David Coffaro Vineyard and Winery Winemaker's Diary

Week 18
April 30, 2000 to May 6, 2000 

Wednesday, May 3, 2000 

Since it is that time of year again, my birthday, I have tried a few of our older wines. I know I keep saying I like young wines, but I must say I have been surprised that I do like some of my older wines. For the first time in a long time I tasted our 1995 Cabernet (91) and our 1996 Zinfandel (92). I am really amazed that both of these wines have gained a great deal of complexity and body over the years. Both of these wines seem young and may improve with more aging. 

Yes it was my birthday today and again as last year I experienced one of my favorite jobs a necessity: sulfuring the vineyard. Here is what I said in this diary on May 5, 1999 about my time out in the vineyard last year: 

"As I mentioned, I sulfured our vineyard on my birthday two days ago. Sulfur dust is necessary to preserve the quality of the grapes that I harvest for our wines. A tractor is used to drive a machine that agitates the sulfur to push it out into the air in a fine mist. Sulfur dust is like any other fine dust. You shake it out into the air and it disappears. Grape farmers must apply this sulfur dust either early in the morning or late at night when the air is calm. This procedure is one of the most beautiful sites I've ever seen in my life. On a very calm morning, the dust will just cling in a very small spot over the vineyard as the tractor is driving through. As the wind comes up, the sulfur will dissipate into the air and not cling to the vines. On May 3rd, it was a calm morning but there was a rain just before I went out into the vineyard. To me, that is the best time to dust but also the most unpredictable. The rain could very well come in again and wash off all the sulfur, but if it did not rain (as happened the other day), the sulfur will cling to the wet leaves. With my experience in the last 20 years, this time of the year does bring a lot of wind here to the valley. Therefore, if you do not sulfur one day when it is calm, it may be too windy the next. Today, the temperature reached 85 degrees and tomorrow it could get even higher. Sulfur dust can burn the leaves at between 90 to 100 degrees, or even higher. I'll get more into this potential problem later in the year. Without sulfur dust, a powdery mildew will form on the leaves and grape clusters. I call it a dry form of mildew, a kind of black dust that will grow on the grapes. In small amounts, as a winemaker, I have found that it can even add character to the wine. But it also can completely destroy a crop if left unattended. From the limited courses I took at Santa Rosa J.C., I remember that this powdery mildew forms at between 75 and 90 degrees. Actually, at over 100 degrees, the mildew can be killed, but of course at that temperature, the quality of your grapes may be deteriorating as well. As the year goes on, I'd like to report more about how important it is to apply the sulfur at the right time. As a grower and a winemaker, I feel it is essential to be living on the property where the grapes are being grown to assure that this dust is applied at the right time." 

Each year the orders for our pre-harvest futures appear to be coming in at a faster rate. This is such a satisfaction for me, but also a concern. I want to make sure that all my customers can obtain the amount of wine they want at the lowest possible prices, but I don't want to sell wine we can't make. The crop level seems promising and we hope to produce 3500 cases again. The orders have amounted to 1000 cases already. At some point soon we will have to cut off this offer. We have received a great deal of orders from customers who inform us that their credit card is on file. Of course we do have a record of the last time you presented a credit card, but it will take time for us to search out the time of your last order and thus obtain the credit card number. It would be easier if you would call us with the number or fax it, especially for those of you who are concerned about putting your credit card # out on the internet. 

Saturday, May 6, 2000

Pat has amazed me at how fast she can find your credit card #'s on file, so my concern about looking them up is unfounded. Don't worry we will find them and process by next week. We are not going to run out of wine by then. Any orders that we have received over the internet are safely filed away under our pending folder. 

I discovered an oversight on my part yesterday: When we eliminated our 10% discount on a case of wine, I forgot to lower the price on the 1999 Zin and 1999 Cabernet Franc. I corrected the prices to $17 and and will process any past orders to reflect the lower price. Also some of our customers have miscalculated the price of the 2000 wine and I have had to correct those totals to reflect the right amount. If you have any questions please call. 

The local Press Democrat posted an article this morning in their newspaper predicting that our grape crop will be big. I took another look out in the vineyard and still do not see such a big crop. I did see the start of bloom in the carignan so I will know more shortly.

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