|Wednesday, September 5 2001
The day time highs have remained in the high to mid 90s and the lows in the high 40s. These extremes have accelerated the ripening of our zinfandel even though I irrigated late last week. Brendan and I took sugar samples yesterday and we are getting close to 25 brix. Steve and Caterino are picking another growers fruit today so we may not see them for a day or two more. Hopefully they won't be picking Sunday during my Raider game.
Our first pressing of reds went well. We pressed our first component of 2001 Aca Modot, a blend of Merlot, Malbec and Cab Franc. Right after pressing it already possesses great fruit and complexity. This fruit comes from the young section, on the old Indian site, that was planted in 1994. These vines are improving every year. We do have our petite verdot as well as half the malbec left to pick in this area. The rest of the vines from this site were planted in 1981 and consist of about 3 tons of Cabernet and half a ton of cab franc. We will pick this area in the next week or two.
We also pressed a mixture of petite sirah and zinfandel from our new lake area near the house planted in 1998. Included in this blend is some old vine zin. My first impression of this wine was great. It had incredible fruit and spicy intensity. Some time in November or December I will decide which wine that these 3 barrels will be blended into.
Some of you have sent me e-mails wondering about Sally our new apprentice. Sally is friend of 10 years. She and here husband Brian live in Santa Rosa. A few years ago they bought a piece of property in the Mantanzas Creek area. A year ago they planted a few acres of pinot noir and syrah. I plan on buying some of their first crop next year. I have been encouraging them to start a winery in the Santa Rosa area where they could crush there fruit in the coming years. I have heard that there neighbors would not let them have the winery on site. Sally will be coming by every Tuesday or so to help out and learn a little about winemaking from Brendan and I. Since she is cute, we will allow her to hang around.
10:30 Pm: After several conversations with Steve this evening, we are harvesting tomorrow. Actually for one of the few times in my life I was very docile in my questions.
Steve and I go back about 10 years now. Steve is one of the nicest people I have ever known. He is one of those people that you keep asking: how does he do it? Steve wants to please!! That is how he does it. He cares. That is how he does it. Does Steve have his flaws? Yes! But Steve has less than most of us. Surely less than I have. Like I say I usually let everyone know how I feel. AND I am usually a curmudgeon. Again Steve is a nice guy naturally.
When I want Steve to do things in the vineyard, we sometimes clash. Steve is such a nice guy he sometimes promises things he can't accomplish. Like, I have to keep on him about fertilizing and weed control. I am always my curmudgeon self and he is always his very respectful nice self. I guess I should get to the point even though I am enjoying finally putting all this in perspective for my self. After all this is My Diary!!
Tonight I found out that the Maple Vineyard may be ahead of us in Steve's picking scheme. This is mostly my fault since I informed Steve last week that: because of the mite problems I have been having, I probably would not need to harvest this week. Now Steve knows as well as I that we are usually ready to harvest zinfandel before the Maple Vineyard (they are 4 miles down toward Healdsburg in a cooler growing area) so he had taken this in consideration. When the Maples said they were ready tomorrow Steve figured let's go! He wants to keep his pickers busy. When I called last night with a friendly update that I after all was ready also, he had a quandary. I called again today for an update on his picking schedule and he initially informed me that he could pick on Sunday. For a change I was controlled and just asked a few questions one being whether the Maples were ahead of me. He informed me that that was the case. I backed off realizing I had not stepped up earlier last week.
I must digress to explain again that as most of you know the harvesting of grapes is extremely unpredictable. The scheduling can change for many reasons; one being the need of a certain winery. During a day and in to the evening there can be many converations between workers, vineyard owners and wineries. We have 16 hour work days.
Tonight I got lucky, because indeed part of the fruit from the Maple Vineyard may be less ripe than the needs of one of the local wineries. You see, the Maples sell to more than one winery. This being the case, it seems that there will be a break tomorrow and the next several afternoons so that Caterino and his crew will be able to pick our Zinfandel. Remember we don't mind accepting fruit in the afternoon when it is warm, unlike most wineries. On with the HARVEST!!!
Thursday, September 6 2001
I must start with something that affected me deeply today. Our favorite cat of only a few months ( a baby) has disappeared. We have many cats and they often don't come back at times, but this was a special vibrant one, very curious about everything, that was destined to get into trouble. Good-bye Sable!!
Caterino did come in today with his crew of 15. That kept me busy, because
with Steve off delivering the Maple's grapes, I had to drive tractors and
trucks in our vineyard. I left Brendan back in the shade to process the
harvest of old vine zinfandel. I saw many red bunches and many bunches
with raisins. The raisins will swell up in sugar over night so we will
have to make a reevaluation tomorrow about the actual sugar count. The
initial reading predicted about 24 brix and a ph of 3.5. Since I know the
ph will go up after M/L conversion, I will probably need more acid for
a great balanced wine. This could be a great year so I don't want to mess
it up. If we see a reading over 25 tomorrow morning as I am anticipating,
I will probably instruct Caterino and his crew to pick some Barbera. Barbera
is low in sugar and also high in acid, just what we need.
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