David Coffaro Vineyard and Winery Winemaker's Diary

Weeks 40 - 42
October 7, 2007 - October 27, 2007 

Monday October 8, 2007

Tomorrow we will essentially finish our Harvest. We still hope to harvest some Late Harvest Sauv Blanc next month, but only if it forms the noble rot and becomes very sweet. We have in all our Carignan at 26 brix and our Cabernet bottom at about 25 brix and Petit Verdot at 25+ brix. Tomorrow we will finish off with Mourvedre from our vineyard and Cabernet and Cabernet Franc from Gallo.

Matt has checked some of our barrels to see if they are through fermenting and it looks like all our Zin and Block 4 have finished. We kept 3.5 tons of Zinfandel from Goat Trek and that seems to be still fermenting. I assume that means it could be higher alcohol than I think. Later this week and next we will start adding a little So2 to stabilize the wines that have finished fermenting. That way we can start tasting out of the barrel. We will try to be organized on December 8th, our Open House, and taste many of these 2007 wines. Next week I can start commenting on the quality of this Harvest. Like I have said before, it could be great.

Tuesday October 9, 2007

8:30PM Yes we did get ALL our grapes in today!! It is pouring here now this evening for the first time this summer. We do not normally get any rain from June until the first part of October. So this is normal, but I would not be happy if I was a grower or winery who has grapes out on the vine tonight. I wish them wind and sunshine tomorrow!!

Monday October 15, 2007

I started testing some of our barrels for PH, Alcohol and sugar. I am aiming for no residual sugar, phs about 3.6 and alcohol between 14.5 and 15.5. We had two pressings of Block 4 and one is dry (no sugar) and 15.9 alcohol. The other 15 barrels are at 16 alcohol and have some sugar left, thus these barrels will certainty be over 16%. I am not happy!! Then I tested two lots of our 100% Zinfandel and got really shocked. They were both at 16.3 alcohol and might be dry. I know I also have some zin that was mixed with some Goat Trek that has stalled at 15.7 alcohol and 0.3% sugar. After I calculated these figures and totaled up all the barrels I had to make some very big decisions. I called up one of the companies who can spin some wine in a tank at high speeds to lower the alcohol. The cost to me would be at least $1600. I then started to calculate alcohols on some of our other wines that are in barrel. I was happy with the alcohols in our Petite Sirah and Cabs. I then found some Cab that was under 14%. I plan on mixing those 7 barrels into the 32 barrels of 100% zin that I have at 16.3 alcohol. We will start up a bin of water, fresh wine juice and yeast to add to the 39 barrels to make 40 total. This should bring the alcohol down to about 15.4 which should be fine. I will also blend down the Block 4 and Goat Trek zin with yeast and water. I will have more details in the next few days. I have used this method before in the 2005 Price Family Zin and it turned out great. I have thus decided not to dealcoholize. 

Saturday October 20, 2007

I lost my entries for the last few days but I have recovered Oct. 1st and 8th. I will recreate or somehow find the last three entries. It has been frustrating. I'll explain more later.

Tuesday October 23, 2007

I tried everything and have failed to recover my diary entry of Wednesday October 17. I know some of you have read it but I now have to recreate it by memory. I also lost my entry for last Friday. I tried to upload the Friday entry and somehow lost October, 8, 15 and 17. As you can see I did recover October 8 and 15 through Google. Google copies my diary every two days so I was able to find those two entries. If anyone out there does copy my diary and does have the entry of October 17, please send me a copy. So here goes....I will now write about what we did last week at the winery. I hope to do even a better job than I did last week when I was very busy and had less time.

Last Monday October 15 I wrote about my high alcohol Zinfandel barrels. Last Thursday we had a very busy day. We first emptied 32 barrels of 100% Zinfandel into a tank. In a 15 gallon tub I added some water to rehydrate a lot of yeast. The State of California allows us to add enough yeast and water to finish a fermentation. Since the alcohol in these 32 barrels was 16.3 with still a little sugar left I decided to add 4 pounds per 1000 gallons of yeast and enough water and cabernet, which was only 14% alcohol, to lower the overall alcohol to about 15.5%. That was about 10 pounds of yeast and about 60 gallons of water. This Zinfandel wine is very intense so I am not concerned about adding 2.5% water. I want to make a dry wine with no sugar left. I will leave the 16+ alcohol Zinfandels made in this valley to some of the other wineries. 

After 10 minutes of rehydration by adding about 5 gallons of water to the yeast, I then added this mixture to a fermenter which holds over three barrels. Then I added 10 gallons of fresh Cabernet juice that was harvested the day before. The juice had not started fermenting. After 30 minutes when I saw the fermentation was active I added 5 gallons of wine from the tank. After another 30 minutes I added 5 gallons of warm water. I repeated this process until we had about 50 gallons of actively fermenting starter.

We filled all the 40 barrels with wine from the tank to a level of about two gallons down. In the afternoon we added about one gallon of starter to the 40 barrels. We topped the barrels off with about a half a gallon of warm water and then I started my worrying. I slept little Thursday night worrying that the fermentation in the 40 barrels would not start up. I was happy the next morning when we observed a good deal of active bubbles in the 40 barrels. I am a happy winemaker. The fermentation should continue for about a week and then we will have the sugar checked to see if the wine has finished fermentation.

We now have Zinfandel with about 17% Cabernet. This Cabernet that was used is from grapes grown in our sandy loam down by the creek. The Cabernet is not as dark or tannic as most I have tried, but it is by far the spiciest Cabernet fruit I have made wine from. Normally it all goes into our Estate Cuvee, but fortunately we harvested more than we needed and it will blend nicely with our Estate Zinfandel with a little in our My Zin. This will be the first year since 2002 that we have not produced a Zinfandel that is 100%. From 1994 through 2002 our zinfandels were not 100% and those wines were very successful. I am not concerned about the quality or the popularity of this 2007 Estate Zinfandel.

On Friday we used a similar method for refermenting some My Zin and Block 4. But this time we put some water into the tank before refilling the barrels. That way the fermentation in the barrels started quicker. The day before we added the yeast mixture (starter) to the top of the 58 gallons of wine in the barrel and added a little water later. I think the water hindered the start up of the refermentation. The barrels of My Zin wine was 100% Zinfandel and consisted of mostly Goat Trek Zinfandel that was harvested at very high sugar. The fermentation had seemed to stall so by adding the new yeast mixture the fermentation should progress to dryness, no sugar.

So far I am very happy with the quality of the wine we have produced this vintage. Excluding the barrels discussed before, more than half our barrels have finished fermentation. Our Estate Petite Sirah is wonderful as well as our first lot of Block 4. That first lot of Block 4 is close to 16%, but by adding the 2nd lot (Fridays refermentation) we should make a wine under 15.5% about normal for the Block 4 since the 2003 vintage.

Over three days last week I tasted 22 bottles of Zinfandel from Sonoma County wineries. Matt purchased these bottles at the Harvest Fair. I asked him to purchase only wines that won a gold medal and was under 16% alcohol. He did bring home one bottle that won the best of class in Zinfandel which was 16.1%. I tasted these wines blind compared to our 2005 My Zin. Our My Zin as you might remember was entered into the Harvest Fair and did not win a medal. That is the first time I have entered a Zinfandel and did not win a medal. I obviously wanted to see how my wine compared to the gold medal winners. Out of the 22 bottles, I liked 6 well enough to purchase. About six I did not like at all, but they were a style issue with me. One wine was obviously corked and another wine was slightly corked, enough to spoil the wine for me. The other wines were sound wines but I did not like them enough to purchase. There were no wines that I thought were superior to our My Zin so I am confused about why it did not win a medal. Maybe it shows that the Harvest Fair competition is a crap shoot. I can't imagine tasting 100 wines in a few hours as I guess these judges must do. The 16.1% alcohol wine what won the Best Of Class had over 1% sugar and I could not finish the taste. I really feel wines that have sugar left should not be entered in the same category as dry wines. They are dessert wines. BUT that is only my opinion and that is why I will not be entering the competition again. 

This weekend some of our 2007 wines will be tasted out of the barrel. I know most of our Cabs and Petite Sirahs are done fermenting. Come on by to taste. I will be raising the prices of our Futures on November 1st on average by one dollar. We are making far less wine this year.


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