David Coffaro Vineyard and Winery Winemaker's Diary

Week 39
September 22, 2002 to September 28, 2002 

Tuesday September 24, 2002 

I got really fed up today. Today was the first time that I've felt this way during Harvest. Some of these annoyances I can not relate, but I can bring up some. 

1) I am fed up with Allied Insurance. Do not use them. I won't go into more detail at this time, but I will relate one reason I am up set. I was told that Allied has refused to defend me regarding this suit with George Louie. BUT I had not received confirmation from them. I asked two weeks ago (obviously I have been preoccupied with the Harvest) why I had not received a response. I found out today after repeated questions that the denial was sent to 2485 Dry Creek Rd, Geyserville. This address does not exist. Geyserville does not happen until 7000 Dry Creek Rd and if this address excists on Dry Creek Rd it would be in Healdsburg and 5 miles away. If I had not kept harping, I would have never received this letter. I need advice on insurance. What I want in the future is a policy that just defends me regarding suits of bodily damage, not property damage. I will take my chances on the latter. 

2) This is a tough year for winemaking. With all this insurance and Louie problems, I find myself with even a greater challenge. The acids in the winegrapes are real high. Our fermentaions are going slowly. I don't know why we are having trouble, but I suspect that these high acids could be some of the reason. What I was really upset with today was that Brendan and I can find, not one barrel that is dry yet. That means all our 50 barrels or so have sugar still in them. I d not want any sugar in our wines. I admit that I bring this on myself. We are the only winery that I know that has fermentations going on in so many different barrels. Or to put it another way: We go straight to the barrel from the press instead of settling in a tank. SOOO if we do get sluggish fermentations, we could find it is many different barrels causing us to analysis every barrel. This is a long story, but I hope you understand some of my frustration. 

3) So, I was about to give up for just a moment this morning, but the harvest must go on. 

Today we received 1.67 tons of new Petite Sirah from a new vineyard in Dry Creek. This is actually a vineyard owned by Dave Rafanelli's brother Doug. We have received this wine in bulk before from Julia at Lambert Bridge, so we know the grapes well. When we have bought from Julia in the past, the wine produced from this fruit has been very dark and tannic. It will be interesting to see what Brendan and I can achieve. 

Also today we received all our Bennett Valley Pinot Noir. The fruit looks great and we will know more tomorrow. Tomorrow the guys are coming back to pick our Aca Cab and carignan. Brendan and I are trying to find enough containers and room for all these wine fermentations. I am sure we will have more Pics tomorrow. That leads me into some new pics from the last two weeks. The dry ice is used for cooling down some hot grapes before they start fermenting and as you can see creates some interesting effects. 

Thursday September 26, 2002

The most exciting thing during this harvest occurred at exactly 5:19 pm yesterday afternoon. Brendan had just left after a very busy day and Steve and I were looking at the computer. All of a sudden, our power went off. Steve looked outside and noticed a spark of smoke. I found a phone that was not connected to power and called 911. Within 10 min the Geyserville fire dept. came by with several trucks. Also about this time our neighbors came over complaining of wires sparking on their house. A teenage boy was with his Father, one of the volunteers. He told me his father found the problem. A turkey buzzard flew into the power lines and got fried. Turkey buzzards are those big birds that hover overhead looking for road kill. Here is the boy holding this enormous bird. I was told that his Mexican Mother would cook it, but if I wanted it I was welcome. I declined. Our power was off for 6 hours. 

8:30 Pm   Tonight I need to talk about demands on me at this time of year. Most of the demands are subtle (family, friends, customers). Some are real annoying and I admit I can not handle. 

Anyone who is not in this small winery business can understand what we go through during harvest. Most wineries under 10,000 cases are run by one winemaker and an assistant who does most of the labor. That is it!! It does not take many people to make wine. The more people around, the more distractions. WE DO NOT NEED HELP!!! Brendan and I must make snap decisions during any day during harvest. LIKE, where do we harvest next? what barrels do we use? what analysis do we do? where do we put all these fermenters? where do we put all these barrels? how will we survive the day? I could go on and on, but you get the idea. During harvest Brendan works a 12 hour shift; I take a break for dinner and either write this diary or make decisions or actions regarding our wine. Some actions are very crucial, like when to add the yeast and nutrients to a barrel and/or when to press off the skins. 

I must admit all of this comes easy to me. I have to qualify that somewhat. I have no trouble making the right decisions at the right time. What I do have trouble with is relating to people during these periods. I do not have enough time or patience to be a phony. 

We have some new pictures to show. Brendan made a mistake and over flowed the container off the press. I made the somewhat similar mistake last week with the Block 4. This week it was our first Mourvedre. This time we had a smaller loss involving 30 to 40 gals or about 15 cases. I have talked to Brendan and I am sure this will not happen again to either of us. Also you will see a picture showing our 30 fermenters perking away. In the last two days we have harvested all our old vine carignan and Aca Modot cab. We will finish our reds (except for second crop) next week. We will press four fermenters tomorrow, so will have room for any of you to come in to taste Saturday. 

Friday September 27, 2002

[Ed. note, aka guest diary entry.] Dave has asked me [the guy who does the web stuff] to make this entry. (Truly an honor, and I say that without jest.)  You see when I received the "turkey buzzard" picture to work with,  I'd never heard of a turkey buzzard.  My wife, the "birder" is always pointing out "turkey vultures," (which I always thought should most properly be predators of the poor forlorn turkey - in fact, it seems, they just LOOK like turkeys.) while we travel the backroads of the southwest, and beyond.  They seem pretty stupid, actually, sitting in the middle of an Arizona 2 lane road with a speed limit of 70 mph. (Yes, my wife immediately defends the BIRD, saying I shouldn't insult it, but ...).  Anyhow, having seen a number of turkey vultures recently I didn't think the picture was showing a turkey vulture.  But then Dave DID say it was a turkey "buzzard." 

But, drifting around the 'net, and referencing the more than several "bird books" in this house, it seems that a "turkey buzzard" is just another name for a "turkey vulture."  SO, just exactly WHAT was the bird that knocked out Dave's power (and more importantly his webcam)?  Well, it actually looked like a TURKEY!  Good for eating, too.  But no, Dave said, this bird had flown some feet off the ground into the power lines. 

But, yes, turkeys DO fly, at least non-domesticated ones.  But how high?  LOTS of web references talk about wild turkey's flying, but the height of that flight was not easy to come by.  However, a note quite obviously by a small child mentioned that they fly to 80 feet (??).  Several other notes DO, however, mention that wild turkeys spend time in trees, that, in fact, they look quite odd, sitting up there.  So... We'll just assume they can get as high as those power lines. A customer has written Dave to express similar opinions. 

So, I guess, it was a turkey!? (Why must my wife insist it is a WILD turkey.... Its a TURKEY!) We invite your opinion. And, as I always said, it really was (as I'm allowed to say, given our own pet) a rather dumb bird.... 


Saturday September 28, 2002

I want to thank Brad and Dri for the most informative dissertation on what is a turkey. They will have to make more guest appearances when clarification is required. 

Today Brendan and I will empty the tank (appearing on our web-cam) and fill barrels with Sauv Blanc. We have tasted the blend and are happy at this point. Within a week the wine will be ready for tasting out of barrels. For now we are filling 17 barrels which will include two new Eastern European oak. If we feel the oak flavor is too strong, we can always move the wine out of these two barrels in a few weeks. We welcome any of you to come and taste the wine. 

We are trying many different fermentations with our Bennett valley Pinot Noir received the other day. One third of the fruit is being fermented in our Milk Tank. We did do a cold soak for the last two days and will now slowly warm the mass up to add yeast later today. We will control this fermentation so that the temperature does not go over 85 degrees. We also have fermentations going on inside our winery. We have three clones grown from this same vineyard which will be fermented up to 90 degrees. I will report more on these wines later. 

Monday or Tuesday we will harvest the Estate Cuvee Cabernet and our new Carignan that will go into the Terre Milange. So far I can't think of one barrel that will be under 14% alcohol. I doubt if this last fruit will come in any lower.


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