Archive for the ‘Wine Making’ Category

California Drought – How Does it Affect Solis Winery?

Friday, September 18th, 2015

gilroy vineyard -Solis Winery

It is widely known that California is in the midst of a monumental drought and I am often asked how the drought is affecting the vineyard and our grape production.


What is Varietal Wine?

Thursday, November 13th, 2014


Becoming a wine connoisseur requires that you increase your vocabulary to better discuss and select the different wines that are available to you. A wine varietal is a wine that comes from a single grape variety. Frequently, the name of the wine varietal is listed on the wine bottle. Commonly used wine varietals are Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Syrah and Pinot Noir. If you run across a wine that uses the name of two or more varieties or a proprietary name, it’s actually a blend. One example is our Cara Mia.  Blends are useful for smoothing out the flavor of a wine and changing the characteristics of a typical single grape variety wine.

Why Identify Wine Varietals

After the Prohibition Era, Maynard Amerine pushed for growers to use wine varietals to improve categorization and labeling of wine. Varietal wines are a newer tradition that gained traction in the United States. Although, Germany was also labeling wine varietals as well. The practice of labeling wine varietals became widespread in the 1970s.

Wine Flavors

A varietal wine tells you the kind of flavor to expect from a wine. If you select a Merlot varietal, then you know to expect a softer, medium weight wine that often has hints of herbs, green olive, cherry or chocolate profiles. A Cabernet Sauvignon has a softer profile with less tannins and generally provides a cedar flavor profile with hints of vanilla. Meanwhile, a Chardonnay contains hints of fruits like apple, pear, peach, pineapple and others. As you continue to try different varietals and compare them to each other, you will learn which wines you like and be able to identify the complex flavor profiles in each varietal.

Uses in Marketing

Labeling a wine varietal makes it easier for consumers to pick wines that suit their palates. If you know you like the wine characteristics of Merlot grapes, you can narrow down your selection options and make it easier to find a new wine. With so many potential branded wine names, it can be somewhat difficult to get any real value judgments about the type of wine by simply looking at the name of the wine.

Are Varietal Wines Superior?

In short, naming a wine by its grape variety does not inherently make the wine superior. It does however, make it easier to locate wines of a particular flavor profile. You may find that you like varietal wines better than blended or vice versa. At the end of the day, your palate will lead you to the superior tasting wine.


 Gilroy Wine Tasting

If you will be in the Gilroy area, stop by our winery and taste some of our award winning wines.

Vintage Wine – What Does Vintage Mean?

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Have you ever asked yourself, “What does vintage really mean?” You hear it all the time, “I had a nice vintage bottle of… insert almost any bottle of wine here.” But what is vintage and why does it matter at all? Today we’ll attempt to clear up any confusion about the meaning of vintage.

Why does vintage even matter?

Before we define “vintage wine” does it even matter?  Well if you are a casual wine drinker, it may not matter to you at all. However, some of the more serious wine aficionados buy wines that they store for years or even decades. Why? Because some wines use grapes with high acidity and tannins. When these grape varietals like merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are stored properly, it gives the wine time to mature and the hope is the flavor profile will be at its peak when consumed.  So wine connoisseurs not only want to drink good wine, but they want to drink wine at the perfect time, giving the ultimate wine experience.


5 Red Wine Grapes of Bordeaux

Saturday, July 20th, 2013

Bordeaux is France most celebrated wine region and in the wine making world, the name Bordeaux demands respect and invokes – sometimes impossible expectations. Bordeaux is the largest controlled wine growing region in France and has over 10,000 wine producers. Known mostly for red wine, Bordeaux is regarded as the mecca for red wine enthusiast all around the world. The red wines of Bordeaux are usually blends of two or more of the 5 popular grapes which include: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec.


Merlot is the most planted grape in the Bordeaux wine regions, which contributes to it being the most dominate grape variety in Bordeaux used for its rich fruit flavors and as a smoothing agent. Merlot wines are usually medium bodied with smooth tannins.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon is grown all over the world as it can be produced in many different climates, but Cabernet Sauvignon’s celebrity is mainly derived from its use in Bordeaux wines as a blend with Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Used for its power, structure and aging potential, Cabernet Sauvignon is naturally acidic and high in tannins. Its popularity has earned it the name “King of the Wine Red Grapes. “

Cabernet Franc

Cabernet Franc is also a dry red wine that is medium bodied and has low to moderate tannins. In Bordeaux is mainly used for blending with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  It’s used for smoothing texture and has depending on the growing region may have the following aromas: peppery, raspberry, or tobacco.

Petit Verdot

Petit Verdot is not the most popular grape in Bordeaux due to the fact that it ripens much later than the more common grape varieties like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s low yield and high maintenance makes it much more difficult to grow. However, Petit Verdot is still used as one of the blending grape varieties in the Bordeaux Blend and is used to add certain flavors and tannins to the blend.


Malbec is not very well-known in the United States but it’s growing in popularity.  Malbec is the last of the 5 of grape varieties used in the Bordeaux blend and is usually used in small amounts to add some color and spice. Malbec became very popular in Argentina and is its most popular grape. The wine is fruity, lush and full-bodied with smooth tannins.

Red Wine Grapes of Bordeaux

Bordeaux is known for its red grapes and set the standard for red wine. Some of the less popular grapes like Petit Verdot and Malbec are growing in popularity or have found their way to other regions of the world where they are more widely produced. Red Bordeaux is usually dominated by two or three of the grape varieties and the percentage will vary from year to year depending on a multitude of factors.  Nevertheless, Red Bordeaux is a great choice for red wine lovers.

Bordeaux Wine Producers

Bordeaux wine is made by more than 8,500 producers or chateaus, but there are a handful of elite producers of the legendary red wines. Château Lafite Rothschild is one of the wine estates in France that was awarded First Growth status, and with that status comes one of the most expensive red wines in the world.   Some of the other noticeable, but less expensive producers include:  Château Brane-Cantenac, Château Greys and Château Lynch-Bages.