From the Badge to the Glass
Pam and I hope you enjoy the attached article on wine labels. We loved its combination of honesty and humor. When Pam and I started Von Holt Wines in 2008 there were immediate decisions to be made regarding what's inside the bottle such as what fruit to purchase and what barrels to use. The easy answers were top quality Sonoma Coast Syrah fruit and French oak. There were more difficult decisions regarding what's outside the bottle such as labels and capsules. We stood in numerous wine stores, grocery stores, and wine bars; and looked at countless bottles. We realized that we hated about 95% of all wine labels - even labels on some really good bottles of wine. We knew what we didn't want on our label - dance shoes and handcuffs. Many labels try to represent the owners, but we didn't want a cliche of dance shoes for Pam and handcuffs for me. We also didn't want a cute label of drunk monkeys. How drunk monkeys came to represent all the ridiculous labels out there, I don't know. What we did want is something quiet, classy, and representative of a fine bottle of wine. We hired a graphic artist who specializes in wine labels and she ran us through a couple of dozen major designs each with various reiterations. The result was what we had in mind all along - the family name artistically produced, the requisite information about the wine, and the VH swirl in the fog - representing the Cool Climate Character of our wines. We hope you like our label, and of course love our wine. Enjoy the article - hopefully with a glass of Von Holt Wine!
Pam and I spent much of Saturday at the winery conducting preliminary blending trials for the 2010 Von Holt Wines Single Vineyard Designate Pinot Noir and Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. Winemaker extraordinaire John Fones set up a long series of tastings for each of the two wines. Two of the factors in the Single Vineyard Designate that may interest you are the number of "free run" barrels to use vs. "pressed wine" barrels, and new oak barrels vs. neutral oak barrels. The RRV Blend has those factors but multiplied over different vineyards. The objective is simple - make great wines! The process is complex - narrow down the numerous combinations by taste, "nose", color, etc. to create those wines! John, his wife Katie, Pam, and I all bring different skill sets to the tasting table. John, as a winemaker, has a great sense of not just what is here now, but what will evolve; Katie has experienced fine French Burgundys - which is what Von Holt Wines emulates; Pam is what's called a "super taster" with the ability to discern nuanced aromas and tastes, and I - well, I know what I like (lower alcohol content, good acidity so the wines pair well with food, and nice minerality). We had a few slight differences, but amazingly enough the four of us agreed on where we are headed. Next month is round two. I'll keep you updated!
Pam and I inadvertently found ourselves at dinner a few nights ago with a winemaker who was born in Chile. We greatly enjoyed his company, and not just because he had good things to say about Von Holt Wines 09 Suacci Vineyard Pinot Noir! We chatted about Chilean and American wine making philosophy, but eventually the conversation turned away from wine to general stories about the two countries. I told him my favorite story about when I went to Chile as a US Secret Service Agent.
A few days before the President visited Chile many years ago, about 20 of us flew there on what is commonly referred to as a "Car Plane". That's a US Air Force cargo plane that is used to shuttle the armored Caddy limos and Chevy Suburbans to the cities that the President will visit. The President and the accompanying Secret Service Agents always ride in Secret Service vehicles for obvious reasons - armor, bullet resistant glass, audio-countermeasures, and a few other things better left unsaid. The "Car Plane" also shuttles equipment such as magnetometers and USSS personnel - but believe me, its the cars that are the issue. They are treated better than the Agents - perhaps because they cost more!
After work every night, we enjoyed a delicious steak, perfectly cooked pomme frites, and fantastic red wine. Each restaurant was better than the previous night's. After the President's visit was completed without incident, we loaded up the cars, equipment and about 200 cases of incredible and very inexpensive red wine. We landed at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, right outside Washington DC at about 3am, which was a common occurrence due to time changes and flight patterns. A US Customs Agent in full uniform boards the plane before the "Load Sergeant" who actually runs the plane despite with the Captain pilots think, could get the cargo doors open. He passed out the US Customs Forms - just like you get on every commercial flight coming into the US. We all checked the "Nothing to Declare" box - as he stood directly in front of what must have appeared to be a wall at one end of the plane to him, but of course was 200 cases of Chilean wine. I suppose even the normally staunch supporters of truth, justice, and the American Way don't like paying Custom's fees any more than you do! We loaded everybody's personal vehicle with as many cases as it could hold. The married guys with minivans and Suburbans made out the best. I had my 5.0 liter, 5 speed, stick shift Mustang at the time, so I got a smaller share, but I was still one happy Agent driving home. So, when you drink that next bottle of Chilean wine (or Von Holt Wine) toast US Customs!
Pam and I just took a three day weekend trip to "Sea Ranch", which is a development of very esoteric and architecturally interesting houses for rent at the extreme north end of Sonoma County, right on the coast. The Surf Market in Gualala agreed to stock Von Holt Wines Old Lakeville 2008 Syrah. If you get a chance to stay at "Sea Ranch", after you take a long walk on the bluff above the Pacific, stop in at The Surf and see their wine buyer, Rolf. For a small grocery store in a very small town, The Surf has an outstanding selection of local wines. Rolf will recommend a Sonoma Coast or Russian River Valley wine that will complement what you are planning to cook for dinner back at the house. If you tell him you are planing to cook a juicy steak, lamb kabobs or a spicy pasta, he may very well recommend Von Holt WInes Old Lakeville 2008 Syrah!
Hello everybody, and welcome to the Von Holt Wines website!
This is my first blog. I'm glad it will be about something close to my heart.
I'm a retired US Secret Service Agent and two diverse things come to mind when I think about special feelings from my old career. Those of you with law enforcement backgrounds will especially relate. First is that feeling when you get home from a midnight shift and immediately dive into bed, and get that first 4 hours of unbelievably deep sleep. The second is watching Air Force II take off with the Vice President, from a country that you barely knew existed two weeks ago, after you have conducted a successful "advance". They are special, warm feelings that create a place of comfort in their own way deep inside.
In August last year, I experienced a similar feeling of special comfort when I watched the first bottle of Von Holt Wines roll off the bottling assembly line. It's a crazy process if you haven't been involved with it before - much like the old "I Love Lucy" TV show where she can't put the candy in the boxes fast enough. Seeing my dad's name on the bottle was another special, warm feeling that hit a place inside me that's hard to describe. Obviously, it's my name too, but I always associate it with dad. He was the first person on either side of my family to be born in the US, worked two jobs his whole married life to support my mother, brother and me, and, everybody loved him. He would have enjoyed reading about your experiences with Von Holt Wines.
So, this venture, Von Holt Wines, is as much about my dad as it is about me. I wish he was here to see it. He also missed seeing me marry Pam, who he would have greatly loved. So, everybody, here's to my dad, Fred Von Holt!
I hope you will share your Von Holt Wines experiences here on our blog. Thanks for reading and enjoy your warm memories with the wine!
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