Skip to content

Blog Drilldown

Joe Shebl
December 13, 2013 | Joe Shebl

Winter Winemakers Report

We’ve finished what I’m going to call one of the best vintages in the past 10 years here at Renwood. I am so thrilled to back where my career began and to be working with such an outstanding group of motivated professionals.

The Vintage of 2013 is my 15th year doing what I call a “pinch-yourself-profession”, and I’m as excited I’ve ever been to be making wine here in Amador County (actually, I’m giddy like a little kid!!). I started here at Renwood right out of College after obtaining my degree in Biology and Chemistry at Sacramento State University. My first job was as a Cellar hand, cleaning and sanitizing tanks and doing whatever I could to learn and get better. Shortly after, I moved up into the winery laboratory as enologist and a few years later I was promoted to Assistant Winemaker then Winemaker. In 2009, I left Renwood to work on a few other local projects and now, 4 years later, I’ve come back full circle as Director of Winemaking to where I truly feel like I belong.

Ok, now for the fun stuff. The 2011 wines have all been bottled and are looking extremely fruity and elegant to this point and are only going to get better with time. Keep an eye out when you visit our beautifully renovated Tasting Room for some of the new releases. The menu is always changing so each visit is likely to bring you new and interesting surprises. As for the 2012’s that are aging quietly in barrel; this to, is a vintage that is likely to be talked about for years to come. In my next note to you, I’ll fill you in a bit more on some of the outstanding wines that are coming your way.

We have been seriously blessed here in Amador with the vintage of the decade. The vines in 2013 yielded some of the most flavorful and balanced fruit I’ve ever seen. This has directly translated into new wines that are profound and bold yet have retained deep layers of fruity complexity that can give a guy like me chills.

I’ve implemented lots of changes here to help increase our overall wine quality. We were the first winery to ever pick at night in the Shenandoah Valley. We brought in mobile light towers to some of our apex vineyards and we began picking the fruit at 3:00 AM. Yes, it’s crazy! But by doing this we are ensured to get the coldest, freshest fruit into our tanks, which is my highest priority at this critical stage of the process. The other big change has occurred at the crusher. We no longer “crush” our fruit here. We are only destemming the fruit, that is, we are using our equipment to simply knock the berries off of the stems, so in effect we are fermenting whole berries. This is crucial for attaining my goal of powerful and deeply fruit driven wines and I cannot wait to share them with you! Lastly, barrels, oh the barrels! We have shifted to aging our wines in primarily French Oak. We feel that this is the best wood for us since it integrates slowly and softly and helps to develop excellent, complex wines.

Not only is Production here at Renwood under new management, so is our Hospitality Department. Be sure to stay tuned for new and exciting events as well as ongoing Food & Wine Pairings that change seasonally. Our Tours here fun and educational and you get to see how we make our wines in a very boutique way.

I’m very much looking forward to seeing you at our next Member party and sharing a glass of Renwood Wine.

Warm Regards,

Joe Shebl

Time Posted: Dec 13, 2013 at 1:22 PM Permalink to Winter Winemakers Report Permalink
Joe Shebl
December 3, 2013 | Joe Shebl

Holiday Memories

We had just moved into our new house and had begun ripping out EVERYTHING! Carpets, tile, kitchen counters, floorboards.  In our compromised mental state that I believe all those who have ever moved have been in, we (read: I) decided to invite the entire family over for Christmas Eve Dinner.  This was not well received by my adoring wife, needless to say.

T-Minus 13 days.

With only half the floors completed and some painting done, we persisted.  The kitchen sink and oven worked.  Perfect to cook my mother-in-law’s “best-you-ever-had” stuffing. Despite our valiant efforts, we epically failed to complete the whole house upgrades like those fine folks on TV always do.

We have a loving and very understanding family.

Christmas Eve arrived. It went off completely without a hitch, except for one glitch. I had forgotten to remove the staples from the subfloor after I took out the tile!  After the customary pleasantries, I spent the next two hours taking the staples out so we all could have dinner together. Everything turned out wonderful and we enjoyed some amazing food and wine.  The star attraction were ribs smothered in my original barbecue sauce that I’ve been perfecting over the past 8 or 9 years (yes, I wanted something nontraditional for Christmas, hey, it’s my house!).  If you want to try it at home, download the recipe here.

Enjoy with ribs (you get to choose!) and a bottle of Renwood Old Vine Zinfandel.


Joe Shebl

Time Posted: Dec 3, 2013 at 10:21 AM Permalink to Holiday Memories Permalink
Joe Shebl
October 31, 2013 | Joe Shebl

2013 Harvest Update

The quality of the grapes this year is truly outstanding and even better than the acclaimed vintage of 2012. I have not seen fruit with this type of density of flavor and overall balance in at least 10 years. Everything from Alicante Bouschet to Zinfandel is tasting phenomenal and should result in some seriously delicious wines!

As of early October, we have already crushed more than 90% of our fruit, putting us well through the 2013 Vintage. With a cool down in the days and weeks to come, we'll get some breathing room here at the winery which will give us a chance to make room for the remaining fruit. I expect that we will be ready for the final harvest, taking all the fruit off the vines by the end of the month. If this holds true, our harvest this year will conclude almost 3 weeks earlier than those of the last several years.

As for what's new with us here at Renwood, we've purchased a significant number of new barrels this year, of which 70% are French Oak and the other 30% American Oak. We've been running trials with a multitude of barrel companies to find the perfect match for our wines and Zinfandels in particular. This is good news for all of us! Over the coming months, you'll be seeing new releases from us that will blow you away. The French Oak integrates seamlessly into the wines helping to make them as vibrant and complex as ever.

We invite you to schedule a tour of our facilities so that you may experience firsthand the beauty of winemaking. Many, many thanks for your support.

Joe Shebl

Time Posted: Oct 31, 2013 at 6:48 PM Permalink to 2013 Harvest Update Permalink

Join Our Mailing List!