News From The Vineyard

Fall 2016

IMG_1177First light, September 7, 2016, the picking crew arrives at the vineyard to harvest the first fruit of the season.  A beautiful block of Chardonnay as well as Pinot Noir that are ripe and ready to be fermented into another great vintage of Heller Estate Organic Vineyard wine.  The berries, still cold from the night air, are handled with care as they are plucked from the vines and transported to the winery.  When the grapes arrive, the whole clusters of Chardonnay are loaded directly into the press where they are squeezed lightly to produce a lovely golden colored juice, sweet and aromatic.  The Chardonnay juice will spend a couple days in tank settling before starting the fermentation process.  Once there is no sugar left in the Chardonnay the very young wine will be racked to barrels, where it will age for at least one year. Read more…

Summer 2016

PVclustersSummer is upon us and it is heating up nicely here in Cachagua Valley.  The vines and fruit trees are soaking up all the warm sunshine, which they are loving.  At this stage in time the fruit has set and the clusters are all formed. The grapes on the clusters are still relatively small and hard, but over the next couple of months they will start plumping up.  Great wines start first and foremost in the vineyard.  Being organically farmed puts us ahead of the game.  Our crew takes great pride in working hard to make sure that all the vineyard blocks are getting the attention that is needed to produce the amazing grapes that go into our award winning wines.

During these 90°+ days it is nice to escape the heat by popping into the winery and laboratory to do some work.  Keeping our white wine tanks chilling for stabilization creates a nice air conditioning effect.  This is not only good for the wines, but also the winemakers.  Tracking the wine in tanks and barrels is a monthly task.  Performing analysis on all wines helps us to maintain the vitality of it depending on the data we collect.  At this point we may or may not make any adjustment to the wine in barrel or tank.  After all the barrels will be topped.  Barrels breath at a low level so wine will evaporate thus needing to be replenished to keep full.

Read more…

Spring 2016

Spring is here!  A lot has been going on up here at the winery and vineyard.  In 2015 an initiative was taken to construct a pond due to the drought that had continued throughout California over the past four years. In early NPicture1ovember, the construction was finally completed.  This was perfect timing for the start of California’s rainy season.  The pond spans the length of a football field, holding five million gallons of water.  Our natural spring feeds right into the new pond and with solid rainfall over the winter the pond is now ready to be put into operation.  This will allow us the ability to frost-protect our vineyards as well as in really hot summer conditions, give us a way to dose out little amounts of water to the vines thus protecting the canopy and the fruit.  The pond is also a great addition because it is a natural ecosystem full of turtles, frogs, ducks and geese.

Read more…

Winter 2016

Heading into 2016, we are excited for the oncoming season as well as the prospects of spectacular wines crafted from both 2014 and the 2015 season.

Late fall rains and the predictions of a strong El Nino – perhaps the strongest since 1997 – have us very hopeful for heavy winter rains. After four years of continued drought conditions, our vineyards and water table look forward greatly to drenching downpours.

While the rains fall (or hopefully) we are busy taking care of our 2014 and 2015 reds as well as our young white wines in our cellar and barrel rooms. Red wines will be topped roughly every 30 days, as wine tends to evaporate in the barrel over time. Topping each barrel is meticulous work but a necessity to keep the wine sound in the barrel.

Read more…

Winter 2015

Happy 2015 from the winery and vineyards!

We have great hopes for the vintage and truly wish all of our wine club members and their families a safe and prosperous year.

We will begin setting the stage for our vintage in a few weeks when we start to prune our organic vines deep within the Cachagua Valley.  Pruning the vines while they are dormant allows us to control how much fruit each vine will produce and is the first step in a long growing season. Read more…

Fall 2015

Welcome to our 2015 4th Quarter Wine Club!!!

As we are winding our way through another highly successful vintage, we’d like to give everyone an update on our organic vineyards and winery.

We have already picked our mountain grown Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Malbec, Merlot and one block of gorgeous, ripe Cabernet Sauvignon as of today – 25 September 2015. Easily our earliest harvest in 20 years, we are amazed at the quality of what has been rolling off our incredible vineyard.

With over 100 acres planted to 9 varieties, Heller Estate is the largest grape grower in the Cachagua Valley. Thanks to the Heller family, we have been cultivating these organic grapes since 1993 with the intent to minimally impact our natural surroundings, ecosystem and community.

Read more…

Spring 2015

This time of year is exciting and vibrant in the vineyard. Lush cover crop grows between and within our vine rows, the hillsides are still green and alive from the small amount of rain we received in December and early March. Crickets, California peeper frogs, songbirds and afternoon breezes echo all day among our awakening vines.

I am lucky enough to experience this tranquility each and every day as I move through the vineyard and the surrounding Heller Estate ranch on the edge of the vast Ventana Wilderness.  Read more…

Summer 2015

Welcome to our 2015 3rd Quarter Wine Club!!! Fresh off winning some nice medals from the Orange County Fair which includes two golds for our 2013 Cachagua Cabernet and 2012 Petit Verdot (as well as others), we are happy to include the Cachagua in this quarter’s shipment! We are also excited about some upcoming releases…Picture1

Our 2013 Chardonnay is about to hit the shelves and also sports a new, freshly designed label from Mrs. Heller. Be prepared for brimming aromas of pineapple and butterscotch with a lovely citrus mouth feel. Also, we will soon be releasing our 2012 Pinot Noir and our 2012 Petite Sirah – two wines that occupy total opposite ends of the red wine spectrum. The Pinot encompassing delicate cranberry and lightness of tannins while the Petite embraces dark berry with gripping tannins and acidity. Read more…