David Coffaro Vineyard
          and Winery Winemaker's Diary

arrow September 30 - October 6, 2012

Monday October 1, 2012 

It's here!!! Finally we have temperatures over 100. We will be starting on Block 4 tomorrow. I will have more to report later.

5:00 Pm: Near 5 pm now it looks like the high today in our old official weather box was 107 at about 2 pm. It is still 106. Tomorrow will be similar with temperatures cooling off after that in the next several days and much cooler next week. This burst in highs will certainly ripen the Block 4 and probably the petite sirah and petit verdot. We will do some sugar tests later this week. The quality looks incredible. We are holding our prices on these 2012 futures until the end of October.

Tuesday October 2, 2012 

9:00 Pm:  Not like most people I know I have many passions as i have said before. My biggest passion has to be wine making, especially this time of year. Harvest is here. Nothing is more consuming than Harvest...................of course it is my biggest passion.

Tomorrow will be a big day. It will be the busiest day of the Harvest. I will try to document what happens at 7:00 am tomorrow.

We had 110 degrees today in our box in the vineyard....the box that has been here for 33 years. I can now hope we will get all the grapes in maybe in the next three weeks. It will be a trip.

We brought in the last of our Old Vine Zinfandel sort of. We still have the oldest two sections left. One is our First Block....Block One, at least 105 years. The only time this section was made into a wine was back in 2009. I thought it made an incredible wine but here is what was described about that wine by an online publication................

Washed out, sere at its heart and smelling vaguely of old apples, this bottling seems to be falling apart fast and oxidation effectively obscures any advantage as there may have been between it and the wine simply labeled Coffaro Vineyards. Reviewed: January 2011 the 2009 Wine Guerrilla Coffaro Block One.

I  took offense after tasting the wine. This tasting group backed off somewhat. I am hoping to harvest this section Saturday and keep it separate. In the next three days we will be harvesting Block 4 which is our oldest section....probably 115 years old. 

Wednesday October 3, 2012

A day in the life of David Coffaro Winery

7:00 Am: The first thing I do is check out the stock market. I still have my big positions in GOOG, AMZN, AAPL and QQQ. The Market is down a little.

7:15 Am: Matt and Salvador are here ready for the big day and Catarino and his crew have arrived and are staring to pick in our 4th block. We hope to bring in about 3.5 to 4 tons from our oldest section. I walked thought the area yesterday and thought the fruit looked great. Depending on how hot it gets, they may pick until Noon or so. The weather men have been wrong lately as usual. They were predicting 90's around here a few days ago and we have had two days of 108 and then 110. I expect another day near 100 and then cooling.

Also today we expect to receive grapes from Forchini for Bruce the Wine Guerrilla, about 10.5 tons. I believe this will be from two areas, one with some Petite Sirah.

7:30 Am: Of course I am also looking forward to the presidential debate tonight. Mitt Romney must do well to keep his hopes up. The debate starts at 6 pm our time so I should be ready to see it live.

I've gone out to check with Matt and he informs me he will be pressing our first Old Vine Zinfandel from our 3rd block and Matt's soft zin from our 5th block. He says he and Salvador will fill about 18 barrels. The soft zin should be under 14% alcohol and was from vines that had red leaves. We don't know why the leaves turned red and we are hoping to add some nutrients next year and thus keep them green. If we have the same problem next year we will have to think about pulling them out. You see grapes will not get fully ripe if the leaves do not stay green. This soft zin has about 10% Petite Sirah mixed in so it may turn out to be a nice wine.

Matt wants me to drive our Ranger down to Santa Rosa this morning and pick up a large box of dry ice. Dry ice is very cold and he wants it here and will add it to fermentations if the mass in our fermenters start rising above 90 degrees. Dry ice is a gas so it does not turn to water and thus will not dilute our fermenting wines.

8:00 Am: Yesterday we received a new display for our 6 foot square scale. We use our forklift to sit a bin of grapes on the scale and document the weight. The total weight comes in about 1100 pounds and the empty bin weighs 97 pounds. We have had this scale for about 10 years. The display that came with it has been very disappointing. When the sun is bright, the numbers are very hard to see. A few years ago I was told by the local scale people that there was nothing out there that was better. Last Friday I decided to go online and see if I could find something better. At 4:50 Pm Illinois time I got in touch with a nice guy who sold me a new LCD display that he said would be easy to see even in the sun. It arrived Monday and I had my local scale guy install it yesterday. WOW, what an improvement. I could see the display well even in the afternoon sun. The whole project cost about $1000 but is worth every cent.

Bruce the Wine Guerrilla came by yesterday and we had a nice conversation about the fruit we are custom crushing for him this season. With is fruit we should be filling over 300 barrels this year, more than 7,000 cases. We finished Old Vine Zinfandel yesterday  and received twice the amount of grapes as last year. The total was over 18 tons, more than any year in the past.

9:30 Am: I'm back from Santa Rosa with 500 pounds of dry ice. I see about 10 tons of grapes waiting for us.

10:30 Am: I just got back from a visit into Block 4 to check out what has been picked by Catarino and his friends. I noticed a great deal of fruit left back and questioned Catarino. He had some good reasons and i got my input in. He was leaving some second crop that obviously looked ripe and thus should be picked. He did a good job of leaving first crop red bunches. We have Valdiguié grapes that always look less ripe because they show red color, but are actually ready so he will pick them. Catarino will pick about 4 tons today and finish up tomorrow.

Matt and two helpers are pressing Zinfandel right now and the color looks great.

There is about 2 tons of Petite Sirah and 4 tons of Zinfandel in bins after being delivered by Andrew Forchini. These grapes will be combined and custom crushed for the Wine Guerrilla. Also Catarino has about 3 tons of Block 4. When all the fruit is in we will decide which bins will be combined and also into which containers. It is a puzzle that will be solved later today.

11:00 Am: Andrew Forchini just delivered about 4 tons of Forchini Vineyards 110 year old Zinfandel for the Wine Guerrilla. This will be fun to see how it compares to our old vines.

I just talked to Bruce (The Wine Guerrilla) and asked about the new fruit from McClain Vineyard. We have about 2.5 tons of Petite Sirah and 4 tons of Zinfandel. That means we can not ferment all together because we need to use no more than 25% Petite Sirah to call it McClain Zinfandel. I will destem one bin of Petite Sirah to see where the sugar is.

12:30 Pm: Been too busy to write............Took an hour to weigh all of Bruce's grapes and then Jerry our World Cooperage Barrel supplier came in with sandwiches for everyone. I had a half of a ham sandwich spiked with hot mustard. Matt is still pressing.

1:30 Pm: Our Block 4 grapes came in at 4.4 tons. Catarino says there may be another 3.5 tons left for tomorrow.

Forchini's Old Vine weighed in at 4.2 tons and Bruce's new McClain vineyard Zin came in at 4 tons with Petite Sirah adding another 2.4 tons. Soon we will be checking sugar.

1:50 Pm: The McClain Petite Sirah shows a sugar of 26+ and there are four bins. We have two types of fermenters....our plastic fermenters hold 1800 pounds and our custom stainless fermenters hold 2200 pounds. That is assuming the sugar is 24 to 25 brix. Zinfandel bunches can swell up by 2 to 3 brix and Petite sirah can go up by one % after the fermentation starts. Since the McClain Petite Sirah is high in sugar and weighed in at 4800 pounds we will use 3 plastic fermenters, each holding 1600 pounds. That will leave us some room to add water to rehydrate the Must if necessary.

2:10 Pm: Matt took a break to fill barrels. When we press and destem at the same time we need to be careful. Our press tray only holds a few barrels so if we don't keep an eye on it we could have wine all over the ground so Matt is filling some more barrels before we start with the McClain Zinfandel.

2:30 Pm: In the middle of all this I just received a remote control from DirecTV that I cancelled three times right after I ordered it last Saturday. I was assured by all three people it was cancelled but each said the person before them did not complete the job. I just called and was cut off so I am not happy.

In the mean time Matt is ready to destem the McClain Zinfandel.

4:00 Pm: Puzzle time. The McClain Zinfandel came in at 25+ sugar so we used 4 stainless to leave room for re-hydration.

Our Block 4 was harvested in two sections which is complicated. The South section is mostly Zinfandel and I figured it would be higher sugar, but there was so much shriveled up Syrah, Peloursin and even the small Petite Sirah bunches in Block 4....that the sugar in the North section with all the many varieties was high in sugar also. Both sections came in at 26+ brix. We have 8800 pounds so we are using 2 Plastic and 3 Stainless fermenters so we have plenty of room to add water as needed.

I expect the Forchini Old Vine Zinfandel to come in at high sugar also so we will use 5 plastics filled to 1680 pounds each totaling 8400 pounds. 

I got a hold of DirecTV finally and the nice lady said since I was on their protection plan, I was not charged for the remote. It seems to be a new version so I will try it out.

4:20 Pm: The Forchini Zinfandel for Bruce, came in higher than expected (28 Brix) but we should still have enough room to re-hydrate with water in the 5 plastic containers. If we still need room, we can always start another fermenter in a few days.

I am helping Pat with shipping information for next week. She is on her way Friday to watch a Giant game on Saturday. We plan to harvest on Saturday so I will be busy.

4:30 Pm: I still have a lot of work to do on the computer. Our Wine Club credit cards will be charged by me next Monday so I have many updates to put into our secure section of the computer. In awhile I will go up stairs and prepare for dinner and then the debate.

Matt just came in and we discussed possibilities for the next few days. He is just finishing up the Forchini Zinfandel and we have decided to add another plastic fermenter since the sugar is now 28% and may rise to over 30 brix in the next few days. We will have to watch the sugars in the next few days in the other fruit we brought in today. In all we harvested 15 tons of beautiful fruit that will make well over 1000 finished cases of wine.

9:25 Pm: it has been a long day but i wanted to close with what i thought about the debate. I heard recently so far by the talking heads that Obama was too professorially. I guess that meant he made sense. I heard he lost the debate because he did not speak up enough.................wrong.................CNN showed he had more time by 4 minutes. Look I like the facts and i was with what Barack said. Mitt had no answers but he was aggressive, like a dog....I am in the minority as usual on this subject. I just want to make great wine and this could be the best vintage ever. I like Obama because he makes sense but either president is not going to stop me from making new wines........................

10:00 Pm: I can't stop tonight. I have to think about what needs to be picked next. As i suspected sugar readings are up dramatically. Tomorrow, Catarino will take some new sugar samples from the 75% 0f the crop still out there. It will be an adventure as usual to harvest all before a rain. Like i have said before...........if i had to go through a Harvest all year round..............I could not last more than 10 years SO since the Harvest is only 3 months of the year..............I should live for 40 more years...................

BTW that would make me 109 years old...................

i still have many MLB games recorded so I will be up for awhile................

10:59 Pm:  I just went out and checked all the sugars in our fermenters today. I was surprised to see the Block 4 was up to 27+ sugar

The A's won so i am celebrating...................and I am heading up for a rest soon....Like i have said I hate sleeping.....it is a waste of time.............I do my best..since i know it is a benefit..................

Thursday October 4, 2012

Matt informs me that we are almost out of our Plastic and stainless fermenters and we will have no room for the fruit to come in Saturday. We have a stainless steel tank that will hold 4 tons of fermenting Must. We have never tried fermenting in it but today will be the first time. We brought in 4 tons of Block 4 yesterday and will have another 4 tons today so we will destem into this upright stainless. We usually use this tank for most of our bottling wine. It has a plastic top so we will remove it. We will hook a pump up to a valve and circulate the Must to keep it uniform. If the mass gets too hot we can turn on the chiller. It will be fun to see if we produce different Block 4 wine with this method. Most wineries our size use 4 ton fermenters and pump over in this way so we are confident it will turn out just fine.

9:10 Pm: I rarely criticize Barack Obama. I understand a little of what his responsibilities may be like. He can not do everything on his own. He wants to put front the facts, but has no choice but exaggerate like Mitt. I still think Barack was more honest, but they are politicians............

I am still here and ready for more intense action with my mind...what about my incredible warriors. Each of these warriors pick over 1000 pounds of small clusters in a few hours, under one pound average a bunch with Zinfandel. Cabernet will be the extreme. The clusters will weigh less than 4 ounces, even with the stems. I picked many tons of grapes back in the 80's and I know it is a messy, extremely hard job, especially when it is hot as it was in the last several days. Today we only got up to a high of 76 degrees....all our warriors were happier...

Wow, Wow....we checked samples from the vineyard. I was expecting high sugars and we found out we could be harvesting 20 tons or more right now. We checked in order of the lowest sugar..............Peloursin...24.8....Catarino said....a lot of raisins.....we will wait.....Barbera...25.6.....Petit Verdot......25.6.....Zinfandel 6th Block...26.1...Petite Sirah 27.....We need to go with Block One first.....that will be my new wine............

I have a dilemma. I have looked at the chart of GOOG and it should be up another 80 points, maybe. I have a profit so I may buy 4 of the stocks which have not gone up this year.......SODA, TEVA, CSCO, MSFT

It is a lot easier to walk outside without shoes on...........I have better balance.

As i have said before. I never want to stop thinking. I like escaping with some wine but it also entices me to think of my next step. My mind is always waiting for the next input. Tomorrow will be another day.

Friday October 5, 2012

10:15 Am: I got little sleep last night so I was down in the office before 7 again. Catarino is picking the first block which has some Carignan, Petite Sirah, Peloursin and Syrah in it. I will do a vine count but I think the total of these varieties is less than 15%. We will thus have a wine of 85% or so of Zinfandel. We expect about 4 tons and two tons will go into our milk tank. There is a plate on the outside and says it holds 664 gallons and was produced in 1950. Years ago Brendan and I fermented two tons of Zinfandel in it so Matt and I should have no problem doing it again. The other two tons will go into our stainless fermenters. I hope to keep this wine separate and make a new wine called Block One.

Andrew Forchini will bring in 8 tons tomorrow from some of his new vines. This will be for Bruce and consist of about 50% Cab Franc, 25% Petit Verdot and 25% Malbec. We are out of our fermenters so we will ferment all 8 tons in our large plastic tank. We will need to purchase more dry ice to keep it from rising above 90 degrees.

3:00 Pm: Matt, Bruce and I discussed possibilities for the next several days. There were a few options not mentioned above but we did decide to ferment Bruce's Bordeaux blend in the 8 ton plastic water tank. There will also be some Zinfandel coming in from Conti for Bruce tomorrow and we will destem and keep in picking bins until Monday or Tuesday when Matt will be able to free up fermenters after pressing.

For any comments or questions I encourage any of you to e-mail.....david@coffaro.com

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