Mahoney Family Vineyards

Wine Club Newsletter

Fall 2021

This is Mahoney Family Vineyards 49th harvest. It's hard to believe almost 5 decades have past since our first crush. Harvest is in full swing and this year is looking exceptional. It's hard to believe there is a silver lining to our ongoing drought but for some vineyards the lack of water can enhance the flavor profile. Smaller clusters and varied berry size (Hens and Chicks) often contribute concentration and complexity.

Preview Your Upcoming Club Shipment

For our Fall Club 2021 shipment we are pleased to send our

2018 Mahoney Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon and the

2018 Mahoney Estate Pinot Noir.

What is Grape Ripeness?

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When we consider the practice of farming, our aim is to produce a consistent product despite ever-changing conditions.  Each harvest  brings a new set of opportunities and challenges to enhance or overcome in a wine's evolution. How does a winemaker develop a style of wine that has a recognizable or consistent signature? One of the most crucial choices made during harvest is determining grape ripeness. In addition to yeast, barrel choices, time, temperature... etc, you get the idea, grape ripeness is the point at which a winemaker determines the readiness of the grapes for their wine program ( Rosé, Sparkling, dessert wine, the list goes on). Grape ripeness is a moving target with many external considerations, such as availability of picking crews, trucking and processing capacity, but for our purposes we will look at the combination of  sugar (Brix), TA (Titratable Acidity)  and pH (potential Hydrogen) to determine grape ripeness.

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News From The Cellar

Hi everyone!

It's now October, and the last tanks of 2021 Pinot Noir have been drained and put to barrel. It's been a really compact harvest, with everything seeming to get ripe at about the same time, making it a bit challenging in terms of crush capacity at the winery! All that said, fruit quality has been remarkable, with great color and flavor in Pinot, and nice acidity across the board. The summer was actually on the cool side, and even though we saw some heat spikes around Labor day, the nights stayed quite cool, and the vineyards held up really well. Yields were below normal, with lots of small berries, making for good concentration in the wines, at least as it looks at this early stage. Currently, all the Pinots in barrel are starting to undergo malolactic fermentation, (converting malic acid to lactic, which softens the wine a bit).

Adding to the above discussion about grape ripeness, I would add that assessing when to pick is seldom simply about chemistry, and that in a given vineyard or block, you can find a wide array of analyses that may lead to different decisions. As a result, the final choice of when to pick may come down to less technical, more experience-driven, what condition is the canopy (leaf area) in, how much dehydration are we seeing in the fruit, and what sort of weather is forecast for the next days. You may also look to steer choices based on what has already been picked (and whether those fermentations met your expected numbers), or you may target different wine styles from individual blocks based on what blend you expect that fruit to fit into. Likewise, once in the winery, you may approach fermentation in different ways depending on what style of wine you're hoping for from an individual pick. This might involve different yeast choices, higher or lower fermentation temps, and less or more contact time on the skins, for example.

For the 2021 wines, we're at the start of a longish road, but our next challenge will be to circle back to the 2020 vintage and choose the blends for the Mahoney Estate group of wines... certainly one of our favorite activities, as we have the luxury of only using the best 10% or so of the vintage in these wines! Stay tuned...

Ken Foster

Simple Sourdough

Pizza Crust

We paired this sourdough Pizza crust with our

2018 Mahoney Family Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir.

It was amazing! We recently received an Ooni Pizza Oven and were thrilled to try Alexandra's Margarita Pizza recipe, it makes me hungry just looking at it.

pizza image.png Complete Instructions



  • 375 g water
  • 100 g sourdough starter, active and bubbly, see notes above
  • 10 g salt
  • 500 g all-purpose or bread flour


  • 2 tablespoons tomato sauce
  • 1 to 2 oz mozzarella
  • handful of grated Parmigiano Reggiano (less than an ounce)
  • drizzle olive oil
  • pinch sea salt


  1. Mix the dough. Place the starter, salt, and water in a large bowl. Stir with a spatula to combine — it doesn’t have to be uniformly mixed. Add the flour. Mix again until the flour is completely incorporated. Transfer to a straight-sided vessel (if you have one.) Cover vessel with tea towel or cloth bowl cover and let stand 30 minutes.
  2. Stretch and fold: after 30 minutes have passed, reach into the vessel and pull the dough up and into the center. Turn the vessel quarter turns and continue this pulling 8 to 10 times. See video for guidance. Let the dough rest for another 30 minutes; then repeat the stretching and folding. If possible, repeat this cycle twice more for a total of 4 stretch and folds. By the 4th cycle, you will notice a huge difference in the texture of the dough: it will be smoother, stronger, and more elastic.
  3. Bulk fermentation: Cover vessel with a tea towel or bowl cover and set aside to rise at room temperature (70ºF/21ºC) for 4 to 18 hours (the time will vary depending on the time of year, the strength of your starter, and the temperature of your kitchen; see notes above) or until the dough has roughly doubled in volume. (UPDATE: In the past I have recommended letting the dough rise until it doubles in volume. If you’ve had success with this, continue to let the dough double. Recently, I have been stopping the bulk fermentation when the dough increases by 50% in volume, and I feel my dough is even stronger in the end.) Note: Do not use your oven with the light on for the bulk fermentation — it is too warm for the dough. When determining when the bulk fermentation is done, it is best to rely on visual cues (doubling in volume) as opposed to time. A straight-sided vessel makes monitoring the bulk fermentation especially easy because it allows you to see when your dough has truly doubled.
  4. Portion and shape: Turn the dough out onto a work surface and shape into a rough ball, using as much flour as needed — the dough will be sticky. Using a bench scraper, divide the dough into 4 equal portions. Sprinkle portions with flour. With floured hands, roll each portion into a ball, using the pinkie-edges of your hands to pinch the dough underneath each ball. Transfer each round of dough to a plastic quart container, cover, and store in fridge for at least 6 hours or up to 3 days or transfer to the freezer (see notes in post about thawing). 
  5. Make the pizzas: Pull out a round (or more) of dough from the fridge one hour before you plan on baking. Dust dough with flour and place on a floured work surface. Let sit untouched for about an hour (a little longer or shorter is fine). Place a Baking Steel or pizza stone in the top third of your oven. Set oven to 550ºF. Heat oven for at least 45 minutes but ideally 1 hour prior to baking. 
  6. Shape the dough: Gently shape dough into a 10-inch (roughly) round handling it as minimally as possible. (See video for guidance.) Lay a sheet of parchment paper on top of a pizza peel. Transfer the dough round to the parchment-lined peel.

Top and Bake

Enjoy This Jigsaw Puzzle

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