Harvest has begun!!
I thought I would bring all the things that go through my mind to get us here.
Last Monday (9/4/03)
Have you ever had 20 possibilities in your mind at one time?
I am sure some of you have, but what?. So it is near Harvest time!!
That means there are many possibilities.................
That means we will harvest this week but what and how much?? We have Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, and more. I want to make one white wine with 14%+ alcohol and fermented in a new French barrel and then I want to make one with low alcohol and only fermented in Stainless. Big decisions tomorrow!!.........
Last Tuesday (9/5/03)
The first decisions have been made for Harvest! On Thursday we will pick a ton of Sauvignon Blanc and all the Chardonnay (about 600 pounds). I expect a sugar reading of about 24%, could be a little higher but that will be OK. I want alcohol in the bottle of about 14% and our sugar test last Friday showed high acid which is fine since we are fermenting in 2 heavy toasted French oak barrels. After pressing the wine we should have enough left over to fill a keg or 2 and that wine will be used to top off the finished fermented barrels after racking. We plan to leave some lees and will stir every week or so to create some extra character. So yes the wine will be in 100% French oak so not to every ones liking. We should bottle about 50 cases of the finished wine next August and call it Sauvignon Blanc. Pat and I will love the wine, hopefully!!
We also hope to harvest the rest of our white grapes on Thursday, but we need to take some more sugar tests. That wine will consist of the rest of the Sauvignon Blanc fruit along with Viognier, Gewurztraminer and Riesling. We want lower alcohol in this wine, maybe about 13% and this white blend called Luminaire will be fermented and stored in Stainless steel.
On Friday we will harvest the Pinot Noir for our red wine. We have 2 sections to harvest, one higher sugar than the other. Some years we harvest 2 times but this year it looks like the sugar in the higher section should compensate for the lower sugar section. We hope to have about 24 percent sugar but it could be higher.....fun, fun, fun!!
Last Wednesday (9/6/03)
New sugar tests today confirmed we will be harvesting all our white grapes tomorrow!! We will start early, about 7am and pick our Gewurztraminer, Viognier and Riesling and we expect about 22% sugar overall. Later we will pick some Sauvignon Blanc which will go into this Luminaire blend. These grapes will be pressed on Friday along with some of our Neighbors SB which we are leasing. Later tomorrow we will pick 2 bins of SB and a half bin of Chardonnay and as I said yesterday that blend will be fermented in French oak.
Above, to be harvested tomorrow, is the most beautiful color in the vineyard, Gewurztraminer!!
Back from the vineyard, Harvest is like the Stock Market.....I know not any of you think that? Back when my whole life was playing the Market in the late 60's and most of the 70's, decisions had to be made in seconds. Sure Harvest is much easier for me with that experience, I am always looking ahead and deciding WHAT TO DO NEXT!......calm down Dave.......I was just out in the Vineyard and I am confident we should have good sugars and acids tomorrow, what I expect, BUT, a little like the Market, you never know!!
Last Thursday (9/7/03)
We are harvesting!!!!
1pm.....All sugar (24.2%) and acid (3.1ph) figures were great for the 75% Sauvignon Blanc and 25% Chardonnay BUT there are decisions to be made today and tomorrow. I will try to explain:
We harvested about 2 tons of SB and took almost a ton for this French Oak wine. If pressed hard we could get 160 gallons. We weighed the Chardonnay and came up with 700 pounds so both together could bring in over 200 gallons. Oh but we do not press hard so what will we come up with. Thus today we have to decide what to ferment in.
I want to make a wine that is aged in heavy toasted French oak barrels. I have decided to ferment First in those barrels. The problem we have now as we are pressing is how much juice will we get? One barrel holds 60 gallons of finished fermenting wine so 120 gallons total for 2 barrels. When fermenting in barrels we can not fill them to the top to prevent overflow so we have left them 10 gallons down, that means 100 for both. So today we have to find out how much we have left over. We hope to ferment the rest of the wine in stainless and use some of it to top off the French Oak barrels.
4pm: I just confirmed with Jose and Salvador we did get about 200 gallons total so 100 in the 2 French Oak barrels and the rest to ferment in stainless. We will lose about 20 gallons after racking the finished wines and of course the 10 gallons each needed to top off the wine fermented in the French Oak barrels, filled only to 50 gallons. That should leave us about 40 gallons extra and after racking in December we will lose another 10 to 15 gallons. We thus may have some pure fermented stainless wine left over and that wine will be used to top off our Luminaire which will have no oak.
Luminaire: We brought in all the beautiful Gewurztraminer along with the rest of the Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Riesling. We will weigh those grapes tomorrow. We assume we will have about 3 tons, time will tell. Also tomorrow we will pick all our Pinot Noir.
7pm: I have a lot of babies out there, but even on a day like this, Harvest, so excited to be making wine again, but I have lost now seeing that great picture above for This year, I will have to wait, patiently??? OK, now to harvest my next babies, I hope to have more next year.....................
There were a lot of decisions to be made yesterday and today and there will be more tomorrow or Monday. The new news is we won't be picking this coming week. We need to do more sugar tests in the Old Vine Zinfandel which will be next. I have not seen any raisins in the Zin yet! Unlike all 20+ other varieties growing in our vineyard, Zin has raisins when ready!! Sure that creates more sugar after fermentation starts but raisins can not be eliminated. My guess, we are about 10 days off before we harvest again and who knows, Cab or Grenache could be ready also. Things can change quickly, like what happened last week.
Back to the last two days. The final sugar in the Luminaire blend was 22.2 and a PH of 3.4 which is a little low in acid but with a potential alcohol of only 12.8 I think the lower acid will be a better balance. The Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay wine showed a sugar of 24.2 and acid PH of 3.2. That gives us a potential alcohol of 14% so to balance the wine we may want to lower the acid by adding Potassium Carbonate, we will wait for another day. That wine is fermenting in our French oak barrels.
The Pinot we picked yesterday is the only real problem! The sugar came in lower than expected, about 23% and the acid is real low with a PH of 3.6 and a total acid of only 4 so we will have to add tartaric acid to balance the 13.4% potential alcohol wine. So as you can see there are more decisions to be made in the next two days.
Monday September 11, 2023
Just back from the vineyard and we are getting closer to harvesting Zinfandel. We have never been this late so it is concerning, especially for my other Vineyard owners who live in cooler areas in Sonoma County. We will do several sugar tests tomorrow and see where we are. We got to 100 today and I am sure Healdsburg and Russian River where much cooler..............
Tuesday September 12, 2023
We just did sugar tests in the Old Vine Zinfandel and a mix of 3 sections of Cabernet. The Zin was a surprising low 21.1% so we are off at least another week. The Cab was 23% so we could start on a section next week. We need to test the 3 sections this Friday or next Monday depending on what happens in the weather.
BTW, as some of you may know we are making DC Fusion this year, a low alcohol wine, 13 to 13.5% alcohol. We should have around 100 cases of this blend of Tannat, Souzao and Alvarelhao. We had planned to Not make an Escuro this year which usually has these three grapes in the blend along with Aglianico and Lagrein, but now we have decided to make one barrel about 24 cases. It is not officially for sale but if anyone is interested let me know and we can save some for you.
Saturday September 16, 2023
Always problems or decisions to be made. We had problems with a new barrel company. First problem was when we had a truck come in unannounced. I did not know of any deliveries of anything coming in this week. We went out to find out it was a delivery of 8 barrels. We opened the cardboard wrapping to find out who the barrel company was. I called them and told them this has not happened to me before with any other barrel company. OK
We found a place in our new building for them, I am sure glad we built this new building because I do not know what we would have done, barrels need to be stored in a cool place. The company apologized and I accepted the barrels since I did order them!!
Now I know most of you do not know about barrel maintenance? I can say from a lot of experience loose hoops can make the wine in a barrel leak out in a hurry. They use staves, look at a barrel next time at a winery.....there is not just one big piece of oak bent that makes a barrel, it takes staves, only about 3 to 4 inches wide and the length of the barrel and if they must be tight or the wine will leak out. We had issues with this company before but we felt we could give them another chance, they are so nice!
But the hoops were loose and even one fell off. I called the company and told them I want them to pick them up and I do not want to do business with them again. Here is what they said: "No one has called or complained about this, and am sure if it happened, they would just put the hoops back on and not even call me." What can I say? We do not make barrels so to seal a barrel like this again we would have to soak in a lot of water and the oak flavor would dissipate. I did not reply, I just won't be doing business with them again!!
Big changes.....We are harvesting Monday, not Zin, but our new DC Fusion!! We decided to check the Petite Sirah and got over 23 sugar. We then tested the suggested grapes that we decided to use for DC Fusion, the Souzao, Alvarelhao and Tannat and got 21.5%. We want about 22.5 to make a low alcohol wine so we are good to use some Petite Sirah. The rest of the Souzao, Alvarelhao and Tannat with Aglianico and Lagrein will go into our 2023 Escuro. We should have about 50 cases of each wine.
Monday September 18, 2023
We did bring in almost a ton of DC Fusion today. The sugars look good at about 22.6% overall and should convert to an alcohol in the low 13% range. It looks like later this week we will do another sugar test on a few places.
Back from the vineyard tonight and it is getting dark already at 7.........I think we should do some more sugar tests tomorrow, the zin is looking close??
Wednesday September 20, 2023
The sugar tests yesterday turned out disappointing, Zin at 22.5, Cab 24 and Grenache average of 23.5. We did decide to pick today some riper Grenache and it came in at 24%. We may try some Zin tomorrow since there is a prediction of rain next week and the forecast for the next two weeks looks like cool weather. At some point we have to bring in fruit that is lower than we want, also because the acids are falling off. With alcohol around 14% and a little lower acid the wines would taste in balance. 2 weeks is a long way off so I hope the forecasters are wrong and we will get some higher temps......
7pm, dark outside
OK, the bottom line is we have never been this late harvesting Zinfandel. It is concerning! I have never been in this situation since I was harvesting for the first time in 1979, even then when I did not do a good job tending the grapes, we started on September 15, this is September 20..........So I have to do something bold, OH , Dave, you have done it before, I am not afraid! We will do a ton of Zinfandel Tomorrow!!............ "Let It Be" as the Beatles once said!!!!!!!!!!!!
Friday September 22, 2023
After changing my mind several times we have decided to pick a ton of Old Zine Zinfandel today. There was some rain predicted for Monday so it was a hard decision. Now the rain seems to be less than I feared less than a quarter of an inch. We had thought it would be better to see what happens with the rain and thus pick next week but we did another sugar test yesterday, this time in Nebbiolo and Sangiovese and the readings were 23%!! That means everything will be ready at the same time. Thus after the rain we would not be able to start until the vines dry off which would be 5 or even 6 days from now. So If we get 23+ sugar today in the Zin we will pick 3 tons more tomorrow, Saturday.
6pm......One ton in......Sugars were low, on average 12.7%. Out to the vineyard...Now
Oh besides depressing things like the late Harvest...........and more important: our Government will be shut down.......I just received my fun thing, no just a desert, Quest 1 gram peanut butter CUPS!! Hey I would not mention this but there was written perishable on the box and an ice pack in the box, of course Amazon is good!! I'll have to wait for awhile to indulge? patience.....Dave....I am getting old, no I am old, I talk to myself at times, actually all the time......I digress
We hope to see some raisins soak up in the next few days so my guess we should still see about 14% alcohol in the one ton of Zin today. SO
7pm........Back now after almost an hour. It is so much fun tasting so many grapes. The Nebbiolo, needs more intensity, but the Sangiovese is more intense at the same sugar. We will still make a barrel of Nebbiolo but may make a Sangiovese again. The 2021 is SSSOSOOOOO good. I can't wait for the 2022 to be bottled in January................................Tomorrow is another day..........
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