Welcome to Lost Oak Winery's Blog.
I am so excited to see Shiraz back on our wine list, and for the first time we are welcoming a Petite Sirah to the family. But these wine names along with their friend Syrah can be a little confusing.
When it is called Syrah, the style and flavor tend to be more old world, more earthy and savory. Shiraz, on the other hand, is produced in a new world style with more fruit forward (and even jammy) flavors. Petite Sirah, however, is a completely different grape. In fact, in Europe it is known as Durif. Genetic testing has proven that it is a product of cross pollination of Syrah and Peloursin grapes. Because one of its parent grapes is Syrah, it can share some flavor similarities with it which may have prompted the name change to Petite Sirah.
Our new Shiraz Reserve will be available to Wine Club members only. Non Wine Club Members can obtain this Shiraz by purchasing one of our Virtual Tasting Packs up until the tasting on September 25th. This tasting will be led by our winemaker, Jim Evans, and our tour guide and employee spotlight, Zack. Click here to purchase your tasting pack. We look forward to having all of you back out at the winery enjoying some awesome Texas wine!
Farming is not an easy job. Crops can be temperamental and require specific conditions. Some environmental conditions can be controlled, such as adding nutrients to the soil and watering when needed. When all the conditions are right, the crops are happy, healthy, and fruitful. When they are not, it can be disastrous. In October of last year there was an unexpected weather event in the High Plains of Texas that threw grape growing into chaos. Being in Burleson, this weather event did not make it to us and we did not know how to process the information our growers were reporting to us: projected massive losses. At the time, no one knew that the word massive was not a strong enough word to describe the devastation.
Massacred Vines at Bingham Family Vineyards
So, what happened? And how could it have been that bad? Grape growing in Texas has many pitfalls. The most common are hailstorms, the Texas heat, and late freezes. All grape growers in Texas have experienced all three of these at one time or another, but what happened in the High Plains was more uncommon. It was an early freeze. A late freeze happens in March or April, usually after the vine has started to bud out. When the freeze occurs, the unexpected cold will kill newly grown shoots and buds. In most cases the vine will survive, but there will be little to no crop that year. But with an early freeze, the extreme temperature drop happens after harvest but before the vine becomes dormant. That should be fine, right? There are no grapes growing so it seems there should be nothing to worry about. That is what I thought, and I was very wrong.
To really understand what had happened, Roxanne, Gene, Jim, and I took a trip to the High Plains to meet with our growers and to see the vines for ourselves. Our growers are a hardy type of folk, they are farmers through and through, with generations of experience in their blood and grit under their fingernails. Imagine our shock when one seasoned grower said to us, “I’m depressed.” Again, we still could not fully understand, so out to the vineyards we headed. What we saw was row after row of damaged or dead vines. It was not merely massive, it was catastrophic.
Angela, Jim, Gene at Krick Hill Vineyard
The growers explained it to me like this: when a vine goes dormant in the winter, all its sap moves to its roots. There it saves up its energy and waits out the worst of the winter until it bursts forth in the spring ready to make grapes. Back in October, the vines had not gone dormant yet, so there was till sap in the cordons and the trunk. The freeze happened so quickly and lasted just long enough that the sap froze inside the vines destroying the interior cellular structure. It gets worse. If the vine was between 1 to 3 years old, it died. If the vine was older, 10+ years, it also died.
But as devastating as this was to see, I was surprised to hear that many of our growers retained an extraordinary amount of hope, including the one who told us that he was depressed. You see, for the most part, those vines that were not too young or too old, survived! They are not in good shape, but an alive vine is something the growers can work with, though it is like starting over from scratch. To begin again, the growers must take a new shoot from the trunk, using the old dead trunk as a guide and bring it up to the trellis. This shoot will become the new trunk and from there new cordons can be trained. It will be a few years before those vines start producing grapes again, but it is still better than replanting everything. And, there is some even better news than that; some varietals were not affected as much as others. We did see acres of vines that looked happy and healthy even if they did not have any grapes on them.
Gene & Roxanne at the Newsom Vineyards Rock'N Bed and Breakfast
Many of the growers looked at this event as a learning opportunity. I heard a lot of talk about different rootstocks for the vines that need to be replanted and an increase in planting the vines that weathered the freeze better. It is always hard to lose a crop, but as farmers they must continually look forward to the next year’s crop. I imagine if you only focus on the bad years it would be impossible to move forward.
We are thankful for our grower’s expertise, diligence, and hospitality as they guided us through their vineyards. Next time you open a bottle of wine, give a heartfelt, “Cheers” to the growers. Afterall, Jim and I believe that good wine is made in the vineyard.
Like all food and drink, wine is hard to explain. For example, Dr. Pepper has 23 flavor components. Most people can pick out a few of them when sipping on a Dr. Pepper. Let’s just take one of those flavor components, such as cherry. Think about how you would describe what a cherry tastes like to someone who has never had a cherry. You couldn’t just say it tastes like cherry; they wouldn’t understand because they have no frame of reference. You could say it tastes good or bad, but that’s not helpful because that is your opinion of the flavor and may not be theirs. Then the problem is compounded further by what kind of cherry it is. A Bing cherry and a Renoir cherry don’t taste the same. When making a description we are tapping into our memory banks of other aromas and flavors to make something unfamiliar, familiar. The process for assessing aroma and flavor components in wine can be applied to any food or beverage. It can help other people understand what they are smelling and tasting. And it’s just fun to do.
Some things to keep in mind when tasting/describing wine:
- Wine tasting is subjective. You may not taste the same thing someone else does and that is ok.
- Flavors and aromas are tied very strongly to memory. You might not like the wine because a flavor or aroma brings up an unpleasant memory or vice versa.
- We may describe wine as having flavors of apricots or cherries, but these are just descriptors. The flavors in the wine remind us of those flavors but there aren’t actually apricots or cherries in the wine (unless it is wine made from apricots or cherries).
- The majority of people approach trying new food and drinks in the simplest of ways; take a bite or sip and you'll decide pretty quickly if you like it or not.
- A structured approach to tasting wine (or anything) is a tool to help see beyond that mimediate "like/dislike reaction".
Wine tasting 101 starts with looking at the wine in the glass. One of the first thing you want to look for is if the wine is cloudy or has sediment. Cloudy/sediments in wine is not necessarily an indicator of bad wine, but it could be, so it is important to note. Then, take a look at the color; is it deep, rich, light, ruby, golden, tawny? When doing blind taste tests, sommeliers use color as a clue as to what varietal and vintage the wine may be. For the novice, it's a way to get to know the varieties and how age can affect color.
Give the wine a swirl! This can help in assessing the color but more importantly, this aerates the wine, allowing more aromas to be released. The shape of the wine glass is designed to trap those aromas, which brings us to our next step; smelling the wine. The idea is to gently inhale and try to pick out familiar aromas. It helps to close your eyes and imagine the aromas.
Now, we have looked at the wine, we have swirled the wine, and we have smelled the wine. It is finally time to taste the wine! Take a small sip of the wine and hold it in your mouth for a few seconds. Do not use this first sip to assess the wine, this sip is to get your mouth and brain ready to pick out familiar flavors. Now, take a bigger sip and swish it around to coat the mouth. Swallow or spit, then inhale through the mouth. Think about how the wine felt in your mouth, on all parts of it. What are the texture components? Was there a prickly sensation, a mouth drying sensation? Did the wine seem oily, heavy, light? Next (and you may need another sip) start to identify flavors. If you are having trouble identifying flavors, a flavor wheel may help. You may find that the wine doesn't taste how it smells, in fact it may be quite a bit different from what you were expecting.
There is a lot of pomp and circumstance to tasting wine and sometimes it does seem a little silly, but give it a try. You might find a new appreciation for the complexity of wine.
Any party is an excuse to drink wine, but what about a party all about wine? Here are some ideas to get your wine party on!
Wine and Cheese go together like…. wine and cheese.
Throw a party to celebrate this match made in heaven. Have all of your guests bring their favorite bottle of wine and block cheese. Your guests can try different combinations to find their perfect pairings. It is a great way to try new things and explore with friends without breaking the bank. As the party winds down, a fun game of “guess who brought what wine and cheese” is always a good way to see how well everyone knows each other.
Group like wines together. For example, put all the dry reds/dry whites/sweet wines together so that certain types of wine are easier for you guest to find. The same can go for the cheese by placing hard cheeses in one groupng and soft cheese in another.
See how well you and your guests know their stuff with a Blind Wine Tasting Party. Have your guests bring a bottle of wine in a non-descript bag. This works best when it is single varietals, so specify no blends. Have the person who brought the wine pour everyone a sample. Let the group talk it over and then everyone tries to guess what the wine is. It’s a fun way to see who in your group knows their wine. Alternatively, you can assign each wine a number and set them out on a table and let your friends try the wine as they mingle. Afterwards you can have a big reveal and see who guessed correctly.
Pro-tip: With any party, the ultimate goal is to have fun. Make sure you wine party is unpretentious and welcoming to all types of wine. Afterall, wine is all about enjoying it with friends.
In 2019, Lost Oak Winery entered a number of our wines into two important competitions, and the results did not disappoint!
The first competition was the 39th Annual San Francisco International Wine Competition. Our wines went head-to-head with wines from all over the world!
The Result: Double Gold for the 2017 Cabernet Franc!
Later that year we entered the 20th Annual San Francisco Chronical Competition, the largest wine competition of American wines in the world!
The Result: Double Gold for the 2018 Viognier!
These aren’t the only awards we took home; visit our website LostOakWinery.com for a full list of all the wines that won Gold, Silver, and Bronze at these prestigious wine competitions!
Every November, Lost Oak sets out to answer that age-old question; What wine should I pair with Thanksgiving dinner? Don’t worry, our resident wine nerd has you covered. This year we have a knockout box of four wines specially selected to not only go with everything on your Thanksgiving table but to also please everyone sitting at the table.
First up we have our yearly Holiday release! A versatile dry red that is more on the fruity side. Rich with flavors of ripe berries it will complement everything from turkey to mashed potatoes and everything in between.
But if you have friends or family that are looking for something a little dryer, we have the Montepulciano. Its character is a little more spicy with rich tannins making it the perfect complement ham and some of your creamy side dishes.
For the white drinkers in your life we have our Gewurztraminer. A wonderfully friendly wine reminiscent of figs and nectarines, this wine is the perfect starter to your evening. Have it with your appetizers or with you are cooking.
Last but not least is our Lat Harvest Roussanne. This dessert wine needs no paring, it is decadent and rich all on its own. However, no Thanksgiving is complete without pie, and this is just the wine you want while enjoying that slice, whether it’s apple, pumpkin, or pecan!
Come into the tasting room to pick up all four wines together in a convenient tote, ready to take to your Thanksgiving table for the discounted price $95.95. Or, if you can’t make it to the tasting room click here to order it online and we’ll ship it to you. To ensure that your wine gets to you by Thanksgiving all orders must be placed by November 20th.
Our very own Angela Chapman - Lost Oak's Wine Eduactaor and Operations Manager - is proudly a WSET level three!
And she's excited for WSET's 50th anniversary and the launch of the first ever global ‘Wine Education Week’ from 9–15 September 2019.
2019 marks 50 years since the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) was founded to provide wine and spirits education to the industry.
Now the world’s largest provider of wine and spirits qualifications for both professionals and enthusiasts, WSET will be celebrating this landmark anniversary with a full schedule of activity throughout the year looking back, and forward, at the integral role education plays in the wine and spirits trade.
WSET, the largest global provider of wine qualifications, is launching the first ever global ‘Wine Education Week’ from 9–15 September 2019.
Part of WSET’s 50th anniversary campaign, Wine Education Week aims to engage with the growing population of wine consumers worldwide, encouraging them to learn more about wine.
Wine Education Week will be supported by a global network of brand ambassadors including Olly Smith in the UK; Terry Xu in China; Alyssa Vitrano (grapefriend), Kelly Mitchell (The Wine Siren) and Chelsie Petras (Chel Loves Wine) in the USA. The campaign will kick off on Monday 9th September with food and wine pairing launch events across the world at 6pm local time in 24 countries. Starting with Auckland, New Zealand and ending with California, USA, WSET is aiming for a continuous 24-hour global food and wine tasting session.
Harvest time for Texas vineyards begins in late July and goes through August and sometimes even early September. It is the busiest time of the year: there are vine canopies to manage, grape cluster health to monitor, sugar levels to test, watering schedules to scrutinize over, and then…. there are the critters.
Let’s face it, grapes are delicious, and we are not the only ones who think so. Some of these critters are easier to keep out than others. For example, you may have seen vines with netting on them.
Those nets are very effective at keeping out birds, raccoons, opossums, and even deer.
But what about the smaller critters like moths, caterpillars, leaf hoppers, and the dreaded glassy-winged sharpshooter?
Sometimes a good defense is a good offence. Creating a vineyard that has a healthy ecosystem that is made up of natural predators like spiders and lizards can keep the number of the pest at bay.
Likewise, a hawk, falcon, or even an owl can be a welcome visitor to the vineyard.
They keep the population of mice, rabbits, prairie dogs, and moles at bay, ensuring that these burrowing pests don’t affect the roots of the vines.
Certain snakes like bull snakes, king snakes, or rat snakes can also be helpful in the same way.
Many vineyards also employ domesticated critters such as cats, sheep, alpacas, and chickens to help maintain the health of their vines. They can clear away unwanted pests as well as unwanted grass and weed growth all the while fertilizing the vines.
As of right now, Lost Oak is not hiring animalia staff to help with the vines. But, who knows, helpful critters are becoming more and more intrinsic to vineyard life.
When I stumbled upon this article it brought a smile to my face, because I share the sentiment wholeheartedly! Wine, beer and spirits… they are about the people you are around and the stories you share while you are enjoying it. Let's face it, it's just not as interesting to go to an artisanal water bar. Cheers Dr. Vinny!
Much like with sports, I don’t understand why people are so fascinated/obsessed with wine, and I can get turned off by fanatics. But I want to be able to celebrate and enjoy wine with others. What am I missing?
—Jake, Lith, Ill.
I think you could ask 100 wine lovers about their fascination and get 100 different explanations. But it’s my job to sit around and think about wine all day, so let me take a stab at this.
I think that wine is essentially about stories. There’s the story of how it tastes, determined by everything from what kind of grapes it’s made from to the conditions of harvest to all the many winemaking decisions that have gone into that bottle. The label can also tell a story, or there’s a story to the wine name, or how the winemaker got into the business. Wine comes from a place, and I think the best wines reflect that. There are also stories of history, art, trends, politics and marketing.
I’ve never seen another beverage be the jumping-off point for so many discussions. And I agree that sports inspires similar fervor, as does art, music and pop culture, among other things.
You may never feel that fascination about wine, and that’s OK. There’s nothing wrong with simply enjoying it as an occasional beverage. But if you’re a fan of anything—avant-garde jazz or Hitchcock films or video games—be patient with your friends for having their own thing. And sometimes being a friend means listening to each other wax poetic on occasion. Maybe you could even ask them to explain their love of wine to you.
When it's just TOO HOT in TEXAS!
It's OK to put ice cubes in your wine.
If you know anything about me, you know that I am an unconventional wine snob. Wine is to be enjoyed, however you like it. And when the heat index reaches 120 I enjoy a refreshing white like Lost Oak's Orange Muscat with a splash of La Croix over ice. Yes, this dry red wine drinker said it, "over ice!"
Here bon appetit gives "9 Situations in Which It Is Totally Fine to Put Ice in Your Wine" and I couldn't have said it better myself:
I’ve never received more hate than I did for posting a picture of ice in wine. “Sacrilegious!” they screamed into emails and “UNFOLLOW!” they chanted in the comments section. How could I curse the sanctity of wine like that? Well, quite easily. While I would never put ice into a ’67 BV Reserve, there are plenty of situations where I want ice in my wine and it is totally warranted.
...As it turns out, there are at least 9 situations:
At the Airport
If you’re anything like me—an anxious person that is pathologically early to events large or small—you’re probably at the airport and through security with two hours to kill before the flight. And while it’s nice to have a few glasses before take off, no one is trying to get drunk or go broke. Airport wine is expensive, and it’s never any good, so why not add some cubes to a $15 glass of repugnant Pinot Noir? It goes down easier, it lasts longer, and you’re out of Xanax and doing the best you can here!
On a Plane
If you have ever ordered wine on a plane, then you already know. If you have not ordered wine on a plane, maybe don’t start, but if you do, get a glass of ice on the side. And maybe a backup can of Sprite with a few lime wedges. While the first couple sips will have you fooled, by the third or fourth you will realize the wine is very heavy and gives you mouth-sweats and suddenly you are very aware of the barf bag in the seat pocket in front of you. You’re not going to want to finish it. Having make-shift spritzers supplies on hand will make the last leg of your Sauv Blanc a pleasant one.
It’s Too Damn Hot
IT’S JUST TOO DAMN HOT. AND YOUR A/C IS BROKE. AND YOU REALLY NEED A GLASS OF WINE. BUT IT’S TOO DAMN HOT. Throw some ice cubes in there. Not only do you want to, but you also have to. You’re already in survival mode, stripped down to your underwear, so this is no time to be concerned with shame.
The Wine Is Terrible (And It’s All You Have)
It’s been one week since you paid rent and it’s three days until you get your next check. Suddenly that butter-bombed Chardonnay an acquaintance left at your house isn’t looking so bad. But good God, it is bad. Not so bad that you are willing to go to the store in your sweatpants and spend your last eight dollars, but definitely bad enough to where you are justified in icing it down.
You’re a Grandma
My grandmother drank ice in Franzia and she was my favorite human ever, so I only have respect for Grandmas and iced wine.
You’re Trying Not to Get Too Day Drunk
Sometimes you find yourself drinking wine at noon. Perhaps on vacation at a lake house, trying to keep up with your mother-in-law who considers Pinot Grigio lunch or maybe just on any given Saturday. I don’t know why you’re drinking at noon, but a good way to way to stave off day-drunkness is by adding ice. It dilutes the wine and keeps your glass a little bit fuller. Plus, you can pretend you’re hydrating and partying at the same time. Most importantly it will keep you from passing out at 4.
Rosé, ice, St. Germain=You've got yourself a spritzer. Photo: Christopher Testani
You’re Using Wine to Make Something Else
From frosé to Sangria to spritzers of seltzer and muddled strawberries you found in the back of your fridge, you can transform wine into another drinking experience. And you know what all the recipes call for? ICE.
You’re Stuck Ordering House Wine at a Bar
You should never trust anything that goes by the vague, eponymous “House Wine.” You’re going to give yourself a headache with the amount of sugar that is in that thing. Cut it with ice. It’s so dark no one is going to notice anyway.
You Like It
Wine, above all else, is for pleasure. We drink it because it’s delicious and it makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside. That’s the realness of the situation. And you should treat it as you would any other personal preference, like the temperature of your steak or ordering an extra side of ranch. It’s whatever tastes good to you, not anyone else. If adding a few cubes has you feeling yourself, bring it to the table because it’s no longer taboo.