David Coffaro Vineyard and Winery Winemaker's Diary

Week 38
September 15, 2002 to September 21, 2002 

Wednesday September 18, 2002 

Besides winery matters, I've been having trouble with Starband, our wireless connection to the internet. I keep losing connection. I could not upload a diary entry because of this. 

We have our first stuck fermentation. It happens every year. Two of our zinfandel fermentations have slowed way down and have a sugar amount of about 3%. I get very depressed , because I feel like some of my children are in trouble. We are preparing to press now and get the wine off the skins. The skins an be very toxic to the yeast. We will press into two fermenters and add yeast again. Then tomorrow we will put the wine in barrels. I have faith that I can save my children and get the wine to finish fermentation; otherwise we will add the wine to a fresh amount of grapes to be harvested soon. 

Tomorrow Caterino and a few guys will come and start preparing for the removal of our Sauv Blanc vines. They initially will cut off the top of the vines and remove the wire. Then later we will come in with a tractor and remove the root section of the vines. After that, the soil will be ripped to break up into a more pliable condition so that the new vines will grow easier. 

Also tomorrow we will probably harvest some petite sirah and zin that are intermingled together. These vines are in the same section as the sauv blanc and will be removed also. We plan on planting  all of this area to petite sirah and cabernet. 

Thursday September 19, 2002 

I filled 24 barrels of zinfandel today with Brendans help. It has been a very tough day. I was working from 6:am until 6:pm non stop, but Brendan and I love it. We have a great deal of satisfaction since we accomplished something today. We have 600 cases of wine in the barrel, and about half of the wine is already sold as "Futures". Tomorrow we will produce as much wine. Block 4 is the wine we will be barreling tomorrow. 

Saturday September 21, 2002

So much has happened, but I have little time to write. We filled almost 20 barrels yesterday, but we should have had 21. I'll talk about that later. All but 1.5 were Block 4. We did harvest the last of the zin and the started off on our petite sirah. Almost everything in the vineyard is ready to harvest according to sugar readings, but the acids are way too high. We are going to wait for a few more days in the hope that these numbers will come more in line. 

Yesterday I had my biggest loss of wine in the 9 seasons of making commercial wine. For some reason that I can't explain, a barrel of Block 4 was lost. As a barrel was being filled, I went to observe the container that collects the wine from the press before pumping to the barrel. A barrel takes less than three minutes to fill so I must be quick in this observance. This container sometimes gets clogged with sediment from broken down skins and stems (lees). As I walked back to check the barrel about a minute later, I found that wine was overflowing all over the floor, as these pictures show. I turned off thee pump and called Brendan in, because we had to clean up the wine before it went under all the stacked barrels. What I forgot about for another minute or so was that the press collection container was still being filled with wine. What a mess that was. This container had been overflowing at the same rate for a good amount of time. I turned off that valve and we preceded to clean up the messes. In after thought, I must assume that this barrel had already been filled earlier in the day and when I started the pump again, it started overflowing at once.  In all it looks like we lost about 25 cases of wine (one barrel). We would have sold this wine for about $25 per bottle or $7500. Now, there is the cost of producing the wine all the way to bottle that must be deducted, but it is obvious that this is a big loss. 

What is interesting is that our insurance company is stalling on deciding whether is defend us in the ADA complaint. It will be interesting to see what they say about this problem.


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