Spring Wine Release 2024 Warm Regards

by | Feb 14, 2024 | Vineyard News, Wine


It’s thrilling not to know where you’re going, I thought as we motored up the Ganges River.  The afternoon’s final specks of sun filtered through large arms of camphor and tangled teak. An all-consuming hum of insect wings, chirping crickets, and local birdsong vibrated through my body.  As we pushed onward, the bush thickened and snakes swam everywhere. It was early spring, and the strong river current peeled fertile soil off the riverbanks, turning the water from clear to mud brown and dirtying my reflection as I looked to see what else swam below. “Keep your hands in the boat.” said the guide as he throttled the 5-horsepower engine towards a sandy river island. Before I could brace myself, the boat’s bow slapped the shore, bucking me into brown water as the guide gracefully carried the momentum of impact and lassoed a tree like a steer, anchoring our boat ashore. The supplies we carried for villagers upstream (medicine, Bibles, flour, gasoline, salt, pots and pans, a stack of expired The New York Times, ammunition, matches, sugar, cigarettes, and cheap local spirit) were now strewn about in the boat’s hull.

Dusk fell quickly, and the air cooled as I settled beneath a blanket, careful to check for any errant scorpions that might have wandered in.  Gazing across the river deep into the dark forest, a pair of glowing eyes stared back.

“How’d you end up here?” I asked.

“Perhaps you’ve heard the story of The Demon of Champawat?” He inquired back while unscrewing a bottle of spirit and taking a pull. 

“No,” I said.

His smile went flat, and his gaze dropped directly into the fire’s smoldering orange coals like peering down into hell itself. The memory struck a soft spot in an otherwise concrete statue of a man, stoic and chiseled by years in the wilderness. His defined facial features were obscured by a thick black beard only softened by his eyes and sun-tanned skin, smooth yet weathered like manzanita bark. His frame was broad and muscular as if he was built with river stones.  

“For many years, I’ve run this route delivering supplies to villagers –  I’ve broken bread with the women, hunted with the men, and watched the children grow. But the Tigress; she brought me here,” he said as he took off his sun-faded hat and laid on his back, gazing into the towering canopy and twilight. 

“Sounds like a long story,”  I said.

“As a young man, I spent winters hunting in Montana on horseback with my father. We’d stalk elk deep into the rut, our horses’ hooves marking land nobody had ever touched.  The Spring sun melted snow caps, filling the valley’s rivers with white water, and my summers were spent chasing rainbows and cutthroat. I grew to know the Whitefish Range like the back of my hand.  I established a sportsman outfit guiding businessmen through the territory hunting big game. Mostly elk, bear, and moose. It was nineteen years ago when I heard of a large bounty on a tiger offered by the Nepalese Military, and I wanted a crack at it.”

“The tiger had been killing villagers for almost a year. In broad daylight, children would disappear while fetching water. In meadows, women were swept away gathering food. Some of the village’s most experienced hunters went missing, leaving behind nothing but a trail of flattened grass and blood into a thick forest. Daily chores were done in pairs, and goodbyes meant more than ever before. When the army was called in, the increased human presence pushed the tigress’ territory further east into Rupal and west towards India’s Kumaon area. She covered large swaths of ground in a single day, sometimes 20 miles between victims. Nobody could catch her.”

“When I arrived at camp, I noticed a large map hanging on the wall in the army barracks.  Red pins marked where villagers went missing or had been killed. Four hundred and thirteen pins thickened around the map’s tallest mountain, like a red cloud marking her den.”

“You can’t chase a predator,” He said, “you must find its home.”

“Did you kill her?” I asked

“You asked me why I live out here,” he paused.  “I guess it’s a matter of preference,” he glanced towards the boat, “those stacks of Bibles warn against an evil tigers can’t carry.  Evil is carried by humans. I’d oblige a second dance with the Tigress rather than sit over dinner with men in the city.”

I turned and gazed across the river at the glowing eyes still bouncing and bobbing in the dark. 

I took a sip of his spirit and fell asleep.




The 2022 growing season was by no means a “gimme,” and in many ways, it reminded me of 2017 with the monumental exception that, for the first time ever, we were getting fruit from our very own Levo Vineyard.  Most of this crop was held back to be bottled exclusively for our members this summer for a fall release, but you’ll be getting a taste of what’s to come with Warm Regards.

A dry winter led to a moderate and fairly uneventful spring. Throughout the summer, the canopy growth was slightly stunted, so we supplemented our thirsty vines with small, strategic doses of water. Across the board cluster and berry sizes were down, which makes winemakers happy and growers sad. Mother nature gifted Paso a heavy heatwave around Labor Day, with daytime temperatures soaring well above 100 degrees for almost two weeks. As always, nature rules and we adjust as best as we can.  All this to say, it was a wild maiden vintage to be bottling from our land in Willow Creek.

The unprecedented heat flipped our team’s harvest game plan upside down and backward. In my mind, I anticipated a long second summer cruising to the finish line (you have to be an optimist in this business). Rather than forcing our initial winemaking protocols, which I might have done in the past, we pulled a 180 and decided to ride the wave and go with the flow. We opted to pick early, focusing on retaining fresh aromas, vibrant flavors, color and acidity. In the cellar, this meant backing off – a less is more approach – gentle pump-overs, cooler ferments, less time on skins, and early pressing to encourage supple, playful tannins. Today, as I taste through the line-up, I can’t help but smile. These wines are charming and full of distinct personality and flavor, a truly exciting result from our first crop to blend with some of our old favorites.  2022 is decidedly different in a wonderful way and speaks to another great vintage on the Central Coast of California. Don’t miss it! 



2022 Warm Regards Grenache – $65

Blend: 76% Grenache, 12% Petite Sirah, 5% Mourvedre, 4% Syrah, 2% Clairette Blanche, 1% Graciano

Vessels: 600 Liter Demi Muid for 16 months – 56% New Oak, 24% Once Used Oak, 20% Neutral Oak

Vineyards: Fulldraw, Jack Creek, Levo, Spanish Springs

Description: No need to gussy up. Less is always more. This is a natural beauty, pure and fresh.

Adjectives: Muse, high tone, fine, lifted, fresh, vivid, pure, ultraviolet.


2022 Warm Regards Syrah – $65

Blend: 84% Syrah, 13% Petite Sirah, 2% Grenache, 1% Graciano

Vessels: 225 Liter Barriques for 17 months – 58% New Oak, 24% Once Used Oak, 18% Neutral Oak

Vineyards: Caliza, G2, Fulldraw, Larner, Piazza Bella Vista, Levo, Spanish Springs

Description: Textbook Syrah. Thunder and lightning from Paso. Intellect and intrigue from Santa Barbara.  

Adjectives: Classic, muscle, stoic, mysterious, musk, rugged, noble, beast.


2022 Warm Regards Red Wine Blend – $65

Blend: 46% Grenache, 37% Syrah, 13% Petite Sirah, 4% Mourvedre

Vessels: 225L barriques and 600 Liter Demi Muid for 17 months – 57% New Oak, 24% Once Used Oak, 19% Neutral Oak

Vineyards: Caliza, G2, Fulldraw, Larner, Piazza Bella Vista, Levo, Spanish Springs, Jack Creek

Description: The joker in a deck of cards. A shapeshifter morphing by the minute. A kaleidoscope of expression.

Adjectives: Eclectic, rebellious, inventive, brash, oddball, expressive.