David Coffaro Vineyard and Winery Winemaker's Diary

Week 25
June 20, 1999 to June 26, 1999 

June 21, 1999

As some of you have heard, we have a new child in the family. Cuvie is Susie's new dog. Susie is 11 years old. Cuvie is a very calm and gentle Golden Retriever puppy, only 11 weeks old, acting like a 1-year-old child. Susie as an 11 year old is not prepared to take care of a 1-year-old child. As we informed her before, we were reluctant to have another dog in our family especially since we have ten cats, and we tried to tell her this was going to a full-time job and she would have to give up her summer vacation to take care of him. Today, the family was already talking of going away to Marine World, San Francisco, etc., for a few days, and I had to remind them that I was preparing for bottling and do not have time to take care of a 12-week old dog, masquerading as a 1-year-old child. Cuvie needs attention. He seems to be very happy getting only a small amount of attention, though, and as dogs go, he's about as wonderful as you can imagine. But as new puppies tend to do, he is making many mistakes all over the house. And of course these problems are Susie's responsibility. I must ask myself, though, whether I should  take more control over the situation. 

Steve Ryan and his crew prevailed, and we have now finished planting the vines and are just about finished setting up all the trellis system wires. I've been both walking and driving around the vineyard everyday for the last two weeks. As I've said before, we've had a perfect spring and are slowly moving into summer. Everyone here in Dry Creek knows that we should have many days close to 100 degrees and some over 100, but since they have not occurred just before or just after bloom this particular year, the grape clusters are hardened and ready for any hot temperatures to come. Within a week or so, I should have a better idea of whether we might have more crop than I initially expected. It does appear that some small second crop bunches are developing and the few initial bunches seem to be filling out with this great weather as well. I am hopeful that we can produce a close to a normal crop this year. 

June 22, 1999        Low temperature of 52, high 97 

Last week we were notified by one of our customers that Dry Creek Vineyard was offering a new wine to their Vintner's Select Club members called "Estate Cuvee." So we did a little research and obtained a copy of the label  which states "1997 Estate Cuvee" using the same or very similar font as we have had on our labels for the last 5 years. It happens to be a white wine, almost exclusively Sauvignon Blanc, with 6% Chardonnay according to the information given to us by the Dry Creek tasting room. The label states it is a "proprietary blend of white wines crafted solely for the pleasure of the Vintner's Select Club members." It says "estate grown grapes" but the ATF requires a statement to indicate how the wine was bottled. There are many ways to state this. The most common way to indicate an estate bottled wine is the terminology "grown, produced and bottled by" the winery. This label states only that it was "produced and bottled by Dry Creek Vineyard." That means that despite what they say on the label, they could have bought all these grapes from another non-estate source and then produced and bottled it at their winery. This is not necessarily so, but most likely or they would have used the terminology "grown, produced and bottled." 

I contacted Dry Creek Vineyard to let them know that we've had a wine labeled "Estate Cuvee" for several years and I did receive a very nice phone call back from Kim Wallace, David Stare's daughter, who is in charge of marketing. She was very accommodating and indicated to me that she did not know that we made a wine called "Estate Cuvee" and that even though she felt that the name was too generic and anyone had the right to use it, they would respect my wishes to cease production of this wine. She stated that there were only 300 cases of this wine produced and they were sold out, having distributed it only to their select club members. 

As of last Friday, we initiated the process of registering the name "Estate Cuvee" to avoid such potential conflicts in the future. We'll keep you posted on what the government has to say about our application. 

To close for tonight, we have another family announcement to make: Tomorrow is daughter Kate's 14th birthday! We are very proud of both of our girls. Susie just finished up 5th grade while Kate graduated from junior high. Kate was chosen as one of two recipients of the Daughters of the American Revolution award for her entire 8th grade class. She was one of the three commencement speakers for her graduation ceremony and did a remarkable job. It's very hard for us to believe that she will be a high school student this fall, already talking about when she will be able to drive! Tomorrow she and Pat are going to spend the day birthday shopping - but not for a car.....just yet. 

June 23, 1999         Low temperature of 47; high 92 

We received some very good news yesterday - our automatic filler and corker has arrived in Sonoma County. If everything goes along as scheduled (which never happens of course), we should be receiving it here at the winery on Friday! That is also the day that we may be signing papers to refinance our property, which will give us some added capital in order to be able to build our vineyard storage/guest house building. Gerard from Associated Winery Systems is the only person who knows how to set up the new machine. Since he is going away on business next week, we may not get the new equipment up and running until the following week, which starts with the 5th of July, a holiday. The first thing we are planning on bottling that week will be the Pinot Noir 4-pack. This will give us practice in setting up four different small lots of wine. Later that same day or the next day, we hope to begin bottling the Neighbors' Zinfandel and Neighbors' Cuvee. We are planning to start bottling the estate wines beginning the week of the 12th of July. 

Since my distributor is now taking 60 cases of the Neighbors' Cuvee, I am thinking about entering the wine in our local Harvest Fair competition in Santa Rosa in the fall. The downside to this is that I will have to price the wine at $22 since that is the suggested retail. At this time, we have 250 cases unsold. After bottling in the next two weeks, we plan on selling the wine for $18 a bottle until the Harvest Fair judging which will be during the last part of September. We have less than 30 cases of Neighbors' Zin available for sale and we will also be selling that wine for $18 a bottle until its release in September. If there are some cases left over at that time, my distributor will be taking those. He has previously committed to 300 cases and the suggested retail on this one will also be $22 a bottle. 

As some of you may have noticed, in the last two days we have reported the high and low temperatures. Since we are not posting everyday, this may be the high and low for several days and I will indicate that. During harvest last year, we posted 60 straight daily diary entries and hope to do the same beginning with this year's harvest season. In the meantime, it is interesting to me and hopefully to some of you that the high and low where we live here in Dry Creek Valley usually has a 40-degree range and can be as much as 50 degrees or more. 


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