||Wednesday, May 3, 2000
Since it is that time of year again, my birthday, I have tried a few
of our older wines. I know I keep saying I like young wines, but I must
say I have been surprised that I do like some of my older wines. For the
first time in a long time I tasted our 1995 Cabernet (91) and our 1996
Zinfandel (92). I am really amazed that both of these wines have gained
a great deal of complexity and body over the years. Both of these wines
seem young and may improve with more aging.
Yes it was my birthday today and again as last year I experienced one
of my favorite jobs a necessity: sulfuring the vineyard. Here is what I
said in this diary on May 5, 1999 about my time out in the vineyard last
"As I mentioned, I sulfured our vineyard on my birthday two days ago.
Sulfur dust is necessary to preserve the quality of the grapes that I harvest
for our wines. A tractor is used to drive a machine that agitates the sulfur
to push it out into the air in a fine mist. Sulfur dust is like any other
fine dust. You shake it out into the air and it disappears. Grape farmers
must apply this sulfur dust either early in the morning or late at night
when the air is calm. This procedure is one of the most beautiful sites
I've ever seen in my life. On a very calm morning, the dust will just cling
in a very small spot over the vineyard as the tractor is driving through.
As the wind comes up, the sulfur will dissipate into the air and not cling
to the vines. On May 3rd, it was a calm morning but there was a rain just
before I went out into the vineyard. To me, that is the best time to dust
but also the most unpredictable. The rain could very well come in again
and wash off all the sulfur, but if it did not rain (as happened the other
day), the sulfur will cling to the wet leaves. With my experience in the
last 20 years, this time of the year does bring a lot of wind here to the
valley. Therefore, if you do not sulfur one day when it is calm, it may
be too windy the next. Today, the temperature reached 85 degrees and tomorrow
it could get even higher. Sulfur dust can burn the leaves at between 90
to 100 degrees, or even higher. I'll get more into this potential problem
later in the year. Without sulfur dust, a powdery mildew will form on the
leaves and grape clusters. I call it a dry form of mildew, a kind of black
dust that will grow on the grapes. In small amounts, as a winemaker, I
have found that it can even add character to the wine. But it also can
completely destroy a crop if left unattended. From the limited courses
I took at Santa Rosa J.C., I remember that this powdery mildew forms at
between 75 and 90 degrees. Actually, at over 100 degrees, the mildew can
be killed, but of course at that temperature, the quality of your grapes
may be deteriorating as well. As the year goes on, I'd like to report more
about how important it is to apply the sulfur at the right time. As a grower
and a winemaker, I feel it is essential to be living on the
property where the grapes are being grown to assure that this dust is applied
at the right time."
Each year the orders for our pre-harvest futures appear to be coming
in at a faster rate. This is such a satisfaction for me, but also a concern.
I want to make sure that all my customers can obtain the amount of wine
they want at the lowest possible prices, but I don't want to sell wine
we can't make. The crop level seems promising and we hope to produce 3500
cases again. The orders have amounted to 1000 cases already. At some point
soon we will have to cut off this offer. We have received a great deal
of orders from customers who inform us that their credit card is on file.
Of course we do have a record of the last time you presented a credit card,
but it will take time for us to search out the time of your last order
and thus obtain the credit card number. It would be easier if you would
call us with the number or fax it, especially for those of you who are
concerned about putting your credit card # out on the internet.
Saturday, May 6, 2000
Pat has amazed me at how fast she can find your credit card #'s on file,
so my concern about looking them up is unfounded. Don't worry we will find
them and process by next week. We are not going to run out of wine by then.
Any orders that we have received over the internet are safely filed away
under our pending folder.
I discovered an oversight on my part yesterday: When we eliminated our
10% discount on a case of wine, I forgot to lower the price on the 1999
Zin and 1999 Cabernet Franc. I corrected the prices to $17 and and will
process any past orders to reflect the lower price. Also some of our customers
have miscalculated the price of the 2000 wine and I have had to correct
those totals to reflect the right amount. If you have any questions please
The local Press Democrat posted an article this morning in their newspaper
predicting that our grape crop will be big. I took another look out in
the vineyard and still do not see such a big crop. I did see the start
of bloom in the carignan so I will know more shortly.