Thinking about booking a corporate event or a private family function? Our winery and farm might be just the right place…
Sonocaia is more than just a warm and inviting estate vineyard and boutique winery.
We’re also eleven acres of compelling ecological and agricultural projects.
We offer corporate team building functions and private family events, all mixed with learning about sustainable and eco-friendly practices. Explore the symbiotic relationship between nature and viticulture. Savor serious wines and farm-to-table produce while fostering a commitment to ecological and agricultural values. Schedule an educational seminar on a variety of grape, wine, and farming topics.
The winery and farm has a continuous and evolving set of projects underway at all times. Visitors are encouraged to inquire in advance about topics of interest.
Click here to inquire about booking your customized event
We partner with great chef-caterers offering delicious food options as part of your event plan.
Add an ecological or agricultural topic to your visit
Begin with a farm tour of bee hives, fruit orchards, and olive trees. Meet in the elevated pool house for a customized educational seminar. Take a stroll through the vineyard. Learn about composting, creek restoration, and surface water recovery. Or head straight to the winery to taste wine and enjoy a carefully curated chef’s meal.
In addition to grapes and wine, here are a few examples of the potential topics for your corporate or family visit:
Learn about estate Sagrantino, our special Umbrian red wine
Our estate grown Sagrantino is a boutique-scale effort; it is a traditionally-made deep red wine that transports tasters to the hills of Montefalco, Umbia, Italy. A rare find in California, this varietal is relatively unknown in the new world and is sparking curiosity from both the casual traveller and the serious wine critic. We have painstakingly cultivated our highly regarded Sagrantino vineyard over the years with careful sustainable farming practices. The resulting rich wine makes a bold but approachable statement.
Learn more about our estate Sagrantino here: information about Sagrantino
Shop for our Sonocaia estate reserve Sagrantino and other wines here: shop for wine now
Or leave a message of inquiry for winery: 415-793-7985
In case you missed this post, it is a fun review of the holiday season in Sonoma Valley and the Sonocaia winery. Give yourself 10 minutes to catch up with wine country. Warmly, Ken Wornick
Join us for a year-end wine country photo journey in our final Sonocaia blog post of 2023:
Locals tasting event
With the help of some very wonderful friends, we sold out another ‘grand opening’ winery event – mainly for locals that missed the initial launch of Sonocaia estate winery.
I presented a story of ‘wine in context’ – when tasting wine it is important to know “why” this wine was produced. In our case, we started almost twenty five years ago in the Santa Cruz Mountains developing vineyards for private clients. A decade later we had more than 40 vineyards built and were making a lot of personalized wine for those clients in our urban winery in Redwood City. Some of those wines won Gold and Double-Gold from the SF Chronicle wine competition. We sold the vineyard development and winery businesses to an investor. See this link for more. Over the next ten years, we built a second client-based vineyard development and wine making business, this time in Sonoma Valley. And sold that business in 2023. See this link for more.
Our newest project is the Sonocaia estate winery – focussed exclusively on Sagrantino, a rare red variety of very high repute from Montefalco Umbria Italy. Meanwhile, our second brand, Dysfunctional Family Winery, still lives on with the motto “serious wine, irreverent style” offering fun blends for all taste preferences and budgets. See link here.
A sold-out crowd enjoyed the stories, wines, food, and conversation…
Working our way through the wine lineup
Answering a question about the unique clonal history of the Sonocaia Sagrantino grapevines
New friends being made all around the table
The tasting continues deep into the library wines
At the end of the tasting, a couple of wild local yahoos in their ridiculous jacked-up sport cars hit the gas and ripped up our nice new parking lot! Nah, not really, just kidding NF and GM.
But wait, there’s more…
A large, warm, and wonderful family from all over the U.S. (and three generations!) spent an afternoon with us the day after Thanksgiving ’23. We had a ball tasting through many wines, having lots of technical questions and answers about growing grapes and making wine, and generally having some great laughs. The toddler played with my guitar and beat a wine barrel with the drum sticks. Thank you Ginny and Larry.
Sonocaia in the Sonoma Index-Tribune newspaper
Our local Sonoma newspaper took an interest in our new Sonocaia winery project. Find the full article here.The author, Emma Malloy, did a great job detailing the history of our winery project. They lead with this headline: More than a winery: Sonocaia, and agricultural gem.
KSVY 91.3FM Community radio
Our local radio station KSVY 91.3FM has great wall-to-wall programming including talk, music, news, food, politics, and so much more. Not everyone is aware of the quality of the programming, yet. I’ve been a frequent guest on station manager and KSVY Exec Director Bob Taylor’s “Morning Show” many times. If you are a Sonoma local, it is well worth tuning in and supporting. They recently launched a new transmission antenna and expanded their reach from Sonoma, now reaching into Petaluma, Novato, and Napa. And last month, KSVY held a very unusual fund raiser. At the vaunted and historic Sebastiani Theatre, built in 1933, five great bands played country and western music all afternoon to the hoots and hollers of a large crowd. Learn more about KSVY here.
The crowd begins to gather at the Sebastiani Theatre
Bob Taylor, Executive Director of Sonoma community radio KSVY 91.3 (and lead guitarist of ACDC cover band “Illegitimate AC/DC”)
Patrons Diana Bugg and Leslie Carlson; and Roger Rhoten, widely beloved manager for over 30 years of the Sebastiani Theatre
Sonoma Valley Museum of Art
SVMA, our treasured Sonoma art museum, situated on Broadway very close to the Sonoma Plaza, held a very fun ‘poetry, food, and wine’ event in the museum’s gallery. Sold out weeks in advance, the poetry was provocative, warm, and hilarious. A far cry from the sleepy prose that I recall from English class in 7th grade. I poured Sonocaia and Dysfunctional Family wines at the event. See more here. Carole Copelan poured her Owl’s Perch and Harpsichord wines. And Chef Kyle Kuklewski served some delicious bites which paired beautifully with the wines and the poetry. The art in the background in some of the images below are from Richard Mayhew and the exhibition is called Inner Terrain.
Sonoma International Film Festival
Named “One of the 25 Coolest Festivals” by MovieMaker Magazine and one of “America’s Top Ten Destination Film Festivals” by USA Today, and coming up on March 20th – 24th, 2024; all passes to the Sonoma International Film Festival are on sale right now. It is a fully park-and-walk festival with great venues, truly excellent films, delicious food, and first class wine. You don’t want to miss it!
The staff and board of the film festival gathered for our holiday party. Many of Sonoma’s non-profits were also represented. And as always, the event was hosted by Kevin and Rosemary McKneely, our most important and generous patrons.
In the center, film festival board members Lisa Mango and Patty Elkus
Film festival patrons
Kevin McNeely, Executive Director Emeritus of the Sonoma Valley International Film Festival, hoists a giant Methuselah of 2018 Dysfunctional Family Winery ‘Red Blend’, equal to 6 liters or 8 bottles. The SIFF film festival and Dysfunctional have teamed up several times for outdoor movie nights on the lawn, and we’ll return to that program someday soon.
Sonoma International Film Festival – Kevin McNeely (Emeritus Creative Director), Bob Berg (Board Chair), John Curry (Emeritus Board Chair), and me, Ken Wornick (Board Vice-Chair)
Supporting the Jewish community in their time of extreme stress, and for the right of Israel to exist, we attended a Hanukkah holiday event at the local Shir Shalom temple, then we cooked traditional potato latkes (don’t tell the cardiologists) and joined the larger Sonoma community for a public inter-faith community-wide menorah lighting and some street dancing too, on the last day of Hanukkah. The local Sonoma police and the County Sheriff’s offices blocked off a portion of Spain Street near the Plaza and provided a watchful vigil during the ceremonies, for which all attendees were quite grateful.
Below, winery client Patty Elkus submitted this beautiful image she titled “Lil Vignette of Santa and his Rosé” for the holidays. Seemed like just the right image for us to include with the Hanukkah story!
Bees and wax candle making
We put our Hydeout farm bee hives to bed for the winter, allowing the bees to build a seal around every crack and crevice of their hives, thus sheltering themselves from wind and rain and cold during the winter. Before that, we did the necessary hive work and collected some of the extra wax for various projects, seen here. I want to particularly thank Nic Freedman of Bees Rock Ranch and Chere Pafford, a renowned holistic bee keeper, both of whom acted as my mentors during this entire season.
Olives and oil
We harvested over a ton of Hydeout olives this year. Like everything on the farm, our approach is 100% organic. Due to last winters excellent rain, and the light crop in 2022, the 2023 crop was not only large, but nearly completely free of olive fruit flies. All in all a great olive harvest yielding deeply unctuous green oil.
Fall harvest – our final harvest of fruits and veggies from mid-December here at the farm
The very last of the tomatoes, persimmons, and figs picked just before the first rain (with a few peppers and some fresh eggs too).
What’s next for 2024?
The 2022 and 2023 vintages of Sagrantino are resting in barrels for the winter. The wild grasses and mustard are pushing up through the wet dirt from the recent three inches of rain. The winter solstice arrived on December 21st. Now the days get longer once again. We’ll prune the grape vines, mow the cover crop, and start in on another vintage. The 2024 vintage will be my 25th vintage.
Wishing all of you a wonderful New Year.
And when the holidays are done and things have returned to normal, we’ll still be here – ready to supply you with delicious wine. You can always order wine and pick it up at the winery. And we can ship too. Just click on this link! https://www.sonocaia.com
Happy new year everyone! – Ken
Part 2 of farming and wine life in the Sonoma Valley…
Honey Bees and a National Park Ranger Talk on the Light Spectrum
Honey bees being a constant topic here at the Hydeout, what a great surprise to find a recent national park ranger talk on the color perception of bees! Turns out, honey bees see further out than humans on the light spectrum – which is why they can more easily find nectar in flowers. And why they don’t really like the color black.
Honey bees (cont’d)
Here are some more images of our work last week in the honey bees hives:
American Graffiti in Petaluma
This year marked the 50th year since George Lucas’ coming-of-age movie American Graffiti was released on the silver screen. Cruisin’ the Boulevard showcased hundreds of American model cars 1972 or older who joined in the annual parade of classic American cars cruising through the streets of downtown Petaluma where most of the movie was filmed in the summer of 1972. The best place to watch was along Petaluma Boulevard, south of B Street to D Street.
Sad to say we’ve had two fires already in our lovely Hyde-Burndale neighborhood. The first was a grass fire from some untimely afternoon high grass mowing. Our local neighbors with a water truck beat the firefighters to the scene (due to a faulty address) and had the fire out quickly.
The second, was a structure fire right across the street from us. The awesome and very local Schell-Vista Fire Dept arrived, followed closely by Cal-Fire, and that fire was also put out quickly. Hopefully the last of this fire business for the year.
Meal Fit for a King
Hosted by noted Napa vintner John Boich of Boich Cellars, we enjoyed an incredible food and wine event at their Wall Road vineyard (where we are farming Cabernet and Syrah for Boich). Check out the menu below for each of these incredible dishes:
Yours truly, Ken Wornick, with chef extraordinaire Landon Schoenfeld of Oak and Acorn Luxury In-home Dining
The Boich Cellars menu from Oak and Acorn Luxury In-Home Dining. Find them at 612-618-5909, firstname.lastname@example.org
After a very wet winter, wildlife activity is booming around Sonoma and at the Hydeout. These images, shot by professional photographer Michael Hodgson, Sony Pro photographer & travel journalist, at www.michaelhodgsonphoto.com and email@example.com
This is first time ever finding a snake at the Hydeout. Snakes, especially rattle snakes are super common up in the hills around Sonoma. Down here in the almost-flats, we have very few to zero rattlers. This snake however is actually a common gopher snake that was leisurely crossing the driveway. I grabbed it, put it in a bucket, and took it straight out the vineyard where it very quickly disappeared down a gopher hole – to my very great delight!
Cork from Ganau, it’s Italian for cork
Our primary supplier of cork is Ganau, a local Sonoma company run by terrific people. In this video, you can see a natural product, cork, being naturally branded by fire. Click here to watch a 30-second video of cork being fire-branded at the Ganau plant
Fire branded and ink branded corks
Fun night at the Big Easy in Petaluma seeing Illegitimate AC/DC. Fronted by my buddies Bob Taylor (as Angus, center, guitar) and James Marshall Berry (right, on bass). They rocked hard all night long. Bob and James are also an integral part of KSVY Sonoma, our local radio station. I was a guest on Bob’s The Morning Show last week – check it out here: listen to Ken Wornick on the KSVY Morning Show
Next up – watch for a big announcement!
My trusty 2007 BMW R1200RT gets me around to all the vineyard sites we farm.
Olives, honey bees, chickens, bats, owls, farmer’s market, and wine…the list of farm projects at Hydeout Sonoma is growing every day. I think you’ll enjoy following along:
Olives and the dreaded fruit fly
The olive fruit fly is ubiquitous now in wine country. Perhaps due to the sheer number of olive trees, or the years of drought, and/or so many olive trees in residential yards that receive zero pest management. But there are several 100% organic and cost effective methods to control the olive fruit fly. See the photo captions:
as seen here
Honey bee project
We currently have three honey bee hives here at the Hydeout – one hive from a captured wild swarm, one hive from Bee Kind bees in Sebastopol, and one hive from Mann Lake bees.
Shipped bees come in a container like this with thousands of bees inside...
and the queen isolated in this screened holder
Here, some hive comb that the bees were building in the ‘wrong place’ in the hive. Had to remove it before they got to far. It is important to guide them to build comb only in the frames – where we can later expand or contract the hive as needed when food becomes short and cold weather sets in.
The miracle of perfect geometry in the world of honey bees.
The Hydeout Sonoma chickens are shifting their energy to egg production as the summer sun warms their environment. Contact Cynthia if you’re interested in eggs.
…and this fresh egg frittata is the result!
Tuesday Farmer’s Market on Sonoma Plaza
Neighbor and friend Lori Murray of Lola Sonoma Farms is an expert in pasture-raised 100% organic heritage “Kune Kune” pork resulting in very clean healthy meat. And a great sense of humor too.
Bats are one of the most important and totally misunderstood animals. We are crazy for bats and are encouraging their place here at the Hydeout. Bats are a critical interstitial species (see this link: more about bats). And are a crucial and fully organic living tool in wine country integrated pest management. Bats can eat 1,000 or more mosquitos and insects per night! It is so great that we finally had a very wet winter. But pools of standing of water have created a haven for insects of all kinds. And bats help keep things under control.
Narrow and tall, this bat box house is carefully designed...
Placing the bat boxes in just the right location will assure it’s success.
This paddle cactus is providing an incredible place for birds to find water, but is also growing mosquito larvae.
Weather, gophers, rabbits, water – the pressure on vineyards and grapevines is painfully constant. Even in a small vineyard of just a few acres, it is not unusual to lose 30 or 40 vines per year. Like everything else in farming, it is important to constantly replace the losses with new vines, so that the vineyard is always maintained at peek performance.
New grapevines from the nursery which have been fully acclimated and are ready to be planted.
Sonocaia – our new winery here at Hydeout Sonoma
Many of you are aware of our multi-year project to launch our “estate reserve” Sagrantino wine. The new name associated with our Sagrantino based wine is “Sonocaia” (pronounced So-No-Kaī-Yah).
Coming this spring with the first invitations going to our blog post readers like you – the grand release of our first Sonocaia (So-No-Kī-Yah) Estate Reserve Sagrantino. Never heard of the Sagrantino grape? It produces a deep dark delicious red wine, originally from Monte Falco, Umbria…and now from the Sonoma Valley c/o Hydeout Sonoma. More on this soon with a new winery, label, website, and more.
See this chart for some astounding information on this little-known grape variety:
Wine tasting with clients
Faith Armstrong and I routinely meet with our Forward Vines and Wines clients – to taste wine from barrels and bottle samples. We taste not only the wine we’ve made for our clients, but often many other local wines – as a guide to client preferences, i.e. color, acidity, tannin, alcohol, blending, etc. Here we are in the Sonoma Mountain AVA tasting several local Chardonnays.
Mowing the fence line
What could be better than a Sunday afternoon on the tractor mowing the fence line? For a walking path, a dog run, and especially access and fire prevention, mowing the fence line should be done early and often.
Moonrise at the Hydeout
A rising full moon at the Hydeout, or anywhere in Sonoma Valley, the “Valley of the Moon,” is a wonderful and heartwarming event.
The experts shock me with a surprising achievement in a crowded field of arguably the greatest of the older California Cabernets. Read the compelling story and see the results of our blind tasting:
25 – 50 year old California Cabernets (1973-1999)
Spoiler alert! Here is the end of the movie first. This photo is from the big reveal – after the tasting.
These 11 wines were carefully opened, decanted, bagged, numbered, and poured. These wines are mostly from my personal cellar from when I first became interested wine starting in my freshman year in college and up to my very first garage-made wine twelve years later.
Beringer, Cabernet, Napa Valley, Estate, ‘Centennial Cask Selection’, 1973
Seven Stones, Cabernet, Estate, Napa Valley, 1999 (the very first vintage, produced by me in the estate’s garage)
Each taster scored their top 3 and bottom 1 wine (shown here).
The top half of this page is the individual scoring, the bottom half are the actual bottle codes. After the tasting and scoring, the list of wines was provided to the panel.
As a second thought experiment, before revealing the actual bottles, tasters attempted to match the 11 wines tasted to the printed list of 13 possible wines shown. The 2 French wines (from my father’s cellar) were not included in the tasting and were simply on the printed list as decoys – to see if anyone would take the bait. A few did.
I could not believe my eyes! The clear winner? The 1999 Seven Stones! What? One of the first wines I ever produced. Not commercially either. Just made as a garage wine for our family.
Was this for real? Indeed it was.The tasting was absolutely blind. The results completely legitimate. Tabulations were scored by a very reliable accountant.
Story: The Seven Stones, Cabernet, Napa Valley, 1999 was the very first wine produced from the Seven Stones vineyard in St. Helena, Napa Valley. Planted by me in 1996 at my parent’s estate in St Helena. We were still living in Burlingame, Ca., and I had only just started my vineyard development business above Silicon Valley. That company is still operating, see this link: La Honda Winery and Post and Trellis Vineyards in Redwood City, California. The 1999 was one of the very first wines of my career – now 25 years ago. I didn’t have any formal equipment, fermented it in the garage, no drains, no press, no filter, just raw manual labor all the way through to hand bottling and labeling the 2 barrels, about 50 cases. The 1999 vintage was never sold to the public, only consumed by our family. There might be a dozen bottles still around. But the ’99 is what lead to the eventual commercialization of Seven Stones, which now garners incredibly high critic’s scores and sells out every year.
Side note: That 1999 Seven Stones was a combination of amazing grapes and some good luck. With an undergrad degree in geology, years of field work, followed by an MBA; a decade later I took a few extension courses at Davis. And interned for a few weeks during harvest at the vaunted Staglin Winery in Rutherford, Napa. The winemaker at that time was Andy Erickson, now of Screaming Eagle and Leviathan and Favia, among others. But I was the very lowest man on the totem pole and naturally spent the entire “learning experience” dragging hoses and cleaning tanks. Those are the rudimentary skills I had to apply to the 1999 vintage.
1970’s panel “Winners” and “Worst of the Best” – details on the scores (we were stunned, and if you weren’t there you might not believe it):
Best of the best:
- Seven Stones, Cabernet, Napa Valley, 1999 was the clear winner overall. I alone knew that Seven Stones was the somewhere in the lineup, but I didn’t know where? No one else had a clue that a Seven Stones wine was in the tasting until after the reveal. And as proof of the ‘blind’ results, I actually chose the group’s least favorite wine as my personal favorite (ever the contrarian, as you’ll see below). One note – to be completey fair, the 1999 Seven Stones was the youngest wine in the lineup, and perhaps therefore the ‘freshest.’
- Louis M Martini, North Coast, 1982 – with arguably the second highest scores, we all just about fell off of our chairs as this wine sold for $3.79 at the time and had a peel-off plastic capsule. But, the cork was in superb condition. It was considered a spaghetti-red table wine at the time and likely not ever intended to go up against these more expensive titans.
- Sebastiani, Cabernet, Proprietor’s Reserve, North Coast Counties, 1977 and Stephen Zellerbach Vineyard, Cabernet, Alexander Valley, 1978 were also in the running for favorite, as were several other wines vying for a place in the top 3. I was pleased for Don that his family’s wine showed so well. I was a nervous wreck knowing that our host’s family’s wine was hiding somewhere in that lineup.
Worst of Best: There really and truly were no bad wines. Not a single bottle was badly oxidized. And the ullage was excellent for all bottles:
- Beringer, Cabernet, Napa Valley, Estate, ‘Centennial Cask Selection’, 1973 – there was near unanimity in the group of this wine being the least favorite. This surprised me as I had posted it as my favorite wine. I felt it had fantastic aromas on the nose, and a depth of flavor, but others felt it was somewhat pruny and over the hill. Still available on some re-sale sites for $350.
- Grgich Hills, Cabernet, Napa Valley, 1984 – this wine garnered a few votes for least favorite. And the cork was in superb shape. So who knows? Grgich was and remains a well respected Napa winery. So many things contribute to the condition of a wine after 25-50 years. Found on some re-sale sites for $160-$300.
A pause in the action for a quick photo. At this point we’ve quietly tasted and made notes on 5 of the 11 wines. In this tasting, I invited some of my favorite colleagues from the wine world – winemakers, collectors, customers, and consultants. But I forgot to ask permission this time around, so I am afraid I cannot identity most of them.
Having a laugh: Stacey Clarke, Principal owner of Treehouse (the brand development company behind the spring 2023 launch of our Sonocaia estate Sagrantino) and me, Ken Wornick (Sonocaia, Dysfunctional Family, and Hydeout)
Many of the old corks were in very fine shape, likely due to the quality of the producers, and the excellent storage history, but a few disintegrated on contact and had to be very carefully extracted and wine decanted.
11 wines lined up and quietly tasted blind. Then tasters were supplied with a list of 13 wines, out of order, and had to guess which 11 wines were which.
Honorable mention – one of our winemaking colleagues brought a Hudson Valley Torchon Of Foie Gras (see the empty plate). It went so perfectly with our tasting. Also of note, the ducks are apparently not stuffed with feed (as with days of old). Their website says – the Moulard is a cross between the white farm duck, the Pekin, and a South American duck, the Muscovy. The Pekin has a mild flavor; the Muscovy, a gamy flavor. When the two breeds are crossed, they produce a high quality, deliciously unique flavor sought after by the finest chefs worldwide. Moulard ducks have a special ability to store fat in the liver. Like the Muscovy, they are ground-foraging ducks. Moulards don’t fly and are not fans of open water. These characteristics make the Moulard the ideal breed for producing foie gras.. The website says: Don’t Sweat the technique! The Torchon of Foie Gras is the ultimate cold preparation. Translating to “Towel” in French, its name is a result of the preparation method where the Foie Gras was traditionally tied in a kitchen towel, rolled, poached, and hung to chill for several days. The torchon of Foie Gras is a labor of love that we have refined for your convenience and enjoyment. Its cylindrical shape makes for an easy and impressive slice & serve that is guaranteed to delight.
The scene of the crime, the home of our very gracious host, Don Sebastiani Sr. of Sonoma. My thanks as always to Keith Casale, CFO of Landers Curry, who assisted Don (and me) in organizing this tasting.
Chicken Murder, Bobcat style
Went for the usual collection of chicken eggs at dusk, found this sad scene of feathers but no chicken – one of the most productive and peaceful of our flock – a Buff Orpington chickens was killed. Looks like it was pulled through a hole in the fence and dispatched just outside the coop door. This might be the first time a bobcat has taken a chicken. For us, it’s usually the hawks.
The likely fugitive from justice, a really gorgeous Bobcat crossing from the chicken coop to the vineyard. Note the telltale striping on the front left leg.
What happens in Sonoma when the harvest is done?
The very last tank of grapes has finished fermenting. The tank is drained of wine and placed in barrels (that liquid is called the “free run”). Then the remaining fermented grapes in the tank are moved into the press and gently squeezed (and the result is called the “press fraction”). And what’s removed from the press after pressing (called the “pomace”) is either sold as animal feed or recycled into green waste or sent to our distiller and turned into Grappa, Brandy, and Cognac; and the seeds are further pressed into grapeseed oil. And that really marks the end of the harvest season.
This is what 2 tons of dense Syrah grape pomace looks like when it comes out of the press. It’s dark purple and bone dry. The very last cuveé of wine has been barreled.
There still remain some chores to manage over the winter: the newly filled wine barrels will be carefully monitored as the secondary Malo-Lactic fermentation is monitored and managed (and where the tart Malic acid, think green apple, is slowly fermented into Lactic acid, with potential health benefits including improved gut health, immune system support, and antioxidant effects). Barrels must be topped off due to evaporation. And as the wine settles we need to taste every wine to assure things are coming along to our liking. And, we start thinking about which of the older wines need to be prepared for bottling this spring. Last, now is the time for the winery to be thoroughly cleaned from top to bottom. And only then will it be time for everyone to have a much needed rest.
A brief note about the 2022 season: It started off with a really hard freeze right as many grape varieties were just budding out. There was some damage to some vineyards resulting in crop loss as much as 50%. Then after a normal but very dry summer, the record heat wave struck, 5 days over 100F and 5 nights in the 80F’s putting extreme stress on ripening fruit. And then adding insult to injury, 2 inches of rain. It was one of the most confounding and complicated growing seasons ever. More on that when the 2022’s are ready for release in 2024.
Halloween is usually the first sign that the wonderful long slog that is harvest and winemaking is about to wrap up. When bright orange pumpkins start appearing all over town, we know the harvest season is almost over.
As the cold weather settles in at the Hydeout, the chicken egg production starts to fall off as the chickens shift their energy from egg production to winter feather production. And in our case, they also start flying the coop and hiding their eggs in hilarious hard-to-find places.
Final garden harvest
As is the tradition in the Fall, it’s time to harvest the last of the garden produce, clean it up, and pickle it all in bell jars.
Wood slab table – restarting an old project
In 2020, St Helena in Napa Valley was surrounded by the Glass fire. Acres of gorgeous oak forest was lost. With help from friends, I located and set aside one of the fallen oaks and had one of the fire department crews mill it into oak slabs for me. The new table from this project will go into the new winery barn here at the Hydeout.
Two oak slabs, about 10 feet long and 18 inches wide, will be joined along the inside edges to form a new table. The outer live-edges still show the burn scars from the fire. It is a stark reminder of how the fires damaged lives and property.
By the time of the Thanksgiving holiday in late November, winemaking has truly concluded, and our Prickly Pear Cactus flowers are ripe. And that means it’s time for the whole family to get involved in producing our Prickly Pear Agave Nectar. And our tart, sweet, smoky, mezcal Margaritas!
Recipe: Click here!
Living art at the Hydeout
Dear friend, character, bon vivant, and Sonoma artist Jock McDonald, with assistance from his wife Sherry McDowell, set up a photo shoot for a new project Jock is developing called “TRASH.” I can’t say any more at this time as the final form of this new work is on its way to Art Basel in Miami, Florida right now! These are preliminary images only and in no way depict the final art form that Jock has developed. To learn more, click here.
This is the time of year we all gather as family and enjoy another wonderful year of life, trials, tribulations, health and happiness. Here is the entire Hydeout team:
Happy holidays from the entire Wornick family – Ken, Dennis, Sophia, Cynthia, Harry, with Elyse, Jessica, and Tony the dog