The Day in Wine: Bob “Prince of Pinot” Cabral departs, record harvest, my wine cellar project

Bob Cabral, winemaker at WIlliams Selyem for 16 years. Cabral produced some of Sonoma's finest Pinot Noirs. Plus: Putting the "Whisper" in WhisperKool.

The man. Bob Cabral, aka Prince of Pinot, hosted an unforgettable RRV tasting at Williams Selyem.
The man. Bob Cabral, aka Prince of Pinot, hosted an unforgettable RRV tasting at Williams Selyem.
The man. Bob Cabral, aka Prince of Pinot, hosted a RRV tasting at Williams Selyem that I won’t soon forget.

When it rains it pours. Literally. After a wine news drought, a couple of headlines caught my eye today.

First, Bob Cabril is leaving Williams Selyem.

Obviously it’s not uncommon for winemakers to move around – like any industry, there’s a normal rate of turnover; though, there is a heady list of tenured winemakers including Janet Meyers (Franciscan, since 2003), Geneviève Janssens (Mondavi, 1978), 2013 Napa Valley Hall of Fame inductee Merry Edwards (eponymous, 1974), Tim Mondavi (Continuum Estate, eons), and Mike Chelini (Stony Hill Vineyard, 1972) to name but a (very) few of the best in Napa and Sonoma.

What makes Cabral’s departure, after 16 years at WS, a major headline in the world of wine is this is the guy who, hands down, makes some of California’s best pinot. Consistently. They don’t call him the Prince of Pinot for nothing. One of the most memorable tastings I’ve ever attended while writing for Stark Insider was a media tasting organized by the Russian River Valley Winegrowers and hosted by Williams Selyem (in their spectacularly remodeled facility). It was as close to wine perfection as you’re likely to find. I was simply–and I surely owe a license fee to the great Cy Ashley Webb for using this expression–gobsmacked. The quality of the wine on that day was uniformly strong.

Where will he land next? I’m not sure, though he told Spectator’s Tim Fish that he has “a lot of ideas running around” in his head and that  he can definitely see himself making his own wine.

Crush: Another record

California Crush Report
Stompin’: Another record year for wine harvest.

The prelim California Grape Crush Report says that 2013 crush is a humdinger. Another year, another record. An estimated 4.23 tons of grapes were crushed last harvest. That’s up 5% y/y. Interestingly PPT (Prce Per Ton) dropped slightly across all varietals. Could it be that I’ll be able to finally purchase that case of Etude? One can dream. More on the results can be found at Wine Business.

ALSO SEE: First Look CabFestNV: Napa holds first ever celebration of the king of grapes

WhisperKool is now Whisper Cool

WhisperKool Mini Split
WhisperKool Project: New lines in the wine closet – lead to outdoor condenser unit.

One of my personal 2014 goals was to finally swap out the self-contained WhisperKool wine cooling system in our wine closet for something actually whisper quiet. Though rock solid, and never flinching at keeping the cellar at 55F, the WK XLT 3000 was anything but quiet (review). It blew exhaust into our first floor hall at Wizard of Oz-inspired tornado proportions. Our entire house would rumble when it ran (which was about 50% of the time). So I finally opted to get a mini split (which essentially splits the system so that the evaporator sits in the cellar, and the condenser outdoors). After a week or so of sheetrocking, drilling, painting, all seems to be in order (we had contractors do most of it). And the result? Bellissimo! I can actually hear myself think now, for better or worse. The new system (WhisperKool Mini Split) is so quiet I can barely tell at times it’s running. I’d liken it to a high-end dishwasher running in another room. A low hum is all. Why am I including this tidbit in the roundup. I have no idea. Things come in threes and I couldn’t find another headline. I’ll share more about my DIY wine cellar install soon (you can read about the original wine cellar project here in 2007). Until then, bottoms up!

MORE California Wine News, Stories, Videos

State of the Wine Industry in 60 Seconds

Wine Report: Fine wine market expected to grow 6-10% in 2014 (Plus more predictions)

Wine Movers and Shakers (Top 5)

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