How awesome it is to walk into the garden in our backyard and grab some arugula, butter lettuce, or romaine for a fresh summer salad; pimientos for a cast iron skillet; cucumbers for 24-hour pickles; or a variety of tomatoes and fresh basil?! For me this is the perfect balance of abundance and simplicity that Michelle and I seek daily.
This is also the essence of the Southern charm and hospitality that my beautiful wife has perfected in spite of her northern California roots. Michelle truly enjoys getting back to the basics when we entertain: great music, fresh food, and stunning wine sprinkled with sincere conversation around a thoughtful table. And she'll be the first to share with you that:
This rule applies not only in our home and at the chateau, but in the vineyards as well. My approach to farming aims to strike that same balance between abundance and simplicity. And I attribute it to where we are today.
The 2017 vintage looks to be 2-3 weeks later than 2016 with a slightly above average crop load. The vines are green and healthy due, in part, to all of the rain we received this past winter. Fruit set was optimal across the board and clusters are as they should be with no shot berries and very few instances of hens and chicks.
And finally, the tasting notes here at Whetstone are done by committee as the girls and I take a seat together late morning and discuss smells, flavors, nuances...everything.
Addie, who has been with us since the beginning, has an unparalleled (and unbridled) ability to take the abundance in the glass and translate it into layman's simplicity. Her quote at the end of the 2014 Syrah: "Like a giant field of lavender with a bull running by on a hot day"...brilliant!
TASTING NOTES: Stainless steel fermented, aged for 16 months sur lees in 100% French oak; 35% new oak. Bottled unfined, unfiltered. Ruby in color. Big nose of rose petal, sweet perfume, cherry and bay leaf. Medium-bodied flavors of red raspberry and cherry cola with hints of pekoe tea and Asian spice. Lingering flavors of black cherry, tea and baker’s chocolate with a hint of tobacco accentuate a textured, long finish.
TASTING NOTES: Stainless steel fermented, aged for 28 months sur lees in neutral French oak. Dark purple in color. Nose jumps out of the glass with ripe cassis, freshly crushed pink peppercorns, violets and “animale.” Secondary aromas of red meat, white pepper, beef carpaccio, and camp fire. Intense flavors of cassis, ripe raspberry, white pepper, and savory red meats. Finishes long with fleshy tannins and tobacco.
Cheers to abundance.
Cheers to simplicity.
Cheers to you.
- Jamey Whetstone
Aged 16 months in 35% new French oak barrels, sur lees. Deep ruby red in color. High-toned notes ripe raspberry perfume, rose petal, and Bing cherry with hints of thyme and mint. Secondary notes of toasted brioche with butter and strawberry jam. Silky, rich flavors of Bing cherry, orange pekoe covered dark chocolate, and Asian spice. Finishes long with bright notes of sassafras tea and baker’s chocolate.
Barrel fermented in neutral French oak and aged for 16 months sur lees. Golden yellow in color. Bright nose full of apricot, lemon and orange marmalade, with hints of licorice and thyme. Background notes of jasmine, paper whites, hazelnut and toasted almond. Mouthful of apricot, liquid minerals, and peach liquor. Finishes long with hints of lemon meringue, white peaches, and touch of salinity.
Aged for 16 months in 35% new French oak barrels, sur lees. Cherry red in color with a big, bright nose of bing cherry, red currants, forest floor, mushroom, and Asian spice. Secondary notes of rhubarb pie, nutmeg, pumpkin spice, and tea. Medium bodied flavors of red plum, bing cherry and baker’s chocolate. Finishes super long with notes of orange pekoe tea and a hint of tobacco.
Off to an early start, the 2015 growing season had some fits and fizzles through the spring followed by one of the longest sets in recent memory; as in 28 days long! Summer had some hot pockets but then slowed down considerably, ripening the fruit almost perfectly with some great acids. The size of the crop was quite a bit shy of a normal yield averaging around 2.2 tons per acre.
Pleasant Hill Pinot Noir and Catie’s Corner Viognier continue to offer up pleasurable wines that stay rooted in finesse and varietal. The Terra de Promissio Pinot Noir looks to be a perfect wine for aging that puts more of its heel into Burgundy than its toe.
We're always adding new and exciting things to the calendar,
so make sure you check our "Upcoming Events" page!
Happy Spring y'all!
The Whetstone Crew
Key ingredients when making the finest Lowcountry Hoppin’ John! Thought to bring luck and prosperity in the year ahead, this heartwarming dish is a classic Southern tradition that my family continues to keep alive. Today, more than ever, it’s just nice to sit back and enjoy a simple meal that dates back generations.
The fact that I order heirloom rice and beans directly from Anson Mills in South Carolina to create this tradition for my family across the country in California speaks to the same values that make what we do at Whetstone so special. The attention to detail we enjoy with our growers, the way we welcome you into our home at the Chateau, and the delicious consistency of our wines are a passionate and measured existence. We hope you find it all translates into lots of comfort while sipping your favorite glass of Whetstone as winter gives way to spring.
Whatever your tradition may be, it's our hope that Whetstone wines have - or perhaps will - become a part of it!
Here's to traditions old and new,
As a kid it was a mainstay around the holidays and, really, anytime we were celebrating. Just the thought of it makes my mouth water...how I love that dense and spongey sweetness!
Speaking of density, the Goldridge Loam soil series replete throughout the Russian River Valley always reminds me of pound cake! Not only in its makeup and consistency, but also in how it allows a vine to enjoy a luxurious and less stressful existence below ground. It's what happens above ground, however, that gives the many nooks and crannies of the appellation an opportunity to imprint a special sense of place, like what you experience in our beautifully expressive Pleasant Hill Pinot Noir.
The Pleasant Hill vineyard, planted and maintained by Charlie Chenoweth (a dear friend, mentor, and one of the premier farmers of high-end Pinot Noir in California) has been a single-vineyard designate for Whetstone since 2003 and serves as the foundation of our newly-expanded Pinot program. The 2013 vintage marks a decade of working with this flagship vineyard and what a better way to celebrate it's history than to share it with you?!
With so much to celebrate this time of year, you don't want to find yourself empty handed!
Cheers to p o u n d c a k e & p i n o t !
The dog days.
As I sit here on the dock, smoking the last of a Hemingway and watching a big moon rise up over the western shore of Lake Tahoe, I am acutely aware of the art of being present. It is an art form that I’ve practiced with each bottle, tune, and conversation shared under the sun at the chateau with many of you this summer. I mean, let’s be honest...delicious food, summer concert series, bare feet, and blankets on the lawn are what summer is all about here at Whetstone!
And nobody is better at setting a beautiful table and filling its seats with the best of company than Michelle. When she first came up with the idea of Fried Chicken Fridays, we all agreed it was brilliant, but I don’t think any of us realized what a hit it would be! These monthly gatherings in addition to our summer concerts and Harvest Kick-Off party have provided such a wonderful sense of community with our local supporters, industry friends, and neighbors alike. Thank you to all who attended any number of our summer fiestas, enjoyed a classic tasting under the oak tree, or gave Ace a belly rub – your continued support and friendship mean so much to us!
Are coming to an end...
As much as we hate to think about summer coming to an end, the cooler weather really only shifts the parties fireside and brings my focus squarely to harvest. My daily visits to the vineyard offer me even more practice in being present as I leave my phone in the truck, grab a swig of coffee, take a deep, lung-filling breath of crisp, early morning air, and commune with the vines. So far, 2016 has provided a very warm spring and solid set, followed by a hot June and warm July. It's looking to be another semi-early harvest with below average yields, which should bode well for concentration of fruit with bright, natural acidity. Lots to look forward to!
H E R E & N O W .
we're excited to announce the release of these new wines...
Stainless steel fermented, 100% French oak-aged in 20% new oak barrels. Bottled unfined, unfiltered. Ruby in color. Complex nose of dark cherry, blackberry pie, orange peel, and pekoe tea. Background notes of rose petal and Asian spice. Bold flavors of Bing cherry, dark cherry with hints of sassafras tea. Secondary flavors of pekoe tea and plum with supple tannins and long, bright finish.
SIDE NOTE: While the 2015 "Jon Boat" Pinot Noir is currently raring to go, it will certainly reward those of you who have the patience to put away a case or so for the future.
Aged for 28 months in neutral French oak barrels, sur lees. Dark purple in color. Large nose full of dark red cherry and cassis, bacon fat, and red meats with hints of what the French describe as "animale." Secondary aromas of hi-tone blueberry and wafts of garrigue. Velvety mouthful of red plum with lots of rugged cassis, Asian spice, and white pepper. Finishes long with plum, red meats, ripe tannins and a hint of Swisher Sweet.
SIDE NOTE: Of the 2013 Phoenix Ranch Syrah, I may have received the compliment of a lifetime from a dear friend and wine enthusiast..."Cornas." **see footnote below
Stainless steel fermented. Aged for 16 months sur lees in 35 % new French oak barrels. Bottled unfined, unfiltered. Darker shade of ruby in color. Big nose of candied red fruits, watermelon Blowpop, bay leaf, and hints of rose petal. Ripe, big flavors of pomegranate, red cherry pie with lots of tea and rose hips. Silky, long finish of hints of plum and tobacco.
SIDE NOTE: Located in Annapolis, this vineyard sits high on a knoll where you can see the Pacific on a clear day. At the far northern reach of the Sonoma Coast, it's a warm spot in a cool climate and allows me to express yet another facet of this huge AVA.
While they're showing beautifully now, these wines will be sure to blow your mind in years to come. So don't forget to practice a little patience (in addition to presence) today and always.
Here's to practice.
Here's to presence.
Here's to you.
- Jamey Whetstone
**"Cornas" is a Northern Rhone town where, for me, the greatest Syrah on the planet is grown. My heroes run back to Aguste Clapp, Noel Verset, and - over the past 16 years - Thierry Allemand. The place wreaks of the exotic animale, white pepper, cassis, and violet that I crave on a many blustery, Christopher Robbins days of fall. Cassoulet is my dish of choice with all things Cornas.
D R U M R O L L P L E A S E . . .
This Pinot sure isPLEASANT! Aged 16 months in 35% new French oak barrels, sur lees. Cherry red in color. High toned floral notes of citrus tea, rose petal, cola & Bing cherry. Secondary notes of vanilla, sassafras tea, & mint. Silky, rich flavors of Bing cherry pie, tea, soy & baker’s chocolate. Finishes long and velvety with fine tannins & hints of tea & spice.
Barrel fermented in neutral French oak and aged for 16 months sur lees. Golden yellow in color. Big, ripe floral nose of Meyer lemon, kiwi, jasmine, pine & apricot. Background notes of bees wax, licorice, & liquid minerals. Mouthful of apricot, Meyer lemon & key lime give way to a long, lingering finish.
Aged for 16 months in 35% new French oak barrels, sur lees. Cherry red in color. Floral notes of sassafras, rose & Rooibos tea with hints of Asian spice. Secondary notes of orange peel, forest floor & tobacco. Bright flavors of red plum, ripe cranberry & orange pekoe tea. Finishes long & refined with notes of bing cherry, tobacco & baker’s chocolate.
As we head into our 3rd year here at the chateau, I am so grateful for and proud of what we have going on a daily basis at Whetstone. You've likely had the opportunity to meet at least one of the wonderful women who work with us and take care of you whether in the tasting salon, from your inbox, or on the phone.
It’s been said ‘it takes a village,’ but I disagree. It takes a few thoughtful, creative, and smart people who are passionate about their work and life and proud to be a part of something great. Our staff not only honors what Jamey and I have created, they make it better.
One of my favorite times of the year is the lead up to our new releases. Jamey pulls a few shiners from the winery and we all sit down as a team to taste through all the wines and write the tasting notes together. We're often asked about how the tasting notes come about and, as with all aspects of our business, the staff is part of every step. Each brings her own talents and strengths to make Whetstone who we are:
Addie started with Whetstone in the beginning of 2011 and saw us through the renovation of the chateau. Addie is my right-hand woman at the office and on business outings. She's always willing to pull up her boot straps with a smile and words of encouragement. She continues to run all things hospitality and raises the bar every day to ensure that when you stop into Whetstone it is one, if not THE, highlight of your trip.
Addie met Lauren at one of her yoga classes in early 2014. Once you've met Lauren, you'll understand why Addie snatched her. With her whimsical style and sensibility, there was no hesitation about bringing Lauren on board. She is my go to girl when we need to get analytical. Plus, she has an intuitive spirit and contagious warmth about her that captivates guests. At the beginning of 2015 we quickly realized that we needed to add another person to the team.
Alli is all things creative and design. What a pleasure it is to have a marketing talent to work with every day. If you enjoy any of our invitations, newsletters, or product infographics (like the ones above) Alli is the one to thank. She also runs our event program and makes every guest feel right at home. Her smile and laugh are contagious. I can't even write this without a smile on my face!
Needless to say, I am proud and excited as we head into Spring. Smiles, charm, and wine await you here at the Chateau, so come visit or give us a call soon!
In the midst of what seems to be an Indian summer, we hope you’re embracing the warmth of the sunshine alongside the stunning colors of fall as we transition into the holiday season. With leaves and acorns covering the grounds here at the Chateau, Michelle and I are feeling so very thankful to have gotten to know many of you through stories shared over wine in the tasting salon. The perks of having such a beautiful and relaxing space to host new and old friends alike have left us humbled and grateful these past two years. Not that hosting tastings roadside from the back of my ’94 Chevy pickup didn’t have its charm, but the Chateau has provided us with the space to build community as we’ve always envisioned.
This year in particular has given us fresh perspective on the importance of our daily involvement with all of you. If you crack that bottle of Whetstone with family and friends while telling the story of having met one of us, then we nailed it; because our community has joined yours as you sip and celebrate.
There are only so many ways we can show you how much we truly care about your support! So as we set another log on the fire, Michelle and I are raising a glass to you and your family this holiday season!
Cheers and many thanks for your continued support!
-Jamey and Michelle Whetstone
Any time the words food and Arizona find themselves in the same sentence near Jamey Whetstone, you’re bound to hear the name Mark Tarbell pop out of his mouth. The respect Jamey has for Tarbell is apparent in his next few remarks as he speaks of Mark’s renowned wine list, killer menu, and of course his impact on the Arizona food scene. Jamey remembers watching Mark Tarbell on Food Network’s Iron Chef America in 2007, and thinking “I’ve got to know this guy.” And who wouldn’t want to make friends with a foodie legend. But at the end of the day, Mark is also just a really cool guy. He learned from the ground up, washing dishes and baking bread. Then, the travel bug bit in his teenage years and he couldn’t resist, so he set sail for Europe. Soaking up as much knowledge about food and wine as he could while living in Paris, he worked at La Varenne École de Cuisine and concurrently studied wine at l'Académie du Vin. His life of adventure and love for the culinary world is at the heart of his career. As Jamey says, “I think that when you love what you do, you have a true potential to create something that everyone will love.” And when you have celebrities such as Muhammad Ali, Julia Child, and the Dalai Lama calling to book a table at your restaurant, you must be doing something right.
On Wednesday, April 15th there will be a reservation under the name Whetstone at Mark Tarbell’s eponymous restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona. From 4:00pm to close, Tarbell’s will be offering a special pairing of Whetstone wines and Mark’s cuisine in addition to their regular menu. Jamey’s first stop will be to Tarbell’s The Wine Store for a tasting and bottle signing of Whetstone wines from 5:30pm to 6:30pm. Give The Wine Store a shout at 602.955.7730 for more details. Following the bottle signing, Jamey will head next door to Tarbell’s restaurant and will be on the floor and table-side for a more intimate discussion of the wine pairings from 6:30pm to close. You can make your reservations by calling Tarbell’s at 602.955.8100. Jamey will be stoked to see you there!