David Coffaro Vineyard and Winery Winemaker's Diary

arrow March 18 - March 24, 2012

Monday March 19, 2012  

I tasted my first wine that was produced by another winemaker from grapes from the 2010 vintage. It was concerning for me since I have had several customers complain about wine from our 2010 vintage and I am just starting to like the Zin blends.

On the Label there is a "B" in it. It is from Napa. It is a Zinfandel. It was sold to me at a discount of $44.

We had a meeting on Saturday. Confrontational in a playful way as usual. Matt was here. Pat was here and Cindi was here. Matt and I agree on winemaking most of the time but this day we had to decide on what wines we had to distribute for the next Wine Club. After a long discussion we all agreed on four 2009 wines but we had to decide on 2 more for the 6 pack to go out at the end of April. We all agreed to taste blind 4 wines and we would meet again. The wines are 2010 Neighbors' Zin, Zinfandel 2 Vineyards, Chalk Hill Zin and also Russian River Zin all from 2010. We had to eliminate two.

I was surprised to get a delivery on Saturday. I had a 6 pack delivered from a wine shop in Orange County. One of the wines was the 2010 Zinfandel "B" from Napa County. I was nervous to taste last night, sort of. It was fun. I thought maybe the Napa Zin would blow us away. I tasted all our four 2010 Zins first and was surprised I actually really liked the Chalk Hill and we all agreed today, it was our favorite Coffaro Zinfandel from this difficult vintage.

I tried all our wines and also the "B". Chalk Hill is ready. They are all interesting wines that need many years to develop. They are all are similar in quality.....all have a distinctive taste that I even picked up in the Napa Zin from "B". It is pepper and spice mixed together and very intense. 2010 will go down as the most intense interesting vintage so far in my 33 years making wine........  

2011 was easy in comparison. The wines will be ready to enjoy this September. I would wait another year on the 2010 wines.

Tomorrow is another day so I will taste again..

Tuesday March 20, 2012

It is 8pm now. My head is spinning with action. What wine will we make this year............

Our freezer is performing well. Cold stabilization results will be interesting....long story....

I am getting over my irruption in my body in many places, but in control. Pat unfortunately has seemed to have some of the same symptoms as I did, but she is a trouper and we need a vacation soon, already planned.

Yes we are planning a short take off in my BMW. It has only 12,000 miles and I get close to 30 miles per gallon on the highway. A good customer contacted me yesterday to tell me she had a new CTS stick shift. She knows I like only manual transmissions. She said it is one of the fastest cars out there. I asked her what gas millage will you get. I had fast cars, they are nice.  

Sagrantino has become a problem!!

Rich, Billy....maybe soon.

Ok, I tasted the wines again and I even tasted RaiZin from 2010 both versions. They may be the most intense wines I have made. The 16 month version is very easy to detect....these are fun wines to taste blind or upfront....they are different. The "B" was comparable a little less intense.

One bottle I got last week cost me $100 delivered. It was Malbec and corked. They will send me another one. We are planting Malbec again. I planted Malbec back in 1981 on the Aca Modot Pomo Indian site on a knoll on the highest place in the vineyard. Malbec has never impressed me except once when Charles Richard took us on an adventure.....more to come later when I hook up with Rick who was there that day back in the 80's.

Wednesday March 21, 2012

Some of you may remember Bellerose Winery which was on West Dry Creek Rd in Healdsburg. It actually is still there but the name has changed to Everett Ridge. When I moved here in 1979 Charles Richard was the owner of Bellerose and he was the only one in the Valley producing true Bordeaux blends. The Passport to Dry Creek Valley had just started. Pat and I started attending the event and one of the fun stops was a visit to Bellerose. I must have visited the winery at least 20 times in the 80's for various reasons. At first Charles Richard was very aloof. He seemed to be distracted. I am guessing I went to 5 Passport to Dry Creek Valley events that included a stop at Bellerose. They were always interesting experiences because my first love was Bordeaux wines. I talked to Rick and Russ who were with me one time in the 80's. Here is some of what Rick and Russ recall:

"Here is what I remember from our visit to Bellerose:

Charles had us all in the red barn where he had his fermentation tanks and barrel storage. He conducted a component tasting of five Bordeaux varietals, Cab, Merlot, Cab Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec. He had each wine in a   
Beaker, served us a sip in our glass and proceeded to discuss the nature of each and what it contributes to the final blend. I remember Charles stressing his philosophy of adhering to the traditional blend and using all five for his wines. Rick continues....I remember it was my first taste of petit verdot and malbec, I remember we all were very impressed with the intense color of the petit verdot and the unique nose and flavors of the malbec.

Charles then had us try a barrel taste of his most recent wine with the final blend to illustrate his points on the contribution of each varietal to the final wine."

Rick Russ and I are amazed at how much we remember of our visit to Bellerose that day. We agree it was because it was very unique and very educational compared to the other wineries we had visited early in our days in Dry Creek.

It is fun to acknowledge some of the history of Dry Creek Valley. Rick says "it seems as the generations change we forget what got us where we are".

Lou Preston, Ed Killian, Doug Nalle and especially Julia Iantosca inspired me to start this winery. Charles Richard put the bug in me to experiment with unique blends.

Charles Richard made interesting wines and I purchased many of them. Some winemakers around here said his wines were flawed. I still have some from over 20 years ago and I plan to bring one down for Russ, Rick and I to try. Over the years Charles recognized me and we had several nice conversations. We all have to have a passion for making wine, but I believe Charles had a greater love for horses and the land.

My last visit with him just before he sold the property was with Susie more than 10 years ago. Susie my daughter was about 10 years old and wanted to own a horse. Of course Pat and I discouraged it and we were right, since in two years of taking lessons, she lost interest. That day with Charles was a revelation. I'll never forget the passion in his eyes as he stroked his horse at Bellerose. Susie was so impressed also.

Ok so why am I not sold on malbec? My first taste of pure malbec was probably at Bellerose in 1981. I had already purchased about 100 cases of Bordeaux wines starting in 1969 and ending in 1978 just before I moved to Dry Creek Valley to grow winegrapes and start making wine. I planted malbec in 1981 and took it out in 2005 because the vines would not produce much fruit. The quality was OK and now I have heard there are new clones that may produce higher quality and yield more. We are starting to plant 250 vines and should have a crop in 3 years. I have tried several Malbecs from Argentina and have not been impressed. I should receive a bottle from a wine shop in Orange County to try again soon. My goal of course is to do what Charles Richard did and produce a wine, Aca Modot, that has all 5 grape varieties in the blend. For several years before we removed the vines we did use a small amount of Malbec.

I have learned something about grape vines recently. I am still trying to learn to use the terms "Varietal" and "Variety" correctly. It may take me awhile.......This is what Wikipedia says: The term (varietal) is frequently misused in place of vine variety; the term variety refers to the vine or grape while varietal refers to the wine produced by a variety.


It is late and we need to take off tomorrow.


I have tried several wines produced by the grape variety called Sagrantino. I have been impressed by all the Italiano wines and even one over priced Sonoma County wine.

A year ago I searched for Sagrantino vines after I tried a few bottles from Italia.

Ok I should say Italy, a United states terminology. Why do we bastardize European names and we give them so much money.......

Back to Sagrantino......OK I should not always make riddles that I only know the answer. The great Sonoma County wine is Davero. They have produced the first Sagrantino in Sonoma County and it is a wonderful wine, equal to some of my favorite from Italy. It cost me $110 and a big tip to Chef Matt because he came through Because he had a contact with Ridgely. I have had no contact since our breakup several years ago......Plaza Farms.

I was happy to see he is making good wine. I was hoping to have a Sagrantino wine of my own in two years but now it looks like three years. It will sell for less than $100.

I purchased 500 vines from a nursery in Washington State. They were propagated on there own roots so not grafted on to a rootstock resistant to phylloxera. I thought I could get 200 buds off the plants in order to bud some of our Cabernet vines on resistant rootstock over to Sagrantino. The plants arrived last week and they were impressive in the amount of roots exposed, but I was told by our expert budder (97% take) he could not use the small buds at the top of the vine.....long story.....

Again these are impressive vines and they will grow on their same roots much faster than grafted vines. We will have great wood to bud next year.

In the mean time we are planting all 500 ungrafted Sagrantino vines. Most will be planted at our creek in Sandy Loam soil, less susceptible to phylloxera. The rest we are planting in our best soil, virgin, soil that has never seen a grape vine. OK I am planting in my avenues. We have breaks called avenues of 14 feet so we will plant vines in the middle 7 feet. All our old vines have a row 7 feet apart. Even if the louse gets them, they should last 20 years .......come for a vineyard tour, but in the summer it will be very hot.

I will wait for Sagrantino. In the mean time I will purchase many from Italy for less than $30.

Sunday April One, 2012  

This not an April fool's Joke......I do not have April yet to write on in this diary so tomorrow is another day.......... 


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