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Bruliam Wine Blog

Posted by Kerith , January 11, 2017

It was barely dawn.  My eyes felt wonky from chlorinated pool water and crimped, Speedo goggle-vision.  I was distracted; it was harvest.  I was half-reading my iPhone, half-loading my minivan, and halfway depressing my ignition button.  I can cite many excuses, but the outcome remains unchanged.  I called Brian to share the news.

“Mark just texted.  He’s sending us 18 boxes of Soberanes Vineyard pinot.”

The very idea of more fruit, more premium Santa Lucia Highlands pinot was cause for elation (cue evil laugh).  Certainly after the depressing yields of 2015, 9 tons (18 boxes) was more than I’d expected.  But hey, only a fool smacks that kind of gift horse in the ass.

But my CFO (a.k.a Brian) is just that sort of fool, a number-crunching pragmatist.  I knew he would be rattled.  After all, we’ d budgeted 6 tons, I’d purchased barrels for 6 tons, and re-confirmed that 6 tons with Grapewagon the previous evening.  I’d wrestled for dibs on a 5-ton open top tank, despite a false start, delaying my pick date by a few days.  During harvest, an empty tank is money burning.  But this time I was certain.  On 9/21/16, 6:37 am, Mark texted me the numbers.    My 18 half-ton boxes of pinot already were barreling north in a refrigerated truck. The hitch: 9 tons won’t fit in one 5-ton open top tank.  Now I needed two tanks.  And Grapewagon was already at capacity.

Just to be cagey and fake nonchalance, I texted Colin, rather than cop to the extra tonnage in person.

“We’ll just have to stuff it all in,” he texted back.  “And stick the overage in bins.”  Unkind, angry emoji faces followed.

I replayed his frustration in my head.  A brittle truce barely averted harvest intern mutiny.  And now, after lunch, I’d need all hands on deck, sorting my 18 boxes.  This included two interns removing an unabated assault of green grape stem “jacks” with kitchen tongs.  It would be a long, sticky day.

As the zen of my morning swim workout evaporated, I struggled to assemble a new 9 ton fermentation plan.  I’d need more of everything- tank space, yeast, barrels, and yes, human beings to sort that unanticipated fruit.  If we sort one half ton bin every 15 minutes, with two interns on jacks…

When I arrived at the winery, slightly panicked and definitively frazzled, I accosted Kerry to round up more bodies for sorting duty.

‘Kerry, I have 18 boxes coming after lunch.  Can we rally the B team to sort today?”  I snapped.

“Can you believe what Mark texted me this morning?  18 boxes,” I reiterated.  I slapped my phone on her desk and pointed to the text bubble.

Kerry squinted.  She picked up the phone to scrutinize the font more carefully.  Then she put down the phone and looked me in the eye.

“Kerith, that’s a 3, not an 8.  You’re getting 13 bins, not 18.”

Oh.  Right.

And since that day, I have endured a derisive, unyielding volley of “old” jokes from my kids.  On the bright side, well, there is no bright side.  At least a glass of Soberanes Vineyard pinot still makes me feel better.

But as for my new drugstore reading glasses, not so much.

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Posted by Brian , September 10, 2016

Harvest is already underway, but we have one more important summer matter to attend to – voting for the winners of the Summer Charity Giveaway.

We asked people in late July to submit pictures featuring Bruliam bottles, shirts, or both.  And then we planned to open the voting to our readers to determine who would win the prizes.

The first place winner in the poll will receive $500 to the charity of their choice, and a handmade wine barrel stave cheeseboard.

The second place winner in the poll will receive a $250 donation to the charity of their choice, and a handmade wine barrel stave cheeseboard.

So, here we go!

Posted below is a poll where you can vote for your favorite Bruliam picture.  The poll will remain open until September 19th.  If you can’t see the poll immediately below, you can click here.

 

The poll is run by a service called PollDaddy which automatically randomizes the listing of the pictures each time and calculates the votes.   It should restrict your ability to vote once, so choose wisely.  The results determined by the PollDaddy mechanism will be final.

For those of you in the competition, feel free to forward the link (https://www.bruliamwines.com/2016/09/time-to-vote-on-the-summer-charity-giveaway/) far and wide to capture as many votes as possible.  If you have any trouble, please feel free to email us at brian@bruliamwines.com.

Best of luck to all!

Posted by Kerith , September 5, 2016

Harvest 2016 kicked off for us early on Monday morning at our estate Torrey Hill Vineyard.

This is our ninth harvest at Bruliam.  We think it’s going to be our best yet.

It’s certainly our best harvest video yet – check it out below (or if you can’t see the video, please click here):

 

Cheers!

-Kerith

 

Posted by Brian , July 22, 2016

Thank you Bruliam fans and enthusiasts, and happy summer to all.  For those of you who have followed our journey throughout the years, you may remember the early photo contests of yore.  As we’ve gathered many more fans along the way, we thought it would be fun to resurrect that tradition this summer.

During the month of August please send us your best, most creative, funny, exuberant, joyful, and delicious Bruliam Wines photographs.  Snapshots must feature either a Bruliam bottle or our throw back, logo t-shirt (or both for good measure).

Why?

To help win money for your favorite charity, of course!

In early September, we will post all of the entries and enable everyone to vote online for their favorites.

The first place winner in the poll will receive $500 to the charity of their choice, and a handmade wine barrel stave cheeseboard.

The second place winner in the poll will receive a $250 donation to the charity of their choice, and a handmade wine barrel stave cheeseboard.

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To enter, just email us your pictures directly to brian@bruliamwines.com.

Need some inspiration?  Check out these shots from years past.

In China!

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In NYC!

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In Vietnam!

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And Closer To Home!

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Jackie at Cucina Enoteca

Bruliam at Prep Kitchen

 

And thank you to “M.Z.” and C.P,” both of Chicago for kicking off our contest. “M.Z.” showcases a classic wine pairing with this “cheesy” glamour shot.  Delectable!  And “C.P.” channels the natural beauty of the Chi-town shore.  Go pink!

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Again, make sure you get us your pictures by August 31st to be entered into the polling.

Cheers!

-Kerith & Brian

 

 

Posted by Kerith , May 30, 2016

I spent last week in Southern California, riding alongside our brokers and working the market. Each visit is precious chance for me to showcase my wines, sharing the goofy anecdotes that make winemaking personal, unpredictable, and fun. But the wine that most lends itself to storytelling is the “art label” estate pinot noir from our own Torrey Hill Vineyard. We all know there is as much artistry in salesmanship as in winemaking. Today I offer you a privileged behind the scenes peek into the often-murky world of wine sales.

Wine Buyer:
“Wow that label is awesome! Which of your kids made it?”

Me:
“Actually, all three kids collaborate. My son draws the car, and the girls do the dog and most of the handwriting.”

Translation:
“Clearly, you don’t have kids of your own. Here’s a thought experiment for you: would you rather have a tooth extracted using only local anesthesia or cajole three elementary aged siblings into cooperating on a 6 inch by 6 inch scrap of paper? I’ve got more psychotherapists on retainer than popcorn kernels crushed in my seat cushions. When my future teenage children cry foul at being the least loved, as evidenced by imbalances in 10 years of wine label design, at least I’m presumptively armed.”

Wine Buyer:
“Cool big rig.”

Me:
“Yeah, my son is a car nut. Every year the label features a vehicle that is not a Toyota Sienna minivan. My son is too embarrassed to draw my actual daily driver.”

Translation:
“It gives me great pleasure to remind my son that the aforesaid minivan will be his when he turns 16. I’ve contemplated adding custom airbrush flames, just to draw additional attention to his personal torment. Maybe I’ll paint it lipstick pink, like an Avon incentive car. I mention this often.”

Me:
“And every label also includes our beloved pound dog, Dexter.”

Wine Buyer:
“Cute. He looks the same every year.”

Translation:
“That fu%&ing dog. Not since General Eisenhower invaded Normandy has a decision been more fraught than who gets to draw the dog. Tantrums, fights, and accusations of nepotism accompany this annual family ritual, validating the well-known dictum that all family traditions suck. To mitigate the parenting joy that IS twin-twin competition, we instilled a proclamation: she who draws Dexter shall not dictate design. But when Lily took design lead in 2014, she cried mutiny since Bruno’s giant big rig became the de facto design. She sulked anyway. It’s a middle child thing. And P.S. Mr. I-don’t- have-kids-wine buyer: NEVER tell twins their dog art is indistinguishable.”

Wine Buyer:
“So you mean the label is different every year.”

Me:
“Yup.”

Translation:
“Every spring we submit a new design for TTB approval. I invite pain; it builds grit. Just for fun, ask me about the time our compliance officer “forgot” to upload our label art until my mid-June phone call jolted her into frantic action. That’ll tie your colon in a yoga twist. Don’t mess with the TTB. Enough said.”

Wine Buyer:
“Your kids must love seeing their art on the label when it’s done.”

Me:
[blank stare]

Translation:
[blank stare]

Wine Buyer:
“What will happen when your kids get older?”

Me:
“I suppose the art will mature with the kids, maybe into some complicated black and white line drawings. Someone once suggested we stockpile a bunch of labels while the kids are still young.”

Translation:
“I barely manage this once a year. You expect me to man up and repeat? I’m actually considering outsourcing the job to India, where kids would be grateful for the artistic outlet, and the work. Reference above [blank stare].”

Me:
“Thanks for taking the time to taste with me today. Just for fun, I’ll offer you a sneak peek of the 2015 label art.”

Wine Buyer:
“Is Dexter floating- in a glass of wine?”

Translation:
“Either we incite the wrath of the animal rights activists for featuring a drunk, trapped, legless animal or CPS after the kids attack each other with magic markers. I’d rather keep the family peace and celebrate the return of the magical, levitating dog. He’s a throwback to 2012 Dexter. Plus, the flag will play well in Texas. I’m just wondering if we ought to add a warning to the label: ‘not drawn to scale.’”

 

A history of the “Art Labels”

2012 – Year 1 (Dexter with no legs)

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2013 – Year 2 (Dexter has very visible legs)

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Year 3 – 2014 (wow – that’s a big truck!)

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Year 4 – 2015 (Uh-oh, where did Dexter’s legs go??)

TH Label 2015