David Coffaro Vineyard and Winery Winemaker's Diary

Week 21
May 20, 2001 to May 26, 2001 

Tuesday May 22,  2001 

It has been warm this week again. Saturday the temperature was 100, Sunday it was 103, and yesterday we had 105. The fog came in for a short time this morning dropping the temp to 50, but we may move up near 100 again today. This is normal weather, but we  may see some burning of the forming bunches. We are in full bloom and carignan is shattering again. It will take another two weeks  before I have an estimate of crop levels, but at this time I can safely predict that the old vines will not produce anymore fruit than last year which turned out to be a small crop. We still have enough grapes to produce the wine needed from this vineyard. 

The exciting news from the new vines is that the 200+ vines of mourvedre will produce their first crop this year. This will be our first estate mourvedre with last years fruit coming from Contra Costa County. I may blend it in to some of our other wines or even produce an estate wine from the grapes. 

Thursday May 24,  2001 

We have cooled down to around 90 for our days which is great weather for growing grapes. The fog has been in for the third morning, but the days are warm. 

Brendan and I blended up the first batch of ZP2C for 2000. We have 8 barrels at this time which would be 200 cases. So far we have 2 barrels of tannic petite sirah I bought from Lambert bridge in bulk. This is the same stuff I've been using since 1998. I think it fills out the middle of the wine, adds colour and structure. Also we have added two barrels each of Jones cab and our filtered wine. These last two wines contain wine that is improving, but is of lesser quality than I would like. These two wines were in new barrels so we have more oak than normal. The other 2 barrels are from wine left over from our recent racking. These two barrels have added some great quality to the wine. Let me make this clear: customers who have tasted the wine are impressed and we have sold some cases already; the oak is not dominant and I like the wine. The wine will get better!! We will add another two to four barrels of wine from all our barrels. That will give us about 300 cases. As you know I have been concerned about the quality of this wine. I DO NOT WANT TO MAKE A WINE THAT I DON'T LIKE!! We do have 4 barrels of Jones Cab left, but I don't think we will use any. It is improving and I will taste it with customers before the final blend and thus determine the quality. 

We have just put the wine on our 2000 sales form at a great price of $10. This will give you friends who spy on my diary a chance to buy it until the end of the month for this reasonable price. On June 1st the price will go to $12. A price that I can make money on. 

Saturday May 26,  2001

I just received a great e-mail from someone reading my diary from Canada. He is not a customer (Canada has a big duty charge to bring wine in), but he supplied me with some fabulous questions. 

1) What in your estimation is the cause of shatter in your Carignan?

Shatter occurs every year in Carignan. In this vineyard and most vineyards it is a normal event of the varietal. Some years are worse than others. Let me make this clearer: these bunches are big and a small amount of shatter is helpful to tone down the size. 
2) The variation in temperature you say is normal (+ 100 degrees F--low 50F) but isn't this hard on the vine at this time of year? 
Yes, last year about this time, I think the temperature got up to 110, which did burn a great deal of fruit. 100 to 105 will usually just harden up the berries for later in the summer. If a farmer did sulfur the morning when the temperature rose to 105 leaves and bunches would be heavily damaged. That is why I did sulfur last Thursday the 17th before the extremes of a few days later. 
3) Earlier in talking about tasting, you mentioned that you liked your  wines to be strong. At 14+ degrees of alcohol, is this not a tad monolithic if not monotone in the spectrum? 
I have never heard such a description about winemaking before, but I will try to interpret the answer to your question in my words. I strive to make wine in the alcohol range of 13.5 to 14.5. In our area, these levels produce the most complex wines. Half my wines do come in under 14%. Some of our wines do get away from me, mainly the Aca Modot and Block 4, since the fruit from those wines come from a certain area and I have little way of blending. In 1999 the Block 4 came in at 15.2% and in 2000 the Aca Modot will be labeled at 13.3%. Neither of these taste too strong or too light. Most Bordeaux and other French wines are under 13%. Growers over there live in lower temperature zones and thus can not produce wines with alcohol's over 14%. In our Dry Creek Valley, it is very hard to keep our alcohol levels under 14%. I believe if a wine is produced at much above 15% (especially with residual sugar), they are not food wines. 
4) The cost of energy. To run a winery in California with rising energy costs must be a new complication to endure. What does this translate into bottle prices? And how will wineries cope with brown and blackouts when they need the juice most? 
This is the question I am going to enjoy answering the most. Last year in the summer for 4 months our PG&E bill was about $400 a month pertaining to the winery (less than $2000). That was mostly air conditioning and irrigation costs. At harvest the equipment  costs very little to run. For the whole year the total of all our utility costs including phones were less than $5000. This amounts to 10 cents a bottle. Even if our costs double we are talking a small amount of our total costs. So far it appears there is some benefit to be living way out in the country. We can't get DSL or Cable, but we are too far out for blackouts at this time.


Home | Read | Diary | Public Forum | Tell Us What You Think of Our Diary! | Last Week | Next Week