Introduce Yourself

Snooth User: Andrew46

Hi from Briceland Vineyards in Humboldt County

Posted by Andrew46, Jun 6, 2010.

I am pretty new to snooth, and just stumbled across the intro page.  I am the son of one of the owners of a very nice, very small winery in Southern Humboldt, CA.  We are between two fine Pinot areas, Sonoma and Oregon.  So, surpise!  In the right spots here, Pinot Noir does very well.  We also make Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, along with methode champenoise sparklings.  All well suited to the cool (comparative to say, Napa) climate.  According to our recorded temps, the degree days here are slightly warmer, but similar to Champagne.

The winery was established in 1985, and began winning awards in major competitions like the CA State Fair, Orange County Fair and SF International Wine Competition in the first years. 

I feel lucky to work under my step-father, Joe Collins, who is the winemaker and founded the winery with my mother.  One thing which I feel gives him a leg up is his skill as a taster.  He was the Individual Grand Champ of the CA wine tasting competition twice.  I am the apprentice winemaker as he and my mother get ready to retire. 

If anyone is on 101 in the far North part of CA, give us a shout and come by to taste.

Replies

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Reply by dmcker, Jun 6, 2010.

Welcome to Snooth, Andrew. I haven't had your wines, but next time I'm driving up towards Eureka on 1 or 101 I'll try to swing by and visit your winery. I assume tastings are by appointment only? Would be interesting to hear any details you have to share about how growing grapes and making wine in your area may be different from just a bit south in Mendocino or Sonoma....

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Reply by Andrew46, Jun 6, 2010.

Thanks for the welcome, dmcker.

Are you in the Bay Area?

Yes, tours are by apt., but we have a joint tasting room in Redway with two other local wineries.  Persimmons Garden Gallery is open most afternoons, and pours tastes of many of our wines.

About the difference between here and Sonoma and Mednocino, it is hard to say exactly what that is, particulaly for me, being from here.  However, the North half of CA is a big place.  We are 150 miles North from Santa Rosa, in Sonoma County.

One thing that is different here is that the topography is more varied than most places grapes are grown.  The best spots here are South facing slopes at around 1500 feet.  So, two vineyards that are only a few miles apart can show very different traits.  The difference will most likely be elevation, proximity to rivers, orientation.  There are two Pinot vineyards we have worked with that a next to each other.  One is in a bowl and the other is on a slight ridge.  The wines will be quite different most years.  I have to assume the difference is wind speed and soil. 

Each year we make a Sauvignon Blanc from Humboldt grapes and from Lake County grapes.  There is a big difference in the profiles.  Frankly, the Humboldt is like nothing else I have found in CA.  Very bright acididity and more citrusy than the Lake or those made by other wineries that I have tasted.

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Reply by John Andrews, Jun 6, 2010.

@Andrew ... thanks for stopping on Snooth.  Like you I work for a small winery but, only weekends, and in a more well known appellation (Sonoma Valley).

I'm am making a roadtrip up to Oregon with some friends this summer so we will definitely make sure to drop in.  I am a sucker for bubbly so we will definitely have to stop in.

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Reply by John Andrews, Jun 6, 2010.

Oh yeah, do you have a website?

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Reply by John Andrews, Jun 6, 2010.

never mind ... found it. 

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Reply by Andrew46, Jun 6, 2010.

I see that we are talking on two threads. 

Yes, our website... sort of.  It is a temporary one until I get done with a few other projects.

We are proud of our bubbly.  Over the years it has won best of region in the state fair among other recognition.

I will be more than glad to show you and your gang around.  Keep me posted on your travel plans.

Cheers!

 

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Reply by dmcker, Jun 6, 2010.

So is there much fog up off the river on either of the sites? And if so, any differences between the two sites in amount and timing of the fog?

I'd also be curious about any more detail regarding the differences you describe between your Lake and Humboldt County grapes. I have family that's been in various types of agriculture in Lake County for generations. In answer to your question, I was born and went to school in the Bay Area, but was raised in between in the Ventura/Santa Barbara Counties area. Now I'm in Tokyo.

And do you grow your own grapes? Would love to hear more about all aspects of your approach to winemaking up there.

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Reply by Andrew46, Jun 6, 2010.

Yes, one of the sites has more river influence, so more fog.  Most years, there is not a huge amount of fog in the fall, so the impact of this varies.  One year, we pick the vineyards the same day.  The next year, the one with more fog is 2 weeks later.  We grow a small percent of our grapes. 

My stepfather, our winemaker, Joe Collins reseached grape growning in our area going back to the 70's.  He determined that the best sites are South facing slopes at or near 1500 feet.  Sadly, our land where the winery is located is at 550 ft.  So, more fog, more frost, deep soil.  He helped site most of the vineyards we buy grapes from.  Joe is widely credited with getting the grape growing "industry" started in Southern Humboldt.  I put industry in quotes since it is mostly an acre here and a couple there, due the lack of flat land at 1500 feet.  A few growers have planted bigger vineyards lower and we await the results.

The difference between the Lake SB and the Humboldt SB is very noticable, even when made in exactly the same manner.  The Lake displays more typical tropical fruit, melon aromas and is very forward with those.  The Humboldt has more citrusy, grassy traits and is more tart, even when the Brix are the same.  Of whites, the Humboldt is my favorite food wine.

On our whites, do whatever we can to protect the aromas.  We use lots of CO2 when transfering, and tend towards a slightly reductive wine.  Often we have found that our whites are still fruity after 2-3 years in the bottle.  We also have a connection in Mendocino County for top quality  Arneis grapes.  The grower used to be the UC Extention Advisor.  The 09 is Mendocino Arneis, pre-release will appreciated one it is available.

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Reply by dmcker, Jun 6, 2010.

Thanks for the answer back, Andrew. How much of the difference between the Lake County SB and the Humboldt SB comes from the temperature differences rather than the soil, do you think? And why would you have more frost at 550ft rather than 1500ft? Difference in shade/sun exposure?

I haven't had any Arneis wines made in the States, though I've had some from Langhe and Alba in the Piedmont of Italy. Are you making it in an Italianate style, or...?

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Reply by Andrew46, Jun 7, 2010.

I think the main difference between the two SBs is the warmer temps in Lake County.  I can't support that scientific data.  However, I do think the Lake is more like SB from other parts of CA with similar temps and the Humboldt is not like any CA SBs I have tasted.

The lower elevation gets more frost because of poor "air drainage" for lack of a better phrase.  The cold air from the ridges settles into the valleys.  It can be the difference from almost never needing frost protection at 1500 feet and needing it several times (at a minimum) every year at 500.  Above 2000 feet, cold from higher elevation trumps, at least here.  So, we look for 1000 - 2000 as range.  Above the fog but below the snow.

Our Arneis is made in a similar manner to our SBs, with attention to retaining aromas.  Surprisingly, we find them to be very enjoyable even after 2-4 yrs in the bottle.  I can't speak with any confidence on Italian winemaking techniques.  I can say the our grape grower says he likes ours better than the ones he fell in love with in Italy.  If you have some that you can suggest, I like to drink more Italian ones for "research". 

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Reply by dmcker, Jun 8, 2010.

Greg DP would likely be the person with the best answers about the Nebbiolo Bianco (Arneis) wines to hunt for. I hesitate to step in, with him somewhere in the wings.

That being said, I remember liking the stone fruit (apricots, peaches and sometimes nectarines), pears and almond scents I picked up from the Arneis wines I drank in Italy. Those that were oaked were fuller bodied, but those fermented in stainless steel were fresher tasting with more aromatics. I think years ago the grape was used in blends with Barolo to soften the red wine's tannins, thus its name I use above, but I doubt many people do that any more, unlike the Rhone where Viognier is still used in blends with Syrah. One thing I don't like about the less wellmade versions are an overripeness and slacking off of essential acidity. That would be my greatest fear about California versions, that they'd be harvested too late from overripe fruit.

Some labels to look for might be Bruno Giacosa Roero Arneis, as one example from Roero, and the Azienda Monsordo Bernardina Langhe Arneis Blange (made by Ceretto), as an example from Langhe. Both of those producers are reliable. I remember having versions from Marchesi di Barolo and Vietti that were OK, too....

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Reply by jennifer20091, Jun 8, 2010.

sounds good

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Reply by Andrew46, Jun 9, 2010.

What is the policy (if any) about people who post with URLs promoting dating sites? 

I don't know Jennifer.  She may well be a very nice person with real interest in wine.  I have nothing against people with STDs either.  Just wondering...

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Reply by SMFN, Jun 12, 2010.

Was there a post that I missed or was taken down? I didn't see a dating site or an STD post! Somehow this conversation went WAY down the wrong path... moving on...

Andrew, I was just in Northern Ca visiting Goldeneye, sorry I didn't know you were out there...next time for sure!

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Reply by Andrew46, Jun 12, 2010.

SMFN,

Thanks for your post.  Look forward to seeing you up here when you make it.

The other thing relates to jennifer20091's short post.  The link is in her profile. 

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Reply by Andrew46, Jun 16, 2010.

Hi again,

We just got results back from the Orange County Fair - Gold for 09 Mendocino County Arneis, Spirt Canyon Vineyard and Silver for Humboldt County Sauvignon Blanc.  While I have my own doubts about wine judging, like others in the trade, I think they are brilliant when they award the wines that I think are good enough to enter.

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Reply by dmcker, Jun 16, 2010.

Congratulations. Would definitely like to try those two wines--do you ship to Japan? ;-)

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Reply by Andrew46, Jun 16, 2010.

dmcker,

I have not yet shipped to Japan.  Any idea as to what is involved?   I am checking with Fedex to see what they say.


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