Sunday October 17, 1999
Low this morning 39; high over the last 2 days, 95
The 50-or-more point ranges in temperature have continued for the last few days. We've even had a certain amount of humidity. I don't remember in my 21 years here seeing this many days over 90 at this time of the year.
Brendan and I have been "pushing forward" the last two days, or should I say "dragging one foot behind the other." Brendan hasn't even stayed for dinner. He says that when he leaves here at about 7:00 or 8:00 after a 12-hour day, he goes home has a quick dinner and falls asleep. Since I've had a few more years of experience and of course do less of the hard physical labor, I've been able to pace myself and stay up until at least 11 o'clock each evening.
We pressed our Cabernet Franc on Friday and also the Pinot. After pressing, we've had to lower our estimated Pinot production to only 50 cases. The fermentation on the Pinot was really interesting though. It started fermenting even at 45 degrees on its own yeast and when we encouraged it to warm up a little, it immediately shot up to about 60 degrees and then we inoculated it with a good deal of PDM. At that point, it was 21 brix and within two days, it was dry. Our Teldeschi cab and Lane zin combination which I talked about last Thursday has been inoculated and is almost dry--another sluggish fermentation that we've been successful with. Our Aca cabernet has slowed down somewhat after spiking up to 100 degrees, and we've had to re-inoculate it with some yeast. Since Cabernet is less prone to stuck fermentations, we are not as concerned as we would be with a Zinfandel. We expect to be pressing a lot of our fermentations on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Because of the harvest/crush season we have been taking tasting appointments
only on Saturdays, so we had another large group of people stop by yesterday
for sampling our various '98 wines. With a little encouragement, a few
of those groups were even brave enough to taste our brand new 1999 Syrah
and Zinfandel out of the barrel.
Monday October 18, 1999
Brendan and I prepared to press for the next three days all our fermentations still perking. Tomorrow we will start with the Lane Zin Teldeschi Cab combo which has proceeded to ferment to completely dry. On Wednesday we will start pressing the cabs and Petite Sirah
Tuesday October 19, 1999
It was 34 this morning, but still got to 84 yesterday---another 50 point range. We received the Jones Cab today at 24.1 sugar--just what we wanted. We also had many customers come in today to taste so we were forced to consider our pressing until tomorrow. That became a reality when Brendan cut himself in many places caused by a hose hitting a stack of 5 gal glass containers (carboys). These carboys were stored in the wrong place and I feel responsible for it. I know we only have so much time--and and we let some things unattended, but almost all would not cause any harm. Thankfully, Brendan has no deep cuts, but he does have many Band-Aids on.
Wednesday, October 20, 1999
Pat has told me I have to keep this short since we have to reply to e-mail messages tonight. But I thought it would be interesting to go over our various pressings today which were almost exclusively Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from our vineyard. The first press, however, was our sluggish fermentation that contained one ton of Teldeschi Cabernet and two tons of Lane Zinfandel. This fermentation was probably the first time we pressed a wine that was completely dry at the time of pressing. As I've said before, we try to press at about 1 or 2 percent residual sugar to preserve as much fruit as possible. I don't believe in extended maceration. The flavor from this wine was explosive. I thought more Zin-like than Cabernet. Very spicy up front with a good middle also, which Brendan picked up on as being Cabernet.
The next press we did was estate Cabernet from our sandy loam. This wine had a certain amount of sugar left but also seemed to lack the depth of the first wine. These grapes were picked between 22.8 and 23.7, which could contribute to the perceived lack of depth. We next pressed the Aca Cabernet/Cabernet Franc fermentation. Brendan and I had high hopes and expectations for this wine and we were disappointed in comparison to the Zinfandels we have pressed this year. The next press was the Malbec for the Aca Modot fermentation which seemed to be the most intense. Lastly, we pressed our Aca Modot Cabernet fermentation and again I was somewhat disappointed in the color extraction and intensity. Of course, you must understand these are our first impressions and our opinions could dramatically change in the next several days. I can make one guess at this point--that the quality of the Zinfandel (I feel it is possibly the best Zin I have ever seen from this vineyard) has overshawdowed my impression of the Cabernets.
Tomorrow we will press our Petite Sirah, and I am anticipating great extraction and character from these grapes. Hopefully, I will not be disappointed.
Thursday, October 21, 1999
Brendan and I had one of those trying days. We had many decisions to make regarding which bins to press first. I haven't got into these pressing days yet, so I will now. Today we had a one ton bin (1800 lbs, potentially 2.75 barrels) that was fermented with 80% Cab Bottom and 20% Petite Sirah. We also had a bin that was fermented 33% Petite from the Bottom a different clone from the typical Petite Sirah that made up the remaining 67% of this bin. We then had to consider in the mix a bin of 100% Petite Sirah and 3 bins of 100% Petite from the Bottom. In all I had 5.38 tons to contend with. Our press holds 5 tons so we had to consider pressing lightly part of the load inorder to fit the rest in. As we press the skins get compacted and thus we are able to make room for more wet grape skins. The real art to this is to decide in what order and when to press. You see, the first wine in the press is obviously pure. Then all the others after that have to be estimated regarding percentages----unless you press inbetween or even empty the press. Now if you press lightly and leave these grapes in the press, how much juice actually came out into these barrels and what percentage and of course what still will be pressed ultimately on the final hard press overnight. . I calculated that we would press into about 16.5 barrels or 185 gals per ton. I obviously must also think about where I want these combination barrels to end up in my wines. Today the possibilities were endless!!: Should these barrels be considered for our Petite Sirah, our Zin, Carignan, or Estate Cuvee. We ended up free running, without actual pressing, the one pure Petite Sirah--then the 67% Petite followed by the three bins of the spicy clone of petite from the bottom sandy loam. We then press moderately to free up room for the Cab Bottom P.S. combination bin. overall I thought the quality looked and tasted great.
Brendan was cautious (slow) with his cuts from the other day and left by 4pm. I guess I have to realize that already he has 50 hrs in this week and will be back tomorrow.