Backyard Beginnings: Dry Finish

  Clos Pepe: A Vigneron’s Quest for Great Dirt (Carneros Press, 2009) chronicles the years between planting Sauvignon Blanc vines in Stephen Pepe’s Long Beach, California backyard to becoming a Pinot Noir and Chardonnay forerunner in Santa Barbara County, California, as detailed in this excerpt from chapter three. By the second growing season of the Clos Pepe Long Beach vineyard, I observed to Catherine that our vines were quite bountiful, and I announced that I was going to order a 10-gallon barrel, this despite the fact that my harvest of the prior year had only yielded enough grapes for a 3-gallon barrel. Catherine quite astutely pointed out to me that my runaway optimism was affecting my reason. She noted that, given our three different grape varieties that would not all ripen at the same time and the need for extra juice for topping off the barrel and racking, a 5-gallon barrel was the wiser, more appropriate, and less expensive option. And, she further observed that, even if she were wrong, which was a notable rarity, we could still use last