David Coffaro Vineyard and Winery Winemaker's Diary

September 12 - September 18, 2010 

Wednesday September 15, 2010

We have started picking Block 4. Since 2003 I have made the right decision on when to pick Block 4. Block 4, by far our best seller, is a field blend and it is the hardest area of our vineyard to predict when to pick and especially what the sugar and acid is in balance because there are so many varietals mixed in to the block. This my 32nd year of harvesting fruit from our vineyard so I have had great experience. There is rain coming in...............The forecast was set 2 weeks ago when there was a prediction of maybe 3 inches of rain. Then it looked two days ago that only a few showers may occur. Now two days later I see maybe 2 inches may fall here. We will finish our Block 4 tomorrow. We still have our Block 6 Zinfandel on the vine and Peloursin. If we get more than one inch of rain there could be some rot developing in those two areas. Most of the other varietals will hold up to two inches of rain. Three inches would not be good. We are fortunate to have all our old vine Zinfandel harvested. All our custom crush Wine Guerrilla Zinfandel is two weeks out and I don't know of anyone besides us who has harvested Zinfandel. Stress is here!! 

10:pm: Harvest is stressful. It is hard also on those who are not involved in decisions. Now, there can be those who observe who also do not know what those involved in the Harvest have to go through. Everyone who is ever here during the Harvest can see if they concentrate. All of us involved here have to go through stress that is a thrill and agony at times. Is rain coming? Some of us feel it more than others.

10:15pm: I just calculated that in our two acres of Block 4 we harvested 11,500 pounds. That sounds like a big amount but that amounts to 2.9 tons per acre. New plantings of any varietal will produce 5 tons an acre even in a low yielding year as this one. Old Vines don't produce much so maybe I should raise my prices? Don't worry, I will always keep my wines affordable.

Saturday September 18, 2010

I love delegating authority. After I turned 54 I hired Brendan and then 10 years later I hired Matt after Brendan started his own winery. One of the few benefits of aging is that I have excuses to hire someone younger to accomplish our many hard laborious jobs. I also like to stay back and have Matt take control of organizing our many tasks. He does a great job. This week has been stressful as I have said. I make the final decisions but Matt has done most of the work. This year we have used Salvador to help out Matt but in the last few days Matt has done all the work except with help from Salvador when we destem. I have been told Salvador does not like to be idle. I have said in the past, most of this winery tasks have to be planned carefully and then followed methodically in order. Organization is the name of the game. This week Salvador has spent most of his time in the vineyard helping to pick grapes. He is happy.

In the last two days we have pressed our first Zinfandel into barrels. It is exciting!! I have even filled a few barrels in the evening to allow Matt to go home at a reasonable hour. He is so organized that he is out of here everyday by 5pm.

I forgot to mention that like planned we harvested our Sauv Blanc Estate grapes on Tuesday. This is the first crop off these vines. The sugar was about 22.5% and the acid was perfect. We are barrel fermenting in our cool storage building in neutral oak barrels. Also on Tuesday we decided to harvest Petite Sirah and Barbera for our 2nd sparkling wine of the Harvest. By using 60% Petite Sirah and 40% Barbera we have a perfect balance of acid and color, 20 brix and an acid of 3.2PH. We believe we are the first winery to use these untraditional grapes in a sparkling wine. We are excited. We are hoping to produce about 100 cases of each of the Sauv Blanc and Sparkling wine. Our first sparkling wine harvested on August 26 from mostly Pinot Noir has finished fermenting and tastes great. Only 25 cases will be produced. 

The weather forecast is for rain starting this evening. The weather experts have backed off and now predict less than a half inch in our area. If so that amount would be perfect to wash off the leaves and benefit the Harvest. We may be ready to pick more fruit in the week of September 27. Most of the samples of our remaining varietals are between 20 and 22.5 brix (percent). A warm up next week would move these numbers up at least 2 percent by the end of the week.

I have heard from many of our fellow growers and wineries that they have suffered a great loss of crop from the 110+ temperatures we had a few weeks ago. Some have lost almost all their Zinfandel fruit. We are down 40% from last year so I feel we are fortunate.


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