Next Friday 11/4 we'll be with our friends at Petite Philippe on Selwyn Avenue in Charlotte, NC co-hosting an Anderson Valley Pinot tasting that will feature our 2009 Pinot Noir. Michele and I will be there to talk about our fruit and there will be some great wines from a few of our talented friends in the valley.
We also got some great news today from our friends at Drew Family Cellars. Jason Drew is our winemaker and he and his wife Molly have put together yet another amazing group of wines this year. We are particularly proud of the fact that their 2009 Drew Fog eater (60% Balo Vineyards fruit) just received 92 points from Wine Spectator and 91 points from Steve Tanzer.
October 11th, 2011
It is always a relief to have your fruit off of the vines (and in the winery) each year but that is especially true in 2011. At Balo we picked a few weeks ago before the unexpected and relatively heavy rains put northern California vineyard managers and winemakers in a tough spot. Depending on the area only 25-50% of the crop had been picked prior to the rains and right now the fading acids, falling sugars and the growing threat of bunch rot are probably going to result in an extremely light production year - the second in a row. The weather report this week looks promising, and hopefully it will be dry enough to allow our friends and colleagues to get some more quality fruit off the vines before it is too late.
The winery project is steadily continuing despite the rains but the conditions are slowing us down a little. This past week the main skeleton of the building was in place and we probably have 3-4 more days of structural work before they start inserting the insulated panels. We need to get the building envelope closed before the rains become more constant so we have a dry environment to put the internal systems in place. Here is an updated photo of the exterior:
October 1st, 2011
2009 Balo Vineyards Pinot Noir started showing up on retailers' shelves in the Charlotte, NC area this past week. We were particularly proud to see a bottle from our inaugural vintage for sale in the marketplace. Shown here on the shelf at wine shop "Petite Philippe" on Selwyn Avenue, alongside some well known veterans of the California Pinot Noir movement:
The winery project took a dramatic and positive turn this past week when the contractor started erecting the metal girders that will carry the roof trusses and other structural elements of the winery building. Once the full architectural skeleton is in place they will install the insulated panels all the way around. After the standing seam roof is installed on top, the main structure and the apple dryer vents above the roof line will be covered in redwood. The structure will look like a traditional agricultural barn on the outside while the inside will be open, modern and energy efficient. Here's an updated photo from last Wednesday:
September 24th, 2011
We just completed another successful harvest, our 9th since purchasing the property. We picked the fruit starting at 3:00am on Thursday and Friday and both fruit quality and fruit chemistry were outstanding, while tonnage was on the light side at 2 tons per acre. The smaller yields will result in less wine for us in the 2011 vintage (probably 180 cases of Pinot Noir and 50 cases of Rosé of Pinot Noir). Check back later for some harvest photos.
September 19th, 2011
We are releasing the balance of our 2009 Pinot Noir today. The weather has finally cooled off enough to start shipping again and the wine has benefited from a few more months in the bottle. Depending on how many cases our distributor will need before year end we will have 25-35 cases left to offer our fellow enthusiasts through the online store. North Carolina residents will start to see our wine on the shelf and on wine lists at local retailers and restaurants in early October.
What the Critics are Saying
We previously mentioned the nice review our 2009 reeived from the PinotFile and a later update to that review added these kind words "This is a producer to watch. Love the website handle: www.killerpinot.com."
Several months ago we also sent a sample of our 2009 Pinot Noir to Wine Spectator as part of their annual Pinot tasting. I’ll admit that we were nervous given that ratings and tasting notes can vastly influence a winery’s reputation, and you never know if you’re going to catch a taster on a bad day. We are pleased with the result (especially given that it was our inaugural effort) and James Laube’s review is reproduced below:
"Intense, with complex cedar, blackberry, blueberry, spice and floral scents. A touch rustic in texture, yet intense and persistent, firming on the finish. Best from 2012 through 2019. 275 cases. 88/100 Points" –JL
It is worth noting that our winemaker Jason Drew’s original opinion regarding the wine’s formidable structure and the potential for aging is confirmed in Mr. Laube’s review. You don’t frequently see a 10 year drinking window on a California Pinot Noir and we feel that the tannins will keep this wine together while it continues to develop. As they soften and the fruit comes forward the wine will likely exhibit a steadily improving balance between fruit and structure. Try not to drink them all now!
Based on feedback from buyers we have adjusted the case price and UPS ground shipping is now free.
2010 Vintage and the 2011 Harvest Report
We successfully bottled 248 cases of the Balo Vineyards 2010 Pinot Noir a few weeks ago. The wine will now sit in the bottle for a minimum of 6 months before we release it in the spring of 2012. We had enough time this year to order custom capsules and we also made some barely discernible changes to the label and bottle style. Let us know what you think.
The 2011 vintage is on track for an excellent conclusion in terms of both quality and balance. Our increased attention to detail in the vineyard, along with our new partnership with well known vineyard manager Ardzrooni, has definitely paid dividends. The cooler weather earlier in the growing season has put us on track for a late September/early October harvest which will be 2-3 weeks later than last year. We’ll post some pictures and the harvest grape chemistry in the next update. We will be crushing again this year at Molly & Jason Drew’s beautiful winery in Elk, CA and next year will be the first time that we bring everything in-house at our facility which is still under construction (see below).
There is a lot to talk about since the last update. The retaining walls and sub-slab improvements were all completed by late August and the main winery slab was poured shortly thereafter. Since then both of the crush pad slabs were poured, the retaining walls were waterproofed and back-filled, the trenching for electric and phones were completed, and the beams and trusses for the structure were delivered to the site. The hard part is now behind us and in the next week a crane will be delivered to start the process of erecting the structure. The goal is to get the building envelope closed before the rains start and then we can complete work on the interior and systems over the winter. A few progress photos below:
Sub-Surface Work Almost Complete 8/30/11
Main Building Forms in Place 8/30/11
Retaining Walls, Slab Base Layer and Wire Lathing in Place 8/31/11
Pouring the Winery Slab 9/1/11
Our team at Ardzrooni Vineyard Management is going to prep the hillside above the pond this fall for the spring planting of some Pinot Gris. It will be a few years before we will have a harvest from these vines but we're excited to start working on our first estate plantings of a white grape varietal.
We appreciate all of the support you've given us since we launched the brand in April, 2011. The next update in October will include some details and photos of the 2011 harvest, a status update on the winery construction project and some photos from the crush (the best time of year to be in wine country).
Michele & Tim Mullins
July 6th, 2011
First of all, thank you for the amazing response to our inaugural release. We sold out of the Rosé in just a few days and most of the Pinot Noir is gone too. The feedback from everyone that has tasted their wine has also been extremely positive and we're thankful that our passion for quality showed up in the bottle.
Shipping Suspension Update:
Please note that we've temporarily suspended shipments of the remaining Pinot Noir until September due to the summer heat. We want to make sure that your wine arrives in good condition and since we can not control how long it might sit on the truck, we thought it was the best course of action. We will notify everyone when the remaining wine is available to order.
NC Distribution Agreement:
It took a while, but we have successfully negotiated the North Carolina distributor application process and NC residents should start seeing our wine at select retailers and restaurants in late summer or early fall. We are planning to spend the next several months adding additional direct shipping states so we can service more folks when we release our 2010's and 2011's next year.
Our 2010 Pinot Noir production will be slightly smaller than last year and the 10 barrels we made will yield roughly 240 cases of finished wine.
2010 Pinot Noir Tasting Notes:
We recently arrived at the final blend of clones for our 2010 Pinot Noir and the finished wine will be comprised of roughly 46% 777, 22% Pommard, 16% 828, 11% 115 and 5% Martini. The wine is still far from ready but it tasted great this past week and, to our palates, is more elegant than the 2009 without sacrificing the fruit and structure. The slightly more Burgundian style is most likely due to a combination of the slightly cooler weather during the growing season combined with a lower percentage of the 777 clone and a higher percentage of the Pommard clone.
On the nose you'll detect lilac, red rose, lavender, nutmeg and wild blueberry while the palate reveals further intense fruit including huckleberry and cherry, good minerality, an attractive saline element and coarse tannins which will evolve and soften before the wine is released in spring 2012. These observations courtesy of Jason Drew, while Michele and I just thought it tasted great.
We're planning to bottle the 2010 in late August and we'll let it settle down and resolve itself in the bottle for roughly six months before we release it along with the 2011 Rosé in spring 2012. The Pinot Gris will be available later in the year.
2010 Growing Season:
A surprisingly cool and slightly wet early growing season has given way to that perfect coastal California weather that puts great Pinot Noir fruit on the vines. The last rain came in June but we already had a healthy fruit set and cluster shatter (a.k.a. coulure) has thankfully not been an issue for us. The vineyards managers have been busy with suckering and weed control which is a good deal more labor intensive with an organic farming practice. They're also adjusting the wires to accommodate growth and to allow the right amount of sun and air flow get to the growing clusters. At this point we're expecting a harvest in the first week of October which is roughly two weeks later than last year.
The ground breaking took place this past Saturday after a six week delay due to weather and contractor scheduling. The view in the photo above is from the new winery entrance road towards the site where the building will eventually be (that area used to be mature vineyard, which we unfortunately had to remove). We're expecting the foundation to be poured late July/early August and we should have the frame and the siding up by mid-September. There is a fair amount of complexity involved with the systems, drainage, etc but we're still hoping to have the project completed by year end. We'll send out some additional construction updates later this summer.
Thanks again for your business and for all of your words of encouragement.
The Mullins Family