Camalie Vineyards Wine Coop 2013 -- Malbec Highlight

Wine Maker's Report

Wine Deliverable

This year's Wine Co-op Vintage is going to a good one. With a warmer than normal spring opposite of 2010 and 2011 and even warmer than the normal year we had last year fruit set was excellent. My Grape Grower's Blog has more details. Ripeness and flavor maturity are well ahead of schedule. These grapes promise to produce an exceptional vintage. We made no wine in 2011 due to the very cool season, low yields, early rains and subsequent loss of 20% of the crop to botrytis. The Coop was cancelled again in 2012 for a health emergency. All the barrels are empty and the tanks ready to go. Even the leak in the water line to the cave has been fixed. This is definitely a year to make wine.

We have two special highlights this year. The first is the first serious crop of Malbec from the upper reaches of Konrad Vineyards, almost a barrel. These vines have yet to be cordon trained and are producing only about 3 lbs./vine compared to 7-8 lbs/vine from mature vines. We have this fruit as the result of a special arrangement with Dr. Konrad in which I paid half the cost of planting 3 and a half years ago. The vines at Camalie were at this stage of development in 2005 if you remember. If you participated in that coop you will definitely remember what a good year that was.

The second highlight is that the replanted Carmenere is now in its third year and will also produce its first fruit. The yield will be lower than the Malbec but, still enough to make a half barrel or so.

After tasting most of Mount Veeder's wines over the years I have come to the conclusion that Mt. Veeder Cab needs a little forward fruit blended in to make it all that it can be. In 2010 we tried Syrah from Strauss vineyards. Years before that we have tried Merlot and Carmenere. This year we are going to try Malbec. I believe Malbec is going to be the best blender yet. Randle Johnson, winemaker at Hess Collection, with his own wine label Calafia, encouraged us to plant it and provided important guidance in cultivar selection. He is in line to buy it next year along with other Konrad buyers.

The other indicator of promise was a Chateau Potelle Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec blend that Marketta Formeaux brought over the other night. She herself made this wine. It had a beautiful black fruit nose and just the right degree of fruit in the mid palate.

The plan is to make approximately 3.5 barrels of wine, ~85 cases, with the following percentages for each source/varietal.

40% Camalie Cab

20% Konrad Malbec

20% Konrad K2U Cab

20% Crouse Orleans Cab

1% Camalie Carmenere

You can monitor the progress of the grapes via my Grape Grower's Blog. The 2013 Harvest Party which all members are invited to is scheduled for 9/28/13 plus or minus a week.


The co-op buys grapes from Camalie Vineyards at $2.75/lb for Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere and Malbec.   Approximately 3 lbs. of grapes are required per bottle which translates to about $8.25/bottle for grapes. Total grape tonnage for 3.5 barrels is about 1.75 tons or 3500 lbs.

Camalie Vineyards provides winemaking facilities and consumables including equipment to harvest the grapes, crush, press, barrels, 2-yr. barrel age in cave, chemical analysis, consulting, additions, pumps for racking and bottling.  Bottles, corks and capsules are also provided.  Co-op members are responsible for providing the labor to make their wine except for analysis and additions.

The minimum size share is 3.5%, approximately 122 lbs. of grapes, which results in about 3.3 cases of wine at a cost of about $19/bottle ($772). A double share, 7%, costs 20% less/bottle, about $15/bottle ($1235 for 6 cases).

Each member gets their proportionate share of each of the barrels made at bottling. Share percentages will be determined at crush when the total grape tonnage is known. If participation is high we will increase the volume crushed and further discount larger volumes.

The Camalie Vineyards Wine Co-op is a small informal cooperative for the purpose of making very fine Mount Veeder/Napa Valley wine and having a lot of fun in the process.   We believe that getting involved in the making of the wine provides a more intimate relationship with the wine and a much stronger appreciation of it when we finally open a bottle of our own making and drink it.  

This year is the 11th year of the Co-op which has now produced over 1000 cases of wine total. Check out my Winemaker's reports from 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2005N 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001 including blind tasting results.    

Labor involved includes picking grapes, crush, culling, bucketing must to tanks, disposing of stems, cleaning tanks and equipment.  Punch down, and specific gravity measurements which will be done twice each day for roughly ten days. Bucketing must to the press, pressing, bucketing wine back to tanks, removing pomace, carrying to big bin, preparing barrels, moving barrels into place, pumping wine to barrels, tasting, topping, washing bottles, filling, corking, capsuling, filler cleaning, setup/teardown, carrying out cases of wine. 

If the wine goes bad due to a microbial contamination that is not due to a clear breach of hygiene standards then participants take the risk.   Also if the wine just doesn't taste good for some reason the participants take the risk.  Sulfide problems included.  

Participation in the wine coop includes invitations to the events associated with the winemaking many of which don't involve work such as the barrel mix tasting party which is great fun. See Winemaking 2007, 2008, 2009 and .  There are other events such as barrel tastings to monitor and top the wine which you will have an opportunity to participate in. 

Participation is by invitation only.  If you are reading this you are already in a rarified class of wine connoisseurs   Hope you decide to join!  

To join call my  cell, or text me at    650-799-6571  or send me e-mail at

Wine Co-op Membership and payments as of pressing 10/19/13:

Anni and David 7%

Jeff and Gwen+ Michael and Margie 10.5% Jeff Paid $463 10/28/13, Michael Paid $463 9/20

Jamie and Pat 7%, Paid $1235 10/5/13

Michael and Diane Hakanson 3.5% Paid $1200 9/28/13

Adrienne 3.5% Paid $772 9/18/13

Karen Crouse 540 lbs. Cab. @$5300/ton = $1431 = 8.1% share; Paid in Grapes 9/28/13

James Konrad 720 lbs. Cab @$5650/ton = $2034 = 11.5% share; Paid in Grapes 9/28/13

Mark and Cindy 2002 lbs. Paid in Grapes and Winemaking Cab/Carmenere/Malbec . ~50%

Total volume of must including water additions as of 10/19/13 = 335 gal. Assuming a .66 press yield the total wine we will make will be ~221 gal. x 3.875 l/gal. = 856 liters /.75 l/bottle = 1142 bottles/12 bottles/case = 95.1 cases. 7% x95.1 cases = 6.7 cases, about 10% above the original goal, 10% high.

See my winemaker's report for 2013 for the latest results.

Note: case estimates are approximate because they depend on pressing and racking yields. Estimates are based on prior year's results.   

Winemaker, Mark Holler

A typical event calendar for the coop looks like this.  

  Activities for the day include picking grapes starting early, running the grapes through the crusher destemmer culling MOG before and after, bucketing must into the 6 tanks.     Party in the afternoon, wine tasting.  This is a large event with many friends invited including WineCoop members friends.   Target 30-50 people participating to make the work go quickly.  Co-op members get first priority for sleepover accomodations. Cabernet Sauvignon Harvest and Crush Day  ~Oct. 15. Start Fermentation and for the next 10 days punchdown the must twice a day and monitor specific gravity.  Some additions of yeast nutrients.      November 15 th Pressing Then the malo-lactic fermentation will be initiated.  December 10th  The Barrel Mix Tasting:  This tasting is to evaluate  the new crop of wines from the seven vats. This will help us determine which wines to place in which barrels. January 12 th Rack to Barrels: The wine will be transferred from the stainless steel tanks to oak barrels that are stored in the cave.   January to July   Various dates, Barrel topping and tasting for progress, approximately bimonthly. Blending. The   July  rack from barrel to barrel.  2nd July after crush  first   Bottling.  2nd Nov after crush  second and final bottling

    Tasting Terrace

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Last updated 10/19/13 M.H.