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Malibu Family Wines














Lillie Manescala
February 1, 2017 | Lillie Manescala

In the Field - February 2017


Happy February Club Members!

Remember that awkwardly-obsessed-with-water August monthly I sent out last year? Well it looks like all of my rain dancing has finally paid off! Saddlerock Ranch is now flush with water, filling both of our lakes and then some. It’s nothing new for many of you Californians that the drought has severely affected the health our planet. With the help of mother-nature, our water supply has quite literally quadrupled. This time last year the state was 3% out of the drought and is now sitting pretty at 42%! So exciting right? Well before you get carried away taking showers longer than 5 minutes again (I know you’ve all been timing yourselves), let’s go over what this abundance of agua means for Semler vine production.

Photo credit: Holly Allen

Unfortunately, I have to play devil’s advocate here. First, THIS IS GREAT NEWS. More water means more vine growth, delayed pruning, more crop at harvest and less plant stress. However, a big thing to consider is duration.

Photo credit: @malibuwinehikeswithkurt

Quick tangent- more rain with cooler temperatures=more snow on the mountains. Snow melts=more water….eventually.

Duration: considering the higher snowfall levels, it means that once it melts, there will be more groundwater saturation. This takes time, several months actually, before some areas will receive this large drink. So, the large yield of water you currently have on tap will eventually run out. Think about when you receive your Friday paycheck. You’re all of a sudden so wealthy and you want to make it rainnnnnn. Then, on Monday you look at your bank account and it’s yikes bikes! Same situation with water consumption, (we aren’t out of the drought yet so keep conserving!) For now, we are happy about entering our 2017 growing season with full lakes. Clear eyes, full lakes, can’t lose. 

Lillie Manescala
December 30, 2016 | Lillie Manescala

In the Vineyard - January 2017


Happy New Year Wine Clubbers! We all here at MFW hope you had a lovely new year filled with our Sparkling Brut!

Our vineyard crew has started the process of pruning. To recap - our vines are in their dormancy stage (napping) so that they can have a smooth transition into flowering. Pruning happens every year beginning as early as December and as late as March. Pruning is key as this will set the tone for the rest of the growing year. If you prune incorrectly it’s possible to cut off life to the vine and your crop yields will be lower than expected.

Things to consider when pruning a grapevine are going to be based upon the grape varietal, how it was trained and weather conditions.

Grape Varietal/Training - some vines produce more yields than others based on the way their vines were first trained. What is she talking about you ask? Training is the system in which your vine grows and attaches to the wire. Two main training systems are Cane and Spur. Both require manually cutting back all of the vines prior growth to make room for the new growing season.

Cane pruning is common in cooler climates with less frost vulnerability where the trunk of the vine is responsible for growth. In Spur pruned vines, the stub on the arm of the vine is cut down to a certain number of nodes that best fit your winemaking program. The number of nodes will almost always equate to your number of grape clusters per spur. This is incredibly helpful in determining crop yields.

Weather Conditions - Vines are dormant and can withstand the cold climate however, rainfall and temperature have to be consistent in order to prune. If pruning is happening when temperatures drop below 5 degrees you open your vines up to frost damage and potential freezing. Obviously this does not apply to us here in Malibu but you want to make sure you’ve had consistent cooler temperatures for roughly 2 weeks before you prune. Check and check! In regards to rainfall, you don’t want it to be too damp as the vineyards get incredibly slippery and muddy that leave your crew overexerting their efforts.

I could go on for hours about the different training systems and the best protocol for pruning your grapevines. Viticulture is very complex yet simple once you find your groove.

Pruning season has started and will last 6 weeks or until all of our 69 acres have gotten their winter haircut! 

Laura Reynolds
January 9, 2018 | Laura Reynolds

Horizontal Vs. Vertical Tastings

We freaking made it. 2018. We all have our resolutions, some of mine rolled back from last year (drink more water than wine) but we will see if this actually sticks. 

One resolution that is sure to be an easy one to follow, is to be more adventurous with wine. The best part about wine is experiencing new wines with friends. Some of my favorite wines are paired with hilarious to sentimental memories with my loved ones!

Thankfully, many of my friends have caught the wine bug with me and we have been throwing some awesome wine related dinner parties. A recent one was a horizontal tasting. What the heck is that?! Your new favorite thing! Hopefully you will stay in a vertical position after these tastings (but no judgement here!)

A horizontal tasting is a great way to taste the offerings of a specific region from each vintage (think Malibu, Santa Barbara, Bordeaux, etc.). Have each of your friends bring a bottle of the same varietal from the same year (2012 Pinot Noir, 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, you get it) and region and then the fun starts! Make sure everyone picks a different winery or producer so we don't try the same thing twice.  

A vertical tasting is tasting one varietal from one producer throughout the course of a few (or more) years. For example, say you try 2010-2015 Semler Cabernet Sauvignon. This is super fun since you can taste the differences in winemaking, and weather. Whether you are a novice or experienced taster, this is the perfect setting to train your brain to pick out the subtle nuances of each wine. Soon, you will be commenting on how 2012 was an exceptional year for Pinot Noir! 

Not to be a wine geek, but I recommend everyone have a notepad and pen to jot down their interpretations of each wine. Does Mark smell or taste something completely different than Susan? Does Susan even have the right wine in her glass?! By going around the room and voicing the different profiles of each wine, you can become a better taster over time. Your palate is your own, Susan's is hers, and so on. By hearing what other people pick up in wine, expands your Rolodex for tasting notes. Women tend to pick up floral notes better than men and men tend to pick up earthy and leather tones more. Learn by drinking? Count me in every night!

Text your friends, grab a few cheeses, and line those glasses up because this is about to be a party to remember! 


Laura Reynolds
September 7, 2017 | Laura Reynolds

The Many Faces of Pinot

How many Pinot's are there? If you have ever ventured into the best aisle in the grocery store (wine aisle), you have probably caught on that there are a few different colors that Pinot showcases. Let's talk about one of my favorite varietals of all time, shall we?

There are many mutations that Pinot has evolved to, the most popular are: Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris (Grigio), Pinot Blanc, Pinot Munier. They aren't just related to one another, they all share the exact same DNA showing that they are all the same grape!

Pinot is one of the only grape varietals that can make a sparkling, white, rosé, and a red wine. 

There are 6 mutations of Pinot to note:

Pinot Noir: A hard-to-grow black wine grape with green flesh that originated around Burgundy.
Pinot Gris: A pink-skinned wine grape that produces white wines to rosé-colored wines.
Pinot Blanc: A white grape that often has been confused with Chardonnay.
Pinot Meunier: A black-skinned grape that ripens a bit earlier than Pinot Noir and is mostly used in Champagne.
Pinot Teinturier: A black-skinned grape with red flesh that was observed in vineyards periodically over the last 100 years.
Pinot Noir Précoce: A mutation of Pinot Noir that ripens 2 weeks earlier than regular Pinot Noir.

Pinot Noir is one of the most sought after grape varietals in the world, being known for being a perfect example of the terroir of the region. Because of it's delicate skins and vibrant aromas, the flavors and aromas compliment the region in which it's grown.

If you try a Pinot from every country, after a while, you will be able to identify where the grape was grown. Don't believe me? Try it!

Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are also the same grape, just named differently due to the country! Pinot Grigio is from Italy whereas Pinot Gris is from France. 

It truely is one of the most facinating grape varieties there is, with so many variations and different flavor profiles in each country. So, drink up and cheers to evolution!

Laura Reynolds
February 1, 2017 | Laura Reynolds

Diet Friendly Wine!

It is finally February; I have never been so excited to be done with the first month of the year! Last month I tried and failed to stick to the Whole30 diet that basically every woman on Instagram was doing. I can take out sugar, carbs, dairy, even food from my diet, but wine? You must be taking crazy pills. The wine guy at WholeFoods would send out a search party if he didn’t see me for a month, or even a week for that matter.

You can still drink a glass of wine a night and be your healthiest, fittest self. You just have to be smart about the type of wines you are drinking. There are plenty of studies that show wine is in fact good for your body. It has 13 essential vitamins and minerals, it’s basically like taking a multivitamin! But the sugar content is the real kicker here for absolute heath and weight management. Full transparency, I would rather choose wine over food any day but you may not be as dedicated to wine then I am.


1. Choose wine with a lower alcohol content: Wine with less alcohol tends to have less sugar. Dry white wines (Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Vinho Verde, German Riesling, Chenin Blanc) have the least amount of calories with 110-150 calories per 5 ounces with 9-12% alcohol. Red Fans? Dry red wines with less than 13.5% alcohol will be your best friend (Pinot Noir to Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah)

2. Choose European wines: Whaaaaat? Yes. Europe has incredibly strict wine laws that restrict alcohol content to a certain parameter. Remember, alcohol content is key, so go on a world tour and try something new!

3. Stay away from “New World” wines: America to Argentina to Australia, new world wines boast high alcohol and high sugar wines that will undo all that hard work at the gym.

4. Eat Protein!: If you are like me, I am always thinking of French fries after downing the third glass of Pinot. This isn’t because you are weak, the wine is just really good at peer pressuring you. Alcohol enhances the taste of salt and fat so your brain tells you to reach for the bad stuff. To prevent the little voice telling you to make midnight bacon, eat a handful of almonds or cheese to calm your cravings before pouring the first glass.

5. Earn that glass: The greatest glass of wine is one after you kick your own butt at the gym. During my demise with Whole30, I allowed a glass of wine after a great workout and never regretted a thing. Maybe it’s just me, but thinking about getting a “bikini body” doesn’t motivate me at the gym, knowing wine is at home does.

6. Everything in moderation: This is one of those tips that I have to say but don’t follow.. Obviously one glass is better than three but my best writing is after at least two glasses so we give and take here.