Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My Sincere Thanks to All for a Great 2009 Vintage!

As the 2009 vintage comes to an end, I want to thank everybody that helped make the Atlas Peak wines. It was a lot of hard work, but I think we had a lot of fun along the way, while making some fantastic wines!

Sixteen months ago, in August of 2008 Atlas Peak moved its winemaking operations from our home of 20 years in Napa, to the Buena Vista Carneros winery in Sonoma. It was difficult to leave the place were we made Atlas Peak wines for more than 20 years. However, I believe we made this decision putting quality first and getting an upgrade in winery facility and equipment.

The Buena Vista Carneros winery is a state of the art winemaking facility in the heart of Carneros. The "Open Top" room is lined with small fermenters that are perfectly suited for small lot Cabernet Sauvignon winemaking. In the 2009 vintage we fermented 20 % of our wine in 10-ton fermenters, and 80% of our wine was fermented in 7-ton fermenters or smaller; a luxury that we could have never achieved in the Napa winery.

A special thanks needs to go to the entire winemaking staff at Buena Vista Carneros for their contributions in making the Atlas Peak wines. Jeff (Winemaker for Buena Vista Carneros), Jaeson (Associate Winemaker for both BVC and AP), Sam (Production Manager), and Monica (Production Assistant). And to Nicole who sources amazing grapes from some of the best mountain top Napa Valley vineyards. From these grapes we craft our Napa Valley blend as well as individual bottlings from Mt. Veeder, Spring Mountain District, Howell Mountain, and Atlas Peak.

And finally to Anna (Assistant Winemaker), whom me missed this vintage as she filled in as associate winemaker at Geyser Peak Winery. We all look forward to your return. The vintage was just a little too quiet without you!

There are also many people to thank, so I am going to try to list them all. It is quite a big team that keeps the winery running. The cellar crew is led by Sam, Mario, and Eron. The cellar crew for 2009; Ray, Xochilt, Mario, Kris, Maria, Myra, Scott, Graham, Nick, Lisa, Jualberto, Sonia, Oscar, Rudy, Jose, Juan, Alfonso, and all the international interns, Viorel (Republic of Maldova), Radu (Republic of Maldova), Jon (New Zealand), Rodrigo (Chile). Thanks to Dick, Norm, Luis and Margarito, for keeping the place running. Thanks to Debby for keeping all the records in order and to the sorting crew that stood there hour after hour making sure that every leaf and every piece of stem are removed so that we have only the highest quality of grapes going into each fermenter. And to the lab with Jose, Daniela (Republic of Maldova), and Raj, who kept the lab analysis coming all season.


Darren C. Procsal


Atlas Peak

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A is for Atlas Peak

It's springtime at the winery, and business as usual in the cellar.

If you've been following the blog, diligently I am sure, you saw in mid-February we were racking the 2008 wines; it's been nearly three months and the wines have been sleeping soundly and aging quite nicely, it would seem, in their casks.

While the cellar and lab staff tend to the wines back at the winery, our fearless leader, VP Winemaker Darren Procsal, and company, PR Director Tony Lombardi, hit the road to show off some current release wine and give a sneak peek at what we've been up to these past few months.

This past Monday the guys could be found at the San Francisco Bently Reserve for California Cabernet Society's Spring Barrel Tasting. They were on hand pouring the 2004 Napa Valley Cabernet, along with a 2008 barrel sample, for a capacity crowd of trade, media and consumers. The wines received numerous compliments from On/Off premise Sommeliers and wine buyers on the quality and value of our current vintage. And as if that wasn't enough to make us all proud, Drinkhacker.com blogged about the event and rates the Atlas Peak 2008 barrel sample of a single Cabernet Sauvignon block from Stagecoach Vineyard an A-.

Read the full recap at:


So, in short, I'd like to thank all the people who made this possible, good work team Atlas Peak!

I suggest we celebrate with a glass of Cabernet!


Anna Clifford
Assistant Winemaker
Atlas Peak

PS. To see more about this event and the organization that sponsored it, visit: http://www.californiacabernetsociety.com/.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Atlas Peak-Buena Vista Carneros Dueling Winemaker Dinner at Carneros Bistro & Wine Bar

Join us for a fantastic afternoon of friends, food and wonderful wines!

Earth Wind & Fire
In celebration of Earth Day (April 22)

Sunday April 19, 2009
2:00 Reception
2:30 Dinner

$95.00, plus tax and gratuity

Carneros Bistro & Wine Bar:
1325 Broadway Street
Sonoma, CA 95476

Make reservations by calling the Carneros Bistro & Wine Bar at 707-931-2042

Atlas Peak
Buena Vista Carneros

19 April 2009

Earth Wind & Fire
In celebration of Earth Day (April 22)

Passed Hors d’oeuvres
Pt Reyes Oysters
Clam Fritters
Buena Vista Carneros 2007 Pinot Gris

Pasta “Carbonara”
Buena Vista Carneros 2005 Chardonnay, Ramal Vineyard

earth 1
Pork Sphere, Truffle Tremor, Fava Beans
Buena Vista Carneros 2005 Pinot Noir, Ramal Vineyard

earth 2
Wagyu Ribeye, Morels,
Atlas Peak 2004 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Pancetta Wrapped Spiced Venison, Swiss Chard
Atlas Peak 2004 Claret

Crispy Chocolate Mousse
Buena Vista Carneros Syrah Port

Chef Janine Falvo
Sommelier Christopher Sawyer

Wine & Food pairing discussion with each course, led by Janine Falvo, Chef de Cuisine, along with banter from Napa Valley mountain man, Darren Procsal of Atlas Peak,
and cool-climate winemaking specialist Jeff Stewart of Buena Vista Carneros, California’s first winery.

Not to be missed!

In April 2005, Janine arrived at Carneros Bistro & Wine Bar and was quickly promoted to Chef de Cuisine in January 2006. In her new role, Janine upholds the restaurant’s tradition of celebrating the best of local ingredients by offering up the finest organic meats, artisanal cheeses, local produce and baked goods. Falvo’s signature dishes highlight the distinct flavors and rich tastes of Northern California’s wine country and complement the restaurant’s exclusive Sonoma County wine list. Janine’s culinary savvy has earned her recognition as Restaurant Hospitality’s “Rising Star Chef 2007.” As a celebrated Bay Area chef, Falvo has made appearances on ABC’s View from the Bay and Bringing It Home with Laura McIntosh.

Atlas Peak’s winemaker, Darren Procsal, crafts five distinct wines sourced from four of the most renowned appellations in the Napa Valley: Atlas Peak, Mount Veeder, Spring Mountain District and Howell Mountain. Atlas Peak’s most valuable resource is literally underfoot: the elevation of its vineyards, between 1400 and 1800 feet high above the Napa Valley floor. For more information, please visit www.atlaspeak.com.

California's first winery, now under the direction of winemaker Jeff Stewart, focuses on cool-climate Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Merlot and Syrah off their Ramal Vineyard Estate, in the heart of the Carneros appellation. The 482-acre vineyard is set along a series of south-facing hillsides overlooking the San Pablo Bay, with more than 107 blocks delineated by geology and topography, have positioned Buena Vista as a leading quality wine producer from the Carneros region. For more information, please visit www.buenavistacarneros.com.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

It's Time To Rack The 2008 Wine In Barrels

I thought that it was time to get back and talk about what is going on with the Atlas Peak wines since the New Year.

A quick recap reminds us that at the end of December all of the 2008 Atlas Peak wines had made it to the barrel.

When we returned to work after the New Year the barrels were topped up with more wine in order to replace wine lost to evaporation and simply the volume that soaks into the dry wood of the barrel staves. Remember, Atlas Peak uses 50 % new French Oak, and these barrels are air dried for two to three years. When the barrel is filled for the first time it is very happy to see some liquid and can adsorb an amazing amount of wine.

Topping is important to fill the void in the barrel that is created by this loss of liquid. Reducing this void reduces the chance of a microbial spoilage of the barrel. This is simple, basic, good winemaking practice, and it is an important part of making great wine.

So now that we are all caught up on what has been happening to the barrels since they were last filled, it is time to "Rack" the barrels. This means that we take the wine out of the barrel, wash the barrel, and then return the wine back to the barrel it came from.

For this first racking there will be quite a bit of solids in the bottom of the barrel. The barrel will then be rinsed with hot water, allowed to drip dry, before the wine is returned back to the barrel. For Atlas Peak, I like to return the wine to the same barrel it came from.

Let me explain. There are two ways to go about a barrel racking. The first way is to take a single lot of wine, let's say 16 barrels. Pump all the wine from all the barrels into one tank. Rinse the barrels, and then return all the wine back to the barrels. Since there will be some wine loss the barrel will then need to be topped, usually with wine from another lot. At Atlas Peak, I like to use Petit Verdot.

The other way to do this is called a barrel to barrel racking. This is the way that I like to handle the Atlas Peak barrels. To do this we will start with the same barrel lot that contains 16 barrels, but this time we will also need 16 empty barrels. In this case we will push the wine out of the full barrels using what is called a bulldog pup. This piece of winemaking equipment uses nitrogen gas pressure to push the wine out of the barrel and minimize the pick up of oxygen. It is also a very gentle way of removing the wine from the barrel and leaving as much of the solids in the bottom of the barrel.

The barrel is then washed to remove the solids and sediment that remains inside the barrel. The barrel is allowed to drip dry and then is refilled using the bulldog pup again.

For Atlas Peak wine we will rack our barrels four to five times, by the end of the final racking the wine will be ready to bottle and no filtration will be necessary.


Darren C. Procsal
Atlas Peak


Monday, February 2, 2009

Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignons garner great press in Wine Enthusiast Magazine!

Atlas Peak rings up three Cabernet Sauvignon's with stellar reviews and 90+ Points from Steve Heimoff and Wine Enthusiast Magazine.

The Atlas Peak 2004 Howell Mountain Cabernet with its "firm tannins, deep and lush flavors ...this beauty should blossom ..."

The Atlas Peak 2004 Spring Mountain Cabernet is called, "Elegant, lush, rich and refined"

And, the Atlas Peak 2004 Napa Valley Cabernet is called, "a beautiful Cabernet ... perfectly ripened fruit ... and balanced"

Congratulations team Atlas Peak on this fantastic endorsement!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Atlas Peak's Darren Procsal on the Radio!

Fresh off the Radio!!

January 25, 2009 Listen to Jeff, Darren and fabulous executive chef Janine Falvo, of Carneros Bistro, talk wine and food on David & Rachel Cane’s “A Matter of Taste” Radio Show on 960AM. Jeff and Darren share their winemaking philosophies and Janine prepared some incredible foods that paired beautifully with the wines. She goes on to talk about how she creates her menu, while supporting local artisanal food producers.

Click on the hour you want to listen to, or right click and select "save target as" to download to your favorite mp3 player>> http://amatteroftaste.com/Radioshowmp3/radioshow.htm

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Atlas Peak 2004 Spring Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon Scores Again!

Atlas Peak 2004 Spring Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon scores again! This time in the December issue of Connoisseurs Guide to California Wine.

Charles Olken calls the wine “impressive” as it garners two stars as a “highly distinctive wine” in this influential trade newsletter.

Click here for PDF>> Connoisseurs Guide-Atlas Peak

Congratulations team Atlas Peak!