May, September, and December 2020 Winemaker Notes

Download the May, September, and December 2020 Winemaker Notes here

Dear Frogtown Citizen:


The above date references are correct!  I simply have not dedicated the time to reflect on the task of creating meaningful Wine Maker Notes (WMN) for the past two Wine Club Releases, May and September 2020; extend such inattention to the upcoming December, 2020 Release? No, totally unacceptable. So, here we go.

Frogtown’s GA and CA vineyards; growing Season and harvests?

All harvests at Frogtown’s Dahlonega Plateau, AVA, Georgia, and Paso Robles AVAs  Geneseo District and Adelaida District, California, vineyards are completed and the final stages of winemaking are occurring.  

Harvest and winemaking results from the Dahlonega Plateau AVA vineyard 

The weather patterns in North Georgia were a sort of weather pandemic – lots and lots of rain and then lots more rain.   Most weeks there were very few clear sunny days before the next rain fell.  If I wrote these WMN before harvest commenced, I would have informed you that I had major concerns about the quality and quantity of grapes to be harvested on Frogtown’s Dahlonega Plateau vineyard.  I can report the quality and quantity of our Dahlonega fruit is just fine for Marsanne, Roussanne, Chardonnay, Viognier, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon.  The harvest, however, of Tannant, Touriga, and Petit Verdot were fine on quality but short on tonnage. Painfully, very short on tonnage for Sauvignon Gris, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Malbec.  Frogtown’s vineyard associates did a herculean job during this growing decision.  Without the substantial knowledge gained from prior vintage years over the last 21 years, our farming could not have delivered the results achieved in 2020.  Frogtown did not just “survive” the 2020 vintage year, Frogtown achieved what is most important in winemaking, the receipt at the crush pad of quality harvested fruit.  I am thankful for the grapes harvested and have little concern with making Frogtown quality wine from this 2020 harvest.  Winemaking started immediately at the destemming and pressing of the grapes. I saigneed our red grape fermentations as much as I have ever done in the past.  Look at past WMN for a description of the saignee process and what it means to winemaking at Frogtown’s Dahlonega Plateau AVA vineyard.

Harvest of Adelaida and Geneseo AVA vineyards in Paso Robles CA and initial winemaking results.

While the quality and quantity of fruit at harvest in California was very good, there was some serious concern whether the fires in Napa, Sonoma and even closer, Salinas, caused smoke damage to the grapes.  Low levels of atmospheric smoke hung over Paso Robles for a significant amount of days.  The fires in Northern California have underscored how little is known about smoke taint and how ill prepared CA is for the event.  

Prior to the actual harvests at Adelaida and Geneseo, some of our fruit in “laboratory fermentations” tested positive for the presence of the elements that cause smoke taint.  This did cause significant concern. This concern has dissipated substantially, as the actual commercial fermentations by Frogtown and our grape customers do not appear to have detectable levels of smoke taint in the 2020 wines.  

Let’s discuss the newest and most significant wines Released in the previous two Releases and to be Released shortly.

[Preface:  I am very proud of the quality of Frogtown Wines Released in February, and May, 2020 and to be Released in December, 2020.  Are these the best wines ever made at Frogtown?  Do I consider any of these wines to be my favorite wine(s)?]

The two most frequent questions I am asked about Frogtown or our wines are: 

(1) how did you come up with the name Frogtown? and (2) what is your favorite wine?

The first question is answered directly and meaningfully, as I cherish Georgia’s Cherokee Indians who long ago were the stewards of the special 57 acres which constitute Frogtown’s Dahlonega Plateau AVA vineyard.  Frogtown is an anglicized form of the Cherokee name for “the place of the frog”.  Not a difficult choice by me and Cydney in 1999.

The second question  The most direct explanation given is “I do not have a favorite.”  Can not imagine a more direct and definitive answer to the second question.  But people are generally persistent and do not accept this clear, direct, and definitive answer.  So the follow-on comment is “come on you must have a favorite.”

OK, since the clear (unambiguous), definitive and direct answer does not end the inquiry, I provide a further explanation in a tangentially indirect manner most people do understand and accept!   I ask the inquiring person, “how many children do you have and which one is your favorite?”  Whether or not the inquiring person in fact has (have) children they immediately understand what I want them to understand. Oh, I get it they say.  If an affirmative answer is given to this favorite child question, usually the response must be highly qualified (well, it depends).   Oh, Mary has not called me in weeks, so Joan is my favorite child.  

2017 Reserve Disclosure Cabernet Franc.  With the above in mind, I love and am very proud of the 2017 Reserve Disclosure Cabernet Franc (that is a high accolade from me).  

Is it the best Cabernet Franc I ever made? Possibly yes, possibly no.  What about the 2004, 2008, 2009 Frogtown Cabernet Franc wines.  These Cabernet Franc wines have aged gracefully and beautifully.  Because of the development of the 2009 Cabernet Franc in the bottle, this Cabernet Franc today also receives my highest accolade.  

The age worthiness of Frogtown wines is one of the most gratifying accomplishments of our winemaking!  Our wines age well.  In my opinion, world class, well.  Just astonishing!  

 I was planning on bottling this 2017 Cabernet Franc as a Kritzer Family Reserve 100% Georgia wine.  One day before the scheduled bottling, I noticed one barrel remained of the 2017 vintage Cabernet Franc from the Paso Robles Adelaida vineyard (the other barrels were used to make the 2017 Compulsion and Convergence).  

I made a sample blend – eleven (11) parts Dahlonega Plateau AVA Cabernet Franc (all eleven barrels I had in the tank) to one (1) part Adelaida District, Paso Robles, AVA Cabernet Franc (the one barrel I noticed).  I liked what the small amount of Adelaida Cabernet Franc did for the wine.  So the 2017 Disclosure Reserve Cabernet Franc was bottled as 91% Dahlonega Plateau, Georgia and 9% Adelaida Paso Robles, California.

 Not to go into an explanation most of you already know, since the wine did not contain 100% Georgia, the wine was put into a Disclosure, American labeled wine and not a Georgia labeled wine.

This wine is quintessentially Cabernet Franc.  It could be the poster child for Cabernet Franc wines.  Rich spicy fruit flavors and very supple; could even be described as creamy smooth.  Just the right amount of acid required to make the wine lively and refreshing and food friendly.  Full elegant integration of French and American Oak on the palate adding vanilla and to a less extent tobacco nuances to the wine.  I have previously written about the tobacco nuances in our Cabernet Franc wines.  Extremely elegant with underlying tannin structure that should afford aging of this wine for 15-30 years.  Just yummy!

The 2017 Reserve Disclosure Cabernet Franc just won a Gold Medal at the prestigious 2020 San Francisco International Wine Competition.

2019 Reserve Enabler Roussanne.  For those who attended the 2019 Harvest Day with Craig  you may remember as the 2019 Roussanne grapes were being harvested, I opined the Roussanne grapes were the best Roussanne grapes ever harvested at Frogtown.  I further opined an incredible Roussanne wine will be made with these grapes.

Fast forward to the 2020 San Francisco International Wine Competition and the awarding of a Gold Medal to this 2019 Reserve Enabler Roussanne.

The making of this Roussanne wine was as non-invasive as any white wine I ever made in my 20 years of making wine.  Generally non-invasive means don’t do anything that will diminish the potential quality of the wine.  That is, don’t add fining or stabilizing agents that will take away from the wine.   Use a carefully controlled aeration protocol during the early stage of fermentation to bring out the full flavor of the grapes, and bottle the wine as soon as it is ready (don’t let it remain in the tank for any extended period of time).  

Similar to what I said about the 2017 Disclosure Reserve Cabernet Franc above, this Roussanne can and should be a poster child for what world-class Roussanne is all about.  Very proud and gratified to produce this wine.  Is it my favorite wine?  

The flavors of this Roussanne are what great White Hermitage is all about.  This Rhone Valley white grape wine demonstrates that delicious white wine does not require citrus flavors. Rich in apple, pear, honey, and the essence of almonds and hazelnuts, these flavors combine to make this Roussanne distinctive.  The wine is rich and creamy due in large part to frequent lees stirring in the tank. Made in all stainless steel.

2015 Kritzer Family Reserve Tannat.  Ho Hum, another excellent bottling of Frogtown Tannat.  Frogtown would not be Frogtown without the Tannat grape.  Tannat wines have delivered quality as 100% varietal labeled wines, like the 2015 Reserve, or as excellent blending contributions to our red blends.  The blending can be very obvious like in Shotgun or Bravado, or subtle to add nuance to a wine in a background manner.  Some of our most awarded Georgia wines have enjoyed some amount of Tannat blended into the wine.

The wine on the palate is super intense.  Big amounts of cassis and dark fruit are evident.  Since this wine spent 4 years in oak barrels, the presence of oak is completely in the background where it should be.  As with other Tannat wines, test this wine’s character by enjoying the wine with a fatty premium steak.  It is definitely not the wine to pair with any spicy foods (i.e. a bowl of hot chilli).  How long will this wine age in the bottle? I wish I could be there to find out!

The 2018 White Wines were some of the best white wines ever made at Frogtown.  Awards of Gold and Silver Medals were received from major US competitions for many of these white wines.  But watch out for the 2019 White Wines.  Not only Gold for the 2019 Roussanne.  In my opinion, these are Gold designations to be awarded for some additional vintage 2019 White wines.

2019 Frogtown Viognier. It has been a significant period of time since the last wonderful 100% varietal labeled Viognier has been made and offered at Frogtown.  There are many lightly flavored wines made with the Viognier grape in this county.  That simply is not Viognier wine.  If you are one of the lucky persons who have experience tasting a Condrieu wine (100% French Viognier), particularly a Condrieu from Château-Grillet, you know how wonderful a full flavored Viognier tastes and smells.  The perfume nose is just that, perfume, with flavors of peach, honeydew melon, tangerine, and honeysuckle.  This perfume and flavors are what you receive from our very full-bodied 2019 Viognier.  I just like to drink this wine as an aperitif without any food influencing my enjoyment.

2019 Frogtown SBG, the new “identified by the letters” white Frogtown wine.  Not to be mistaken in the slightest for MRV, this is a neat marriage of Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris.  

I have tried blending some amounts of Sauvignon Gris into our Sauvignon Blanc wines and also some Sauvignon Blanc into Sauvignon Gris wines.  I was never convinced that such blending made either a Sauvignonn Blanc wine or a Sauvignon Gris wine better.  You blend to make a wine better.  

The SBG wine is different, I am not trying to make a Sauvignon Blanc or a Sauvignon Gris labeled wine better.  SBG is not to be confused with either a Sauvignon Blanc or a Sauvignon Gris.  It is a wine on its own.  SBG is a true blend in that it does not resemble either a varietally labeled Sauvignon Blanc or Sauvignon Gris wine.  Let’s see how this highly grapefruit nuance wine develops over the course of 2021.  It has been well received by our Citizens.

2016 Frogtown Priority and 2016 Kritzer Family Reserve Touriga.

Arriving in the December Release are the 2016 Frogtown Priority and the 2016 Kritzer Family Reserve Touriga, both 100% Dahlonega Plateau AVA wines.  

The 2016 Priority is the second bottling of a Priority labeled wine.  This blend of Priority consists of 60% of Nebbiolo, 25% of Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% of Teroldego. The wine screams of Nebbiolo.  The Cabernet Sauvignon and Teroldego are along for the ride to give subtle texture and color to this wine.  Front and center is the Nebbiolo with its distinct high acidity and tannin.  Nebbiolo, despite its lighter color when compared to other premium red wines, is a full bodied tannic wine intended to enjoy considerable bottle age.  To me Nebbiolo has a very distinct aroma that can be described as rose scents with a combination of anise (licorice) and bright cherry and sometimes recognizable raspberry flavors.  

Nebbiolo, as I have noted previously, does not grow well in many regions outside of the Piedmont region of Italy.  I speculate Frogtown’s Dahlonega Plateau AVA vineyard with its extensive clay and schist soil components aid in the classification of the Nebbiolo we grow as very recognizable (Piedmont) Nebbiolo.  A valid  descriptor of a Nebbiolo wine is minerality.  The minerality (schist) in our terroir significant Nebbiolo wines does play a part in describing our Nebbiolo as varietally correct Nebbiolo wine.  Go back to my WMN describing the Kritzer Family Reserve Nebbiolo that won a double gold medal at a major US competition.  Nebbiolo, along with Touriga, to be discussed next, are wines very distinctly different from other premium red wines made with different red grapes.

The 2016 Kritzer Family Reserve Touriga is a dead ringer for the 2014 Kritzer Family Reserve Touriga.  Touriga is a terroir influenced wine.  It is safe to say that our Touriga wine’s aroma, flavors, texture, and color are consistent and unique to our terroir.  

My enjoyment of Touriga wines is accentuated by the unmistakable presence of aromas of violets when smelled in the glass and that same sensation continues when the wine is tasted.  Touriga wines are the “richest” flavored and textured wines I have experienced.  Our Touriga wines can be described to have blackberry, plum, and anise flavors that are enhanced by vanilla nuances.  I can say with confidence our Touriga wines express more recognizable vanilla oak nuances than any other Frogtown wine.  Touriga was made to bathe in oak barrels.  

2018 Frogtown Clos Equal Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc and 2018 Frogtown Clos Primavera Proclivity.

Arriving in the December 2020 Release, Extended California Citizens will be receiving two wines grown, produced, and bottled from our Geneseo District, Paso robles, AVA vineyard:  2018 Frogtown Clos Primavera C0-Equal Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc and 2018 Frogtown Clos Primavera Proclivity.  

2018 Frogtown Clos Primavera Co-Equal, as the name Co-Equal suggests, the wine contains equal amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.  This Frogtown Clos Primavera wine is bottled with reference to being an Exemplar Series wine.  The reference to Exemplar is added to the description of the wine to indicate the wine is an excellent example of what it is intended to be, i.e a blend of equal parts of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.  

Because this Clos Primavera wine has just been bottled,  it is hard to adequately describe the wine.  One of my early observations is the wine is NOT what a Paso Robles Bordeaux blend usually delivers.  The wine at this stage of development can be described as resembling a European Bordeaux style wine in its elegance and finesse, while also delivering lots of fruit flavors found in California wines.  It is not flabby, as some Paso Robles wines can be.  Integrated acid gives the wine elegance and “levels out” the presence of lots of fruit.  Unless more “Paso Robles” characteristics develop as the wine ages, this wine will deliver a relatively more elegant complex wine than what is typically made in Paso Robles.  Definitely more food friendly. 

2018 Frogtown Clos Primavera G Series Proclivity.  It is a G series wine because this wine is a blend of 51% Garnacha, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 9% Teroldego. G Series wines are Grenache blended wines intended to be similar to wines made in regions of Spain, particularly Priorat, Spain.  

Like the 2018 C0-Equal Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, it is difficult to definitively describe this wine due to the fact the wine has just been bottled.  It definitely is not a close sibling to the 2017 Frogtown Clos Primavera G series Propensity.  The 2018 Frogtown Clos Primavera Proclivity is more elegant than the first G series bottling of 2017 Propensity.  It is less fruit forward.  

Keeping in mind what I said about the 2018 Frogtown Clos Primavera C0-Equal, one might speculate the 2018 vintage wines made from grapes harvested at our Paso Robles Adelaida District, and Geneseo District vineyards can be characterized as wines delivering less fruit forward wine(s) with more elegance and finesses than what is generally typical of Paso Robles AVA wines.  Time will tell and please when you see me ask me for updates.

Presently, the 2018 Clos Primavera Proclivity delivers the unique plum flavors I get from Grenache red Blends.  The Teroldego gives the blend color and added backbone to complement the intensity which Grenache delivers with it lighter and distinct flavor characteristics.  The Cabernet Sauvignon is at this time difficult for me to identify.  Again, let’s see how this wine develops in the bottle.

Heads Up.  Recently, I have enjoyed drinking the 2015 Sangiovese and the 2016 Penchant.  These wines have developed beautifully in the bottle.  

As always, our very best wishes, especially for a Wonderful Holiday Season and New Year, Craig, Cydney and John

Frogtown’s Wine Club Classifications

Frogtown’s Wine Club Classifications

[Prior to the Opening of the Paso Robles California Tasting Room]

12 Georgia Estate Grown Dahlonega Plateau AVA Wines    

3 bottles Release each September, December, February, and May of Georgia Estate Wines

12 Estate Georgia Red Wines bottles each year

12 Estate Georgia White Wines bottles each year

9 Georgia Estate Red and 3 Georgia White bottles of each year

18 Georgia Estate Grown Dahlonega Plateau AVA Wines

6 bottle Release each September and February and 3 bottle Release each December and May of Georgia Estate Wines

18 Estate Georgia Red Wines bottles each year

18 Estate Georgia White Wines bottles each year

12 Estate Georgia Red and 4 Estate White Wines bottles each year

18 Georgia Extended

12 Georgia Estate and 6 bottles California Estate (or Georgia Estate and California Estate Blended Wines)

Release of 6 bottles each December and May of 3 bottles of Georgia Estate and 3 bottles of California Estate (or a Blend of Georgia Estate and California Estate) Wines

Release each September and February of 3 bottles of Georgia Estate Wines

12 Estate Georgia and 6 Estate California (or Georgia Estate and California Estate blend) red wines each year

10 Georgia Estate Red and 2 Georgia Estate White and 4 California Estate red (or a Blend of Georgia Estate and California Estate) and 2 California Estate white wines each year

September and December 2019 Winemaker Notes

Download the September and December 2019 Winemaker Notes here

September and December 2019 Winemaker Notes

Intending to Inform and Influence

Dear Frogtown Citizen: 

Frogtown Wine Club Classifications.

We are sending you a document entitled Wine Club Classifications. Please Read this document carefully.

Did you know Georgia Estate Only Citizens are entitled to a 25% wine discount if they increase their Wine Club Shipments by 6 bottles to 18 bottles yearly?   This feature commences with the February 2020 Wine Club Release.  To make a change in Wine Club Classification, call us 706-865-0687 or email

Wines included in this Wine Club Release.

I am placing this discussion topic of the current Wine Club Release FIRST, rather than LAST, as in my prior Winemaker Notes, because of the significance of the discussion below of the 2017 Compulsion and 2017 Convergence.

Depending on your Wine Club Classification, your December shipment consist of:

Georgia Estate Red Wine Citizens: 2014 Frogtown Merger (wow, a Double Gold Medal just awarded – see below), 2014 Touché, 2015 Audacity on the Estate Red side.

Georgia Estate White Wine Citizens and Mixed Red and White Wine Citizens: 2018 Sauvignon Blanc (wow, a Gold Medal just awarded – see below), 2018 MRV (a Silver Medal just awarded – see below), and 2018 Sauvignon Gris (a Bronze Medal just awarded, see below and my comment below).

Georgia Extended Red Wine and Mixed Red and White Wine Citizens:                 2017 VRM, 2017 Compulsion, an East Coast, West Coast Blend, 2017 Convergence, A West, Coast, East Coast Blend, and most significantly, 2017 Clos Primavera Propensity (our first 100% Estate Grown Red Wine). 

Since the 2017 Compulsion, 2017 Convergence, and 2017 Propensity are first release wines, the following is specific information for these wines: Noteworthy is the fact, for the first time, our East Coast, West Coast Wines contain 100% estate grown grapes from both sides of the country – Georgia’s Dahlonega Plateau, Adelaida and Geneseo District Sub-AVA’s of the Paso Robles AVA.  This enables Frogtown to be a 100% Estate Winery making wines solely with its estate grown grapes, labeled under the respective AVA where the wines are grown, or under an American label when the wines are blended from the separate AVAs of Georgia and California.   

Also, noteworthy, is the fact, for the first time, Compulsion and Convergence are very similar Blends, in the case of 2017, both are varietal Cabernet Franc wines.  This enables our Citizens, uniquely, to taste the difference of a Cabernet Franc made from principally Cabernet Franc grown on the East Coast, from our Dahlonega Plateau AVA and Cabernet Franc made from principally Cabernet Franc grown on the West Coast from our Paso Robles, AVA wines.  A unique experience, to my knowledge, not duplicated by any other winery.

  1. Frogtown Convergence and 2017 Frogtown Compulsion

Convergence is unmistakably California and Compulsion is unmistakably old world, Georgia.  Cabernet Franc, being the spicy, higher acid component of Bordeaux wines, is varietal correct and evident in both wines.

  • As expected, Convergence is significantly more fruit forward.  The relatively small amount of Dahlonega Plateau Cabernet Franc blended into the 2017 Convergence makes this wine more elegant and complex than it would otherwise have demonstrated if it were 100% Frogtown California.
  • Also, as expected, Compulsion is a less powerful wine but more elegant in its presentation.  The relatively small amount of Paso Robles AVA wine blended into the 2017 Compulsion makes this wine more intense and fruitful than it would otherwise have demonstrated if it were 100% Frogtown Georgia,
  • Are these wines better because of the cross blending of very different AVA grown wines?  This is a very serious and important question.  First, what is meant by better?  I cannot say that either wine so blended is better.  I can say that either wine is different than it would otherwise be without the cross blending, but better?  Significantly, neither of these cross blended wines are terroir wines, the cross-AVA blending has obliterated the terroir of both principal AVA wines.  But does that matter?  What is significant is the cross blended wine is different.  Some people will like either of these wines better than if the wine were a terroir wine and that is perfectly fine.
  • What if I purchased some Cabernet Franc grapes from one of the Napa Sub-AVAs and blended such grapes into Paso Robles, AVA Cabernet Franc grapes grown in either in the Adelaida or Geneseo districts.  If such Napa grown grapes result in the less than 15 percent of the total blend, I could, notwithstanding using Napa grapes in the blend, label such wine as a Paso Robles AVA wine. Reference to a governmentally established American Viticultural Area (AVA) refers only to a designated wine growing region, and does not refer to estate grown, produced and bottled wines.  AVA wine can contain up to 15% of grapes grown outside of the AVA.  Is that appropriate?
  1. Clos Primavera G Series Propensity

Our first red wine made from 100% Adelaida and Geneseo vineyard grapes.  A blend of 40% Grenacha from Geneseo and 60% Primitivo from Adelaida.  This wine screams Priorat!

  • The blending of very ripe Grenache grown in arid conditions with Carignan, or another intense red grape(s), results in a well-balanced wine with sufficient acid and relatively high alcohol.  Not only does such wine possess intense (meaty) fruit, but also demonstrates finesse and elegance.

Such Grenache centric wines possess, in addition to other flavors, identifiable plum with mocha nuances. The wines are unmistakable unique in the world of wine.  A significant noticeable difference from a Bordeaux or Tuscan wine.  I welcome and enjoy these very different red wines and Frogtown is pleased to offer these style wines to our Citizens.

  • Propensity is the first of a planned three “G Series” (Grenacha centric) wines I anticipate making from Adelaida and Geneseo grapes.  The richness of Primitivo is the perfect blending partner for our estate grown Grenache.  Propensity’s identifiable plum and cassis flavors and mocha nuances do not overpower your beginning palate, with an elegant mid-palate smoothness, and a persistent long finish.  Yum!

Wine Competition Results – 2020 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition the Largest Competition of American Wines

The following identifies the Gold and Silver Medals awarded to Frogtown:

2014 Frogtown Cellars Merger, Dahlonega Plateau AVA, DOUBLE GOLD

2018 Frogtown Cellars Sauvignon Blanc, Dahlonega Plateau AVA, GOLD

2018 Frogtown Cellars Marsanne, Dahlonega Plateau AVA, GOLD

2018 Frogtown Cellars Sangiovese, Dahlonega Plateau AVA, SILVER

NV Frogtown Cellars Shotgun, 5th Reload, Dahlonega Plateau AVA, SILVER

2018 Frogtown MRV, Dahlonega Plateau AVA, SILVER

The 2020 San Francisco Chronicle Competition Results puts an emphatic YES on Frogtown’s Classification as the HEART AND SOUL OF THE DAHLONEGA PLATEAU AVA!

Yes, results speak loud and clear to the quality and breath of Frogtown wines; like to add just a few remarks:

  • 2020 marks the Fourth Consecutive Year Frogtown has received a Double Gold Medal in a major California Competition
  • How About our 2018 Frogtown White Wine Medal Winners?  I am particularly proud and gratified some of the best wine judges in the United States recognize the premium quality of Frogtown’s white wines – for so many years our premium red wines dominated competition awarded medals at the most prestigious California Wine Competitions – not anymore. 
  • Frogtown 2018 Sauvignon Gris was awarded a Bronze Medal at the above competition.  Not many people, including judges, have tasted, or for that matter understand, Sauvignon Gris wines.  This wine deserved a higher awarded medal.

What is Occurring in Frogtown’s Vineyards?

We are actively pruning our vineyards in Georgia and California.  We have received welcome rain in California.  The severe drought California experienced in prior years appears to be over. Last year and this year Paso Robles received rain in significant quantity. 

What is the Status of Frogtown’s Winery and Tasting Room?

Zoning approval has been received for Frogtown’s Paso Robles downtown winery and tasting room.  Our address will be 2045 Spring Street, Paso Robles California 93446. 

Frogtown Paso Robles Winery and Tasting Room is “Clos Primavera.”  Why?

What does the word Clos mean?

Googling definition of Clos will result in the following: A Clos is French for a walled-in vineyard.   Strange; a walled-in vineyard?  How many vineyard boundaries are walled-in?  Let’s examine this a little closer.  Way back when (200+ years ago), where was wine produced?  At the vineyard, of course.  At the vineyard, where?  Out in the open air?  No, of course not.  In a compound, many being monastic, at or adjacent to the vineyard.  Perhaps Clos could have also been an abbreviated reference to a monastic enclosure, a cloister.

Ah, if the above speculation is valid, reference to a Clos is starting to make sense. 

Googling definition of winery will result in the following: Merriam-Webster says it is a winemaking establishment.  A specialty structure, wherever located, where wine is produced.  Merriam-Webster, founded in 1828, says the first known use of the word “winery” was in 1882; almost sixty years after its founding.  1882 is not that far back in my mind, especially not “way back when”; so, prior to 1882 the compound in the vineyard where wine is made could not have been referenced as a “winery;” the word did not exist.

In the world of wine, if Clos “just” meant a vineyard what would be the significance or notoriety of such identification?  The most significant reason to reference a Clos is not just the growing of grapes, but the production of wine to be identified on the bottle.

I am not trained in the disciplines of philology and etymology.  Thinking logically and historically, it is my belief, Clos means a “winery”, the compound dedicated to making wine from the grapes exclusively produced from a vineyard.

Over time the significance of identifying or associating a word is sometimes lost or forgotten, or worse, corrupted or ignored, particularly when a more descriptive, better defined, and understood word becomes commonly used. Hello winery, good-by clos.

Today the most identifiable “Clos” wines are found in the Bordeaux region of France and are referred to as Château! In the world of French wine, what does the word Château mean? Is Château just an impressive country house, castle or country estate in France?  Definitely not!  The word Château is a guarantee the wine so named is from the actual Château domain, produced and bottled exclusively from grapes grown at the Château domain.  The wine is a terroir significant wine with its unique identity! 

Sound familiar?

I have been preaching the importance and significance of terroir wines since the founding of Frogtown in 1999.

I think all estate grown, produced and bottled wines in the United States should, by law, be referenced as a Clos wine; an AVA designation does mean a significant viticultural area but does not signify grown, produced and bottled wine.  For clarity and transparency, America needs a more noticeable identifier than the lower part of the back label to signify estate grown, produced and bottled wine.  Why not incorporate into American wine law the historical reference to the name, where wine is always estate grown, produced and bottled.  How does Clos Frogtown sound?

Why use the word Primavera?

Historical and Etymological meaning of primavera:  Italian reference to primavera means in the style of springtime, and Spanish reference to primavera means spring.

A Clos located on Spring Street: is there a better name than Clos Primavera?

Additional reason for the significance of Clos Primavera:

Most of the blends and varietal wines to be made from Grenacha, Carignan, Graciano, Tempranillo, Mourvèdre, Graciano, Teroldego, Sagrantino, Cinsault, and Counoise will have a Rioja and Priorat, Spanish, and Rhone Valley, French influence.  The utilization of the words Clos and Primavera suggest the wines to be sold at Clos Primavera will have such influences. 

Approximately 15% of the wine grapes planted at Frogtown’s Adelaida and Geneseo vineyards are exclusively for Frogtown’s production of proprietary blends and varietal wines made from the above referenced varieties: 

The choice of  these grapes, planted in limited quantities specifically to provide Wine Club Citizens interesting and unique wine offerings replicates and follows the development of Frogtown’s Dahlonega Plateau vineyard; where Tannat, Touriga, Petit Manseng, Sauvignon Gris, Nebbiolo, Chambourcin, and Teroldego, are used to make unique wine club varietal and blended wines and Sangiovese, along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Tannat provide the necessary grapes to make the highly popular 3 Super Tuscan Blends Frogtown calls Audacity, Bravado, and Penchant.

The balance of Adelaida and Geneseo Vineyards, over 85%, are planted to the Bordeaux Varietals, principally Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Sirah and Syrah for sale or production of Frogtown wines. 

Most of Frogtown’s Adelaida grapes are sold for inclusion in My Favorite Neighbor wines. [Please take the opportunity to purchase My Favorite Neighbor wine if the opportunity arises at a wine shop or in a restaurant] Eric Jensen, the visionary behind My Favorite Neighbor Wines, describes each vineyard he chose to source fruit for My Favorite Neighbor Wines.  Eric description of Frogtown Adelaida:

If you look in the dictionary under “Limestone Vineyards” there should be a picture of Frogtown.  Upon entering the gates, you’ll need to put your sunglasses on so the glare from the pure white rocks doesn’t blind you.  This majestic all hillside vineyard delivers views of the entire Adelaida District and Lake Nacimiento, and completely contradicts my perception of Bordeaux varieties growing better in clay soils.

Want a glimpse at Frogtown’s Adelaida Vineyard.

Enter, go to the Menu and click on Vineyards and then scroll till you see Frogtown.

As always, our very best wishes to you, our Citizens, Cydney and Craig


May 2019 Winemaker Notes

Dear Frogtown Citizen:  

What is happening in Frogtown’s Vineyards?

The Georgia Dahlonega Plateau vineyard enjoyed a good bud break and fruit set.

The weather has been very good on the Dahlonega Plateau this late spring; demonstrably dryer than usual going into early summer.  The vines are soaking up the sun and growing.  Frogtown has increased its plantings of Malbec, Chardonnay, Touriga Nacional, Marsanne, and Roussanne by removing most of the Carmenére and  a relatively small portion of the Merlot vines.

Cydney and I got away (escaped) twice in late winter and early spring to Spain, the “Frogtown Way” (don’t recommend this to travelers who do not like to drive, drive and drive, with little rest).  One day flying to, 3 days in Spain, and one day flying back.  Having your own vehicle is essential; not dependent on any form of public transportation  and not constrained as to where one can travel.  These entourages to  Spain’s Rioja, Ribera del Duero (both relatively close to Madrid), and Priorat (relatively close to Barcelona), wine growing regions directly attributed to Frogtown increasing its plantings of Spanish grape varieties at the Adelaida and Geneseo vineyards.  Frogtown also planted or increase its plantings of select French grape varieties in California this Spring. The following identifies the plantings this spring in California:

  • Carignane (Cariñena) Spanish (Priorat and Rioja) and French (Languedoc-Roussillon)
  • and other parts in southern France) red grape that once (not too long ago) was the most planted red grape in France and Spain,
  • Mourvèdre (Mataro) French grape (Rhone Valley) red grape,
  • Grenacha (Grenache) Spanish (Priorat and Rioja) and French (Rhone Valley) red grape,
  • Graciano Spanish (Rioja) red grape,
  • Syrah French (Rhone Valley) red grape,
  • Tempranillo Spanish (Rioja and Ribera del Duero) red grape,
  • Counoise French (Rhone Valley) red grape,
  • Cinsault French (Rhone Valley) red grape

These premium red vinifera wine grape varieties enables Frogtown to make:

  • French styled GSM blends (Grenache, Mourvedra, Syrah including relatively small additions of Counoise and Cinsault)
  • Spanish styled Rioja, Ribera del Duero, and Priorat wines.

Please take a moment and dwell and reflect just what Frogtown has undertaken and what such undertaking means to you, as a Frogtown Citizen.

At the Dahlonega Plateau, AVA, Georgia

Frogtown makes significant red and white wines that are predominately French (Bordeaux, Burgundy, Upper Loire Valley (Sancerre) and South West France (Tannat and Petit Manseng) in Madiran and Jurançon regions), Portuguese (around Porto) and Italian (Tuscany and Piedmont) in origin.

At the Paso Robles AVA’s of Adelaida and Geneseo,

Frogtown will make significant red wines that are French (Rhone Valley) and Spanish (Priorat, Iberia Del Duro, and Rioja in origin).

If my geography is correct, and my knowledge of the various major wine making regions of the world are correct, Frogtown will be delivering to its Citizens an overwhelmingly significant portion of the wine styles grown in the major winemaking regions of the world!!!  That is a special achievement that not many American wineries can replicate.

Paso Robles AVA’s, produce a significant amount of French Rhone styled red and white wines, including GSM blends and southern and northern Rhone white wines.  To a lesser extent, Paso Robles AVA’s produce Spanish Style wines.  With the significant recognition and attention presently given to Priorat wines, and the similarity of growing conditions, I believe more of the Spanish style wines will be made in the Paso Robles AVA’s.

This does not mean Frogtown will abandon its making of Bordeaux styled wines with our California planted Bordeaux varietals. Cabernet Sauvignon is the most planted variety at the Adelaida and Geneseo vineyards. Along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Frogtown has planted the other Bordeaux varietals of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, Carmenére, and Petit Verdot.

Other Items of Note

We are in the process of permitting Frogtown’s California winery and tasting room to be located at 2045 Spring Street (at the intersection of 21st and Spring Street) in downtown Paso Robles, CA.  Frogtown purchased this property consisting of two city lots.

Our Spring Street location is just two blocks north of Paso Market Walk, a mixed-use development now under construction that will deliver residents and seasoned travelers the opportunity to convene, relax, shop, and taste the distinctive flavor of the Central Coast.

Most interesting, Frogtown’s Spring Street location is conditionally zoned for a wine making facility (the whole “works” winery and tasting room).  Although the Paso Market Walk is just two blocks south of our Spring Street location, under the current zoning regulations of Paso Robles, no winery can locate at Paso Market Walk.  The zoning will, however, enable a winery to locate a tasting room at this development, in the same manner as tasting rooms are located in the traditional downtown area of Paso Robles.

Paso Market Walk is presently under construction.  The developers of Paso Market Walk, and Frogtown, are “pioneering” the expansion of the downtown Paso Robles food and wine tasting area beyond the 4 square blocks of what has been traditionally “downtown Paso” (between 12th 13th and 14th – west and east of Spring Street).  These efforts will serve as a gateway or introduction to the traditional down town food and wine experience in Paso Robles.

So far this year wine sales are up, and most significantly, food sales have been very strong.  Late Saturday tastings till 8:00 pm and our dinner service on Friday and Saturdays have been well received.

Discussion of May 2019 White Wine Club Release

All of our 2018 white and rosé wines were bottled prior to March 15, 2019.  These wines included 2018 770, 2018 Marsanne, 2018 Sauvignon Blanc, 2018 Sauvignon Gris, 2018 MRV, 2018 Steel Chardonnay, 2018 Vineaux Blanc, and 2018 Vineaux Rosé.

Over the last 3 years I have modified Frogtown’s white wine protocols, with interesting and most satisfying results.  The 2018 vintage wines are the culmination of this effort.  None of these wines were stored/aged in oak.  Previously, over many vintages, I employed neutral oak barrels as a protocol to soften the texture and, if appropriate, the intensity of flavors of certain characteristics of our white wines.  Use of oak for such purposes is effective.  However, use of oak has its drawbacks.  The placement of wine in oak barrels increases the oxidation of such wine, particularly white wine.   There are wine making protocols to reduce the incidence of such oxidation in barrels.  Principally, SO2 is introduced into the wine.  SO2, while effective, causes additional issues in winemaking.  It is not a win, win protocol.

So, perhaps, not putting white wine in neutral oak is beneficial; but what substitute protocol can be employed to soften texture (aid significantly to mouthfeel) and, if required, to reduce the intensity and other characteristics of white wine, like the sensation of acidity, surrounding flavor and tactile sensation of wine.

Our stainless steel protocols were modified to included very frequent lees stirring, increase use of malolactic fermentation, and early bottling.  This has afforded Frogtown the ability to continue to deliver excellent mouthfeel, adjust other certain characteristics of white wine, and preserve the fresh aromas and tastes of these wines, with minimum of oxidative effects.

Included in this wine club release is the 2018 Frogtown 770.

In 2018, we  additionally tweaked the blending grapes used in this wine by the addition of some Viognier.  This addition of Viognier to Chardonnay, Sauvignon Gris, and Petit Manseng, significantly aided “something” to this unique blend, making this blend better, while recognition of the wine as 770 remains.

This wine is just plain, flat out, terrific.

No prior vintage 770 wine can compare to this wine.  It is a superstar, delivering distinct experience of an intense beginning, “come together” of the blend in the mid pallet, and a long finish that continues for a significant period of time after the wine is swallowed.  I “get” lots of melon, grapefruit, and some honey on the pallet.  The aroma is outstanding, hinting at big flavors.   Remember 5-7 minutes in the freezer after being stored at room temperature.

Probably the show case of the 2018 Frogtown white wines is Sauvignon Gris; not because it can be identified as the best of the best, but due to the fact that this wine demonstrates what Frogtown has accomplished in modifying its white wine protocols.

Consider the nature of Sauvignon Gris grapes/wine?  I have described this wine as Sauvignon Blanc on steroids over the years Frogtown has made this wine.  In past vintages, the intensity of our Sauvignon Gris wines was “muted” (softened), appropriately so, by oak and putting the wine through malolactic fermentation (bacteria converts malolactic acid into lactic acid) at the conclusion of alcohol fermentation (yeast converts sugar into alcohol).  But Sauvignon Gris is easily oxidized.

The softening of the intensity of Sauvignon Gris wines by frequent lees stirring has improved on the softening of the wine without the oxidation resulting from barrel aging.

The 2018 Frogtown Sauvignon Gris reminds me of a Creamsicle® ice cream.  Although I am only familiar with orange creamsicles, the citrus flavors of the 2018 Sauvignon Gris are enveloped in a creamy like tactual mouthfeel which makes these flavors different (better) and distinct than if this phenomenon were not present.

We will be releasing the 2018 Frogtown Sauvignon Gris, as well as the 2018 Frogtown Steel Chardonnay soon!!

All the Best.  Remember to introduce your family and friends to Frogtown wines!!!


As always, our very best wisher, Craig and Cydney

Fall/Winter 2018 Winemaker Notes

Dear Frogtown Citizens:


A lot has occurred since my May 2018 Winemaker Notes.  No Winemaker Notes in September 2018.  Oops!

2018 Harvests at our AVA vineyards – Dahlonega Plateau, Adelaida, and Geneseo

Dahlonega Plateau AVA Georgia vineyard, incredibly a very good harvest, considering all the rain our Dahlonega Plateau vineyard received all throughout the 2018 growing season.

Geneseo AVA California, frost affected harvest; good fruit from vines unaffected by the frost.

Adelaida AVA California, very good harvest; fulfilling the prediction of Eric Jensen of Booker Vineyards, our principal customer, as one of the best Paso Robles vineyards for growing Bordeaux varietals.

California 2018 initial winemaking completed.

Additional 2018 winemaking protocols remain to be accomplished in Georgia.

Frogtown Reserve Labeled Wines

The determination as to whether or not to make a Frogtown Reserve wine is made after significant months of barrel aging. While I may have an inclination (no pun intended) at harvest, a certain new vintage wine is capable of making a Reserve labeled wine, I just “register” such fact in my winemaking notes and wait until the requisite barrel aging occurs.

If my recollection is correct, in total only 12 Frogtown wines have, to date, been classified as Reserve Wines.  Only two Citizen Estate Reserve Wines have been made from grapes harvested by our Citizens in the eight prior Citizen Harvest Days with Craig.

Twelve Reserve Wines is not a meaningful percentage when compared to all the Frogtown labeled wines made over the prior years.

Why such a low percentage?

I am very serious about the quality standard a wine must demonstrate to justify a Frogtown Reserve label; particularly a wine labeled as a Citizens Estate Reserve.  The bar is raised to the highest level for a wine to qualify for Reserve label classification.  The sensory evaluation I employ in determining which wines should be labeled as a Reserve Wine have been proven valid based upon the facts:

  • With the sole exception of vintage Propaganda wines being awarded a Double Gold Medal, all of Frogtown’s Double Gold and Platinum awarded wines have been Reserve Labeled Wines! Even the 2010 Frogtown Bravado, which won a Best of Class for Super Tuscan wines in a major California competition, was “only” awarded a Gold Medal. 
  • Further to the point, I have determined it is not appropriate for a Propaganda labeled wine being additionally classified as a Reserve wine. Why, a vintage labeled Propaganda, is, well Propaganda! No way I am going to attempt to decide that one Propaganda wine should carry the added classification of a Reserve wine, while another bottling of Propaganda is not so classified.
  • Is it possible for a Frogtown proprietary labeled wine to achieve a Double Gold [in addition to Frogtown Propaganda]? Yes, of course. A Frogtown Touché winning a Double Gold Medal would be a very welcomed.
  • Do all Frogtown Reserve Labeled wines win Double Gold Medals? No.

Double Gold Medal competition results specifically related to Reserve label wines, satisfies me there is transparency and ethical clarity in my sensory evaluation of which Frogtown wines should be Reserve Wines.  Yes, Frogtown Reserve labeled wines cost more.  Appropriately so. After 17 years of winemaking, I am very confident in my sensory Reserve Wine evaluations.

Citizens Harvest day with Craig Held September 29, 2018; Should a Focal Point of each Citizens Day with Craig be a the making of a specially labeled wine?

From my perspective, the September 28, 2018, event was the best Citizens Harvest Day with Craig held so far.  Good attendance and excellent “town meeting” discussions.

The Cabernet Sauvignon grapes harvested were the last Cabernet harvested in 2018.  Very ripe. Rewarding harvest. Our vineyard Associates did a great job of keeping the fruit relatively free of damaging rot; worked every day during the preceding week with the three rows of Cabernet fruit in Block D.  This Cabernet Sauvignon harvest was the penultimate harvest this year.  Only the white grape Vidal was harvested after the Cabernet.

The recent Citizens Harvest Day with Craig was limited to only harvesting grapes by Citizens.  All prior Citizens Harvest Days were conducted at the same time a regular Frogtown harvest was being conducted.

Harvesting grapes solely by attending Citizens resulted in a more relaxed and enjoyable harvest affording additional time for town meeting discussions immediately after harvest and after the initial processing of harvested grapes.  Therefore, unless it is imperative (weather conditions, principally) to conduct a “regular” harvest during a Citizens Harvest Day with Craig (CHDWC), Frogtown will only conduct a harvest by our Citizens on each CHDWC.

In the past, the only specifically labeled wine I considered making from grapes harvested at a CHDWC was a Citizens Estate Reserve.

A Frogtown Citizen Estate Reserve made from fruit harvested at a CHDWC, while possible, has not been a focal point of prior CHDWC.

Since only a small percentage of CHDWC harvested fruit has been included in a specifically labeled wine, there was no reason to have as a CHDWC focal point the making of a specifically labeled wine.

OK, got it?

But is there a way of making harvested fruit from each CHDWC into a specifically labeled wine and therefore a focal point of each CHDWC? Yes.

During the recent CHDWC discussions I suggested adding to the focal point of a Citizens Harvest Day with Craig, the making of a “Citizens Harvest Day wine”. [not a Citizens Estate Reserve Wine].  This suggestion was extremely well-received.  I have developed the following criteria for a CHDWC wine:

  • The wine must be a “Frogtown Quality” red wine. After almost 20 years of growing grapes at our Dahlonega Plateau  AVA vineyard, I feel comfortable this requirement should not be difficult to achieve, barring no significant weather event occurs.
  • The wine can, if advisable, be blended with other grapes harvested prior to the CHDWC event, but only if processed by our Citizens at the CHDWC.
  • A sufficient amount of the wine bottled with grapes processed by Participating Citizens at a CHDWC harvest, agree to purchase such wine.
  • The wine will have a label name of “Enabler”; due to the fact Frogtown Citizens “enable” me to accomplish a number of very special “things” in the context of a commercial winemaking operation. Specifically, being able to sell Frogtown wine bottlings of 250 cases or less to a focused customer base. This is a corner stone of the relationship developed with our Citizens.
  • I would like to produce approximately 15 cases of each Enabler labeled wine to be dedicated as a “library wine”.
  • An Enabler vintage bottled wine is not intended to be another label to be offered to Citizens and others upon release.
  • The names of all Citizen’s participating in the respective harvest and purchase of the vintage Enabler wine will be included on each Enabler label.
  • The wine will be produced after barrel aging of approximately 18 months.

With the foregoing in mind, Citizens participating in CHDWC held September 29, 2018 processed the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes harvested by them and Chambourcin grapes harvested by Frogtown the day before.  The resulting wine blend will be approximated 65% Cabernet Sauvignon and 35% Chambourcin.

For those not familiar with Chambourcin, these grapes are characterized as “French/American hybrid grapes”.  We grow two other French/American hybrid grapes at our Dahlonega vineyard, Seyval and Vidal, both white grapes.  Chambourcin is a red grape capable of producing very dark intensive red wines with what can be described as “neutral” red wine flavors.  Neutral meaning a wine that is difficult to separately identify, especially when included in a wine blend.  Has Frogtown included Chambourcin in a wine in the past?  Yes, the Nebbiolo, Teroldego and Chambourcin wine called Priority, which has been extremely well-received by our Citizens.

All of our 2018 attending Citizens agreed to purchase an allocatable equal percentage of wine to be produced under the inaugural Enabler label, estimated at 3 cases per Citizen, at a price of $30.00 a bottle.

This is the format that will be replicated each subsequent CHDWC.  It is reasonable to assume the quantity of wine to be produced under the Enabler label each year should be fairly constant as a result of having a controlled harvest by Citizens only.

Frogtown Citizens Wine Library

At our CHDWC on September 29, 2018 there was one more significant discussion item.  Yep, the Citizens Wine Library!  Never one to avoid a good ribbing, I ventured into this topic with renewed vigor and determination.

First, let me attempt a “there is no defense, defense” for not completing the Citizens Wine Library earlier in what is an incredible 5 years since commencement of this endeavor.

Initially very good process was made in completing a dried-in Citizens Library building, but then very little progress in the ensuing four plus years.  Why? I became preoccupied with other Frogtown projects that were “on my plate” including the following;

  • Expansion of Tasting Room Facilities at our Dahlonega Plateau AVA Winery
  • Development of the Adelaida AVA vineyard in Paso Robles, CA
  • Development of the Geneseo AVA vineyard in Paso Robles, CA
  • Commencement of California Winemaking in Paso Robles, CA
  • Expansion of food service operations at or Dahlonega AVA Winery
  • Continued development of growing and making World Class Wines on the Dahlonega Plateau AVA,

Frogtown as of the end of 2018 has substantially completed all or the above.

Most significantly, continued development in growing and making wine has resulted in Frogtown achieving four consecutive Double Gold Medals for our 2011 Frogtown Propaganda, Inaugural 2011 Frogtown Citizens Estate Reserve, 2013 Kritzer Family Reserve Petit Verdot [all such wines being awarded Double Gold Medals either at the San Francisco International Wine Competition or the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition], and most recently the 2014 Kritzer Family Reserve Nebbiolo achieving a Double Gold Medal at Doug Frost’s invited Jefferson Cup Competition.

All of the foregoing stated matters on my plate were achieved with the one requirement I made to myself upon commencing the Frogtown journey — Craig having active determinative involvement while having fun. 

Cydney and John have compiled and recorded all Library wines all the way back to 2001, our first year of making Dahlonega Plateau wines.

On October 22, 2018, we conducted our first tasting of Library Wines with the tastings of Vintage 2004, 2006, and 2008 Library Wines in our almost completed Citizens Wine Library.

The ultimate, and possibly the most significant vetting of our wines, was the ability of our red wines to age gracefully and mature for many years after initial release. Attending Citizens unanimously gave their imprimatur to these wines by acknowledging the impressive quality of the aged wines enjoyed during the October 2018 Citizens Wine Library pre-opening event.

I am not aware of any world class competition for significantly aged red wines.  If there were such competitions I would enthusiastically enter our Library wines with the expectation of receiving significant imprimaturs from the judges at such competitions.

Remember always, it is easy for any winemaker to state that he or she makes world class wines without the concurrence of others qualified to make such judgments.  It is quite another to back up a winemaker’s quality proclamation by achieving significant number of medals from wine judges and critics, themselves being recognized as world class.

Your Citizens Library has the same beauty and functionality of our other Frogtown building facilities (possibly even more).  It will serve as the back drop and venue for continued long term cellaring of Library wines.  The Library will also serve as a special tasting and hospitality venue dedicated solely for our Citizens use and enjoyment.

What to Look Forward to in 2019 and Beyond in your Citizens Wine Library

  • Putting the final touches necessary to finish the racking, lighting and decoration of the Library.
  • Holding tastings to include up to 12 Citizens at a time who sign up via making reservations at scheduled times on Sundays, to include Tapas food items paired with four different Library cellared wines. The cost of this exclusive Citizen event will be $50.00 per person.
  • Holding business meetings or other gatherings in the Library for up to 12 persons for a facility fee to be determined. A 13.2-foot live edge conference table in the second level of the Library will serve as the venue for such meetings.  Food and wine tastings will also be available for Citizens and their guests in our main hospitality venues.

2018 Vintage White Wines

I have decided to modify the time frame before bottling Frogtown’s Estate white and Rosé wines.

Commencing with the 2018 vintage, Frogtown will bottle its vintage white and Rosé wines sooner than in the past.  Other than a shorter period from harvest to bottling, no other winemaking protocols will be modified.

The shorter time period from harvest to bottling should result in our white wines sensory presentation being “tweaked” with fresher fruit flavors [tweaked meaning not necessary “pronounced”]. Frogtown white wines shall continue be relatively more complex and more full-bodied than what customarily is achieved in the wine industry.

The foregoing early bottling of white wines shall not apply to barrel fermented Chardonnay.  Frogtown commencing with the 2019 vintage, shall again make barrel fermented Chardonnay, which requires 8-10 months of barrel aging.

The following are the 2018 vintage white wines to be bottled:

  • 2018 Frogtown Steel Chardonnay,
  • 2018 Frogtown Viognier,
  • 2018 Frogtown Marsanne,
  • 2018 Frogtown 770,
  • 2018 Frogtown Sauvignon Blanc,
  • 2018 Frogtown Sauvignon Gris,
  • 2018 Frogtown MRV*,
  • 2018 VRM**
  • 2018 Oglethorpe Rosé***, and
  • 2018 Oglethorpe Seyval***


* Our Dahlonega Plateau AVA Estate blend of Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier

** Our California Geneseo AVA Estate blend of Viognier, Roussanne, and Marsanne

*** Unlike Frogtown labeled wines, Oglethorpe labeled wines contain small amounts of residual sugar added immediately before bottling.

Frogtown will bottle a new Rosé which I will call “Citizen Rosé” that will be bottled very early in 2019.  My intent is to make a lighter  “Provençal” style rosé.

Additionally, look for the resumption of bottling Frogtown Cachét, made from 100% late harvested Vidal, and Frogtown Grandeur made from 100% Tannat.  The Cachét and Grandeur will be made and bottled in 375 ml bottles with 2018 vintage fruit and will contain significant amounts of residue sugar similar to ice wines made in Europe and in the Finger Lakes Wine Region.

Cydney and I, along with Louisa, Ted, John and Chris and our expanding hard working Frogtown Tasting Room and Italian Bistro Associates, wish you the best in the New Year.

Visit us often in 2019, take full advantage of your Frogtown Citizenship privileges.



Dear Frogtown Citizen:

What is occurring in Frogtown’s vineyards

Dahlonega Plateau Vineyard:

This growing season has been distinctive. Frogtown experienced a very wet end of winter, a rather dry bud break, and customary on and off rain days for most of May and the beginning of June. The Dahlonega vineyard is just beautiful. We attacked the early stages of vineyard maintenance with gusto and a determination not to get behind the time frame when certain growing stages should be addressed. Early farming, from bud break to berry cluster touching is critical to keep the vineyard relatively free from pathogens and destructive insects. So far so good. Looking for a relatively bountiful harvest. If we get some cooperation from Mother Nature, the quality of the fruit should be very good to excellent.

Dahlonega had 5 probable frost conditions in March and early April. Pleased to report, we had virtually no frost damage; only being slightly affected during the 5th frost event. The winter weather pattern was cold with very little “Indian Summer” days. This resulted in the buds setting themselves for a bountiful and relatively even bud break. Yes, you read correctly, winter cold (but not too cold) is a good prelude for fruitful buds. Although Frogtown experienced rain during flowering, our fruit set is just fine.

From now, throughout the growing season, shoot positioning and shoot trimming will be front and center, including eliminating (cutting off) clusters of fruit. Only a grape or fruit tree farmer will understand why we eliminate up to 30-40 percent of fruit that would otherwise be harvestable. We do this to make what is left more concentrated, riper, and flavorful. Isn’t that what we look for in fruit!!!!

So, the dog days of summer are upon us in Georgia. Let’s all use our collective will power and will us a dry September and October!

Paso Robles, Adelaida and Geneseo Vineyards:

Hopefully this will be the last year of vineyard development for our two Paso Robles vineyards and the cessation of the costs associated with developmental infrastructure.

Expecting at least 50 harvested tons from Adelaida.

Geneseo was adversely affected by a late frost. Yes, Paso Robles, like Dahlonega, is susceptible to frost events. Probably lost 10 tons of fruit at Geneseo. Still expecting 30-40 tons from Geneseo’s third leaf. The maturity stage of third leaf is customarily the first time for harvesting a vineyard. If you remember, I did harvest 10 tons last year on Geneseo’s second leaf.

Winemaking activities in Dahlonega:

Finishing up some 2014 wines and probably half way through bottling the 2015 red wines. There are approximately 600 cases of 2017 white wines that require bottling. Frogtown Estate wines are now slightly “ahead of the normal curve” regarding release date following bottling date. This means many of our red wines will be benefited with extended ageing in the bottle a few months longer before release.

Winemaking activities in Paso Robles:

We will not bottle any red wines made in California this year. We did bottle and release our first Estate Grown California wine, our 2017 VRM (the Viognier, Marsanne, and Roussanne blend we call MRV in Dahlonega). Yes, the 2017 Frogtown VRM is distinctively California, beginning with its 16.5% alcohol and a slight bit of residual sugar. I am gratified the yeast strain Frogtown used in California was strong (super strong) and allowed the production of a 16.5% alcohol wine with such a small amount of residual sugar. Yeast “sign their own death warrant” as they consume sugar in the production of alcohol. As the percentage of alcohol raises yeast begin to get sluggish (woozy) and finally die from the alcohol the yeast produced. My guess is the yeast are relatively “happy” as to the end of their life cycle, or don’t know what is happening to them in a high alcohol wine.

Discussion on growing and making Nebbiolo Wine

Without any hesitation, I knew I wanted to make Nebbiolo the focal point of these Notes. In preparation, I recently re-read what Jancis Robinson wrote about Nebbiolo. Jancis Robinson is better known in Europe than the United States. She is without doubt the most respected wine writer and wine critic of our time. I weighed heavily on Jancis Robinson’s writings in making my variety decision in planting our Dahlonega vineyard. I also derive a connection to Jancis, as she, along with Californian, Linda Murphy wrote American Wines, the authoritative book compiling information on the major wineries in each state. Awarding Frogtown a “super star” classification delighted me and Cydney.

The following discussion has been taken liberally from Jancis at The italicized portions below are my attempt to stress and elaborate on Jancis Robinson’s narrative and to draw parallels to Nebbiolo grapes grown at Frogtown and the Nebbiolo wines made with such grapes.

The heartland for growing Nebbiolo grapes is the north-western part of Italy. The growing and making wine from the Nebbiolo grape is very limited; notwithstanding the Nebbiolo grape is placed in the upper tier of premium wine grapes. Even though Nebbiolo only makes up less than 8% of all the grapes grown in this north-western part of Italy, known as the Piemonte region, this Italian viticulture area grows more Nebbiolo than anywhere else in the world. Stop a moment and think about this statement.

Reflect how rather small is the world’s planting of Nebbiolo and what does the lack of growing Nebbiolo grapes outside of the Piemonte area of Italy mean to the notoriety and availability of Nebbiolo wines.

Many of our Citizens have heard me talk about whether or not a grape vine has legs (distinguished from the wine “legs” clinging to the glass of wine). Legs when used as a descriptor of a grape vine is to identify whether or not (i) the particular grape vine has the ability to be planted in different part of the world and (ii) the wine made from such grape wines can be identified as characteristic of the wines generally made from the specific grape variety.

Nebbiolo is an incredibly fussy variety to grow. It flowers early, ripens late, and can struggle to ripen fully. It also seems to prefer specific hillside locations and clay and silt-based soils.

There is a parallel in soil development when comparing the topography surrounding Frogtown vineyard to the topography surrounding vineyards in the Italian Piemonte. The presents of significant elevation changes and abundant rainfall, produce vineyard soils composed of clay and iron from granitic schist.

Even in its north-westerly region of origin, the Italian Piemonte, Nebbiolo is exceptionally finicky about where it will happily grow and ripen. With only few exceptions, on the Italian Piemonte, Nebbiolo is planted only on south or southwest facing slopes at elevations between 820 and 1500 feet.

Nebbiolo needs particularly careful site selection as it is not only late-ripening but also early flowering, so there is no point in planting it anywhere that might suffer from spring frosts.
Elevations of 800 to 1,500 feet is essential. There is no chance of making good wine from this late-ripening variety if it is not exposed to maximum sunshine. Only south to southwestern facing aspects provide the require degree of sunshine. Nebbiolo needs sufficient warmth to develop the sugars and fruit flavors needed to balance the grape’s naturally high acidity and tannins.

Nebbiolo is one of the first varieties to bud and last variety to ripen with harvest taking place in mid to late October. Nebbiolo is especially adversely affected if wet weather is present during bud break or flowering. While rains during bud break and flowering can affect yield and quantity, rains that occur after veraison will have a detrimental effect on quality. Veraison is the final stage of ripening; when red grapes begin to turn a blueish color, and soften. The most highly rated bottles of Piedmont Nebbiolo tend to come from vintages that had dry weather during September & October.

Growing Nebbiolo requires intensive precision viticulture. The vines are naturally vigorous and need extremely strict de-vigorizing attention in the vineyard if they are not to waste all their energy on sprouting leaves rather than ripening fruit.
Frogtown’s Open-Lyre quadrilateral trellis system (that is the U or V shape you see when looking down a row of vines planted at Frogtown, which forms two vertically trained and separate trellis portions to which support vine shoots and clusters. The Open lyre trellis is very effective in managing the vigor of our Nebbiolo (and our other) vines. Additionally, Most of Frogtown’s Nebbiolo is grown on a small area of the vineyard in very poor (not fertile) granitic sandy mica gneiss and schist soils.

While the foregoing is especially true for Nebbiolo, our experience at Frogtown is the same for a number of our other varietals, i.e. early season rains adversely affect bud break, fruit set and late season rains in September and October cause quality issues.

Frogtown grows its Nebbiolo at approximately 1600 feet on southerly to southwesterly facing slopes.

The scarcity of Nebbiolo cultivation, and the corresponding limited supply of good Nebbiolo wine is the reason why most wine drinkers have never or only limitedly experienced tasting Nebbiolo wines. Even if a person is offered the opportunity to select a premium quality Nebbiolo wine, many would not take advantage of such opportunity. Most famously, Nebbiolo is the grape that goes into Barolo and Barbaresco wines, two of the world’s most revered (and more expensive) wines. If you have ever bought a Barolo or Barbaresco in a wine shop or in a restaurant, you can attest to the expense of good Nebbiolo wines.

What does Nebbiolo, at its best, taste like?

Perhaps the most wonderful thing about Nebbiolo is its perfume. The wine is typically intensely aromatic, developing the most extraordinarily haunting bouquet in which, roses, autumn undergrowth, violets and tar can often be found more extensively than any other wine made from a different red grape variety. On the palate, the wine is typically high in acidity and tannic.

Despite its tannic structure, the wine’s fruity flavors of cherry and raspberries, always seem to shine through. Nebbiolo is known for producing powerful, and mercilessly tannic wines while sometimes looking as pale as Pinot Noir.

Nebbiolo is considered to be a “terroir-expressive” variety. This means that Nebbiolo wines exhibit more of the earth, soil, and climate characteristics of a specific viticulture area versus other wines made from different grapes.

One of the neat “things” about Frogtown’s Nebbiolo is the fact that the aroma, and taste of our Nebbiolo IS reminiscent of the Italian home grown Nebbiolo.

2014 Frogtown Reserve Nebbiolo

Today’s winemaking offers a number of fermentation products and protocols that assist in extracting and stabilizing the wine color and managing tannins. These products and protocols are particularly helpful in making Nebbiolo wines. Nebbiolo grapes lack stable anthocyanins (water-soluble pigments) resulting in many Nebbiolo wines lacking the appearance of rich deep colors. Additionally, the relatively high acidity in Nebbiolo wines makes the management of the high tannin level in Nebbiolo wines critically important.

Since my first year of making wine, I have experimented with ways to stabilize the color of Frogtown wines and create the smooth, pleasurable and supple mouthfeel we all expect in a Frogtown wine. Such winemaking protocols and fermentation aids have greatly assisted in the production of the 2014 Frogtown Reserve Nebbiolo. So, we can say with confidence Frogtown vineyard grows significant Nebbiolo grapes and Frogtown’s winemaking practices aid favorably in the making of Nebbiolo wines.

After spending a considerable time with the 100% varietal version of the 2014 Nebbiolo, I decided to blend a relatively small amount of 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon wine into the final version The Reserve Nebbiolo. The 100% Nebbiolo was lighter and had traces of the brownish-orange meniscus color Nebbiolo can exhibit in the glass. The small percentage turned out to be 10%. I really liked the color affect the Cabernet Sauvignon had on the 2014 Reserve Nebbiolo; it added an additional color element to the stabilize color of our 2014 Nebbiolo wine (after 3 years in barrel). I also liked what the Cabernet Sauvignon added to the mouthfeel of the Nebbiolo.

This release of our fist varietal Nebbiolo spent three years in oak imparting excellent oak integration. The traditional raspberry and cherry flavor of a Nebbiolo wine, and especially the violet aroma of Nebbiolo are very noticeable in this wine. Is this a young wine that will improve with additional bottle age? Yes. No different than most Frogtown red wines on release. It is very enjoyable now, after only 5 months of bottle age. Enjoy a bottle of the 2014 Reserve Nebbiolo now and lay a bottle down for aging. When you open a bottle of this Reserve Nebbiolo, do so at a special time. It is a wine that should be savored rather than just drunk at any time or place.

2017 Frogtown VRM, Geneseo, Paso Robles, AVA, Estate

I did give you some hint of the 2017 Frogtown VRM when I stated above, the 2017 Frogtown VRM is distinctively California, beginning with its 16.5% alcohol and a slight bit of residual sugar. The 2017 growing season in Paso Robles was affected by a number of days when temperatures exceeded 105 degrees F. Like 112-114 degrees. Considerably hot. All over Paso Robles, grapes shriveled on the vine and became very dehydrated. The Marsanne, Roussanne, and Viognier grapes at Geneseo were not an exception. At harvest, these grapes showed the effect of this weather pattern. The result was a high alcohol wine. But looking beyond the alcohol, the 2017 Frogtown VRM is distinctive in the “somewhat” over the top flavors and heavy character of this wine. To say big, is not big enough. Better described as huge. Huge in flavor, huge in intensity, huge mouthfeel. But additionally, to identify this wine only as “huge” is not a complete description. As large as this wine is in the mouth, it still has a remarkable integration of oak and acidity. The acidity in particular enables this wine to be enjoyed with food. I would suggest a very flavorful grilled fish or a mild creamy cheese. Will Frogtown produce a 16.5% alcohol wine again? Am I proud of this wine? Yes, to both questions. A number of winemakers in Paso have tasted this wine and commented on its distinctiveness and quality. An interesting tasting experience would be tasting a bottle of the 2015 Frogtown MRV at the same time as tasting a bottle of this 2017 Frogtown VRM.

2014 Frogtown Penchant

We are releasing our 2014 Frogtown Penchant. This is the second bottling of a Super Tuscan blend of Sangiovese and Merlot. Penchant was established as a Frogtown red blend in response to requests by Citizens for a red wine that is less full-bodied. My response then and now is Penchant. A red wine that can be characterized as the “lightest” of all Frogtown red blends; closer to a varietal Sangiovese with the added complexity of adding Merlot. I find the 2014 Penchant a little less full-bodied than the 2011; possessing noticeable oak integration and complexity with a relative fruity beginning palate and classic smooth mouthfeel. What is lovely in this wine is the finish. It is long but lighter and more refreshing than any other Frogtown red wine blend. You have light red fruit typical of cherry and some strawberry, close to our varietal Sangiovese with more depth. This wine would be lovely with a filet mignon steak cooked rare to medium rare.

Wines included in the February Wine Club Release

Georgia Estate Wine Club Members

Frogtown released the following white wines from our Dahlonega Plateau vineyard to our White Wine Club Citizens in this May 2018 Shipment: 2015 Frogtown Marsanne, 2015 Frogtown Inclination and 2015 Frogtown Viognier. The Red wines released from the Dahlonega Plateau vineyard to our Red Wine Club Citizens are 2014 Frogtown Reserve Nebbiolo, 2014 Frogtown Penchant, and Frogtown Applause, Third Standing Ovation. Our mixed Red and White Georgia Estate Wine Club Citizens received a bottle of 2015 Marsanne in place of the Applause, TSO.

Extended Wine Club Members

Frogtown released the above indicated Estate Georgia wines, dependent on the Wine Club classification of each Extended Member. Additionally, the California Red wines released to our Extended Cub Members are the 2012 West Coast, East Cost Convergence, the 2014 West Coast, East Coast Convergence, and the 2014 West Coast, East Coast Coax; with the mixed white and red extended Wine Club Members receiving the 2017 Frogtown VRM in place of the 2102 West Coast, East Coast Convergence.
Good health to all, best wishes as always, Cydney and Craig


Dear Frogtown Citizen:

Just Saying

If you have not visited Frogtown since the beginning of February 2018, this is your heads-up to visit and experience our expanded food offerings and new table service format for lunches. Our signature panni’s have never been better. We now serve:

  • Home-made potato chips with our panni’s, in contrast with our previously served commercial packaged chips.
  • Expanded offerings of piadini’s (a flat-bread topped with pizza-like condiments and salad. Piadini’s are not made with pizza dough.
  • And, most significantly, now offering individual size pizza served with our signature house salad.
  • We are also offering daily specials. You know like a restaurant!

On April 14, 2018, Frogtown will commence offering Italian Bistro dinners on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings from 5:00 pm to 8:30 pm. This dining experience is in addition to our lunches and Sunday Brunch.

Tastings will only be available at the tasting room bars during usual hours – until 5:00 pm on Fridays and Sundays and 6:00 pm on Saturdays. Our extended hours are solely for dinning.

Our desire is to establish a different dining experience at Frogtown: enjoyment of great food and wine without the hustle and bustle of tasting room activities. We want our Citizens to sit and relax and enjoy their early evenings at Frogtown. Early Spring, Summer and Fall evenings at Frogtown viewing the settling sun overlooking our vineyards, perfect!
Table service especially applies for dinner; a Frogtown Associate will take your orders and check you out at your table. You will be delighted by our selections of Pizza, Calzone, Cannelloni, Lasagna, and other pasta dishes, signature Onion Soup, Charcuterie and Cheeses, various salads, and more.

Our Italian Bistro dinners will be a casual dinner format especially convenient for concluding a day of tasting wine at Frogtown or other surrounding wineries (we always like our Citizens to sample other wines; as one of Frogtown’s slogans is “taste the difference”).

Never a bad idea to reinforce how special Frogtown’s 100% estate-grown wines are in comparison to other wines, whether you are in North Georgia or in Northern California (heard of Napa or Sonoma?) or the Central Coast of California (thumbs up for Paso Robles!).

We have accomplished our expansion of food offerings with fresh proofed pizza dough, fresh made pasta, and house cured meats and other condiments. Cans or jars, what are they? Yeah you know, food the Frogtown Way, always made from scratch and fresh.

You should find it interesting that Cydney and I, last year, attended the National Pizza Convention in Las Vegas, to further our education about what “others” do in preparing and serving pizza. We were amazed and disappointed with the pizza samplings at this Convention. In these days of the emphasizing how quickly, efficiently, and economically food preparation can (but should not) be made, we were astonished to discover the predominance of pre-baked pizza crusts that are relied upon by restaurants in this Country. These crusts are usually frozen pre-baked pizza crusts which are, at best, ordinary and mediocre that do little to enhance the taste and enjoyment of interesting pizza toppings.

If you concentrate on the crust while eating pizza, you will be able to identify these pre-baked frozen pizza crusts; flat, ordinary in appearance, little flavor, and most significantly, the condiments sought of “lay on top” of the crust and do not become a part of, or integrated with, the crust.

Only pizza made with fresh proofed pizza dough can deliver the distinct integration of pizza dough and condiment topping baked together. Most restaurants can and do have interesting condiment toppings but lack the essential fresh proofed pizza dough experience.

I am not talking about your local, usually hole in the wall, pizzerias (these pizza establishments that make pizza the right way focusing on fresh proofed dough and usually make nothing but, or predominately only, pizza or pizza dough food offerings).

The restaurants that I am calling out are usually casual food establishments that serve pizza in addition to a number of other food items.

Citizens simply should not let their family and friends eat pizza made with pre-baked crusts. Yuck!!!

Remember: Mark your Calendars

Where: Frogtown Italian Bistro Dinners, at Dahlonega Winery Estate,

When: 5:00 – 8:30 pm, commencing April 14, 2018, and continuing each Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, thereafter.

Reservations are not required but greatly appreciated. Think about celebrating a special event for dinner; we may even be able to make some special food offerings with advanced notice and well-attended special event dinner parties.

Great chef driven, made from scratch, food at a reasonable price, along with a fabulous bottle of Frogtown Estate Wine without restaurant mark-up. Does not get better than that. Bring your family and friends, let them “taste the difference” in our wines and food offerings. Please visit often and do not forget our Sunday Brunch Offerings.

What is occurring in Frogtown’s vineyards?


Cydney and I moved from South Florida to Georgia in the winter of 1973, immediately after the great ice storm of that year. Well, OK North Georgia is colder than South Florida, but where is the sun? In fact, I think we did not see the sun at all until April of 1974. Did we think about moving back to South Florida; no, it is better stated: did a day go by during our first Georgia winter that we did not think about moving back to South Florida. Grey skies, cold days, colder nights, lots of rain, welcome to winter in North Georgia!

Stayed, we did. Practiced law and manufactured infants and toddlers clothing, we did. Make wine and operate a hospitality business in North Georgia, we do.

This winter in Dahlonega, though not as severe as the winter of 1973/1974, reminds me of our first winter in North Georgia. It has been a rather cold, grey winter, with lots of rain.

The pundits tell us grape growers cold weather is good for grape vines so long as the low temperatures do not approach single digits for a prolonged period of time. Prolonged single digit cold weather in North Georgia simply does not occur. Prolonged rain in the winter is generally not a problem with the vines, but is a problem with farming. Farming activities on steep slopes in raining conditions does make winter pruning, tractor activity (on slippery slopes), tearing up grass with tractor tires, and compaction of wet soils, a farming nightmare. Like a lot of our farming challenges of growing premium wine grapes on the Dahlonega Plateau, we simply must, out of necessity, confront such winter conditions and make things happen as professionally as possible.

Simply stated, this winter in North Georgia can be described as rainier and colder than what we have experienced in a rather long time.

Paso Robles:

The winter months commenced with virtually no rain and rather warm temperatures, during the day and at night. In the last three-weeks the temperatures have fallen and some rains have occurred; not rain like Georgia, of course, but it is welcome and a blessing that Paso Robles has received some rain. Winter rain in Paso Robles, heavenly for grape vines. More rain is forecasted for the rest of March.

Unlike Georgia, this winter in Paso Robles has been good for farming, but the relatively dry warm winter is not really good for the vines. Warm winter temperatures promote early bud break, which in turn puts the grape vines at risk for frost damage.

Winemaking activities in Dahlonega:

Some differences to what wines I initially thought would be made as reported in the December 2017 Winemakers Notes. In winemaking, as in wine growing, everything is subject to change.

We have bottled the following Frogtown red wines in January and February 2018:

2014 Merger, Second Acquisition,
2014 Citizens Estate Reserve,
2014 Propaganda,
2014 Nebbiolo Family Reserve,
2014 Touriga Family Reserve,
2015 Audacity, and
2015 Sangiovese.

These wines, along with the 2014 Bravado, previously released, the 2014 Penchant, soon to be released, and the 2014 Touché, will be included in Wine Club releases over the next year.

Question: Does Frogtown have a red wine from its 2014 and 2015 vintage that will continue the string of Double Gold Medals in San Francisco received in the prior three years? Will it be four years in a row? Mums the word from me, don’t want to jinx any of these wines.

Winemaking activities in Paso Robles:

We have bottled our first 100% Estate wine from California. A Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier blend from our Geneseo Vineyard. Let’s call this wine MRV Geneseo, for lack of a better name. Yum, big white wine, 16% alcohol with gobs and gobs of Marsanne, Roussanne, and Viognier well integrated flavors of Pear, Apple, Melon, Hazel Nuts and Almonds; and an intense aroma of flowers on the nose. Made in 100% new French oak coopered especially for white wine; this wine also enjoys a sensation of well integrated oak on the palate, smooth mouthfeel, and a mineral finish. Wow, similar to Frogtown Dahlonega MRV, with its light golden hues, only much more intense. This wine should be released in the May 2018 Shipment to our Extended Mixed Red and White Wine Citizens. Only 55 cases made. There should be some additional cases available for you our Red Wine Club Extended Members. If ever a wine named MRV was a red wine drinker’s white wine, this 100% estate California wine is IT.

By the May 2019 Shipment, the Extended California Wine Club Citizens, Red Wine and Mixed Red and White Wine Citizens should be receiving 100% Estate Grown Wines, Red and White, on a continuing basis, as the California vineyards will be more developed and some of 2017 reds now in barrel should be ready for bottling and release. The California protocols for barrel aging red wines are less (shorter) than the two to three years oak aging for our Georgia wines.

Wines included in the February Wine Club Release:

Frogtown released the following white wines from our Dahlonega Plateau vineyard to our White Wine Club Citizens in this February 2018 Shipment: 2015 Viognier, 2015 Inclination and 2015 MRV. The Red wines released from the Dahlonega Plateau vineyard to our Red Wine Club Citizens are Shotgun 4th Reload, Merger First Acquisition, and 2014 Frogtown Bravado. Our mixed Red and White Wine Club Citizens received a bottle of 2015 Inclination in place of the Shotgun 4th Reload.

I have discussed the 2015 Viognier, 2015 Inclination and 2015 MRV in prior Wine Maker Notes. 2015 was a great vintage for white wines. Above I have provided information on the 2017 MRV from our Geneseo, Paso Robles vineyard. It is very interesting that the characteristics of the 2015 Frogtown MRV and the 2017 Geneseo MRV are very similar; the Paso Robles MRV being more concentrated with higher alcohols. Lovely flower nose, pear, melon, and apple on the palate and a very mineral finish. Shotgun, 4th Reload won a Gold Medal at the Critics Challenge in 2017 and is somewhat a throwback to earlier bottlings of this unique Tannat, Touriga Nacional wine. This wine is always very big and full bodied with a surprising elegant flowery nose. One does not expect this type of aroma on the nose with such a dark fruit full-bodied wine. Shotgun goes very well with fatty meats, and I like this wine with a spicy bowl of beef chili, the acid level of the wine is just right to cleanse the big flavors of the Chili from your palate so you can taste and continue to enjoy the chili flavors again, and again. The 2014 Bravado is just plain delicious and the third time we bottled this Sangiovese/Tannat centric Super Tuscan style wine. Does any winery anywhere bottle such a unique big, bold Super Tuscan? Enjoy!

Craig and Cydney


Dear Frogtown Citizen:

Just Saying

In this “Just Saying” portion of my Winemaker Notes, a very special, well-deserved shout-out to:

Louisa, Ted, Chris, John, and Natascha – our full-time hospitality Associates who have contributed so much to Frogtown in a relatively short period of time.

Ted and Louisa came to Frogtown with significant experience and knowledge in many phases of today’s wine industry, including as educators and providers of superior service and wonderful hospitality experiences to our customers.  Louisa and Ted are also leading Frogtown’s new face in selling Frogtown made wines to restaurants and wine shops in metropolitan Atlanta and North Georgia.  As this wholesale segment of our business becomes more established, Frogtown will provide a list of restaurants and wine shops where you can purchase our wines.

Chris is Frogtown’s Executive Chef and a significant part in assisting Cydney in Frogtown providing “chef-driven, creative cuisine” to our dinners and events.  Chris will be employing his talents in expanding Frogtown’s food service to creating an Italian Bistro experience at Frogtown in our soon to commence dinners to be offered on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings from 6:00pm to 8:30pm.

Natascha and John are relatively new to the wine business.  John has been providing services at our tasting bar and assisting me in the vineyard.  Natascha will serve as Frogtown’s hostess during the very busy times on Saturdays and is Cydney’s assistant in the weddings and events part of our business.  Natascha is additionally providing assistance to Cydney in administrative functions, particularly assisting you, our Citizens, in Wine Club matters.

On your next visit to Frogtown please get to know Louisa, Ted, Natascha, and John and even more important assist Louisa, Ted, Natasha, and John to get to know you!

2017, A Significant Year in Expanding Frogtown’s Business

A lot has occurred in 2017 establishing Frogtown as an East Coast AND a West Coast Winery, offering estate grown and made wines from significantly different terroirs.

Frogtown Citizens are now able to receive Wine Club releases from our Dahlonega Estate vineyards and wines containing California grown wine grapes.  Soon our California grown segment of our Wine Club Releases shall also be exclusively Estate grown wines from our Adelaida and Geneseo vineyard, to be labeled “Grown, Produced, and Bottled,” as our Estate grown wines from Georgia are labeled.

In 2017, Frogtown commenced California wine making from grapes grown at our Estate Adelaida and Geneseo vineyards.  Frogtown has established what is referred to as an “Alternating Proprietorship” under applicable Federal and State of California law at Alta Colina Winery, a winery estate growing grapes in the Adelaida Sub-AVA of Paso Robles.  Alta Colina, is located at 2825 Adelaida Road, Paso Robles, California and is approximately 1,500 feet “straight as the crow flies” from Frogtown’s Adelaida vineyard.

An Alternating Proprietorship allows Frogtown to make and label California grown Estate wine under the Sub-AVAs of Adelaida and Geneseo in the Paso Robles, AVA.  An Alternating Proprietorship is a written document providing for shared portions and dedicated portions of a Host Winery to two or more wineries.  Alta Colina is the Host Winery and Frogtown is the Alternating Proprietor Winery.

If you are in Paso Robles, California drop by and say Hi to the good folks at Alta Colina and enjoy their extremely well-made Estate grown premium wines.   Frogtown and Alta Colina share many of the same philosophies about the significance of terroir gown and made wines.

Frogtown shall not maintain a tasting room at the Alta Colina Winery.  In the near future, it is our plan to open up either a tasting room or a small winery/tasting room at Frogtown’s Geneseo property located at 4501 Highway 46 East, Paso Robles California 93446.

Upon the opening of a California tasting room, Frogtown will establish a “California based” Wine Club to visitors of this California tasting room; offering Estate grown and made Paso Robles AVA wines from our Adelaida Sub-AVA and our Geneseo Sub-AVA Estate vineyards AND, and assisting our California Wine Club Citizens in obtaining Wine Club Releases of our Estate wines grown at our Dahlonega Plateau AVA vineyard made at our Dahlonega, Georgia winery.

The opening of a California tasting room is the final segment of Cydney’s and my vision of winegrowing and winemaking in two entirely different and premiere vinicultural areas located on the separate coasts of the United States.  Unique to the wine industry, our Georgia and California Citizens will be able to purchase and enjoy Frogtown wines grown and made from Estate grown grapes in Georgia and California.

Dahlonega Vineyard Update

In 2014 and in the immediate preceding years, white wine grape production at Frogtown was trending lower.

White wine grape production in 2015 increased over 2013 and 2014 production; but one year does not reverse a “trend”.

I look back at the white wine vintage 2015 with great fondness:  more than adequate in quantity and wonderful in quality.  Some of our best white wines Frogtown produced came from the 2015 harvest; the Chardonnay, Roussanne, MRV, and Sauvignon Blanc made from 2015 grapes are testaments to the quality of this white wine vintage.

In 2015, acting upon reduced white grape vine production, I remove some red wine grape vines and replanted, in the place of such removed vines, over 5 acres of Chardonnay, Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc, and Marsanne grape vines.  I had no reason to suspect at the beginning of the 2015 vintage, that Mother Nature was about to cause a severe drought at our Dahlonega vineyard commencing in late July of 2015 and continuing into the early winter months.  This drought did not harm vines which were planted before 2015, but severely adversely affected the white wine grape vines planted in 2015.  We experienced at 70% loss of these newly planted vines.

In 2016, Frogtown replanted the vines that were lost in 2015.  These new plantings of white wine grape vines will produce white wine grapes for the 2018 vintage, a year later than planned.

The 2016, and 2017 vintages reverted to the negative production trend Frogtown experienced prior to the 2015 vintage.

Reduced harvest of white wine grapes in 2016 and 2017 will result in diminished white wine choices our Citizens will have available to them in 2018.  A few of the white wines Frogtown has produced over the years will not be available.

Paso Robles Vineyards.  Frogtown continued to experience adequate development of its Adelaida and Geneseo vineyards. In addition to selling grapes from our Adelaida vineyard, Frogtown harvested over 10 tons of grapes for its own wine production in 2017 principally from the Geneseo vineyard.

Expect Some Interesting Red Wines from the 2014 Vintage at Dahlonega.

The remaining red wine barrels from the 2014 vintage are being processed (blended and bottled) as I write these Notes into some interesting red wine offerings. Within the next six months the following wines will available for release to our Citizens:

  • Norton (“reserve” quality?)
  • first ever Nebbiolo varietal bottling
  • first ever Teroldego varietal bottling
  • our second ever Touriga varietal bottling
  • 2014 version of Propaganda
  • 2014 version of Merger
  • Only our second Citizen’s Estate Wine

When added to the 2014 Touché, 2014 Bravado, 2014 Penchant, Shotgun, Fourth Reload and Applause, Third Standing Ovation (both containing substantial amounts of 2014 vintage wine) bottled earlier this year, the 2014 red wine vintage, in number of cases will be approximately the same as the 2013 red vintage wines.

At this time, I would expect the only 2014 red wine to be labeled as a reserve wine will be the 2014 Citizens Estate and that wine will be labeled as a varietal Cabernet Sauvignon containing principally Cabernet Sauvignon, harvested by Citizens on the 2014 harvest day with Craig, and some Malbec.  I am very impressed with the quality of the 2014 Norton, a non-vinifera wine.  At this time, I am not prepared to say that the 2014 Norton will be a reserve labeled wine.  If we do put a reserve designation on the 2014 Norton, it will be the first non-vinifera wine ever produced with a reserve designation.  The genus vinifera is the scientific name for the world’s most recognized wine grape varieties (all but 4 of the 23 separate varieties planted at Frogtown are vinifera vines).

In comparing the quality of the 2014 vintage to the 2013 vintage, don’t be misled by the fact that the 2013 vintage comprised three red wines labeled as reserve.

Since 2004, our first Reserve labeled wine, with the sole exception of the 2011 Citizens Estate Reserve, all of the Frogtown Reserve labeled wines have been varietal labeled vinifera wines (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Tannat, Sangiovese, and Petit Verdot).   Many of such varietal labeled wines containing 100% of the variety referenced on the label.  Why is this so?

Frogtown is not in the business of making reserve varietal wines at the expense of the quality of its proprietary red blends in any vintage.  There is no such “thing” as a Reserve Propaganda, Reserve Touché, or a Reserve Bravado, for example.  Every vintage has its own unique character and possibilities which are revealed and confirmed when the vintage wines are ready to be bottled.

Simply, the possibilities were present in 2013 for allocating reserve quality grapes to Reserve varietal labeled wines without affecting the quality of the 2013 proprietary label wines produced.  The same possibilities did not exist in the 2014 vintage.

I am confident our Citizens will be excited about this 2014 vintage in terms of both quality and uniqueness achieved.

Wines included in the December Wine Club Release.

Frogtown released the following white wines from our Dahlonega Plateau vineyard: 2015 Frogtown Vineaux Blanc, 2015 Frogtown Marsanne and 2015 Frogtown 770.      The Red wines released from the Dahlonega Plateau vineyard were 2011 Frogtown Propaganda, 2013 Frogtown Propaganda and 2013 Frogtown Touché.

I hope our Citizens are as happy to receive a vertical bottling of Propaganda as Cydney and I am to be able to send this form of Wine Club Release.  This vertical bottling release follows the vertical bottling release of the 2011 and 2014 bottlings of Bravado.  These vertical Wine Club releases are special; principally resulting from the fact Frogtown made more than 550 cases of the 2011 Propaganda and 475 cases of the 2011 Bravado.  2011 shall forever be remembered for (i) the quality of the wines, including 2 Double Gold Medals awarded to 2011 vintage wines in San Francisco and (ii) the number of cases of Propaganda, Bravado, Audacity, Penchant, Merger and Touché proprietary bottlings in 2011.  Also, noteworthy is the fact that the only reserve labeled wine made from the 2011 harvest was the magnificent 2011 Citizens Estate Reserve.  Please keep this point in mind and re-read the discussion above on the comparison of 2014 vintage verses the 2013 vintage red wines.  So, one of the best vintages ever at Frogtown had only one Reserve labeled wine; such wine being a Citizens Estate Reserve, the only bottling I undertake with the expectation of a resulting reserve wine.

The California Extension wines released were the 2012 Frogtown Compulsion, 2012 Frogtown Convergence, and the 2014 Frogtown Coax.  Pronounced like the word “coax” when used to refer to a product being skillfully and gently enticed, lured, persuaded and cajoled into something, yes, something like a bottle of wine!

In 2014, I purchased some Merlot and Petite Sirah grapes from the Dry Creek AVA in Sonoma County, California.  This was and is the last time Frogtown will purchase wine grapes from California from another grower, as Frogtown commenced growing estate wine grapes at its Adelaida vineyard in 2014.

I have always enjoyed well-made Petite Sirah wine.  There are many Petite Sirah wines that are “over the top” and present too much of this very spicy grape into what can be classified as a California fruit bomb.

In my view, Petite Sirah is a bigger, spicier Syrah grape.  Perhaps that is how the grape Durif became to be called “Petite Sirah” in the U. S.

I learned a lot about Petite Sirah in 2014.  Both Petite Sirah and Syrah have a common historical perspective by moving from a disregarded vinifera wine grape, when speaking of premium wines, to acceptance and even exaltation.  The word exalt is a powerful word meaning to elevate, raise in rank, power, and praise, and even to glorify.

Petite Sirah is indeed powerful and can deliver extremely lovely wines when made into a varietal labeled wine or blended with other compatible wine grapes.  In a blend, the Petite Sirah can be an overwhelming blending partner.  If that is what is intended, like the 2014 Coax, then all is well.  However, if a winemaker is intending to add some depth and character to a varietal labeled Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese, etc., Petite Sirah is not the correct or preferred blending partner.  Petite Sirah is just to bold and too distinctive in character.  Syrah, or a number of other grapes would do the job much better without the tendency to “take over” the blend.  Do the grape varieties like Tannat, Touriga Nacional, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Carmenére come to your mind as a Frogtown Citizen?

The 2016 Coax is a very, very good intense example of a blend containing a significant amount of Petite Sirah with Merlot as its major blending partner.

2014 Coax has been well received by those Citizens I have spoken to at the Winery.

I am looking forward to transitioning from California grapes, grown by other farmers, blended in our very successful East Coast, West Coast wine offerings to 100% estate grown, produced, and bottled California wines from our Adelaida and Geneseo California vineyards.

Wishing all our Citizens a healthy and prosperous New Year,

Craig and Cydney


Craig Kritzer, Winemaker

Dear Frogtown Citizen:


For those of our Citizens who have not heard, Nettie has passed away. I think about Nettie today the same as I have since the first time Cydney and I met Nettie when she was a real estate broker; years before Nettie spent hours and hours at Frogtown. Nettie was a gracious Southern lady with a very pleasant reserved “Mona Lisa type smile”, an unending desire to please, and a dedicated friend.

Nettie’s domain was primarily Helen. With Nettie’s passing a void has been created at Frogtown resulting in Cydney and I deciding to close the Helen Tasting Room.

Just Saying

Interesting, I am asked the same question in Dahlonega and Paso Robles. Are you moving to California? I wish I had a clever response. I have tried to think of one. It is a serious and valid question, whether asked in Georgia or California. No, no, and no. To me, such response is definitive, unambiguous, truthful, and clear. I am sure, however, there is someone thinking: “By NO do you mean …………………….”
Frogtown Dahlonega Plateau Vineyard.

Since the February Winemaker Notes the weather patterns at Frogtown Dahlonega should be describes as:

-Rather non-descript winter.

-Severe Frost at the end of March that, but for the dew point staying at least two points below the ambient temperature, could have been devastating. Parts of the vineyard did get down to 28 Degrees. Not knowing Frogtown would beneficially experience the unusual low dew points through the early morning hours, we prepared as if it were a do or die situation, including flying two helicopters and establishing and maintaining probably the most fires ever throughout the evening and into daybreak. Costly? You bet, but what else is new.

– A pleasant, relatively dry spring. Thank you. Thank you. Who (is) (are) you?

OK, Just what is going on in California?

Frogtown’s first vineyard is in the Adelaida Sub-AVA region of the Paso Robles American Viticulture Area (that is why we call this vineyard Frogtown Adelaida) is doing very nicely. The major event has been vine training. I won’t bore you with the technicalities of vine training (did I hear a sigh of relief?), but it is going well. Frogtown will have some fruit this year, Frogtown Adelaide’s third leaf (the term describing the period after the second anniversary of planting when the vineyard’s first harvest usually occurs). In 2014 we planted 30,000 of the 49,500 vines planted at Frogtown Adelaida. What should be done with this third leaf fruit? One of the first questions asked by a potential customer is how much fruit do you have by variety planted? Problem, almost impossible to estimate with any certainty how much fruit will be harvested on third leaf. So, should we sell all the fruit; sell part of the fruit and make Frogtown Adelaida wine with the remaining fruit? I haven’t decided. Stay tuned.

Frogtown’s second vineyard is in the Estrella Sub-AVA region of the Paso Robles AVA. You guess correctly. We call this second vineyard Frogtown Estrella. Wow, turn the clock back to 1999 when Cydney and I planted the first 10,000 vines at Frogtown Dahlonega Plateau. I used a vineyard development company to direct the development of Frogtown Adelaida. I did, of course, make all the planting decisions, but did not direct the installation of the infrastructure; as such, I could have been characterized as an absentee owner at Frogtown’s Adelaida plantings. Not my usual MO.

I decided to be active in directing all the elements of the redevelopment and replanting of Frogtown Estrella. Such plantings should amount to about 13.5 acres totaling more than 30,000 vines. My active involvement is like turning the clock and calendar back to 1999 in Georgia at the Dahlonega vineyard. Good to be in the saddle again, although not as much physical assistance from me this time out. It has been seventeen years since we commenced the Dahlonega planting. Really?
So active is active. I have spent three months in California since January first of this year. It got real OLD staying in a hotel. Also to be fair to my daughter Jordan and her family, I did not want to be a full-time boarder at her house. So how about a residence at Adelaida? Due to the steep inclines and road access to Frogtown Adelaida, permitting a house at this vineyard would be extremely challenging and could take up to two years. This is California, folks. Buy “something” away from the vineyard in Paso Robles? Nah, falling out of bed in the vineyard is too special! So, what to do? I took a page out of our move from Buckhead to Dahlonega. Seventeen years ago, I moved Cydney (aka, “Buckhead Betty”) from, well a big house, to a doublewide trailer (oops, not politically correct, sorry, a manufactured home) at the Frogtown Dahlonega vineyard. OK so we did it before and we can do it again. Put a double wide at Adelaida? Not so fast, as a double wide is a permanent establishment of a residence subject to most of the permits required in San Luis Obispo County, to a custom home. Consequently, doublewide was out of the question; then, how about a RV (trailer?). No permit required; not a permanent establishment under California rules.

Cydney has not seen the RV “in place” at Frogtown Adelaida. How is living in the RV? Next.

I am anxious to get back to Dahlonega; yes, yes, and yes, meaning real anxious. This time out it has exceeded a month away. I am blessed with good folks at Frogtown Dahlonega, allowing me to be absent for so long.

A Citizen took the time to inform me that at Mother’s Day brunch, Cydney said she is “getting used to me being away”. Ouch! Wonder if Cydney can make wine? Stay tuned!!!

Discussing Frogtown’s vintage 2013 red wines

Frogtown 2013 vintage reds have exceeded my expectations. Not as much as the 2010 Vintage after these wines were bottled, but I am delighted with the 2013 vintage. I expected 2011 to be an exceptional vintage. To have such a good vintage (2013) following the 2011 vintage is SPECIAL.

2013 is the first vintage with three; yes 3, Reserve Wines. In this shipment you will receive the first of such Reserve Wines, the 2013 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, a 100% Cabernet bottling. Cydney, Jordan, and Justin made the collective decision which of the three Reserve Wines to send in this shipment. The vote was unanimous that the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon was the most developed in the bottle; so our Citizens will have to wait to the next shipment to receive either the 2013 Reserve Petit Verdot or the 2013 Reserve Tannat. It has been more than 3 months since I tasted these Reserve wines. Each of the Reserves are big, really big wines with supple tannins (remember round not angular, which is a Frogtown red wine characteristic).
The Shotgun, Fourth Reload and the Applause, Third Standing Ovation, are composed of a significant amount of 2013 vintages wines.

After I get home and taste these wines, I will compose tasting notes on these Reserve Wines.

What is in this Shipment?

Citizens receiving three bottles of red wines will receive a bottle of 2013 Kritzer Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($48.99), a bottle of Frogtown Applause Third Standing Ovation ($29.99), and a bottle of Shotgun Fourth Reload ($29.99).

Citizens receiving these red wines enjoy a discount of 20% to reduce the Citizen cost for pick-up to $93.28, which includes sales tax, and the addition of $12.84 shipping results in a cost for these wines shipped of $106.12.

Citizens receiving two bottles of Red wine and one bottle of White wine are receiving a bottle 2013 Kritzer Family Reserve

Cabernet Sauvignon ($48.99), a bottle of Frogtown Applause Third Standing Ovation ($29.99), and a bottle of 2014 Frogtown White Rosé ($18.99)

Citizens receiving these red and white wines enjoy a discount of 20% to reduce the Citizen cost for pick-up to $83.87, which includes sales tax, and the addition of $12.84 shipping results in a cost for these wines shipped of $96.71.

Citizens receiving three bottles of white wines are receiving a bottle of the 2014 Frogtown Marsanne ($30.99), a bottle of the 2014 Frogtown Inclination ($27.99), and a bottle of the 2014 Frogtown White Rosé ($18.99).

Citizens receiving these three white wines enjoy a discount of 20% to reduce the Citizen cost of these wines to $66.74, which includes sales tax, and the addition of $12.84 shipping results in a cost of these wines shipped of $79.58.

Wishing you all a fabulous summer, where the grapes grow and the wines flow.

Cali Craig (Cydney’s idea)


Dear Frogtown Citizen:

Just Saying
I started these Notes on January 21, 2016, on my return flight to Dahlonega after ten days working at our California vineyards. I think it is appropriate to send Paso Robles (maybe the State of California) an invoice for services rendered. Four of the ten days I was in Paso Robles, it rained. Yes rain in Paso Robles! What a strange occurrence. I have done a lot of things, but a rainmaker? Why not? I HAD to be the protagonist. Those who control rain know a Georgia grape farmer NEEDS rain at the vineyard to perform. Here’s the thing. Fair is fair. If you do not bill you can’t get paid. If I only knew where to send the invoice, I am sure our friends in California would agree to the fairness in paying!!!

The Vineyard
Frogtown commenced winter pruning in early January 2016. It simply was too warm to prune in December 2015. If Frogtown had commenced pruning in a very warm December, there would have been a substantial risk of stimulating bud swell, or even worse, bud break. Ah, January’s temperatures were just what the vines needed: cold temperatures, but not too cold.

Sensing Completion is Approaching
Our building projects at Frogtown are getting completed. We are starting to build the cabinets and wine storage system in the Wine Library, Citizens Tasting Room, and Private Dinning facility. The heated and cooled tasting facility at the patio is completely dried in and also ready for fixtures.

White Wine Making at Frogtown
In the beginning of our winemaking activities at Frogtown, I thought our white wine production was much closer to the quality of wine I wanted to make than our reds wine. Over the ensuing years, our white winemaking progressed, but not to the extent of our red winemaking.

After the bottling of the 2013 vintage white wines, I came to the conclusion Frogtown’s white wines required special attention. I decided to:

– Return to some winemaking protocols I used in the earlier years of white winemaking that I either ceased using or modified. Fining of the pressed juice is the first change I decided upon. I progressively got “caught up” in not fining our white wines. Fining is simply the introduction of an agent into the juice or wine to attract undesirable elements in the white wine that are then removed from the wine by racking (moving the wine off of the settled finings). Fining is an evasive wine making protocol. Less invasive winemaking had to be better, right? Well no. I did not fine any of our 2011, 2012, and 2013 vintage whites. This resulted in some benefits but also resulted in negatives. The unfined white wines from these vintages were “aging” faster than our earlier vintage white wines that were fined. Also, at bottling, the wines had more “color” and the color became more pronounced as the wine aged. Why? There are “browning” elements in the musts (juice) of pressed white wine grapes. Prior to 2011, I fined many of these browning elements out of the white wine musts in the earliest stages of white winemaking. I decided to go back to fining the white wine juice immediately after pressing the grapes.

– Unfortunately when wine is fined, it is impossible to target just the “bad” elements one wants to eliminate. Good elements contained in the white wine additionally are attracted by the fining agents and are removed. To counteract this result, I decided to use more new French oak in the fermentation and storage of our white wines. Fined juice is much more resistant to oxidation than unfined juice. Fermentation and storage of white wines in oak barrels is less anaerobic than in steel tanks. Due to the return of fining white wine juice, the fact that oak barrels are less anaerobic did not materially concern me.

– Our white winemaking has always been accomplished in a fairly less anaerobic environment than what is the norm in white winemaking. Frogtown also tends to use less sulfur early in our white winemaking; again, then what is usually the custom of other winemakers. Less anaerobic white winemaking and less sulfuring have the benefit of intensifying the aroma, structure, and finish of white wines. Lovely aromas and a discernable beginning, middle, and long lasting finish are achieved as such wines are aged and finally bottled. I strive to achieve wonderful mouthfeel and structure in Frogtown’s white and red wines. In my opinion, the opposite of these characteristics of great mouthfeel and structure is the result when white wine is made in a significantly anaerobic environment and with the addition of more sulfur. Such white winemaking results in a rather nondescript, thin wine that, in fact, may lack color and surely intensity and charm.

– The availability of a new generation of French coopered barrels specifically intended for white winemaking has greatly assisted the use of wood barrels in lieu of stainless steel. These barrels use traditional oak wood and less traditional acacia wood. The following is a very good discussion of the use of acacia wood barrels that appeared in the March, 2010 edition of “Wines and Vines”:

Though oak is almost synonymous with wine barrels, a small number of California wineries are now experimenting with aging their wines using another wood. The barrels are made from what’s popularly called acacia wood, actually the Robinia pseudoacacia or black locust tree, a native of the eastern U.S. now widespread in central and southeast Europe. The wood is dense, tight-grained and tough, and it makes excellent barrels. Winemakers who tried it largely enjoyed its impact on white wines, especially its lack of “oakiness.” Though rarely used for barrel making in the U.S., acacia wood has been used in France and Spain for many years to add a different taste profile to white wines, and in the aging of the sweet wines of Bordeaux. The acacia wood used for barrels … grows in the same French forests where the French harvest oak trees for barrels. According to Norm Leighty of Oakasions (an importer of barrels, including Acacia, in California), acacia wood adds floral characteristics to white wines, with added structural mouthfeel. “There’s no oak flavors; it’s just the fruit with a floral nose and great mouthfeel.” Barrels are more lightly toasted than oak barrels. Copyright © Wines & Vines

Acacia barrels: (i) add structure and improve mouthfeel, (ii) intensify flavors, and (iii) impart many of the benefits of fermenting and aging of wine in barrels without imparting oaky flavors to a white wine.

Yes, acacia wine barrels appealed to me at a time I was open to employing modified protocols for our white wines.

For our 2014 white wine production, I purchased French barrels that were made from (i) very lightly toasted oak barrels specifically coopered for white wines and (ii) very lightly toasted barrels made by alternating each stave with oak and acacia (50% oak and 50% acacia). For our 2015 white wine production, I purchase a number of 100% French acacia barrels.

Discussing Frogtown’s vintage 2014 white wines
2014 was not a big production vintage for Frogtown white wines. Yes, 2014 was the first year since 2011 that we did not sell all of our Chardonnay grapes to Wolf Mountain, but an early frost (which proportionally adversely affects white grapes to a greater extent than red grapes) and other white wine grape sales resulted in a relatively “small” white wine vintage for Frogtown. That was just fine with me; better to experiment with the modifications I decided upon in a relatively light-year. I had a feeling that 2015 would be a much larger white wine harvest; and it in fact such was the case.

In 2014 Frogtown also had quantities of Sauvignon Gris and Petit Manseng grapes that were not available when the flavor profiles of some of the white wine blends were originally established in the earlier years.
In 2014 Frogtown made: a varietal Marsanne, Inclination, Vineaux Blanc and our new white wine blend, 770. In the 2014 vintage of Inclination and Vineaux Blanc, I added varying amounts of Sauvignon Gris. In the new white blend, 770, I blended Petit Manseng with Sauvignon Gris and Chardonnay.

The result of blending Sauvignon Gris into the 2014 Inclination and Vineaux Blanc, along with the modification of our protocols discussed above, in my opinion, resulted in two of the best Inclination and Vineaux Blanc wines ever made. Such additions of Sauvignon Gris have demonstrably elevated the overall quality of these wines.

There is a reason why Cabernet Sauvignon is the King of grapes and Chardonnay is the Queen of grapes. No other varieties of red or white wines produce the qualities of great varietal wines and the qualities of making other wines better as blending elements in such wines. The addition of Sauvignon Gris to the flavor profile of Petit Manseng was interesting and promising. The addition of Chardonnay to the blend fulfilled just what I was looking for in a wine labeled 770. It is sooooo gooood to have Chardonnay back in the winery. Immediately as I added Chardonnay to the Petit Manseng/Sauvignon Gris blend, the wine became better and better. Most significantly, those who have experienced the 2014 Frogtown 770 have voiced very appealing comments. 2014 770 is our first vintage of this new white wine blend. This wine will progress as we make this wine in subsequent years.

2014 white wine tasting notes:
It is important for me to deliver the following information (actually I prefer the word “message” to “information”) as I am about to give you my sensory impressions of 2014 vintage Frogtown white wines.
Message One: To fully enjoy premium white wines it is imperative to drink such wines at a temperature no lower than 55 Degrees Fahrenheit. Yes, seriously. You want white wines to volatize in your mouth not to chill you and your mouth down like a cold beer. You will miss the full sensation (and appreciation) of premium white wine if the wine is tasted too cold.

Message Two:
I do not make wine with the intent for a wine to have a certain flavor. I do; however, blend wines made from different grapes, which I am aware have certain flavor characters that I do anticipate will be imparted into the wine made from such grapes. I am, most concerned with, and do intend, that all Frogtown wines have what I would describe as a balanced mouthfeel. By balanced mouthfeel I mean a wine that is smooth and supple on the palate, never harsh, or bitter, nor overly tannic and never dull or flabby. Only a wine possessing a premium balanced mouthfeel can “set the proper stage” for the wine drinker to fully enjoy what should be intriguing aromas and flavors. Only a wine possessing a balanced mouthfeel can improve the food experience when paired with appropriate foods.

Putting Message One and Two Together:
Is there something wrong with you if you do not sense the same or similar aromas and flavors that I describe in the tasting notes below? No, no, and no. We are all individuals having different DNA’s, abilities, and experiences. Our production of saliva is not the same. Our abilities to sense and taste also varies from time to time based on how we feel, what we have eaten and drunk before we taste a wine. So if you sense slightly different or very different aromas and flavors or cannot honestly recognize and verbalize what aromas and flavors you smell or taste, it really does not matter and is not a reflection on your ability to enjoy wine.

2014 Frogtown 770:
At this stage of 770’s bottle development, I would suggest you experience the aromas of this wine first when it is poured into glass and additionally after you aerate the wine and wait to smell this wine three to five minutes later. Initially there are intense aromas of grapefruit and lime. After waiting the suggested period of time the intense aromas of grapefruit and lime mellow and are joined by recognizable pineapple aroma. Upon tasting the wine, tropical fruit flavors continue on the palate as the wine moves through your mouth. You should also recognize the presence of honeysuckle flavors that further add to the sense of body, suppleness and texture to the mouthfeel of this wine. The wine finishes with a long dominate presence of lime and grapefruit and minerality. This is a full-bodied white wine.

2014 Frogtown Inclination:
Dominant Chardonnay and Viognier aromas of melon, pear, apple, peach, and to a lesser extent, very ripe citrus are experienced when smelling the aroma of this wine in the glass. On the palate the flavors of melon, pear, apple, peach, and citrus are joined by the presence of well-integrated oak flavors of toast and coconut. These oak flavors occur as a result of blending Chardonnay fermented in new French oak barrels and allowing the Chardonnay wine to go through malolactic fermentation. The flavors of this wine are consistent as the wine moves through your mouth. These flavors are rather intense as the wine is swallowed, but diminish as the long, lasting finish gradually ends. The blending of Sauvignon Gris and Vidal in this wine brings a lively acid-citrus character to this wine that definitely contributes to the wonderful balance of this wine and pairing of this wine with food. I cannot recall ever making a better Inclination. This 2014 Inclination IS a great wine!

2014 Frogtown Vineaux Blanc:
The aromas of this wine are overwhelmingly citrus with some ripe apple. On the palate, this wine is less full-bodied and its aromas and flavors are less intense than the 2014 770 and the 2014 Inclination. Adding to the light easy drinking mouthfeel of this wine is the use of neutral oak barrels (more than 4 years old) in the fermentation and aging of a portion of the Seyval wine blended into this wine. I cannot sense any oak flavor nuances on the palate or on the nose of this wine as a result of its oak experience. I also ferment and age a portion of the Seyval used in this wine in stainless steel tanks and barrels. The stainless steel experience adds a crisp acid character to this wine without negatively impacting the wine’s mouthfeel. It is the light body and crisp acidity of this wine that makes Vineaux Blanc the best Frogtown white wine for pairing with food. The acid in this wine will have a much-needed palate cleansing affect on creamy sauces such as a Fettuccine Alfredo pasta dish.

2014 Frogtown Marsanne:
This 2014 Marsanne is a worthily successor to the 2009 Frogtown Marsanne, a triple gold medal-winning wine in California and a wine of which I am most proud. Marsanne’s flavor profile is apple, pear, flowers, and most significantly, as the wine ages, unmistakable hazelnut and almonds. The 2014 Frogtown Marsanne has developed in the bottle lovely flower and nutty (almond and hazelnut) bouquet. On the palate the nutty character of the wine adds distinctive enhancement to the pear and apple flavors. A Frogtown Marsanne has the presence of sufficient acid to lend the required balance to the wine and aid in reducing (thankfully not removing) a very full-bodied somewhat “oily” character that is present in Marsanne wines. Typical of Frogtown Marsanne wines and Roussanne wines, there is present a discernable minerality that is most pronounced in the long finish of these wines. This 2014 Frogtown Marsanne is a great example of the benefits derived from the use of the new French barrels discussed above. All of this Marsanne was fermented and stored either in lightly toasted French oak or the lightly toasted French oak and acacia barrels. Less than 100 cases made and, of course, will only be available to our wine club Citizens.

Finally, 2011 Frogtown Penchant
The last of our 2011 red wines that spent three years in oak and the third of our Super Tuscan triplets. We may have created Super Tuscan Triplets, but the wines are definitely not even close to being identical.
2011 Frogtown Penchant is most definitely a medium bodied red wine. The distinct cherry aroma and flavors indicate a Super Tuscan that is more similar to a varietal Sangiovese than any of its Frogtown siblings. The blend contains 43% Sangiovese, 36% Merlot, and 21% Touriga. Penchant possesses bright cherry aroma and flavor. The blending of Touriga into this wine had the effect of toning down the “brightness” of the cherry flavors with some darker red fruit aroma and flavor. Also, the addition of Touriga in Penchant made the wine more complex. This wine’s medium body and dominant cherry flavors make the wine easy to drink and a home run wine to pair with Italian veal, chicken, sausage dishes made with tomato sauce and hardy pasta dishes containing such meats. Mission accomplished.

With this release of the 2011 Frogtown Penchant, I characterize our three Super Tuscan wines as follows:

-Audacity – a very traditional style of a Super Tuscan wine, both Italian made or made domestically.

-Bravado – Frogtown’s unique Super Tuscan styled wine that is very bold and full-bodied. Bravado has a noticeable Sangiovese character made significantly bolder by the addition of a substantial amount of Tannat.

-Penchant –the 2011 Penchant is a more complex and elegant wine than our Sangiovese varietal wine but not as bold or complex as Audacity and Bravado.

Wines included in this Shipment
Citizens receiving three bottles of red wines will receive a bottle of 2011 Frogtown Audacity ($33.99), a bottle of
2011 Frogtown Bravado ($41.99), and a bottle of 2011 Frogtown Penchant ($33.99).

Citizens receiving these red wines enjoy a discount of 20% to reduce the Citizen cost for pick-up to $94.13, which includes sales tax, and the addition of $12.84 shipping results in a cost for these wines shipped of $108.97.

Citizens receiving two bottles of Red wine and one bottle of White wine are receiving a bottle of 2011 Frogtown Penchant ($33.99), a bottle of 2011 Frogtown Bravado ($41.99), and a bottle of 2014 Frogtown Marsanne ($30.99).
Citizens receiving these red and white wines enjoy a discount of 20% to reduce the Citizen cost for pick-up to $91.56, which includes sales tax, and the addition of $12.84 shipping results in a cost for these wines shipped of $104.40.

Citizens receiving three bottles of white wines are receiving a bottle of the 2014 Frogtown Marsanne ($30.99), a bottle of the 2014 Frogtown Inclination ($27.99), and a bottle of the 2014 Frogtown 770 ($27.99).

Citizens receiving these three white wines enjoy a discount of 20% to reduce the Citizen cost of these wines to $74.44, which includes sales tax, and the addition of $12.84 shipping results in a cost of these wines shipped of $87.26.

Cydney and I, along with Nettie, and Jordan, wish each and every one of our Citizens continued good health and good Cheer and the enjoyment of Frogtown Wines!!!!

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