Saturday, December 08, 2007

All the wines have been put to bed

If you have kids, you know about getting them to bed. No matter how much planning and preparation, there seems to be a flurry of activity right at bed time. Water, blankets, scary shadows, things they forgot to tell you earlier that now are so important that they can't wait until morning.

It seems like they will never fall to sleep. But, they do and then you can relax and everything seems calm and in their place.

Wine making is like that too. Right after the crush, everything seems to be happening at once. Things that should just be in their place, seem to keep popping back up or are a lot more work and take more time than expected.

But, finally, everything is where it should be, wines have finished fermenting. Barrels are stacked. Paperwork is done and now you can take a breath.

That is where I am now. Taking a breath. Maybe it will have a glass of wine too.


Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Chardonnay has arrived

Today, Edwin and I went down to pick up our Chardonnay. Jason, the winemaker at Sapid Winery, was just using his new automated grape sorting machine for the first time. To a large extent, he just needs to dump the clusters in the top and it stems, sorts, cleans out the MOG (Material Other than Grapes), drops them into the must pump and away it goes.

In Practice, it is not completely hands off, and requires some active participation to keep the stems that have been removed clear of of the shoot and make sure that everything proceeds as expected.

Grape technology has not progressed to the coffee vending machine stage and I hope it never does. But, I think tools like this allow passionate winemakers to focus on what they love to do, making great wine, and not get bogged down in some of the more mundane tasks. Also, there is probably a benefit to the end product since the time between the grapes being picked and getting into the fermenter can be reduced.

As you can see in the picture, Jason has just dumped a bin of grapes into the hopper and Edwin is seeing that they are coming out onto the shaker tray.

We picked up 400 lbs of grapes today. Packed them into our bins with dry ice for the trip home and stop over at my office until the the end of the day (I have to do some activities that actually generate income instead of consuming it.) Then, this evening, we met back at my place to press it out, sulfite it and let it cold soak for a day. It was much fun.

Tomorrow, I will adjust the chemistry, pitch the yeast and away we go.

We expect the Syrah to come in about 2 more weeks and then Zin after that.
Man, do I love this time of year.


Sunday, August 26, 2007

My new stainless steel fermenter

The new fermenter arrived. After months of waiting, it finally came in, and it is beautiful, stainless and big. I knew that it was going to be big, but standing next to it, it really hits brought it home. 500 liter doesn't sound so big, but when you think about it in gallons, 132 gallons is a lot of wine.

Fortunately, it is a variable capacity tank, so I don't need to use the entire capacity right away.
Maybe next year.


Saturday, March 24, 2007

Bud Break 2007

That time of the year has rolled around again. Bud break is here and again, all
of the vines are shooting out fuzzy green buds, and even little leaves are
starting to emerge from some of the earliest risers.

The 3 year old vines all seem to know exactly what they are doing, which you
would expect. The exciting thing this year is watching the new vines. This is their
second year, only planted a year ago now. Although they are all across the
board in their growth, what they lack in discipline, they are more than making
up for in vigor.

Now to get the new trellis up so that I can be ready for shoot positioning as the
their growth reaches the next stage.