David Coffaro Vineyard and Winery Winemaker's Diary

arrow June 5 - July 2, 2011

Sunday June 5, 2011

So Pat is enjoying herself in The City watching Giant games so I am here on Saturday night about 9pm, starting to put down facts so this will go up on Sunday. We are having a record breaking rain event.  I am getting drenched walking back and forth from the winery to the office while writing, making espresso and roasting coffee beans.

I am starting to realize that even though I may live well over 100 years, I won't think as clear after the next 20 so I need to tell stories:

Joe was the first person to really motivate me. I had my Mother first and she sure motivated me but in a different way so yes she was the first. But Joe would get me upset. Joe would make me happy. Joe would challenge me. At one time in my life, Joe was second to my Family in importance.

I met Joe in February 1961 at Cal. I was 17 years old. I had just got through high school, Balboa was a horrible school, long story, another time. I got through Balboa with a "B" average. I did better but the teachers didn't think so. I got into The University of California. I had a good score on the SAT in Math but I still think Cal was desperate then, they made a mistake, I flunked out in 5 months. Joe and I would go bowling, we had fun. In those days before the protests, it seemed that everyone there was so serious, they would rarely look up out of their books. Cal is great, they sent me alumni information for years as if I was still a member. Joe and I met the first day of school because we were both taking Engineering and we both had to take bonehead English because we had low scores in English on the SAT. I took the equivalent of 20 credits, no credit for English. I also had to take ROTC, and learn all about the Civil War. Joe did not have to take ROTC because he was from Bolivia and was not a citizen. Joe barely made it with a D plus overall and we both switched majors several times after that. He made it through Cal and I made it through City College Of San Francisco and San Francisco State. Both colleges gave me a better education by FAR!

Joe and I had a bond, through Cal. I also admired him and he was a friend.

For a time in the early 60's we were the real American Graffiti. The American Graffiti movie was about a place in Modesto during the early 60's but we all knew after the movie came out, we had lived it!

Joe lived in San Leandro and I lived in San Francisco. The Oakland, San Leandro strip was the ultimate American Graffiti. After I flunked out of Cal, I still kept in contact with Joe. He always called (I still think I know his parents #, it was not easy then, no programed anything), I always called. The talks were short but I always knew we would be on the Strip on Saturday night.

The times on the Strip in the early 60's were some of the best times in my life!!

I had a 1963 Ford Galaxy then with 300 horsepower. A few times we even raced other hot cars. I was with Joe, Larry and Garcia, as Joe called him. There was a drive-in theater off of East 14th Street in Oakland. At about 6pm on Saturday night we would cruise up and down East 14th Street starting in Oakland and turning around at a stop light in San Leandro. On the Strip there were only autos filled with all guys or all girls. Of course we would have our windows down and constantly try to talk to girls. Joe was smooth!! I did the driving and he did most of the talking. We would have our radio blaring Elvis, The Beach Boys, Stevie Wonder, The Four Seasons and many more. One of our all time favorites was "It's My Party" by Leslie Gore. I remember Joe always making fun of us. He would make me upset by calling Ali, Cassius and he would make fun of Garcia and I because we liked Elvis. He would make fun of Larry about very trivial things. He was a very dominant person and liked to be the center point of anything we did. We all looked up to him. He was our leader.

Depending on our luck or not we would end up at the drive-in theater after 7pm and cruise around for awhile and end up stopping next to some attractive girls. We would consume many cans of Country Club Stout Malt Liquor. It was strong and got us high quickly. At first I was 19 years old. In November of 1963, Joe turned 21 and he would supply us with the beer. Before that we somehow obtained beer from someone else. I turned 21 on May 3rd 1964 and spent the night on the strip, even though it was a Sunday. I believe 1964 was the last year of cruising. We actually wouldn't consume much alcohol. We would be sober by 9 or 10. I remember driving home one night back toward San Francisco in my hot Ford. It was about 3am and no one was in sight so I floored it. I was stopped by a Highway Patrol officer. He asked me if I knew how fast I was going and I said over 100. He said I was going 115 and did I know I could be sent to jail. I said I was sorry. The officer gave me a ticket for going 20 miles over the speed limit. I think he knew I was sober and I would not drive that fast again.

On the Strip, I never met a girl that I was crazy about and never messed around much. But Joe and Larry both met their wives on the strip or at the drive-in. They were both wholesome, wonderful and nice attractive ladies. What was unique about the Strip was in all the times on the Strip we never met anyone that was sleazy.  It was a high class dating place, better than any bars I frequented later in the 60s and 70s. It was fun!!

Joe ended up as a DEA officer. I kept in close contact with him into the mid 70's. Joe spent many years traveling in Europe where I visited him twice and he ended up in Columbia were he ran the operation there when Pablo Escobar was around. Being close to criminals and against drugs Joe turned very conservative during the late 60's and we rarely talk these days, but we still have that bond through Cal and the Strip.

Thursday June 9, 2011

I just took a walk with Matt to see what Catarino, Salvador and Martha were up to in the vineyard. Several weeks ago we hired Martha to help in the vineyard and also clean the buildings around here. Martha is Catarino's wife and has helped many times over the years. She used to clean houses but spent much of her time home taking care of their several children. She has more time now so since we have a lot of work to do we decided to hire her full time. The three vineyard workers were thinning grapes.

After walking through the vineyard I was amazed at how well it looked. I have never seen the Carignan look so good at this time. There is always shatter in the Carignan. That means the berries fall off after bloom, as much as 50%. That is not a problem because what is left fills out just fine in June and into July. This year the crop looks bigger than usual and I see very little shatter. I am thinking maybe this rain was good at bloom time. I know a few years in the past when we have had some real hot weather during bloom, the berries did not set well. Like I said last week, we have never had this much rain in June in over 100 years, longer than any vineyards were producing premium grapes in Sonoma County.

The Zinfandel crop looks very light, but again I see a good berry set and no apparent damage from the rain. The old vines of Carignan, Zinfandel and some mixed varietals in Block 4 account for 10 acres, about half of our vineyard. The rest of the vineyard is comprised of much younger vines. All those varietals look to be carrying a very big crop this year. Catarino, Salvador and Martha have already pulled off many shoots and now will cut off as much as 50% of the bunches on these young vines. We have waited until bloom has finished to make sure the berries are set. There will be no thinning of the old vines.

                                               x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x  x x x x      

As most of you know, we produce a wine called Aca Modot. Our first vintage was in 1997. For the last 10 years the blend has consisted of only Bordeaux varietals.

In 1979 when I first walked the vineyard with Paul, a great person who had farmed grapes for over 50 years, I was told the Pomo Indians used to have a village here on the property. He took me to a knoll high above the Dry Creek where water would not flood. The soil even today is black from all the fires that the Pomos needed to survive. It is so loose, no water sits on it and you can easily pick up a handful of Earth and sift it through your fingers. Here is the only link I can find in Google mentioning the village:

Last night I tasted our 2007 and 2009 Aca Modot. They are both similar in style and taste even though the 2007 is mostly from Gallo's grapes and the 2009 is all from our vineyard. I can't describe the taste, I'm not good at that, but they are both unique. Some may not like the fresh fruit, but there is so much complexity that the wine would make anyone go "Wow".

Mark was one of many people who motivated me when I started  to make wine. He was one of the first people to recognize that I was doing something good. In 1994, my first vintage, I made 427 cases of wine and I did not know who would buy one bottle. I had made amateur wine for 15 years but when people like Melanie, Doug, Everett and especially Mark started purchasing my wines, it gave me confidence.

Mark was another person like Joe that I admired. He projected that he knew more about wine than anyone else. He was vocal and tried to be the center of the conversation. Most of the time he was great and informed us in his way.

Adam and Diana from Siduri started their winery in 1994 also. Mark was a big customer of both of our wineries. It was fun to taste with Mark and Adam because they both had opinions and thus I learned a lot.

Mark would give me advice constantly. I love all the information I can get, but I usually did not follow some of his radical suggestions.

Then in 1997 I produced Cabernet from two sections of the vineyard. One was from the Aca Modot area and the other was from a section nearer to the creek in a sandy loam soil. The wines produced were extremely different. The one from the Aca Modot site was concentrated with dark fruit character while the sandy loam wine was lighter in color and much fruitier. I produced a barrel of Cabernet Franc also from a section right off the Aca Modot site in extremely rocky soil.

Mark came by to taste barrels before I blended and as usual he had some advice. This time the advice was great. After tasting two barrels of Cabernet and the one barrel of Cabernet Franc all three from the Aca Modot area, Mark said I had the makings of my first "Reserve Wine". I cringed when the word "Reserve" was mentioned. I would never call one of my wines a "Reserve" because the word is used too much, but Mark did give me the idea to call the wine Aca Modot.

I didn't want to call it a "Reserve" so I decided on "Aca Modot" since that was where the grapes came from. Over several years, Mark had many other suggestions but that was the best one. The 1997 Aca Modot is a blend of 67% Cabernet and 33% Cabernet Franc. Only 70 cases were produced. In 1998 I produced our second Aca Modot, a blend of 73% Cabernet, 14% Cabernet Franc, 5% Malbec, 5% Zinfandel and 3% Barbera. I think it turned out great but Mark disagreed. In 1999 I dropped the Zinfandel and added small amounts of Merlot, Malbec and Petite Verdot along with a little Barbera to the Aca Modot blend. Starting with the 2002 vintage I dropped the Barbera and the blend has consistently only been from Bordeaux varietals.

9:00 Pm  Pat will be home tomorrow. I have missed her and I look forward to picking her up in the afternoon. Thanks to Dennis, Pat and I will have Abalone tomorrow night. On the West Coast some of our fortunate divers have harvested some Abalone.

In Carmel recently we went to a restaurant who had Abalone on their menu. I assume it was farm harvested and not from someone like Dennis. I was interested and decided to order the first course which was only $16. You would not believe the portion of Abalone. It had to weight around 2 ounces. Pat and I thank Dennis. We will have a great meal tomorrow with a whole pound of Abalone.

...............What do you do with a cat who heaves his food on to the top of your 2011 530i BMW? I know my answer: Don't let it happen again!!!! That is a conversation of debate when I talk to Pat, Kate and Susie. I am sure they will be on the cat's side. 

Friday June 10, 2011

It has been exactly 47 years since I picked up my 1964 Corvette. That night, on June 10, 1964 I remember going on a double date with Joe and of course two ladies, one of the ladies was Joe's eventual wife. Joe sat in the back compartment and the two ladies sat in the front with me. If you have seen those two seaters, you know Joe was very cramped. I'll have to tell the story  about the many adventures I had with the 64 Corvette but that will be another time.

It has been one year exactly since I picked up my new 2011 530i BMW. It is a wonderful auto. After one trip to Irvine, one trip to Carmel and two trips to Seattle I now have 10,000 miles on it. Next year I hope to drive to New Orleans. It is in great shape except for a mark on the roof near my door. The Orange cat has been jumping on the vehicle for a year now. He has scratched it many times, hairline marks, but the other day he dropped some of his regurgitated food on my car. Pat and I made it back from the Oregon coast that day and I forgot to put the bed sheets on top of the BMW. Yes I must cover the car from front to back otherwise I will get scratches. I made a very big mistake because that was the night the Orange decided to prop himself on top of my roof all night. I removed the food but there are now obvious scratches, caused mostly from my hasty cleanup.

Why would the cat be in the same garage as my BMW? Ask Pat, Kate and Susie. I do not want the cat in the garage but it is hard to stand up to 3 strong ladies. As some of you know we have had many cats disappear over the years. There are known coyotes roaming around in the night. The 3 ladies think the Orange should stay in. Some cats survive and know how to stay away from the predators and the Orange is one of those cats. He has survived for several years. He has stayed outside in the night for half of that time, but of course he could make a mistake.

I like cats much more than dogs. The Orange cat is not one I like. He and I do not get along. I have seen him too many times attack our other cats and he tries to stay away from me because I guess he knows I do not like him. When Pat is away the Orange stays out but Pat is coming home today...................

The daytime highs have creeped into the 70's finally. It is clear this morning and I am hoping we will reach 80 today. We should see some swell up of the bunches next week. I will have an estimate of the crop then.

11:30Am: It never ceases to amaze me when same people are followers. I have mentioned many times in this diary that people read articles and believe the so called experts are right. Like I said yesterday our crop looks the best I have ever seen at this time. I have never seen a beery set look as good at this time. This vineyard was in full bloom at the beginning of June and then we had over 2 inches of rain. This event has never happened before since premium grapes have been growing, well over 100 years. But I see now there are people who believe the grapes in Dry Creek will be horrible because of the rain at bloom time and now I see the comment by so called experts who have never seen rain at bloom making an interesting prediction. Here is part of what I read:

If you're worried that all this unseasonable weather and rain will produce a bitter harvest for the grape and wine industry, you're not alone. Even the growers and winemakers have concerns, but a strong air of optimism remains.

Although much still depends on the summer weather, the late spring rains and cool temperatures that played havoc with other agricultural crops eventually may produce a vintage year.

In a twist of fate -- something the wine industry often relies on -- the cool spring had delayed the bloom by up to three weeks, so when the rains came, they did little damage, said Prudy Foxx, a Santa Cruz vineyard consultant and owner of Foxx Viticulture.

"The biggest danger is getting rain during

the bloom," Foxx said. "If that happens, it washes off the pollen, we have a poor bloom set and run the risk of not having much fruit. "... If this had been a normal year, it would have been a disaster."

Terry Hall with the Napa Valley Vintners said that the next few weeks could tell the future for the season. "If we get a bump up in temperature, things will be much better," Hall said.

Conditions are about the same in the Livermore Valley, where vines are a bit ahead of Napa and the coast, but still running behind schedule. At this point, said Jim Ryan, estate manager at Concannon Vineyard and president of the Livermore Valley Wine Growers Association, producers are cautiously optimistic.

Here is a comment from an article in our local paper:

Years from now at some fancy wine shop, don't expect to pay top dollar for the 2011 vintage.

If there is any for sale.

The wet weather in Northern California is wreaking havoc with the region's grapes, according to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. Area winemakers fear that the late-season precipitation could be, after a heat wave last year and a late-season frost in 2008, the third weather event in the last four years to zap local vineyards -- and cause vintners no shortage of headaches.

Certain varietals will be hit hardest, the newspaper reported. These include chardonnay and pinot noir, as they bloom earlier in the year. Certain warmer regions, where plants bloom first, like Dry Creek Valley and Alexander Valley, will also be hit hard.

Like I said I see no evidence of damage. I could be wrong but I predict this could be the best year ever. Look at the comments at the end of the first article.......

12Noon: This morning I am catching up on my reading. Below is a comment from an article. I have said many times before, I have made great wines from very young vines. Old vines do not necessarily produce the best wine. Here is the excerpt:

Does an older vine make a better wine? There are plenty of growers who feel the quality of the wine is not dependent on a vine's age. Famed viticulturalist Dr. Richard Smart says it's more about the management of the canopy (the vigorous leaf growth during the growing season) than the age of the vine. In 1976, Stag's Leap Wine Cellars 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon beat out top French competitors with wine from 3-year-old vines.

Here is a link to the website that I have been reading today. I have an e-mail sent to me everyday. Sign up for Newsfetch.

8:00pm: Pat is back. Guess what? We are looking at a Giant game. I also have to see what happened to Nadal today. What is life without Nadal..............

Thursday June 23, 2011

This is Kate's birthdate. Kate was born this date 1985.

Kate and I are strong and we do have passion. I know Pat has passion for the Giants but Kate and I have passion for the Raiders. I am now getting into the Giants. I am prone to passion like NADAL.

Of course I am also into the Stock Market!! I am using symbols tonight. Lately I have purchased more of goog. I keep purchasing goog, even today. I am losing money......doubling down? My other investments are amzn doing well, msft losing but buying more, qqq, big profit from the begining, buying more, csco, big lose but buying more, and a small investment, kiwb is doing the best. I love goog even though it has been down over 25% since the beginning of January, will be buying more if the Market keeps going down. I think we turned around today so I won't be buying. I only buy when stocks I believe in......go down.

Thursday June 30, 2011

I have had a customer last Friday question my timeing on buying stocks right now. I did say the Market had turned around on the 23rd and then the Market went down again on the 24th, but since then it looks good. I did not buy more but have enough...I only buy when stocks go down.

Matt hurt his foot!!. He is a whimp!!!!!!! He is looking happy so that is OK. He can not move but we have others who can step up, like ME. I suffered today. I had to unload and stack 2400 cases of Glass!! I was tired but I am ready for next week when we will be filling those 2400 cases with 2010 wine.  


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