Tuesday, October 18, 2005

My one grape cluster.

My young grape plants are just finishing up their second year.

They are all up to the trellis wires and the cordons are all set for next years growth and fruit.

I pinched off or pruned all the grape clusters from my vines this year before they ever had a chance of reaching maturity. Except for one plant. It was the most vigorous and so I rewarded it by letting it have a single cluster.

It was not quite sure what to do. But, it did manage to create a small cluster of 20 berries.

They reached veraison very late and only darkened up after the Autumnal Equinox.

By October 15th, I could not restrain myself anymore and I plucked one of the ripest berries and sampled it. Still a bit sour, probably only 15% sugar and still pretty acidic and the seeds were still quite light green.

In any case, it was exciting. We should have had a party.
Next year.


Saturday, October 15, 2005

A kit.

I have the opportunity to try out a wine kit. A box of grape juice concentrate, a handful of little packages filled with this chemical and that. 6 easy steps and in 6-8 months, I will have 6 gallons of chardonnay/semillon

It seems so easy. Sanitize the fermenter, add the juice, water, oak sawdust (sounds odd, no?) and yeast. Close it up, set it aside, let it go.

Well, we will see. Check back in 6-weeks to find out.


Sunday, October 09, 2005

Picked, crushed and fermenting

A wonderful trip down to Hollister at lunch time. I arrived at 11:00am and met the grower. He is living my dream, well, not quite. I would have more vines and less trees. But, to each his own.

I got there and inspected the fruit. Very clean, no mold or mildew. Not a lot of bird damage. I split open a few berries. The sees were a bit green still, even though it was late in the season. I found out that these fine are very young. 3 yrs. So they probably are not quite used to being the foundation for great wines yet, but still very tasty. Brix came in at 24.2 from the refractometer. 25 from the hydrometer. I did a pH strip. 3.5. Right on the edge.

5 minutes on the crusher/stemmer and I was on my way home with 200 lbs of must.

When I titrated at home, I was a little disappointed at the TA. 5.2 g/l of acid. I will assume that
the young grapes gave everything they could to get the sugar up to 25. Dropping the acid
to almost .5 percent.

I corrected the acid with some tartaric. Not too much. I would have like to get the TA back up to 6 but I did not want to drop the pH too low. So, I hit a compromise. We will see. Also, I want to give the grapes, even though they are young, a chance to show what they can do. Faith. Yes, I do have faith.

White juice. It never ceases to amaze me. Red grapes make white juice. I took a sample at crush, and then another at 12 hours and a final at 24 hours. Each sample was deeper in color. I will post the pictures.

I started the yeast in a sucrose starter 12 hours after crush. Pitched it at 22 hours after crush.
By 36 hours, "mission control, we have fermentation".

Here we go. The magic begins.

I will keep you informed.



Sunday, October 02, 2005

Grapes are almost here

Harvest time is here. I heard from the grower this weekend. Harvest of the grapes I contracted is set for Thursday. By Friday, we will crush. Saturday will be pitched and then the magic starts.

I have been a bit worried about the weather. Cool and even some rain. I am hoping they are in good shape and I can keep the SO2 to a minimum.

I think about my choice of grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon. It is the grape for either the winemaker who likes to worry, because it comes in late. W Cab, you can only be sure that the grapes will be ready when they are ready, and no earlier. It is like playing chicken with fall. What will happen first. Do you wait for the grape to reach it's full ripeness, and risk getting caught at the end with
cool weather and rain that dooms you to mold? Or do you harvest a little early, happy that you got good clean berries, just a bit lower brix and higher TA, but no worries.

Or, do you stick it out. Don't turn off the road. Stare the autumnal season in the face and hold your ground. Because, you know, if you can wait those last few days or week, the grapes will reach that perfect balance of sugar, total acid and pH. And you will win.

Keeps the blood pumping anyway.