The Juice

Early veraison in Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon

Malbec ripening at Robert Hall Winery

Malbec ripening at Robert Hall Winery

Will harvest come early this year for Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux varietals? All indicators point to yes, but by varying degrees. One such indicator is veraison, the moment the grapes begin to ripen. 

For white varietals, the hard green berries begin to turn golden, the flesh softens, sugar levels increase and acid drops. For the red varietals, a similar process happens and the green berries turn to purple. For the average person, and certainly for photographers, viewing veraison is exciting. The individual berries in a cluster change at varying rates — the mix of color in a cluster and across a vine is like a piece of art.

In the vineyard, veraison visually signals development en route to harvest and the completion of another growth cycle. For the winery, veraison is a heart-quickening indicator that the arrival of a new crop and the start of another round of wine to craft is just around the corner. In 2013, Robert Hall Winery harvested the first grapes in the Paso Robles AVA on August 15th when their Sauvignon Blanc came in a week earlier that in past years. All indicators point to an even earlier harvest this year.

Don Brady

“We noticed veraison in our Malbec on July seventh when we were doing cluster counts in the vineyard. That puts us a good seven to 10 days days ahead of last year. Unless the weather cools, it will be an extremely early harvest – as early as the first week in August. That could be a good thing since we will be able to get all the fruit in the winery prior to any rain. With predictions of an El Niño this year a late harvest would cause problems.”

Don Brady, Winemaker
Robert Hall Winery

Brady also indicated that he is anticipating a very good vintage. The fruit set well and clusters size is down. For high-quality red wine, a small berry is a good thing and with grapes ripening early they can be harvested long before any threatening weather arrives. On the flip side it does mean winemaking teams are now scrambling to complete bottling, make room in the cellar and finish all of the pre-harvest activities.

“I’m getting some veraison in my Cabernet Sauvignon before my Merlot. If I had to guess, the Merlot will ripen the second week of September, which is actually very consistent with prior years. The Cabernet, though, won’t ripen before October eighth, which is our early-ripening record. We’ve had this vineyard since 1989, and that was the earliest we ever harvested Cabernet. It has to be pretty ripe before we pick; it might be 24 Brix in September, but we want 27 or 28 Brix. I hope we are a bit early, though, because there’s talk of rain in October.”

Patti Bello, Owner and Winemaker
B & E Vineyard

Producer Profile: PEACHY CANYON Winery

Peachy Logo 02

Like so many families looking for the good life in the early 1980s, the Beckett family – owners of CAB Collective member PEACHY CANYON Winery – moved to Paso Robles. Since producing their first barrel in 1988, their focus has been Zinfandel, but PEACHY CANYON also produces several Bordeaux-varietal wines to both popular and critical acclaim.

When Josh Beckett stepped down as winemaker to enter more of a consulting role at PEACHY CANYON, he hired the experienced Terry Culton, whom wine critic Robert Parker called a “top-flight winemaker” and whose CV includes work at nearby Adelaida Cellars, as well as Calera Wine Co., Willamette Valley Vineyards, Edmeades and Wildhorse.

Today, Terry is taking PEACHY CANYON into a new season of accolades, particularly with the winery’s Bordeaux offerings. The 2011 Malbec, for example, has won numerous awards including the Double Gold at the 2014 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

While most PEACHY CANYON wines are aged in French, Hungarian or American oak barrels, the winery also has a history of fermenting and aging some wines in concrete, as inspired by European winemaking. For example, the Para Siempre Bordeaux blend is aged in concrete, which lends a distinct minerality to the wine, accentuating the aromas of blackcurrant, baking spices and vanilla while also influencing the luscious mouthfeel.

PEACHY CANYON is SIP-certified (Sustainability in Practice), and many operations are performed by hand (e.g. punch-downs and gentle basket pressing) with the goal of supporting complexity and elegance in the wines.


Jake, Josh and Doug Beckett

Jake, Josh and Doug Beckett

PEACHY CANYON  is located on Paso Robles’ West Side, and produces wines from their 100 acres of estate vineyards, in addition to a handful of venerated local growers. Tastings are available at the winery seven days a week from 10 AM to 5 PM at 1480 N. Bethel Road in Templeton, California. For more information on tasting their wines, including Bordeaux offerings like the 2011 Devine Cab,  2011 Old School House Cabernet, and Para Siempre, visit

A Golden Award Season for PRCC Members

We’re happy to announce that a staggering number of wines from our member wineries have been awarded Gold Medals or better at 2014 wine competitions thus far for their Cabernet and red Bordeaux varietals. Winning wines and their producers include:

image_3183407_full2014 California State Fair Wine Competition

  • J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines 2010 “Cuvée St. E” DOUBLE GOLD/BEST OF CLASS, SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
  • J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines 2010 “Cuvée POM”
  • Red Soles Winery 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon

2014 Central Coast Wine Competition

  • Ancient Peaks Winery 2012 Merlot – BEST OF CLASS
  • Ancient Peaks Winery 2011 “Oyster Ridge”
  • B&E Vineyard 2009 Meritage – BEST BORDEAUX BLEND
  • B&E Vineyard 2010 Merlot
  • Calcareous Vineyard 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Clautiere Vineyard 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon
  • DAOU Vineyards & Winery 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon – BEST OF CLASS
  • Opolo Vineyards 2011 Bordeaux Blend, “Concerto”

2014 Orange County Wine Competition

  • Halter Ranch Vineyard 2011 “Ancestor” – FOUR STAR GOLD
  • Halter Ranch Vineyard 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon
  • J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines 2012 Merlot, ‘Los Osos’
  • Pomar Junction Vineyard & Winery 2011 Merlot
  • Red Soles Winery 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Robert Hall Winery 2011 Merlot – CHAIRMAN’S AWARD

2014 Los Angeles International Wine Competition

  • Halter Ranch Vineyard 2011 Cabernet SauvignonEberle Winery 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon
  • JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery 2011 Bordeaux Blend, “Justification”

2014 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition

  • ADELAIDA Cellars 2010 Cabernet Franc
  • DAOU Vineyards & Winery 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Eberle Winery 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, “Vineyard Selection”
  • Eberle Winery 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, “Estate”
  • J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines 2011 Merlot, ‘Los Osos’
  • J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines 2010 “Cuvee St. E” – DOUBLE GOLD
  • JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery 2010 Bordeaux Blend, “Isosceles”
  • Opolo Vineyards 2011 “Concerto”
  • PEACHY CANYON Winery 2011 Malbec
  • Robert Hall Winery 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Robert Hall Winery 2011 Meritage
  • Vina Robles Vineyards & Winery 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon

2014 San Francisco International Wine Competition

Daou Vineyards Cab Sauv 11'

  • Ancient Peaks Winery 2012 Merlot
  • Ancient Peaks Winery 2012 Bordeaux Blend, “Oyster Ridge”
  • DAOU Vineyards & Winery 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Eberle Winery 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, “Estate” – DOUBLE GOLD
  • Halter Ranch Vineyard 2011 “Ancestor”
  • JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery 2011 “Isosceles” – BEST BORDEAUX BLEND
  • JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery 2011 Bordeaux Blend, “Justification” – DOUBLE GOLD