In 1968, Barney Fetzer and his family began selling wine made from their vineyards in Redwood Valley. So it was the fall of 1967, a half century ago, that they picked the grapes for that wine.
“This marks our 50th harvest,” said Bob Blue, Fetzer’s vice-president of wine making, addressing employees gathered at the company’s headquarters in Hopland for the annual Blessing of the Grapes Thursday.
“And while this is the beginning of the year for us making wine, it is the end of months of work for the people tending to the vines and the grapes. This is their moment of truth.”
Overall, Blue said harvest at Fetzer this year has been a return to a more “normal” one after years of drought conditions that pushed harvest earlier in the year.
“We were scrambling a couple of weeks ago when it was really hot, but now it has slowed down again,” he said.
Of course, even if the pacing feels familiar, this harvest is anything but a “normal” one for Fetzer, which is planning big things for its big birthday.
“We are making two commemorative wines,” said Courtney Cochran, spokeswoman for Fetzer, standing with Blue next to barrels of one of those offerings: a blend of red varietals grown mostly in the valley where the company was born.
“It is a mix of syrah, zinfandel and petit syrah, 70-percent of which are from Redwood Valley, the rest from the Ukiah Valley,” said Blue, adding that a very limited amount of the wine will be made and privately distributed.
A second wine celebrating the company’s milestone will have a much broader release, Blue said. Cochran said that wine will be a Cabernet…
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