A message from Michelle -
As I write this newsletter, listening to the song "Silver Linings" by First Aid Kit, there are a few lines that standout and are on repeat in my head…
Take me some place where there's music and there's laughter
Gotta keep on going, looking straight out on the road
Can't worry 'bout what's behind you or what's coming for you further up the road
I try to keep on keeping on
Be it for reason, be it for love
I won't take the easy road
A song's never just sad
There's hope, there's a silver lining
Show me my silver lining
While the path is not always straight and life doesn’t always go according to plan, I believe in perseverance, grace under pressure and realizing that a moment that feels like a rejection from something good is actually redirecting us to something better.
So, about those silver linings...
With the closure of Whetstone on March 19th, Jamey and I found ourselves reinventing our business and ourselves once again. On May 31st, we reopened our doors, just the two of us, pouring wine and hosting our guests. You all showed up, shared your stories and reminded us of why we do what we do. Personal and professional growth seems to be the reoccurring theme within all of our households and businesses over the last few months; an awareness of the need to slow it down, take more time with family, more time for ourselves and each other, more time to reflect and with much more gratitude... silver linings.
Jamey and I will celebrate 15 years together this year, a partnership in life, kids, marriage and business. Three out of four kids left the nest earlier this year. Like many of you know with kids, life became more of a blunt and realistic view into what real adulting looks like for them and the reality that we as parents could not hide or protect them from it any longer. But they persevered and figured it out on their own; mature, resilient and able to navigate using their own compass. They are changed by what they have seen and experienced this year, but they are inspired and want to be part of something bigger and better… silver linings.
Mother Nature is the one constant and still in charge as we are heading into our 18th harvest for Whetstone and our fall release. For most of us, there are more dinners at home and more wine being opened than ever before so without further ado, some words from Jamey about our new releases.
A message from Jamey -
With a sincere sense of gratitude and loss of a vineyard I’ve worked with since 2005, we bring forth the last vintage of the Phoenix Ranch Vineyard Syrah. WARNING: This wine is ridiculous on all fronts and will challenge your ideas of what’s possible in New World Syrah; Audacious, brash, full tilt boogie, in need of some taming… all thoughts coming to mind when enjoying this wine. Tragically, 2017 was the year of the devastating fires here in Napa, Sonoma and many portions of California. We were very lucky to have harvested the Syrah two days before the fires began.
The 2018 Walala Vineyard Pinot Noir is a real nice crossover vehicle between Old & New World Pinot Noir. The vineyard shines through the older it gets and the longer I work with it. The power and finesse of this vineyard and resulting wine should be perfect now, but will still reward with many years of cellaring to come.
We humbly thank all of you for your many years of patronage and friendship. Your continued support and encouragement inspire us! We have so much gratitude for the amazing leadership and resilience of our Whetstone team, continuing to define our brand and frankly to just ‘show up for us’ even when it is still anything but business as usual!
Jamey and Michelle Whetstone
A message from Michelle Whetstone -
As I sit at my dinner table at home with my lap top on a rainy Saturday, our tasting room closed since March 20, contemplating what to write, I thought back to an old spring release letter from 2018. As I read through it, I thought about how much has changed since then (just in the last fews weeks) and how little has changed at the same time. The latter gave me a lot of comfort and peace so I thought I would share some parts of this again with hope that it also brings you some comfort and joy as well.
So this one is dedicated to all the moms out there, to all the friends and family that help us look good and most importantly, the women of Whetstone- Addie, Alli, Jenna, and Lauren who have been more supportive than ever to our family, our business and to the care of all of you, our extended Whetstone family.
Lastly, I must give a nod to my husband for finally making this beautiful rose. The timing could not be better to celebrate spring and to toast all the mothers out there!
the women of Whetstone- Addie, Alli, Jenna, and Lauren who have been more supportive than ever to our family, our business and to the care of all of you, our extended Whetstone family.
Lastly, I must give a nod to my husband for finally making this beautiful rose. The timing could not be better to celebrate spring and to toast all the mothers out there!
T H E H I S T O R Y . . .
After moving to California in 1998, Jamey was handed the large task of planting, farming, and harvesting hundreds of acres of organic vineyards all up and down the California Coast for Turley Wine Cellars. He was proudly part of the pioneering team that developed their Paso Robles property. By 2002 Jamey was the assistant winemaker at Turley and into his 5th year of wine making.
“It was one of the most exciting times in my life and easily some of the most humbling lessons I would learn where farming and winemaking were concerned. I have yet to experience the level of intense learning I was shoved into for those seminal years. I was so lucky to be there, it was so effing cool, and it was the epicenter of my world."
N E W B E G I N N I N G S . . .
The year 2002 also brought the first vintage of Whetstone Wine Cellars; It was the year Jamey snuck in an opportunity to start choosing his own vineyards and making his own wine. With the help from mentors and friends alike he solidified the vision and style that became Whetstone wines and that still is today.
"I didn't realize back then but I know now that the level of vineyard and winemaking education in my first years in the valley would be impossible to garner in todays Napa. I've said many times that this is a humbling business. What may have started out as an ambitious endeavor to see my own name on a label, quickly became a lesson in perseverance and patience. Someone once said the impossible becomes the possible when your back is against the wall. Larry Turley tried to talk me out of starting my own label, 'Do we really have to do this now?' This was one of the many times over the years Larry would offer his wisdom. After showing him my fledgling business plan with lots of begging and promises he reluctantly said 'Yes'."
That same year Jamey was introduced to Maxime Graillot, son of famed Rhone Valley producer Alain Graillot, and was tasked with keeping him busy and well-fed during the harvest season at Turley. It didn't take long for Jamey to realize this was an incredible opportunity to further develop and broaden his winemaking education in addition to forging a friendship. Maxime accompanied Jamey to his first pick of Whetstone Viognier at the “Catie’s Corner” vineyard and, after listening to Jamey’s rant of how he wanted to do it, Maxime gave Jamey the “keys to Condrieu” which he has used to this day.
T H E P R E S E N T . . .
Fast forward 18 years, it is 2020 and we at Whetstone are still people; real, transparent, not a corporation. We’ve adapted and evolved, but never changed course.
We are a little older, wiser, and living in the present moment by being aware of the here and now. Appreciative and thankful for the life this business has given us.
We honor each experience and are grateful to every person who has been a part of our growth - be it helping with punchdowns or tasting our wines in the bed of the beloved pick up truck - you are the backbone of our brand.
To our wine club members who are really more like family, and to each and every person who walks through our doors on a daily basis - thank YOU for your stoke and enthusiasm, it is for you that we will continue to make great wines!
Whatever your past may be, we are grateful to be a part of your future with our 18th vintage of Catie's Corner Viognier and Pleasant Hill Pinot...
Many thanks for your continued support and friendship,
The Whetstone Team
- Michelle, Jamey, Addie, Alli & Jenna
Attending music gigs is one way to relieve stress and be social. In fact, studies show that just 20 minutes can result in a 21% increase in feelings of well-being! Furthermore, the research found a direct link between live music and a lifespan increase of 9+ years.
Here at Whetstone, we support this theory, especially if it includes a glass of wine! (and we have all read about the benefits of red wine)
So if you have yet to attend one of our music events, let this be the motivator to get tickets to our annual harvest party now:
Floral nose of rose petal, plum, and anise. Full-bodied flavors of ripe bing cherry... (read more)
Really (really) big nose full of ripe cassis, black licorice, violets and white pepper... (read more)
MICHELLE'S PICK: This band takes me back to a simpler time (before kids and a winery) and so stoked I can listen to it on vinyl finally! The Very Very Best Of Crowded House’s long-awaited vinyl was released on July 12 in a glorious gatefold sleeve including notes & printed inner bagsand compiled & cut from original analogue master tapes recorded at Abbey Road Studios to Heavyweight Black vinyl LPs.
JAMEY'S PICK: Live with me on Let It Bleed by The Rolling Stones. 2016 Phoenix Ranch Syrah. The song is a gritty, stripped down, smelly version of what the Stones do best when their Delta Blues side slams into Rock n Roll. The Syrah is a racy concoction of violets and cassis and pig on the grill over a peppery fire w some tobacco tossed in for good measure; a smidge of some of my favorite flavors.
ADDIE'S PICK: To me Troubadour is a lowkey laidback album solely about livin' and lovin' which is what I am all about! It’s melodies are pretty but simple and the Tulsa Blues keep the rhythm rollin’ and rockin’! It’s the perfect soundtrack for enjoying the breeze with my husband, swayin’ in our hammock, spending time in our garden, sipping special with our chickens, playing fetch with our two golden fur babes, and cooking for our family and friends!
ALLI'S PICK: Bon Iver's self-titled album instantly takes me back to when I first moved to Napa and began dating my husband, where we spent many late nights drinking wine and getting to know one another. It sets the perfect tone for dreaming big and drinking well. When the harvest season approaches I find myself putting it on repeat and reaching for a wine key as its moody tone and the call to get outside yourself inspires me to slow down and be present.
JENNA'S PICK: No matter what the mood or occasion, Stevie fits the bill. ‘Don’t you worry bout a thing’ is my JAM. I have on many occasions blasted that song in my car while cruising down the highway, and you better believe I am singing along at the top of my little lungs. (You can also find me at home, having a dance party with my Weiner dog, no big deal.) This album has so many classics and many of my faves. Stressed out? Stevie. Super Happy & Dance-y?? Stevie. Feelin’ blue? Definitely Stevie.
LAUREN'S PICK: Whether savoring my cup of coffee in the early morning hours or sipping on a glass of vino whenever I feel so moved, Here Comes the Sun does the trick! Nina's sultry voice covering some of the true classics (in my humble opinion) helps me lean into the joyful soulful sweetness of the sunshine. I just can't help but sway to the rhythms and let those ivories tickle my soul. Also a perfect way to set the tone for a summer dinner soiree - paired with a bottle of Whetstone, obvi ;)
It is the 5-year anniversary of Whetstone being open at the chateau; I am officially half a century old, and my first born is heading off to college. Talk about a year of growth and change! I say -bring it!
I read somewhere that your face at 25 is the one God gave you and your face at 50 is the one you've earned. So perhaps instead of wrinkles, I should call them life lessons and experiences.
When I joined Jamey full time to run Whetstone Wine Cellars, I had no wine industry experience and wasn't exactly sure what my part in all of this looked like. All that changed, however, one fateful day in the winter of 2011 when I found the chateau that is now the Whetstone tasting salon.
There isn't much separation for me between work and home life. I treat work as an extension of my home and making friends out of strangers is one of the most wonderful things about being in this business. I love to hear guests say how comfortable they feel when they walk into Whetstone, as if they'd walked into a friend’s living room.
While the path is not always straight, I believe in perseverance, grace under pressure, and providing a space where women can grow, be their best selves, and empower each other. In a male dominated industry, this is one of the many things that makes Whetstone unique. If you've been to Whetstone and met our team, you know the women I'm referring to. My vision would not be possible without the dedication and thoughtfulness they bring each day.
As for my first born, it would be selfish of me not to share him with the world. I can only hope that one day his path will lead him unexpectedly back to Napa (like it did me) and, perhaps, to run the family business.
I'm often asked about how the tasting notes for Whetstone wines come about and, as all things in the business, our dream team of women are part of the process.
TASTING NOTES: Aged 16 months in 35% new French oak barrels, sur lees. Dark purple in color. Really expressive nose of dark cherry and baked blackberry pie with spicy, perfumey notes of Asian spice. Secondary wafts of rose petal, orange peel, and black tea. Velvety flavors of Bing cherry cobbler, dark cherry cola and orange peel. Mouth-watering acidity with long finish of tea, baker’s chocolate and tarragon.
TASTING NOTES: Barrel fermented in neutral French oak and aged for 16 months sur lees. Golden straw in color. Big nose full of honeysuckle, bright peach, pear liquor, and floral apricot. Background notes of bees wax, marscapone, and thyme. Mouthful of stone fruits, orange runts, and liquid minerals. Finishes long and bright with hints of mango, hazelnut, and touch of salinity.
TASTING NOTES: Aged for 16 months in 35% new French oak barrels, sur lees. Garnet in color. Floral rose petal, with pretty notes of wild strawberry perfume and sassafras tea. Secondary notes of Asian spice, thyme and clove. Bright, medium to full-bodied flavors of pomegranate, plum and black mission fig. Finishes long with great acidity and notes of orange pekoe tea, a hint of tobacco and fine tannins.
To make celebrating easy, we're offering
for CASE ORDERS (12+ bottles) now thru March 31st!
Simply use the code: CELEBRATE
With that said...Let’s celebrate all the women who have earned a place at the table in the wine industry and beyond!
- Michelle Whetstone
To all our Whetstone friends & family,
There are no words to describe the love and support we have felt from you all this past week. Your emails, calls, and texts kept our spirits up as we faced uncertainty each day.
We are grateful to be able to share that we are all safe. Our homes and the Whetstone property were spared. All fruit had been picked and put into tank or barrel before the fires started, saving our vintage as well.
Evacuations were recently lifted in our area, so we are working hard to get things back in order and settling into a new normal for now. We are happy to let you know that we are planning to reopen the tasting salon this Wednesday, October 18th.
As we rebuild, our love and support go out to all in our community; to those who have lost so much and to those who protected us from further devastation.
We look forward to sharing a hug and a glass of Whetstone with you soon!
Michelle, Jamey & the girls of Whetstone
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!