|Tuesday October 11, 2005
9:00Pm: How time passes. I thought I had done a diary recently, but I see it has been 5 days. I have not been able to get an escape so I am spaced out. A lot has happened, but I have not time to talk about it now. I will tell all in future diaries. Most things are going well. I can say that the 2005 Pinot will be nice. The Lodi stuff looks REAL promising and the Price Family zinfandel may be the best zin of the vintage. We are only waiting on Petite Sirah. More tomorrow. I need a small escape in the Movie Room.
Wednesday October 12, 2005
9:00Am: Ok, I am ready to give an account of some of what has occurred since last week. It would take me hours to tell all. First of all I will mention what we are doing today.
Today we are racking our cold fermented chardonnay into barrels and ........................................
12 Noon: How time passes. 1:00Pm: I have been busy stacking barrels in preparation for pressing Peloursin, Cab and Alvarelhao and our new section of Petite Sirah. All of these wines are either stuck or fermenting very slowly, so I will have to prepare more yeast. It will be a long day. I am anticipating high alcohols so they will be great for blending. As I tried to say earlier, the cold fermented Chardonnay will be racked into barrels soon after loading the press for the first time.
In the last several days we have pressed Cabernet, Peloursin from the front section, Carignan and Syrah. We have even pressed off our hot fermented Chardonnay, so both Chardonnays are in the barrel. We have also picked our new section of Zinfandel and harvested the Price Family Zinfandel. All sugars and acids look great. Time will tell.
The results of sugar tests of our remaining Petite Sirah vineyards have revealed a very slow rise in levels. Our Petite Sirah will be ready by next Monday and one section of Doug Rafanelli's PS is ready, but one Ponzo Petite is still only at 21.3 Brix and other sections of Rafanelli and Ponzo are at 22.5-23 Brix. I want 25 Brix. and my contract states a minimum of 23 Brix. So it looks like most of the Petite will come in by next week.
4:00Pm: I just got a call from Julia from Lambert Bridge Winery. She has about 3/4 of one ton of her Estate Petite Sirah grapes, picked today, that she has no room for. She has used all her fermenters. She offered the lot to me and I accepted it. In the mean time the sugar readings in the samples for our Estate front Petite Sirah have risen and we will be picking that section tomorrow. We will destem all the fruit tomorrow.
10:45Pm: Like I say, nothing is normal about Harvest, but change. There is a puzzle to solve everyday.
Doug Rafanelli Has some underripe Petite Sirah. Petite Sirah is the last varietal to be Harvested, even in Dry Creek Valley where we are warmer than most of Sonoma County. Petite Sirah needs heat and especially warm nights. That is why some of the best Petite Sirahs are great in the FootHills or Mendocino County where the nights are warmer than Sonoma County although the acids can be less than ours. Dry Creek and all of Sonoma County has been getting real cold, every night. We have been getting consistently 42-44 degrees in the morning low. Usually we get a spell in the Fall when we get warm nights still low at 55 degrees. Daylight is well under 12 hours now. Even though we got to 90 today (On my official Station), it took many hours to recover from a low this morning of 42 degrees a phenomenal 47 point range. Most vines are shutting down with these cold mornings and now they are predicting rain or cold days coming this weekend. I need to get the crop in.
Since Doug's Petite Sirah is low in sugar, I will need to blend this year. The color from the vines is incredible so I assume the tannins will be strong. I have my structure for the 2005 Petite Sirah. Now Julia has come through with what looks to be a fruit driven high 26 Brix Petite Sirah. I will blend the two to create great balance of fruit and tannins for the 2005 Petite Sirah. I will also bring in some Ponzo Petite to blend into the Estate fruit. It will be fun for the last time. It will be sad; excitement will be over. The Harvest will end for another season. I will wait anxiously.......................for what will come for this vintage and the next ones.
Thursday October 13, 2005
8:30Am: I am off soon to check the Petite Sirah at the Ponzo vineyard. Mich did a test yesterday and both areas were not ready. Even if they are ready tomorrow, we could not pick it, because Catarino is picking our Petite Sirah today and Friday and we need the trailer. The Ponzo's do not have equipment. It looks like there will be some light rain over the weekend so we probably won't get the Ponzo fruit for another week. Doug Rafanelli will do a sugar test today and bring a sample over here. My tests from his vineyard yesterday revealed sugars too low to pick. The fruit is drying out so I have to make a decision on whether to mix with the Lambert Bridge grapes. I did say Harvest will be over, but maybe not until next week. We still have a small amount of Estate Mourvedre still to pick and we may get some Late Harvest Sauv Blanc in November.
2:30Pm: The Petite Sirah puzzle was presented this morning and has been solved. I decided to have Doug Rafanelli pick 1.5 tons of his Petite Sirah to see where the sugar actually is. I then went over to the Ponzo Vineyard to check out the sugar there. There are two sections, one near the house and the other near the creek. Yesterday Mich had a reading of 23.4 at the house and 21.4 near the creek. When I arrived at the vineyard I saw John Hawley of John Hawley Winery. I was told he was picking some zinfandel down by the creek. I then drove down to the creek area and found that the Petite Sirah was already picked. The crew had not been told that the PS was not to be picked. I thought that would work great for John since he could mix the low sugar PS with the high sugar zinfandel. I was happy since I now will not have to worry about taking more Petite Sirah at low sugar. Tomorrow we will pick the Ponzo PS as well as more Rafanelli and the rest of ours. Trying to figure out who gets what trailer in order to pick the three vineyards has been a logistical nightmare. We have it figured out finally.
10:00Pm: I was wrong about my own vineyard!! I hate that! I like to be right!!! The sugar reading I got yesterday was not what I got today after destemming 1.5 tons, half the Front Petite Sirah. I told Catarino to go out and pick a sample. He came in with 22.2 and it swelled up to 23.1 in the evening. I also asked him to pick some raisins, since I figured they would help the whole sugar go higher the next day, especially during fermentation when the temperature reaches 90 degrees. The raisin sample swelled up to 26 Brix. I figured the block was ready, but I was wrong.
We harvested our Front Zin today and came up with a Brix of about 22. In all we destemmed almost 5 tons of petite sirah today. Julia's was 26 brix, Rafanelli's was 23 brix and ours was 22. An average of 23.8 brix. I suspect the reading will rise as high as 24.5, just what we want. To blend these three vineyard's grapes I decided to hold my refractometer (sugar tester) under the destemmer. What I did was check the sugar reading no less than 50 times as the juice catapulted into the fermenters as they were destemmed. That way I could check the first several bins to decide which lot went into the total of 5 fermenters. I think I have an equal blend in each fermenter. I would have liked to keep each separate, but that was not wise this time.
I've told Catarino to stop picking our Petite until we do a new sugar sample next week.
The Ponzo Petite Sirah comes in tomorrow. What adventure will that bring? I think very little. The sugar will be about 23.5 with a swell up to 24.5. I won't be wrong this time.
The Harvest continues!! What fun!! We have over a ton of second crop to pick next week. We also have a half a ton of Mourvedre and about 1.5 tons of our Front Petite to harvest.
Friday October 14, 2005
8:00Am: Today has brought our first problem. Barbara Ponzo just called and said she could not find pickers today. I walked out in the vineyard and found Catarino who is headed over to Ponzo to discuss the next plan. With money he can round up a few helpers to harvest the possible 4 plus tons of Petite Sirah. I hope to hear back soon.
12:30Pm: Doug has brought me 1.5 tons of Petite and we have received
one half a ton from Ponzo. Barbara Ponzo is very disorganized so I have
had to send Steve over to supervise. Catarino and two pickers are harvesting
the grapes. AH, Steve just arrived with three bins.........I have to go.
Saturday October 15, 2005
9:00Pm: The North wind is up!! It is cold, but I know there is no fog in the Bat Area. Maybe it will warm up.
Monday October 17, 2005
The North wind did bring warmer temperatures. We have reached 91 both today and yesterday. Doug Rafanelli brought in the last of his Petite Sirah today and we have started picking 2nd crop zin. We will pick 2nd crop until Friday when we will harvest the last of our Petite Sirah and Mourvedre. That will end our Harvest of red varietals. We may pick some Late Harvest Sauv Blanc in a week to a month depending on the weather. I am now hoping for some rain which will help the Sauv Blanc. Friday night we did receive .07 inches of rain which did very little to help the grapes form the noble rot.
Wednesday October 19, 2005
Just as I thought our warm temperatures have disappeared. We didn't even reach 70 degrees yesterday. We will warm up slightly going into the weekend. It doesn't matter, since we will pick the rest of our Estate Petite Sirah on Friday. We already have another ton of second crop Zinfandel ready to destem on Friday. Catarino will pick some second crop Barbera and Cabernet today and tomorrow. The quality of this second crop looks great.
Saturday October 22, 2005
I have good news. We will be producing a 2005 Late Harvest Sauv Blanc. On Monday Catarino will pick several hundred pounds of mostly raisins. The sugar should be very high. We will leave about half the remaining fruit still on the vine (green bunches) which have a brix of about 30. I am hoping the rain. that will certainly come in the next few weeks, will create the conditions for the noble rot. We will not harvest again unless the rot starts bringing brix readings into the 40 plus range.
Yesterday we harvested the last of our red varietals. The yield on the Mourvedre was one half ton which was more than I expected. We harvested about 1.5 tons of 2nd crop and 1.5 tons of our Estate Petite Sirah. All sugars looked good.
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