David Coffaro Vineyard and Winery Winemaker's Diary

Week 12
March 21, 1999 to March 27, 1999 

March 23, 1999

Tonight we had a group of 18 people come for a winetasting event at our winery. The organizer of the tasting and one of our customers asked me to join their group in tasting ten 1997 Zins blind, in two flights. Being this was an evening event and I usually like to spend my evenings with the family, I reluctantly agreed to join them but actually enjoyed participating and learned a lot in the process. But of course my mind is still in the bottling mode and it's hard for me to concentrate on anythng else, including the 218 point drop in the Dow Jones Industrials. I did sell all the stocks that I felt I had to last week, and so I am very comfortable sitting in 75 percent cash right now. If I have time tomorrow, I am hoping to make a couple of trades, but I probably shouldn't and concentrate on organizing the bottling of the late harvest and dry Sauvignon Blancs instead. 

Brendan is back this week and has been very helpful. We are still trying to make a decision on whether or not to include the 1998 late harvest Sauvignon Blanc with the 1997. Brendan and I both feel that the 1997 by itself is such a concentrated wine that we are reluctant to dilute it with anything else. But we do have 15 gallons of 1998 that, by itself, tastes decent, too. You must understand that I am way too close to this wine to make an impartial decision on the final blend. As a matter of fact, if Brendan and I were left alone, we would probably dump the 1998 wine down the drain, but since we know we are so partial toward the '97, we decided to ask a few objective wine tasters to help us make the decision. First, we tested the two wines on some customers who were here today visiting us for the first time from New Mexico. The four of them have bought wine from us for several years, but we had not yet met them. They actually brought back 5 bottles of the '97 Sauvignon Blanc for me to filter into the blend as they had tried one of the six bottles that we had shipped to them a few months ago and it was fizzy and unstable. We gave them a taste of a stable bottle of the 1997 late harvest that we had just opened up, and they were extremely happy with it. So I decided that was my big chance. I gave them a taste of the 1998, expecting them to dislike it in comparison to the 1997, but they actually liked it very much and thought that whatever I did with the two wines would be very acceptable to them. Brendan also took a sample of each of the two wines over to Julia at Lambert Bridge Winery to get her critical opinion of them. To my great surprise, she actually liked both of them also and even suggested adding a little dry Sauvignon Blanc to the blend to bring up the alcohol and drop the acid level a little. Brendan and I will think about all of this and make our final decision on the blend tomorrow. 

March 25, 1999

Pat and I have not been together lately because of my bottling marathons. Since I have to type again at 11pm, I am going to make this short. Bottling the dry Sauv Blanc today was an adventure. First of all Brendan showed up glassy eyed complaining of lack of sleep. He had to take two naps and was useless. Julia sent over her assistant to help us filter and we had some trouble communicating, but without him we could not of even started (we have never sterile filtered before). Steve and Caterino were my great salvation and helped me make sure we atleast finished the Dry S.B. The Late harvest should be completed tomorrow. I drank a half bottle of dry sb with dinner and actually enjoyed it. I have been critical of it tasting of too much oak out of the barrel, but didn't notice it tonight (probably because I was tired or maybe the filtration (: ). By the way, we ended up not cold stabilizing the dry Sauv Blanc before bottling. I found out that even after two days in the refrigerator, tartrates did not form, so it would probably take a week and most customers will most likely not leave a bottle of white wine in the refrigerator that long.

March 27, 1999

It’s 9:30 in the morning. Ted, my electrician, showed up at 8 o’clock this morning.  I wasn’t thinking last night when I started to watch The Fifth Element, a great sci-fi movie, at 11:l5 p.m.  At 1:30 a.m. as I was wandering into bed, I remembered that Ted was to show up at 8:00 a.m. to hook up our new used dishwasher in the winery. That gave me about 5 hours’ sleep but I’m actually doing quite well even though Pat woke me up at 6:30 a.m. as she had to take Kate to a seminar in Santa Rosa. Anyway, last night we  (Brendan, his friend Adam, Steve Ryan and his wife Gail, Pat and I) decided to celebrate our 2-day extravaganza of bottling. At this point, I’ve got to go check on Ted, so I’m going to let Brendan continue with this posting (of course, he stayed overnight). As you remember, Brendan wasn’t functioning too well on Thursday, but made a stellar comeback yesterday despite the mean things that I wrote about him in Thursday’s diary.

(Continuation by Brendan)
With at least one day of experience behind us, we were able to move pretty smoothly through the blending, filtering and bottling of the Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc.  Anyone that stopped by might have actually been fooled into thinking that we knew what we were doing. We started by cleaning up the mess we had made the previous day and got all of our tanks and equipment in order. Next, we all sat down with a corkscrew and opened up all of the 25 cases of ’97 Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc (that’s 300 corks!) that we then dumped into one of our small tanks for blending. Based on many blending trials, opinions from anyone that walked in the door and blind inspiration, we had basically figured out what percentages of ’97 Late Harvest (+/- 55%), ’98 Late Harvest (+/- 33%) and ’98 Dry Sauvignon Blanc (+/- 12%) that we wanted to blend.

After that the filtering and bottling went very smoothly and by 3:00 p.m. we were done with bottling. With that out of the way, Adam and I grabbed 20 gallons of topping wine and topped of all of our barrels. Between barrel sampling and evaporation the barrels had lost about 18 gallons of wine in the last month since the last time I topped [Actually 2 1/2 weeks, edited by Dave]. That brought Adam and I to about 5:00 p.m. Since we had been here since 8:00 a.m., this would seem like a good place to stop (especially since Adam is here on a ‘Day Off’ from his real job).  Not us however, we are trained (slightly), highly precision, wine-making machines!

Without a moment’s hesitation I grabbed the last unlabeled pallet of 1997 Zinfandel and showed Adam how to hand label. This took us until 7:00 p.m. at which time we figured that: 1) We had put in 10 Hours of work and that was acceptable 2) It was too dark to do anything else and 3) Steve had opened up a vertical of Haywood Zinfandel (1988, 1989, 1990, 1991). And of course, you pretty much know the end of the story - After dinner, we all went out to the winery, smoked cigars (some of us), had espresso (some of us), sampled some tasty almond toffee (all of us) from Denver, Colorado (a gift from a customer), listened to Abby Road, and stayed up until 1:30 a.m. watching The Fifth Element. What a day!


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