Wednesday July 4, 2001
Things have not slowed up much in the last few days. The temperatures
have zoomed up to 102 Sunday, 104 Monday, and 106 yesterday. Since we are
going to begin bottling tomorrow, I have been somewhat concerned. More
on this later.
Monday about 3:45 Pm, Brendan came into the office, just after the overhead guys left, with a very important question: "Do you know where the corks are?". I went "OH NO!!!!!" How embarrassing!! After complaining about soo much disorganization by the companies I have been dealing with lately, I had forgotten to order corks. I immediately called up Neocork and was happy to hear that my represenative was still in the office. I told her I would take anything they had. She informed me that they have an opening at that very moment. YES, they could code my info on 50,000 corks starting in a short time. We found out later that the corks can be delivered Thursday, tomorrow. What a break--it was lucky timing. We do have enough corks for 200 cases. This will get us started tomorrow. Steve and I are going to celebrate the 4th tonight at his place in Healdsburg. He is a short distance away from the High School's fireworks. We will sit in the street and sip wine. To give us time to recover, we plan to delay the start until 10:00 Am tomorrow. This will mean we will start actually bottling with 363 cases of Cabernet Franc at noon time. So even if the corks don't arrive until mid afternoon, we will be fine.
Yesterday morning the last of our bottles arrived. It was a strange event. Worrying as usual I was up at 6:00 Am. At 6:40 Am I heard a rumbling out side and found a 75 ft truck out on the street. The driver was confused by the address on the bill of lading. Instead of 7485 Dry Creek Rd it read 7845. An understandable error. BUT, the glass was coming from Modesto. AND the company was Gallo. I knew Gallo made their own glass bottles and had a bottling line and the biggest barrel storage cave in the world right down the road (Gallo Sonoma). I immediately thought there could be a mistake. The tag did show my name and had the right amount of cases and the bottles did appear to be similar to what we received, from an entirely different place, just last week. It was our bottles. Gallo had helped out another company. I helped to unload and then started to fill the new building. At first I moved the 200 plus cases of our 2000 Sauv Blanc over. The temperature inside was 75 degrees by the time I had finished at about 9:30 Am. I also moved all the 2000 Zp2C to the building . By moving this wine (SB and Zp2C) at 65 degrees, I hoped the temperature would move down to 70. As I said earlier, our high turned out to be 106 yesterday, but I did not say that the low the night before was 66--not much chance to cool down the building. Since we have a night air fan that comes on at midnight to move cold air in, we usually have little trouble keeping our stored wine at 65 degrees. I was glad to see that when I got up at 6:20 Am this morning, the low had reached 60. I immediately opened the two new overhead doors to let in some additional cool air. The temperature at that time inside was 70--not bad for the first day. I hope to see our nights cool down additionally in the next few days.
As I said earlier, I am a little troubled with the high temperatures during our bottling. We always have temperatures in the 80's or 90's each year, but we have never had 100+. Hopefully we will cool down somewhat. In any case, I have our newly revised jacketed tank to use. We can keep up to 425 cases of wine at any temperature (preferably 65 degrees) with this tank. We will have to use our bigger tank to bottle the estimated 730 cases of Estate Zinfandel and 648 cases of Estate Cuvee, but it would take more than a day to warm that mass up to an undesirable temperature since the tank will be in the shade.
The main chore I have had in the last two days has been to figure out where the estimated 3671 cases of newly bottled wine will be stored. I had many possibilities, from the new building or the winery to the ultimate site of our present storage building that we have used since the 1997 vintage. We finished clearing everything out of this building yesterday. I then had to figure out what to bottle first and where to store it in able to not have to unstack too many times. I have to plan on what wine will be removed and of course at what order. Obviously the zins and estate cuvee will go the fastest, but they are the most cases also. I can't store all that wine at the front of the building since I would not be able to get to the other wines. I decided to use 42 cases on 76 pallets equaling 3192 total cases.
Saturday July 7, 2001
This will be our third day of bottling. The first day as usual was mired with many down hours. It is hard to remember all that went wrong. One problem was the break down of our barrel cleaning machine and another was my drooping a whole stack (112 cases) of bottles. Only 5 bottles broke, but it took awhile to check for broken bottles and re-case them. We ultimately finished bottling 365 cases of Cabernet Franc at 5:45 Pm. Brendan worked until 8:30 Pm to get prepared for our Estate Zinfandel bottling of yesterday. Instead of starting at 10:00 Am on the 5th (the day after the 4th of July celebration), for the zinfandel we decided to start at 6:30 Am. With little problems we ultimately finished with 741 cases at 5:30 Pm. Brendan again had to set up for our bottling today so he didn't leave until 7:30 Pm. We were all mighty tired people.
Today I woke up at 4:45 Am. Brendan had threatened to arrive at 6:00 Am so I wanted to be ready before him. When I realized it was 4:45 and not 5:45, I tried with little success to get back to sleep. I finally gave up and dragged myself out of bed at 5:40 Am. Brendan arrived right at the time he had warned: 6:00 Am. By 6:15 Am he was filling the tank with our 2000 Estate Cuvee. We hope to bottle about 650 cases of that wine today. If we can finish before 5:00 Pm, everyone will be very happy.
8:15 Am: The tank is full and we commence bottling.
We have cooled down in the last three days with the fog coming in for a brief time this morning. We had a high yesterday of 90 degrees and a low this morning of 50. That brought the temperature in our new building down to the mid 60's--a good storage temperature for wine. In the vineyard I've seen a good deal of berries turning color in the zin and petite sirah. This puts us at least one week ahead of schedule so far this year.
11:45 Am: Caterino and his crew of 3 decided to take a 30 min. lunch after finishing 390 cases. Steve, Brendan and I take short breaks.
12:15 Am: The guys came back and Brendan decided to take lunch. I informed him that he could join Susie in the Movie Room and take a look at "Bring It On". Susie, Pat and I saw it last night. I love teen movies, so I was happy, but Pat has no taste and thought it was silly. She did watch alot of the extra stuff that was included with the DVD last night so she couldn't have been too bored. I didn't get to sleep until 11:30 Pm so I got about 5:15 hrs rest. I feel OK so we are planning a 6:45 dinner with friends at Santi tonight. I should sleep well tonight.
3:00 Pm: We finish with 656 cases of 2000 Estate Cuvee. An early
day!! ; not over yet, Steve has to clean the bottling machines and Brendan
has to get ready for Monday when we will be bottling about 355 cases of
petite sirah, 255 cases of syrah and 70 cases of Pinot. I may take a nap
before dinner, but I have to pay bills first.
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