Category Archives: The Winemaker’s Pen



Coyote Canyon Winemaker notes

Well we have come to end of another harvest and it ended up being a great year at the winery. We started the month with fruit in the winery and continued to pick throughout the month. Unfortunately bad weather canceled the Prosser Balloon Stampede but people were in town and a lot of them seemed to swing by the winery to see what was going on. So October of 2013 was very busy keeping track of the wines and hosting a couple of winemaker dinners.

A recap of the lots we picked in October started with our Barbera Rose that we picked on October 8th and let cold soak for about 36 hours before pressing. I actually just stopped the fermentation on November 6th and am looking forward to releasing this wine next spring. We also picked some Tempernillo the first week of October and had a lot of fun tasting it with some of our Graciano during what was going to be our grape stomping weekend at the farm. In the middle of October we picked our Cabernet Sauvignon, I had anxiously been awaiting my chance to work with this fruit from the vineyard and I don’t think it is going to disappoint. Around the 22nd we picked our Sangiovese and Malbec and the winery filled right back up after being empty for a few days. Things timed out pretty perfectly as we pressed off those lots and brought in our final loads of fruit the 26th, Petite Verdot, Cabernet Franc and some Syrah/Graciano for our Port.

The white wines are doing great, the month of October was when the white wines all finished up their ferments and went through the period I love to taste them. Just before they finish fermenting they have a little sugar left and are effervescent and taste so good. I had a lot of fun sharing these wines with customers who came to visit the winery during October.

I want to thank Mike and Jeff for doing a great job in the vineyard this year. I was impressed when I first went to the vineyard and after working a harvest with the Andrews I am looking forward to the future. Timing of fruit picking went great and we were able to pick everything just when I wanted and the fruit was delivered clean to the winery. I also want to thank Caroline and the tasting room staff for helping introduce me to our customers and working around all the grapes in the winery. The Salmon wine dinner we had on October 8th at the winery was amazing, great food and wine pairings.

Over all I am very happy with the way harvest turned out and I am looking forward to stewarding these wines through their maturation process. I am feeling pretty comfortable with the set up now and look forward to going through last year’s wines to work on blends and finishing up our white wines. Winter is upon us as the weather is changing and the days are getting shorter. I will recap the final pressing that took place in November and hopefully be able to tell you a little about what I think of last years wine in barrel next month. Hope everyone had a great October, Happy Harvest!

The Winemaker:

Justin Michaud

Winemaker Notes



justin-michaud  thumb-1Well, September came and went just as fast as always and another harvest is now on its way. I just got started at the beginning of September with Coyote Canyon and wanted to get a better understanding of the Vineyard as I prepared to make the wines. The vineyard was looking very good and crop loads were at the level that I thought they should be so I spent the first few weeks on a four wheeler collecting samples and tasting berries. On September 13th we picked our first grapes, it was a few tons of Grenache from a block at the top of the vineyard. With this being my first vintage at the facility it was nice to have JP, (a winemakers loft cellar rat), around to help me figure out where everything was my first few days, now I already feel like a veteran of the facility.

Justin pulling sample from Viognier

Justin pulling sample from Viognier


Harvesting Albarino grapes

I inoculated the Grenache the day after we received it and prepared to get our first white grapes of the season. We picked our Viognier on September 17th and pressed them off to cold settle for a few days before inoculating. We got the Viognier from 3 separate blocks and I think the blend this year is going to make a very nice wine. One of the blocks has more acidity and tart flavors, one brings floral notes and the youngest block seems to add some interesting tropical notes to the wine as well. We also picked some Syrah and Primitivo that week and the cellar started to fill up.


Photo by Tim Adams
Martha Andrews, Dorothy Adams and winemaker Justin Michaud

The week of September 24th we were busy pressing off the Grenache, receiving our Albarino (which looked and tasted amazing), checking the fermentation of the Viognier, punching down the Syrah and Primitivo, getting ready to pick our Mourvedre and a nonstop barrage of making sure everything was getting done. That’s part of what makes harvest so much fun it is fast paced and you have to make sure you are well prepared to get everything taken care of in a timely fashion.

I am very pleased with the way things are starting out and think the 2013 vintage is going to make some spectacular wines. There is still a long way to go before harvest is over and certainly a lot to look forward to. The Cabernet is ripening nicely in the vineyard and hopefully the weather will cooperate and allow us to hang it out there a few more weeks to develop more flavors.

Justin Michaud

Coyote Canyon Winemaker


“I’m excited to be a part of Coyote Canyon Winery!”


By Justin Michaud

Allow me to introduce myself.

I have been involved in the wine industry for the past 12 years and am getting ready for my 11th vintage in Washington. The vineyards of the Santa Cruz Mountains are where I got my introduction into the industry working for a small company that was responsible for all phases of grape growing. Working at several different small sites ranging in elevation between sea level and 2,000 feet and encompassing several different varietals, soil types, and pest pressures gave me a great opportunity to see what is involved in growing and maintaining a vineyard.

After a few years in California I moved to Walla Walla Washington where I moved from working in the vineyards to working in the winery, Canoe Ridge Vineyards was my first winery job. At Canoe I was able to work with some gifted winemakers and found that I enjoyed making wine more than growing grapes and decided to continue my pursuit of learning all I could to make great wine. My next stop was at Bergevin Lane Vineyards where I was Cellar Master of a 1,000 ton custom crush facility. At BLV I was able to work more closely with the winemaker and dealt with several different vineyard sites giving me a better understanding of what and where the good fruit in the State was being grown.

In 2005 I spent a few months in New Zealand as part of the winemaking crew at Kim Crawford wines. This was an opportunity to work in another country and see some new practices and techniques used in winemaking. It was a great experience and I have been able to apply much of what I learned to my work back in the States. When I returned I began to work for Ash Hollow winery where I moved from Assistant Winemaker to Winemaker during my 5 years with them. This was another learning opportunity and I worked with one of my mentors, Steve Clifton. Steve is based out of Santa Barbra and his consulting with Ash Hollow gave me a lot of great methods for wine making that I still try to employ today.

In 2009 I joined Goose Ridge Vineyards as their Cellar Master working with Charlie Hoppes and Joe Hudon. It was a departure from what I had done in the past as we processed 5,000 tons my first vintage and almost 10,000 tons by the time I left. I moved up to become the winemaker for their second label, Stone Cap, which received some great awards and press while I was there. Kendall Mix became the winemaker for the Goose Ridge wines and it was great to work with him and see some of the things he thought were important to make great wine.

Now, I am very excited to begin working with Coyote Canyon Winery. The Estate Vineyard is growing some interesting varietals and I am looking forward to working with them all. I hope to continue showcasing the quality of the vineyard through the expression of well-balanced wines. I am especially excited to work with the Albarino and Roussanne on the white side and want to try and make them even crisper and aromatic. For the red side I am looking forward to making the Grenache and other Rhone style reds from the vineyard and am glad that I will still get a chance to work with some Cabernet Sauvignon, I feel they grow exceptionally well here.