Of all of the things that bring joy to our lives, our pets all hold a special place in our hearts. Here at Ruby Hill Winery, we love to celebrate that special bond! Our 2019 Cuvée Dray is not only an ode to the love that pets bring into our lives, it's a way to partner with the community through support of the Valley Humane Society and their multifaceted efforts to promote welfare for both pets and people through creating connections between the two. To continue celebrating our Cuvée Dray, we asked for pictures of your furry friends alongside your favorite wines, and you delivered. We have included a few of our favorites below!Special thanks to @patti_and_doris, @brindledanekane, @margueritebalbuena, @draymond_the_boxer, @ashlaaymarsh (Tucker), @shannon.smith_ (Duck, Red, Luna & Peanut), @akbrown (Luey), @aamandaapleasee (Maverick & Bentley), and @emuhhliiie (Zoe)
If you have ever had a chance to tour our production facility, you will have seen hundreds of our precious oak barrels. Some curious wine lovers may wonder: why oak—and what makes these barrels so special? We select high-quality barriques (the technical term for our 225-liter barrels) for their ability to keep our wines cozy and safe while enriching them with elegant and complex flavor.
Oak has earned its rightful place of honor in the winemaking process. It seems that grapes and oak are just made to work together, a symbiotic relationship that creates the flavors and complexities you know and love. Just like wine, oak contains tannins which impart structure and flavor to the wine aged within it. Oak tannins can be more on the bitter side, but the process of barrel making involves "toasting" the wood, a process which mellows out the tannins and releases delicious compounds that bring essences of vanilla and cream to the picture. Just as the characteristics of a wine depend heavily on the soil and climate in which the fruit was grown, the nature of the oak also varies depending on the region of origin. Here at Ruby Hill Winery, we use barrels of primarily French, American, and Hungarian oak.
The bulk of oak for wine barrels in the US grows in forested areas of Minnesota and Wisconsin. American oak barrels are made from a different species than European oak, allowing for a few key differences including faster cultivation and development and more efficient production. With lively flavors of vanilla and coconut as well as mellow tones of caramel and cream soda, American oak also interacts with wine more than other cultivars, allowing for stronger flavor integration. Wines aged in American oak adopt this personality, along with soft and palatable tannins, making this an ideal choice for big reds and Chardonnays that emphasize the character of the oak.
French oak has a much more finicky makeup, with wood that must be split along the grain to create barrel staves. Because of this, only about 25% of the wood in a French oak tree can be used for barrel-making. Given that French oak trees are much smaller than their American counterparts, French oak barrels often have a much higher price tag. In the case of some wines, however, it is more than worth it. The tight wood grain of the French oak releases flavors much more slowly than American oak, imparting elegant and subtle complexities. Flavors including cinnamon and allspice join dark chocolate notes with a touch of bitterness, and are further complemented by a swirl of crème brûlée.
Hungarian oak barrels are unique in their own right; though crafted from the same species of oak as French oak barrels, Hungarian oak brings extra personality and spice. Unique toasted notes can include roasted coffee, campfire, leather, or black pepper, making this oak especially suitable for wines like Merlot that adapt well to interest and complexity. Hungarian oak lends structure and full mouthfeel with silky tannins, and is known to set wines up for longevity.
Of course, these 3 oaks are not the only cultivars for barrels. Sessile oak, sometimes called Irish oak is the most commonly used wood for Cognac production, and Mongolian oak (or “Mizunara”) is used in the production of Japanese whiskey. Furthermore, some winemakers will use barrels crafted form a combination of oak varietals, or blend wines aged in various types in order to get the perfect balance of flavor and structure.
Due to their expense and hardiness, barrels are often reused. Barrels may be used several times before retirement depending on the winemaker’s preference. After each use, however, the potency of the oak’s effect is reduced and the barrel will eventually be discarded. Because of this, we here at Ruby Hill Winery love to see our barrels off to their new lives as materials for home projects. We want the beautiful oaken craftsmanship to continue for as long as possible. If you’d like to become a part of the story of one of our barrels, now is the time! We are offering a few of our well-loved barrels for purchase—see below for more details.
We are delighted to announce the newest addition to our Ruby Hill Reserve Collection! Our 2019 Cuvée Dray is a celebration of everything that fills our lives with joy. This Bordeaux-style blend is luscious and approachable, perfect for pairing with your favorite dishes. More than this, however, Cuvée Dray is our way of partnering with the community and promoting the unconditional love shown by our furry friends. For every bottle of Cuvée Dray sold, we will be donating $10 directly to the Valley Humane Society in support of their many programs aimed at creating a brighter, loving future for local animals.
Story and Mission
The Valley Humane Society (VHS) was founded right here in Pleasanton and has served people and pets in the Tri-Valley for over 30 years. With rigorous compassion aimed at increasing welfare and quality of life for every animal brought into their care, they serve with optimism and integrity.
"Valley Humane Society creates a brighter future for cats and dogs by encouraging and strengthening the bond between people and pets. VHS rescues and rehabilitates companion animals, champions responsible caretaking, shares pets’ soothing affections with people in need of comfort, and supports and preserves existing pet-guardian relationships."
- VHS Mission Statement
Services and Programs
At the heart of all Valley Humane Society programs is the vision to create a brighter future for cats and dogs by encouraging and strengthening the bond between people and pets. VHS takes in cats and dogs in order to provide a better life for these precious creatures, with a careful and loving emphasis on the good of each animal. Through numerous programs, VHS cares for pets by providing services for sheltering, fostering, and home-to-home adoptions, limiting the amount of time any pet has to spend apart from a family.
At Ruby Hill Winery, we believe in the value of companionship—friends are essential, especially the furry ones! VHS brings this special love into the lives of people who need it most with programs like Canine Comfort Pet Therapy and AniMeals. Included in these programs are Paws to Read, which encourages children who struggle with literacy to enjoy reading in the gentle, nonjudgmental company of a dog, as well as Paws to Heal, a program that brings the joy and love of pets to hospital and rehabilitation facilities for young and old alike. AniMeals partners with food banks and shelters to assist low-income pet guardians who are at risk of surrendering their pet due to food costs. In 2020, VHS distributed more than 300,000 meals to pets through this program.
How to Help
If you want to join us in supporting the good work done by the Valley Humane Society, there are many opportunities to lend a paw. As a nonprofit organization built on principles of gratitude and collaboration, VHS relies heavily on volunteers and donations. Last year, nearly 500 active volunteers partnered with VHS across their various programs. Additionally, as they seek to increase and expand their impact, donations are more vital than ever. If your family is in the position to do so, you can also consider joining their pet fostering program. No matter how wonderful an animal facility is, pets are still better off in a home. If fostering in your own home isn't an option, you may still choose to sponsor a pet, investing in the life of a precious furry friend waiting for a home.
Since the restoration of the Ruby Hill Estate Winery, Zinfandel has been one of our staple wines. Our Zinfandel blocks are nestled in the westernmost section of our estate, placing the vines in position to experience perfect fluctuation in temperature for fruit maturity. The soil is gravely, forcing the vines to seek nutrients and produce clusters concentrated with flavor. This block was nicknamed the "Peacock Patch" for the ostentatious creatures who visit the area to snack on the grapes—and the name has stuck.
If you have spent much time in the tasting room or in wine lounges around the area, you will likely have seen our iconic gilded peacock label in a range of colors. It wasn't always this way! As shown above, our 2007 Zinfandel commemorated the exotic avian visitors with a small peacock on the back label. Soon, however, we honored these proudly elegant creatures with their rightful place: front and center. Our 2008 Zinfandel was released with a gold peacock label, with additional colors appearing upon the 2010 vintage. Not long after, we introduced the famous and elusive Wild Peacock.
The Wild Peacock is decked out in the authentic colors of its namesake, gleaming in shades of emerald, sapphire, and bronze—but that's not all. Appearing only once for every 100 cases, if you happen to "bag the bird" you've won big! Our Wild Peacock is your golden ticket for a Mello Cielo Vineyard Experience bus tour, free of charge for up to 14 people ($630 value). Our Wild Peacock is hidden throughout each vintage of our Peacock Patch Zinfandel. Now that the bus tour is available again, let the hunt begin!
Enjoy complimentary ground shipping when you order 6 or more bottles.
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