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Malibu Family Wines

Laura Reynolds
February 27, 2017 | Laura Reynolds

What Makes Great Wine?

All of this rain is making Malibu look more like Ireland than a beach town (no complaints!) Our land is being replenished and our wells and lakes are feeling full again. This is also a great start to our year, rain early on in harvest is exactly what we need to start a great vintage year.

We have been pruning our vines, gearing them up for spring. We hope that this rain continues (since we are looking to be at least halfway out of our drought!) but slows as spring emerges.

The biggest indicator of a good year will be the weather. From bud break to harvest, we rely on the weather to help us create a beautiful wine to offer in the coming years. 

The ultimate year would consist of ample rain in the winter, easy breeze in spring time and an Indian summer before harvest. Warm summer days and cool nights are the perfect puzzle pieces for a successful growing season. But every year is different and unpredictable (ahem, El Nino).

This is why you hear many people say “2012 was a great year for California wines” or “2012 was a terrible year for France.” Weather in the US in 2012 caused one of our best vintages to date, while in France, it was one of their worst (in their opinion). If you are a collector, you bear this date in mind when buying wine. If you are a novice drinker, it will not affect your choices as much since wines still tend to be consistent (most of the time).

If you are buying or tasting boutique wines (like Semler) you can taste the weather patterns in the wine. High alcohol and bold flavors express hot summers while lower alcohol and higher acid indicate some weather battles. Both of these factors result in a great wine, they just will age differently. Wines tend to be consistent throughout each year. Once you taste vintages year after year, you can notice subtle differences that you may have missed before. This is the “terroir” of the wine.

There is an art to cultivating and helping the grapes grow to maturity. A vineyard manager must make sure the grapes are flowering, watered properly and have adequate air flow. 

Wine is delicious art.

So, what happens if the weather isn’t exactly ideal? That’s what the winemaker is for. Wine can be manipulated with different yeast strains, types of wood barrels vs. stainless steel, aging process, etc. There is an art form to creating a beautiful wine. Just because some wines have faults doesn’t mean the wine is bad. Every winemaker creates with the intention of letting nature speak for itself. Sometimes we need to make up for what nature couldn’t do.

Every artist is different, as is every winemaker. Winemakers follow ideologies that they were taught along their career and these ideologies vary in every AVA or country. You can’t appropriately compare Picasso to Leonardo da Vinci, so why compare a French winemaker to an Australian winemaker. Find your niche and drink up.

Wine is art. Appreciating art is divine, and I appreciate it every night.

Time Posted: Feb 27, 2017 at 6:00 AM
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.




Time Posted: Feb 1, 2017 at 6:00 AM
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. 

Time Posted: Feb 1, 2017 at 6:00 AM