Music in the Malbec?
Violinists in the vineyard?
Songs with Syrah?
Yes it’s the Musikaravan!
Yesterday as we harvested Malbec, Syrah, and Petit Verdot in the Clos des Amis Estate Vineyard on South Mountain, we were serenaded by two Los Angeles area violinists, Etienne Gara originally from Paris, France and YuEn Kim, originally from Seoul, Korea. They met in grad school at USC while studying under famed violinist Midori.
Like many of us, they planned to spend the summer of 2020 enjoying concerts and traveling.
For Etienne, that meant performing at the Hollywood Bowl with the LA Philharmonic.
For YuEun, that meant a full schedule of touring and performing at venues near and far.
But COVID stopped all of us in our tracks and required us to pivot.
Etienne and YuEun decided to bring their music to people since people couldn’t come to their music. They played in courtyards, then this summer purchased and renovated a 1971 VW van to hit the road with their instruments and recording equipment to visit and play in organic farms and vineyards.
I’ve lived the #vanlife myself, spending extended periods traveling the back roads of the West, often by myself, rock climbing, backpacking, doing poetry, writing. We VW owners have a tight knit community. The two musicians and their vintage Westy landed at our friend’s house to camp in their driveway (yes this is a thing and there’s even an app for it!)
When the violinists asked about vineyards to play in, they were in luck: my friends told them about me and I hooked them up to play at Clos des Amis the next day — yesterday– as we picked Malbec, Syrah, and Petit Verdot in the estate vineyards on South Mountain above Santa Paula in Ventura County along the Santa Clara River in the Heritage Valley.
Play the videos above and below to get a sense of the magic!
What a joy!
Even though the day was hot, dry, and smoky, with temperatures nearing 120 over much of the weekend which required a spraying of “sunscreen” on the vines and the nearby orchards, with the music spurring us on and a crew of new found friends and familiar ones learning about harvesting grapes as well as Martin’s crew picking the Syrah, the work was done in no time at all.
Next stop was a quick trip down the hill, a bumpy mile or so through the avocado trees and along the creek bed to the vineyard for processing — and lunch! Martin’s crew crushed and destemmed their bin, we toasted Martin who, after 20 years of hard work, became a US citizen this week.
I found myself beside Gretel on the grill cooking carne asada for tacos to feed everyone. What a great pairing with both the Malbec and the Syrah!
A taco spread with garden fresh vegetables, homemade salsa, and marinated meats makes for a fun harvest meal, and both the Malbec with its grippy tannins and plentiful fruit as well as the peppery and fruity Syrah make for solid pairings.
2018 Clos des Amis South Mountain Vineyard Syrah
ABV 14.7%; SRP $24; sample
When I think of Syrah, this is what I want it to taste and smell like — super satisfying. It’s super friendly and easy to enjoy which is exactly what you want for a gathering like this — with masks and social distancing of course.
Color: Pretty and bright, maroon with a fuchsia rim.
Nose: Peppers and spice, blue fruit and bramble berries, anise, black pepper.
Palate: Viscous, mouthwatering bright fruit, blue fruit, blackberry.
Pairing: With meat, the wine is so sweet and juicy.
Bruce says he wants the fruit to speak, but he really wants the terroir to speak. What makes Ventura County special? And this plot of limestone infused land?
- Read more about harvest 2020 with Clos des Amis here: Birds and the Bees and the Zinfandel Trees.
- Read more about kicking off Clos des Amis 2020 harvest with a Chambang here.
- See the Clos des Amis estate vineyard just before harvest 2020.
Climate change is in part responsible for the current waves of intense heat, fires, and generally erratic weather which make for additional challenges to agriculture these days compounded by diseases like COVID which strike workers and Pierce’s disease which impact the vines. Harvest times are earlier and earlier with less hang time while in other places bud break is early and then threatened by frost. Areas in Ventura County that were once viable for grapes may become too hot while other areas may be better.
Join the Wine Pairing Weekend group of wine writers as we explore the theme of climate change and celebrate harvest with wine and food pairings from around the world. Read the invitation to re/consider harvest here. Between now and Saturday Sept 12 at 8am Pacific, the following participants will be publishing their posts including:
- Terrie at “Our Good Life” celebrates Harvest Time at Twin Meadows Winery .
- Andrea at “The Quirky Cork” discusses The Art of the Harvest .
- Deanna at “Asian Test Kitchen” pours French Style Wines by the Sea from Windy Oaks (With 3 Fab Food Pairings)
- Susanna at “Avvinare” declares Robert Biale Petite Sirah & BBQ, A Perfect Match .
- Nicole at “Somm’s Table” posts A Harvest at Forlorn Hope & Juicy Lucies .
- Jane at “Always Ravenous” hosts a Fall Harvest Dinner with Wine Pairings .
- Robin at “Crushed Grape Chronicles” highlights Regenerative Agriculture at Tablas Creek – A Meaningful Way to Farm .
- Cam at “Culinary Adventures with Camilla” shines the spotlight on Donkey & Goat: The Brandts Bring Natural Farming Philosophies Into the Cellar .
- Lori at “Exploring the Wineglass” describes Harvesting the Land While Overcoming Global Changes .
- Sue and Gwendolyn at “Wine Predator” have A Harvest Conversation with The Ojai Vineyard’s Adam Tolmach and Fabien Castel .
Everyone is invited to join our twitter chat this Saturday Sept. 12 at 8am Pacific by following the hashtag #WinePW. Here are the discussion questions:
- 8am Welcome to the #WinePW chat about #harvest2020 around the world including #wine and #food pairings as well as impacts of #climatechange on #viticulture. Introduce yourself, tell us where you are, and share a link to your website if you have one.
- 8:05am Let’s celebrate #harvest2020! First, tell us about the winery you are sharing with us today. Where in the world is it? Have you visited it? Share photos please! Why did you choose this winery? #winepw
- 8:10am Red, white, sparkling, rose, dessert! Tell us about the wine or wines you’re featuring for our #harvest celebration. What makes this wine special to you? Tasting notes? Share photos of the wine/s! #winepw
- 8:15am Describe for us the #harvest meal you made to pair with your wine/s. Did you grow any of the food yourself? Was it a successful pairing? And changes? Share photos and a link please! #winepw
- 8:20am Fall is so full of flavor! Do you have favorite #harvest #food and #wine pairings? Tell us and share pictures or a link if you have one! #winepw
- 8:25a #Harvest is such a special time in the vineyard. Have you visited a vineyard or winery at #harvest? Do tell! Share photos or a link please! #winepw
- 8:30a As September is #CaliforniaWineMonth, do you have a favorite #California #wine pairing you’d like to share? Drop the link if you have one! #winepw @CalifWines_US #HarvestAtHome
- 8:35a Let’s talk #Climatechange. Impacts include increased temperatures and conditions conducive to #wildfires, like on the US west coast now, AUS last year, in Iberia in 2018. Is #fire a factor in #harvest for the winery you wrote about? What did you learn? Link? #winepw
- 8:40a #Harvest2020 report! What did you discover about the winery you wrote about and #Harvest2020? Any iImpacts from #climatechange to discuss? #winepw
- 8:45a How is #climatechange shaping decisions today in the vineyard and in the winery you featured? What are some of the factors and practices they are using to mitigate climate catastrophe? Changes in grapes used or blends? #winepw
- 8:50 Are the wines you’re writing about #biodynamic, #organic, from vineyards using #regenerativeagriculture or other noteworthy viticultural or sustainable practices? Is this important to the winery? To you? Why? #winepw
- 8:55a What else did you learn about this month’s #harvest topic or about #climatechange that you’d like to share? Any wise words from winemakers? #winepw
- 9a Thank you for joining our #winepw chat about #harvest2020 with host @artpredator. You’ll find links to our posts here: https://wp.me/pj3XZ-6dV Next month we celebrate #merlotme with host Jeff of @foodwineclick. Cheers!