Joe Freeman
Hi! I’m Joe Freeman, winemaker for The Rubin Family of Wines, in Green Valley of the Russian River Valley, and this is “Joe’s Winemaking Notes.” Each month I will share what’s happening in the vineyards, the winery, and throughout our corner of the winemaking world. The keys to making great wine change with the seasons, and I’ll strive to give you a snapshot of what it’s like being winemaker for an artisan family winery and vineyard in Sonoma County.

Joe’s Winemaking Notes: February 2017

The Russian River Floods An amazing quantity of rain fell in Green Valley during the month of January. As of today, we’ve received around 170 percent of normal rainfall to date, and have almost reached a typical total for the year! As you might expect with this much rain, our soils are filled to capacity, […]

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Joe’s Winemaking Notes: January 2017

Happy New Year I hope all of you were able to spend a great deal of time with family and friends, and enjoyed our wines during your celebrations! It’s a new year, and daylight is finally starting to gain ground on darkness. (I always look forward to this transition, during post-winter solstice months!) Un-Oaked Chardonnay […]

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Joe’s Winemaking Notes: December 2016

Dormancy In The Vineyard Time for a break! Their work done for 2016 vintage, with nutrients stashed away in the trunk and roots, our vines have now gone dormant. The growing season of 2016 was very productive, with grapes of the highest quality; so, we can’t begrudge the vines a little rest over the next […]

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Joe’s Winemaking Notes: November 2016

2016 Harvest Behind Us The last of our 2016 vintage grapes were picked in early October. Whew! We made it! Every grape has been crushed, fermented, and pressed. The smells of fermentation are diminishing, as the wines rest in their barrels and we’ve sent the last grape skin to the compost pile. Since the final […]

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Joe’s Winemaking Notes: October 2016

VINEYARD NOTES 2016 Harvest Comes to a Close (almost)! It’s been a whirlwind month, full of long days and weekends spent at the winery, but we’re nearly through! We have 59 different vineyard selections that are at various stages of fermentation in tanks and barrels. We’re looking forward to revisiting these young wines in the […]

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Joe’s Winemaking Notes: September 2016

2016 CRUSH STARTS! We’re off and running! The first grapes (Pinot Noir from our Estate Vineyard and a neighboring vineyard) were harvested in the early morning hours on August 23. It was only enough to fill a single one-ton fermenter, but it always feels good to get the harvest underway! Once the first lots were […]

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Joe’s Winemaking Notes: August 2016

PERFECT SUMMER CONDITIONS! We’ve been experiencing ideal grape growing and ripening conditions in Green Valley, and the grapevines are showing their happiness! The vineyard is in the best shape I’ve ever seen it, and is ripening a balanced crop in both the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay blocks. Temperatures during the month didn’t quite crack the […]

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Joe’s Winemaking Notes: July 2016

SUMMER SUNSHINE (AND HEAT!) After a week of temperatures in the 90’s, and sunshine from dawn to dusk, the “June Gloom” we typically experience in Sonoma County seems like a distant memory! We’re definitely ahead of normal schedule when looking at vine growth, cluster development, and local growing degree days. (Growing degree days are calculated […]

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Joe’s Winemaking Notes: June 2016

Vineyard Notes Good conditions (and results!) during bloom. The weather in Sonoma County was a bit unsettled for about a week in mid-May, just as the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay at our estate vineyard was in the midst of bloom. This created some anxiety for us, as the grape flowers are notoriously sensitive to weather […]

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Joe’s Winemaking Notes: May 2016

Vineyard Notes Mother Nature has been kind to us this spring. Since bud break, we’ve had relatively few nights where temperatures have dropped to near freezing. This doesn’t mean we haven’t had our share of nights watching the thermometer, with hands ready to press start on the frost pumps, though! El Niño is continuing to […]

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Joe’s Winemaking Notes: April 2016

Vineyard Notes Our vineyard growth slowed to a crawl, right after my February Winemaker Notes. El Niño finally arrived and dumped nearly 11 inches of rain on our estate vineyard in March. The cool conditions associated with these rains kept shoot growth at a standstill. Then, when the skies cleared on March 22, the vines […]

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Joe’s Winemaking Notes: March 2016

Vineyard Notes: Bud Break Bud Break – A time of anticipation and anxiety! Now that the vines are awakening from winter dormancy, we enter into a new phase of the grape grower’s year – Frost Season! Green grapevine tissues are very sensitive to frost. Buds and young leaves begin to die at temperatures below 32 […]

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Joe’s Winemaking Notes: February 2016

Vineyard Notes: Pruning Mid-winter in our estate vineyard has kept Vineyard Manager Alvaro Zamora and his crew very busy! Dodging raindrops, they’ve been finishing pre-pruning of all vines. It’s been drier than anticipated over the past week, so both the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir have been tackled. The results are dramatic! Most of the fresh […]

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Joe’s Winemaking Notes: January 2016

Vineyard Notes It’s winter in Wine Country! Rainy weather has continued to alternate with cold, clear conditions over the past month. We’re now just beginning to see the potential effects of the largest El Niño, in an entire generation. So far, we’ve received approximately ten inches of rainfall, at our estate vineyard. I expect our […]

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Joe’s Winemaking Notes: December 2015

Vineyard Notes Sonoma County does not experience the coldest winters in North America. (I can attest to that fact as a former resident of Detroit Lakes, Minnesota and Fraser, Colorado – two communities that have battled for the title “Icebox of the Nation!”) Despite the rather mild temperatures in our county, there’s great value to […]

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Joe’s Winemaking Notes: November 2015

Bottling The 2014 vintage of our Ron Rubin Green Valley of Russian River Valley Estate Pinot Noir, and the 2014 Cherry Ridge Green Valley Syrah have just been bottled! November is a time when wines from the previous vintage have been maturing in their barrels for the past 12 months and are now ready for […]

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