Monday, April 27, 2009

Our Gratitude

I was inspecting some vineyards this weekend and it only now occurred to me that we are entering our third vintage with Vellum. It was very difficult to imagine this point in time three years ago. There were so many more uncertainties then than we have now and we have constructed a foundation that will last for years to come. So, I want to take this time to thank those have helped us build it and to those who have been the mortar in places where we needed it most.

Commercial winemaking is indeed a high risk business and mired with difficulties that only careful planning and hard work can avoid. It is not for the wealthy individuals who want to throw money at problems in the hopes that they will go away. They never do. The proof of this is far too evident here in Napa Valley and elsewhere in California. Wineries become money pits and backyard venues to entertain personal friends. But! When the end is near for them and the party is over ( many come here to do just that!), the winery is sacrificed for a bargain price and assimilated into a corporation's portfolio.

The resulting casualty is that the property and brand becomes a trading card among other corporations who have taken it upon themselves to globalize our craft. As for the people who came here to party? They suddenly find that they have less money than they started with and fewer friends since they do not have a winery anymore...

Vellum Wine Craft is determined to avoid these pitfalls - because we are here to create and grow as our own entity.

I want to acknowledge first and foremost that we are people who have the fidelity to achieve an end outside the spoils of vanity and lifestyle. As a native Pittsburgher and devout Steelers fan I learned a very important lesson early in life - - Invest in the right people the first time and put your nose to the grindstone with them.

You then will never get "caught up" and do things for the wrong reasons. As fates would have it, in the end you may even get your own Superbowls!

We hope in the future to attract people like ourselves to us and to our wine. It will be a great honor to meet and talk to all of you who have been with us along the way, Sunday May 3rd (and May 17th) for the very first release of Vellum Cabernet Sauvignon.

See you then..

- Karl Lehmann

Monday, April 20, 2009

Vellum Release Party Approaches!

Please join us for an afternoon of wine tasting with Vellum's Winemaker Karl Lehmann as we uncork Vellum Wine Craft's premier vintage - the 2007 Vellum Cabernet Sauvignon.

Due to popular demand - we are hosting two release parties to accommodate our patrons in both Northern and Southern California.

**Sunday, May 3rd from 2pm-5pm
(Location: A Taste of the Himalayas Restaurant, 464 1st Street East
Sonoma, CA 95476)

**Sunday, May 17th from 2pm-5pm
(Location: Mathy Family House, 2054 Smokewood Avenue, Fullerton, CA 92831)

All are welcome to attend!

Please let us know that you will be joining us by emailing -

You may also order VELLUM by CLICKING HERE

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Rites of Spring

Jeff could not be more right about bud-break. I am excited too (Give it up for plants Jeff!)...The 2009 vintage hinges on what happens right now! This is when we watch the weather very carefully - as do our growers.

An early bud-break followed by a late frost could seriously damage our chances at a successful year. So far...we have had a lot of rain in March and fair to warm weather in April and now it is raining again - keeping any chances of frost at bay. Also, this late rain is important because it increases the water table; which in turn will help in more uniform berry-set after flowering.

For some extra security?...In solidarity with our growers this year I even went so far as to plant my vegetable garden three weeks early...and lo' and behold no frost! But, as it is with my garden, we have the good graces of nature this year with us, however it is not always that way.

Last year proved to have a particularly damaging early spring; which gave way to low yields during harvest across the region. As viticulturists and winemakers we made adjustments and as I maintained in previous writings, I think the 2008 vintage is our finest to date (...and I want to thank our recent visitor from Bordeaux for receiving it so well too!).

So these are the fortunes of winemaking right now. They can rise and fall with the weather but it is up to us to pay attention to the details of the fruit in the meantime and address its needs early - to make great wine.

Finally,speaking of details, I have been thinking lately about the words which we say and the words which we adopt for ourselves. Last September, Didier Dagueneau, a star winemaker of the Loire's Pouilly-Fume passed away. Many say that he had a strong personality and lived by what he said - both of which translated into his legendary Sauvignon Blancs. In his wake of an enduring legacy of wines, he left these words:

"There are no recipes. It's all the details of viticulture and all the details of winemaking, the assemblage of little things, which makes for the minute differences between a good wine and a great one." - Didier Dagueneau

I like to think that this wisdom came to me at the right time in my life and I believe now that we are going to have a very good year indeed.

Enjoy Spring!

~ Karl Lehmann

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Bud Break !!

On Friday I spent the afternoon walking among the vines at our Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard on the south end of Napa Valley.

Karl and I have raved about these vines since we first tasted their fruit - and witnessing the vines start their growth for the 2009 vintage is as inspiring as ever.

I am not one to get excited over watching plants grow...BUT!...these vines are the lifeblood of Vellum. And now that the 2007 vintage is in bottle and the 2008 vintage is in barrel, I am thrilled to welcome the next vintage of Vellum Cabernet Sauvignon.

The vines are just starting to push out the new growth that will carry the 2009 vintage through harvest.

Enjoy the photos...

- Jeff Mathy