Harvest | Vendanges | Vendemmia |Traubenernte

Early fall is the busiest and most important time of the year for wineries in the Northern Hemisphere- Harvest season. Long hours and intensive labor consume each and every member of the winemaking team. 

There is so much that goes into a bottle of wine that the consumer never sees. Take a peek behind the curtain and explore harvest season at a few Vineyard Brands wineries around the world. 


Domaine de CourcelA 400 year old family owned winery, located in the village of Pommard on the Côte d'Or, about four kilometers south-east of Beaune. 

Domaine Weinbach: Located at the foot of the majestic Schlossberg hill in Alsace, this family owned winery is run by Catherine Faller and her son, Théo. 

Les Alexandrins:  Located in the Northern Rhône Valley, Domaine & Maison Les Alexandrins is a collaboration among Nicolas Jaboulet, Guillaume Sorrel, and Alexandre Paso. 

Clos Triguedina: Found in southwestern France, Clos Triguedina is currently led by Jean Luc Baldes. 

Thibault Liger-Belair: Located in Nuits-St.-Georges, in the Côte de Nuits subregion of Burgundy, the domaine has been in the Liger-Belair family for 250 years.


Massolino: Located in northern Italy in the Piedmont region, the Massolino estate was founded in 1896. 

Gradis'ciutta:  Driven by Robert Princic, Gradis'ciutta is located in northern Italy and before carrying the name Gradis’ciutta, this place was known as Monsvini, which in Latin means “Mount of Wine.”


August Kesseler: Situated in the Assmannshausen in the Rheingau region, the wine estate of August Kesseler consists of vineyard sites in Lorch (for Riesling and Silvaner wines), on the slopes of the hills around Rüdesheim and in the area called “Assmanshäuser Höllenberg.”


Tablas Creek Vineyard: West of Paso Robles, on California's Central Coast, Tablas Creek is named after the small creek running through the property and the the 120-acre site sits twelve miles from the Pacific Ocean. You can find more detailed harvest updates on their blog.

Marqués de Cáceres: ¡Salud!

It seems for many wine-making families, wine rather than blood flows through their veins. This is especially true for the wineries Vineyard Brands imports considering they are all family owned, including Marqués de Cáceres.

The Forners are a 5th generation wine family who have revolutionized wine growing in the Rioja region of Spain. Founded in 1970, the story of Marqués de Cáceres starts much earlier, in 1920, when Enrique's father and grandfather owned "Vinicola Forner," in Valencia, Spain. 

Sr Forner y Cristina en puerta de entrada.jpg

The Spanish Civil War forced the Forner's into exile in France. Although the family was forced to leave their home, they were immersed in one of the oldest wine growing regions in the world. While in France, the Forners purchased two châteaux in the Haut Médoc- the Bordeaux region. These two châteaux- Château Camensac and Château Larose-Trintaudon- are now recognized as two of the finest properties in Bordeaux. 

When Enrique Forner returned to his Spanish homeland he was armed with a wealth of wine knowledge and experience. He had learned from the best in France and was ready to establish a bodega. He selected the finest viticultural area Cenicero in Rioja Alta. In gently rolling hills bordered by the Ebro River, the region is as beautiful as it is fertile. 

Forner's first Rioja red wine was a 1968 vintage. Two years later Bodegas Marqués de Cáceres was officially founded, with the reputed oenologist from Bordeaux, Emile Peynaud, as wine consultant. 

Enrique Forner's impact can be seen throughout the Spanish wine industry we know today. Influenced by his time in France, Forner introduced the system of estate-bottling by limiting his source of grapes to those of the immediate area - a departure from the local practice of using more widespread sources of supply. He established the Union Viti-Vinicola, together with a selection of growers who supply the Bodegas Marqués de Cáceres with grapes; this restricted source of grapes gives a consistent style and character to the wine. He along with six other bodegas, the "Magnificent 7", was instrumental in reforming the rules of the Rioja D.O. (Denominación de Origen). This ensures quality and high standards for the wines of Rioja. 

Marqués de Cáceres gained its distinctive name from the actual Marqués de Cáceres in 1974 who became a founder-shareholder of the Bodega. The marquesado has its origins in the XVIII century and was granted by the King of Spain to the Captain of the Royal Spanish Navy Don Juan Ambrosio García de Cáceres and Montemayor in gratitude for his outstanding services to the Crown in the war of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.

Enrique Forner retired in 2007, and his daughter, continuing the family legacy, took over control of the bodega. Marqués de Cáceres celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2010 as a leading brand in Spain and around the world and is available in more than 120 markets.

The Cáceres portfolio has grown extensively since that first red in 1968. Wines include: 

Marques de Caceres ALL BOTTLES.jpg

Marqués de Cáceres White is made from 100% Verdejo grapes from Rueda. Very fresh bouquet with citrus and floral notes. Deliciously refreshing in the mouth with pleasant vivacity and long-lasting flavours.

Marqués de Cáceres Antea Barrel Fermented White, produced from Viura grapes, with a small percentage of Malvasia. This fine wine is elegant and complex, with a bouquet of ripe apples, and a hint of vanilla in the rich fruit.

Marqués de Cáceres Satinela is a delicate, fruity, slightly sweet white wine, made from Viura grapes, with a small percentage of Malvasia. The grapes were harvested late in their maturity, very ripe and concentrated. Aromas of apricot, peach, and acacia flowers.

Marqués de Cáceres Deusa Nai Albariño from Rias Baixas. The name Deusa Nai means “mother goddess”, referring to the bounty of the earth. A fresh and fragrant bouquet with mineral notes and a hint of grapefruit and mandarin orange. With refreshing acidity and good length, ready to be enjoyed now but will continue to develp in bottle.

Marqués de Cáceres Rosé is dry, very fruity, fresh and light, with a delicate pink color. It is made from Tempranillo grapes (80%) and Garnacha (20%) selected from the highest slopes of the Rioja Alta. It is cold-fermented and undergoes a brief maceration, which imparts to the wine its pink color.

Marqués de Cáceres Excellens Sauvignon Blanc, Rosé and Red A selection of wines tailored to on-premise accounts with limited production, sourced from premium vineyards in Rioja for the Red and Rosé, and in Rueda for the Sauvignon Blanc.

Marqués de Cáceres Crianza, noted for its spicy varietal character, its balance and lingering finish, is made from 85% Tempranillo grapes, with the balance split between the Graciano and Garnacha Tinta varieties. The wine is aged in small barrels of French oak for 12 months and in the bottle for at least 14 months.

Marqués de Cáceres Reserva Tempranillo (85%), and Graciano and Garnacha Tinta (15%). The grapes are selected form vineyards that are well exposed to the sun, and from a considerable portion of older vines, that produce lower yields. The Reservas are aged in barrels from central France for 22 months, followed by 2 years or more in bottle. It is made only in the best vintages, a rich and velvety wine with great depth.

Marqués de Cáceres Gran Reserva from old vines, Tempranillo (85%), and Graciano and Garnacha Tinta (15%), aged up to 26-28 months in oak and up to 4 years in the bottle. Produced only from vintages classed as “excellent” or “very good”.

Marqués de Cáceres MC 100% Tempranillo, this choice wine is made from a selection of grapes grown in vineyards of very limited production. Aged in new French oak for 15 months, the MC has a fresh bouquet that opens out with notes of blackberries, violet and delicate spices. Rich and full in the mouth with good structure, wrapped in delicious, rounded tannins.

Marqués de Cáceres Gaudium (Latin: “satisfaction, joy, pleasure of the senses”) is made exclusively from Rioja’s finest vineyards that are planted with old vines which produce a very limited yield. A rigorous selection of the best grape varieties - 95% Tempranillo and 5% Graciano - are handpicked to ensure optimum maturity. Aged in new French oak barrels for 18 months and a minimum of 24 months in bottle, thus achieving the elegance which characterizes this great wine. 

#WineforGood: MAN Family Vitners

“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”- Nelson Mandela

Mandela Day is celebrated internationally every year on July 18. The day celebrates Madiba’s (Nelson Mandela’s clan name) life and legacy by promoting acts of service and positive community change. Nelson Mandela fought for social justice for 67 years, so Mandela Day asks for individuals to start with 67 minutes.

South African winery MAN Family Vitners, located in Stellenbosch, knows the importance of giving back to the community.

Like the saying goes, “charity starts at home,” so last year, MAN decided to devote their #67 minutes to one specific charity in the immediate community.  Just down the road from MAN offices in Jonkershoek is Akkerland pre-school.

Akkerland pre-school, or crèche, cares for two age groups: babies and toddlers up to three years old, and ages 3-6.

July is South Africa’s coldest month, so much of MAN’s work for Mandela Day was centered on ensuring the preschool was prepared for the cold weather. Everyone from the farm workers at MAN to the office staff came together to serve the preschool in a variety of ways—from buying carpets to cover the floors to donating educational toys and books to buying warm blankets and clothing.

While volunteering at the preschool, one of MAN’s employees, Maia Bezuidenhout, noticed two young brothers, Imbo (2 years old) and Sohiso (5 years old). These two brothers, raised by a sickly single mother, were especially unprepared for the cold weather. So Maia went to the mall to buy them a few pairs of warm clothing and shoes. A few months after Mandela Day, Maia ran into Imbo, Sohiso, and their mother. The boys’ mother had not forgotten and was so grateful for the help.

This year MAN visited Akkerland in June to prepare for and see how they could best serve on Mandela Day. There, they learned Imbo and Sohiso’s mother had passed away and they were being raised by an aunt far away. While not every story has a happy ending, and while often an act of service might feel like only a drop in the bucket, the smallest devotion of time and the smallest act of service can truly make a difference and have a ripple effect. 

This Mandela Day, MAN again spent time at Akkerland, fixing cots, preparing the school for winter, and making sure they had supplies, from nappies to blankets. But MAN’s relationship with the preschool doesn’t stop after 67 minutes or even after a day. The team plans to make monthly visits to the preschool to spend time with the children, to take them to lunch, and perhaps to focus on specific families in need (inspired by Imbo and Sohiso).

MAN sees the importance of giving back to the community, keenly aware of the overwhelming needs of the underprivileged and underserved in the community.
MAN believes in promoting change and constant progress.
MAN is #WineforGood.

Vineyard Dogs

National Dog Day was August 26. In celebration we're sharing some of our favorite vineyard dogs. After all, dogs are traditionally man's (and woman's!) best friend, and we like to think wine is too. 

Tablas Creek: Located just west of Paso Robles in California's beautiful Central Coast, Tablas Creek farms organically and received their organic certification in 2003. Much of the vineyard uses Biodynamic techniques, including a herd of sheep, alpacas and donkeys. These friendly dogs try to keep their other four legged friends in line, as well as welcome visitors to the vineyard. 

Domaine Alain Gras:  over 12 hectares, primarily located in St. Romain, Domaine Alain Gras produces beautiful whites and reds. 

Alain and his two dogs

Alain and his two dogs

Ernesto Catena Vineyards: Fourth generation winemaker Ernesto Catena founded Ernesto Catena Vineyards in Argentina to truly make art. Both the farm and vineyard are biodynamic, allowing for plenty of friendly farm animals and dogs. 

Hamilton Russell Vineyards: Hamilton Russell Vineyards is known for making some of the best wines South Africa has to offer. Owners Olive and Anthony also have some of the best dogs South Africa has to offer. 

Chamonix: Deep in the wine growing region of Franschhoek in the Western Cape of South Africa, Chamonix makes well-respected wines. Winemaker Thinus Neethling has a beautiful dog that makes an appearance at the vineyard from time to time. 

Will You Accept This Rioja?

If you’re a fan of the Bachelor/Bachelorette franchise or been active on social media this week, you might have seen that current bachelorette Rachel Lindsay, along with her three remaining suitors, recently took a trip to Spanish wine country.

It’s hard to imagine a more romantic setting than rolling hills, medieval villages, and rich vineyards.

Located in northern Spain, Rioja is an easy driving distance from popular cities like Madrid, Bilbao, and San Sebastian.

The Rioja region is one of the greatest wine growing areas in the world. But don't be confused, non-Spanish speakers!  Although at first glance “rioja” looks similar to the Spanish word for red- rojo- the region produces a variety of wines including whites, reds, and even rosés.

The region has been producing wines for over 200 years, but still isn’t as well known to many consumers as other regions. So if you’re more familiar with French wine than Spanish, the Rioja region is often compared to the Bordeaux region of France. High quality wines at a variety of taste and price points abound.

Rioja has the most acreage under vines of any wine region in the world- over 140,000 acres of vines yielding 250 million liters of wine annually.

There are over 500 wineries in the region—ranging from small, more traditional cellars to large commercial producers. 

If Rachel’s quest for love has led you on a quest for love of your own, let us introduce you to a winery sure to win your heart (and your tastebuds)-Marqués de Cáceres.  The story of this winery is practically made for TV (just like the Bachelorette).

The Forner family fled Spain during the Spanish Civil War. Finding refuge in France, Henri Forner and his brother Elysée bought and restored two antiquated and abandoned châteaux. These two châteaux are now recognized as two of the finest properties in Bordeaux.

Once returning to Spain, Henri decided to establish a bodega of his own in Cenicero, in Rioja Alta. In gently rolling hills and bordered by the Ebro River, Marqués de Cáceres is the perfect setting for a storybook romance…is it really any surprise the Bachelorette chose Rioja?

Drawing on his experiences in Bordeaux, Henri Forner introduced the estate-bottling used in Bordeaux—limiting his source of grapes to those in the immediate area. French winemaking techniques and expertise have been applied to native Spanish grapes, producing one of the finest modern Riojas.

Marqués de Cáceres has stayed in the Forner family ever since. Henri’s daughter Cristina is at the helm and leading the winery to new heights and acclaim.

Curious to try the wine for yourself? 

Pick up a bottle and fall in love. Will you accept this rioja? We know we do!

Malbec World Day: Fast Facts on a Unique wine

  • April 17 is officially Malbec World Day!
  • Why April 17? On that day in 1853, with the support of Mendoza’s governor Pedro Pascual Segura, a bill was submitted to the Provincial Legislature for the foundation of a Quinta Normal and a School of Agriculture. The bill was enacted as law by the House of Representatives on September 6th, 1853.
  • Malbec has a history dating back hundreds of years. It was served at the wedding of Eleanor of Aquitaine to Henri II. Happen to have forgotten their anniversary? We have you covered. 1152 (over 800 years ago).
  • Was once known as "black wine"...for fairly obvious reasons. Malbec is one of the darkest wines you can find. TintoNegro literally means Black Wine.


  • While you might associate Malbec most closely with South America (and Argentina in particular), Malbec traces its origins back to France and was once the most widely planted grape in the country and found in many Bordeaux blends.
  • In 1870,  phylloxera destroyed vineyards in France and ruined the Malbec vines in Bordeaux. This same pest has never taken hold in Argentina. 
Cahors, France

Cahors, France

  • By the end of the 19th century, viticulture had boomed in Argentina (in part thanks to Italian and French immigrants) and so did Malbec, which adapted quickly to the varied terroirs of Argentina. 
  • Now Malbec only accounts for about 10,000 acres in Cahors and about 100,000 acres in Argentina. Malbec can also be found in countries throughout the world including the US and New Zealand, but Argentina has nearly 70% of all acres of Malbec in the world. 
Ernesto Catena

Ernesto Catena

  • Malbec vines are very sensitive to weather and pests (like phylloxera). They've thrived in high-altitude Argentina. 
  • Argentina is now the 5th largest wine producer in the world. 


  • Argentinian Malbecs are fruit-forward, plummy, and velvety with prominent new oak.
  • French Malbecs have more structure, firmer tannins, an inky dark quality, and are earthier. 
  • BOTH have essential Malbec flavors of blueberry, cherry, and plum.  

An Insider's Look at Rosé

It’s hard to walk into your local wine shop or supermarket and not notice the stunning rows of jewel-hued rosés.  And considering the boom in popularity that rosé has enjoyed the past several years, there’s a strong chance that these beauties ranging in color from the palest of pinks to outrageous magentas will be featured prominently.  As we explored in a recent blog post, rosé has gone from being just another wine to a cultural phenomenon in a few short years.  However, most people, even the most ardent fans, have little idea of rosé’s fascinating journey from grape to glass.

While researching this article, I was fortunate to speak with two winemakers very knowledgeable about rosé production, Chelsea Franchi of Tablas Creek Vineyard in Paso Robles, CA and Simon Batarseh of August Kesseler in the Rheingau region of Germany.

It is a common misconception that rosé is made by simply combining red and white wines together.  While this technically can occur, it is quite rare when making quality rosé.  Franchi, who oversees much of the rosé production at Tablas Creek, started our conversation speaking about the two most common methods of producing rosé:  saignée and direct press

The saignée method involves bleeding off juice from red wine tanks before it has had a chance to take on too much color from the red wine skins (this process is called maceration).  This labor-intensive method is interesting and controversial because it is often used as a way to enhance and concentrate the remaining red wine.  Many rosé advocates consider it an affront to rosé because it is the by-product of red wine production.  However, both Franchi and Batarseh praised this method for contributing intensity of flavors and for the amount of input they have while utilizing it.  At Tablas Creek, the juice sits on the skins for approximately 24-72 hours before about 20% is bled off and subjected to a cold fermention.  Most of this wine then becomes their serious, darker colored rosé called Dianthus (named for the flowers commonly known as “pinks”).  Dianthus is generally Mourvèdre-based, a nod to the rosés of Southern France, specifically the Bandol area.  Franchi attributes this wine’s watermelon essence to the Mourvèdre used in the blend.  At Kesseler about 20% of the juice from wonderful up to 80-year-old Pinot Noir vines is bled off then fermented.   Batarseh leans on this wine to contribute color and tannins to the final blend.

The other common method of making rosé involves direct pressing of the grapes.  This method is the most common and generally is considered the benchmark for crafting quality rosé.  Both Franchi and Batarseh praised the fact that crop levels, sugar levels, acidities, and harvest dates can all be controlled in the vineyard and tailored to make the absolute best rosé.  They both also press the juice off the grape skins without any maceration time resulting in a stunning pale pink color.  Often you will see this wine labeled as vin gris.  At Tablas Creek, this limpid direct press juice is destined to become their acclaimed Patelin de Tablas Rosé.  Franchi said that they prefer to co-ferment their Grenache, Mourvedre, Counoise, and Syrah juice for this wine.  This wine is definitely styled in the tradition of the great Provençal rosés with its dominant bright strawberry notes coming from the majority Grenache.  At Kesseler the direct press juice is blended with the saignée juice for the final wine.  Batarseh likes the interplay of qualities produced by using both methods, noting that the direct press juice brings a light, bright, acid-driven quality to the final wine. 

via Wine Folly (www.winefolly.com)

via Wine Folly (www.winefolly.com)

I asked Franchi what her favorite grape is to work with in the production of rosé.  After some thought she answered, “Grenache,” and referenced the absolutely heavenly, heady aroma released by the vats of fermenting Grenache in the cellar.  Indeed, when studying many of the great rosé-producing areas of the world, Grenache often seems to pop up.  It makes sense when considering that Grenache is a very thin-skinned grape and overall has less color-lending phenolic compounds than other red grapes.  Franchi also referenced the little-known Rhone Valley grape Counoise as contributing a nice softness and darker red fruit flavors to their rosés as well as those produced in Southern France.  Often Syrah is also added also its wonderful spicy character.

Grenache Grapes

Grenache Grapes

At Kesseler, Batarseh works exclusively with Pinot Noir for rosé production.  Once again we find a grape with thin skin and low levels of phenolic compounds.  It’s no surprise that in most of the world’s great Pinot Noir regions there is also usually concurrent rosé production (think Marsannay in Burgundy, Oregon, Germany, and the Loire Valley).  Producers in these regions get the dual benefits of producing a gorgeous berry-scented rosé and intensifying the often light juice destined for their Pinot Noir bottlings.  At Kesseler, considered one of Germany’s premier Pinot Noir specialists, their rosé shows beautiful berry and cherry notes while maintaining an elegant and exciting tension.  It’s definitely refreshing but has the stuffing for year-round drinking. 

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir

Next time you’re buying a bottle of rosé for the lunch table, pool, or just a summer evening with friends, talk with the wine specialist or turn that bottle over and read the back label.  Besides the important visual clues from the color, you’ll gain some great perspective on what’s in a bottle by simply knowing how it’s made.  And don’t be embarrassed for buying it! 

As Franchi told me, “The stigma is over.  Rosé is one of the most delicious, versatile, and food friendly wines out there.”  Think pink!!