Skip to main content

Neyers Vineyards Bruce's Journal

The Harvest Ends So We Begin to Prepare for Next Year

By Bruce Neyers

Tuesday 10th January, 2023

Another harvest is behind us – this one the 50th for Barbara and me – and it looks to be a fine year. The crop size was smaller than hoped for, as we picked just about two tons per acre from our Conn Valley ranch. Quality was great, though, and the berries were plump, fully ripe, and loaded with the classic flavors of wild cherry, cassis, and exotic herbs. The colors are dark, and the aromas of the new wines are heady and attractive. This is a great time of year. We grow familiar with the new wines, gather our thoughts while tasting them, and express our gratitude to those involved with us in this business we love.

Our focus now is on winter vineyard tasks. The cover crop we just planted has taken root and is beginning to grow. Each vine has been fertilized with a combination of organic fertilizer mixed with decomposed grape pomace. We began pre-pruning in late December, which will give us a head start on the final pruning in March. The rainfall in December was over six inches, which is almost normal. We are still feeling the effects of the drought though, but a close-to-normal rainy season now would point us towards a strong recovery. In addition to being wet, December was colder than normal with plenty of frost so far. Mount Saint Helena had a holiday snowpack. In the meantime, Barbara is cooking hearty soups, root vegetables, and stews.

Cold weather like this reminds me of my years working with Kermit Lynch, when my annual January trip to France treated me to some of the coldest temperatures I’ve ever experienced. The cold temperature is actually beneficial to the vineyards as it kills many of the parasites that winter-over in the soil and forces the vines into dormancy. Some of the coldest weather I ever faced was in Burgundy. Fortunately, this area is also home to some of the country’s best restaurants. Here, one invariably eats and drinks well. For 25 years, I ate there every year. In January 2017, Barbara joined me.

While most French wine lists feature a lengthy selection of the best local wines, in Burgundy they can sometimes be prohibitively expensive. I learned from Kermit how to select fairly priced Burgundy, wines that are perfect with the local cuisine, but priced to be enjoyable enough that ordering a second bottle is an option. I especially like red Burgundy when served with a local specialty — a roasted whole Bresse chicken for two. Barbara and I ordered one the last time we dined together in Beaune. I won’t go into the details about what makes a Bresse Chicken different. You can look that up easily enough.

When our chicken arrived, it was perfect, and our server sliced it expertly. He then opened two chafing dishes that accompanied the chicken. “Those are Parsnips,” Barbara advised, pointing to the first and sensing that I was puzzled. We were about to enter the world of winter root vegetables. The second one not only looked more interesting, but smelled heavenly. It contained a bundle of miniature carrots, each a marvel of perfection. “Try the carrots first,” Barbara said. I did, and immediately thought that I had never had anything quite like this. “They’re glazed in butter,” Barbara reported, “and cooked slowly so the natural sugar in them caramelizes.” The parsnips were good, but the carrots were extraordinary. I quickly ate them, then moved on to my chicken. Everything was made all the better by the luscious bottle of Pinot Noir we’d selected to accompany the meal.

I probably drove Barbara crazy asking her about the glazed carrots for the rest of our trip, so I was elated when after we returned home she told me she would make them. She did, and served them with her whole roast chicken stuffed with lemon. It wasn’t a Bresse Chicken, of course, but it was every bit as good. The recipe for the carrots is below, and her whole roast chicken recipe has been offered before. Making the carrots is easy, but be patient, keeping in mind that cooking them slowly is the key. To make the meal complete, open a bottle of the Neyers Pinot Noir ‘Roberts Road.’ It’s a remarkable Pinot Noir and will improve anything you serve with it.


Glazed Carrots


  • 8 or 9 carrots, peeled and cut into sticks 4-inch in length. Depending on the thickness of the carrots, they may need to be cut in half or quartered
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Diamond Crystal Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Cook carrots in water until almost tender. Drain water.
  2. In a saucepan melt butter and add carrots. Cook carrots over medium high heat until they are tender and slightly browned.
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Looking East Toni's Block
Looking east through the Cabernet Sauvignon vines known as ‘Toni’s Block’. The cover crop was seeded in early November, and is already beginning to appear. This year’s is called ‘Clover Mix’, and includes beans, peas, vetch, oats and clover. With adequate rainfall, it will grow an average of 18-24 inches high, and will be cut in the spring, allowed to decompose, then worked back into the soil to provide missing nutrients.
Morning Frost Strikes Merlot Vines

A morning frost strikes the Merlot vines in late December. There is no danger to the vines as they are dormant.

Barbara's Glazed Carrots

A platter of Barbara’s Glazed Carrots. I actually prefer them a bit more blackened, as they are then more caramelized, and sweeter.

Neyers Pinot Noir Roberts Road Sonoma Coast 2019

2019 Pinot Noir ‘Roberts Road’  – Sonoma Coast