David Coffaro Vineyard and Winery Winemaker's Diary

Weeks 32 - 35
August 8, 2004 to September 4, 2004 

  Tuesday August 17, 2004

We are back from our cross country trip. I drove almost 8,000 miles and it was fun. If I wrote about all that we experienced, I would have no time to make wine.

Friday we bottle Brendan's 2003 Syrah and our Zp2c. As in the last two years, We will save several barrels of Zp2c to use for topping our 2004 wines. We will be sending cards out to announce our release of 2003 wines. We will have an open house on November 13 and 14. On those days all our 2003 wines will be open for tasting and any of you may change your order.

Wednesday August 18, 2004

I walked the vineyard today and picked several bunches of old vine Zinfandel. The grapes look ready to harvest and the sugar reading of 27.4 % confirmed that.  I'm not too concerned about the sugar since I can adjust the fermentation by adding some under-ripe bunches or even water. There are so many options, including harvesting our younger zin and fermenting together, so I am looking forward to the challenge. The PH of 3.34 shows that there is high acid at this time. We will start harvesting next Monday and I hope the acids will come down by then. Actually there probably will be a great amount of malic acid so when we force malolactic fermentation, I should see a ph of 3.5 or so, just what I want. From what I see, this will be another great year. 

Monday August 23, 2004

Harvest has begun! Our first 4 tons of old vine Zinfandel has been picked by Catarino and three helpers. The quality looks great. I will know more by next week when we start pressing. The sugar reading was about 24.5 Brix and should swell up to over 25 tomorrow. As usual it will be another two days to figure out what the true sugar reading was, because as fermentation begins raisins are soaked up and that will increase the sugar.

Thursday August 26, 2004

When entering our winery most everyone notices the great smell from our barrels that store our wine. Since I go in the winery everyday, the smell has disappeared for me. NOW, Harvest is a different matter. I love the smell of all the yeast which creates the fermentations. I have to go to the dentist so I will up date the Harvest tomorrow.

Sunday August 29, 2004

I have been so busy that I have had no time to write. Everyone is off today except Brendan who will come in this afternoon for tests. As usual we are having trouble with our Zinfandel fermentations. 

I will now recount this last week.

As stated on Monday 4 tons of Old Vine Zinfandel was harvested and on Tuesday another 4 tons came in. On Wednesday the last of the zin came in making the total old vine of 9.8 tons. This was 10% less than I was hoping for. Catarino and his three helpers also picked 1400 pounds of Peloursin from our new vines. On Thursday the guys picked for Lambert Bridge and then picked a little over a ton of Barbera for us. The Barbera was down over 25% from what I was hoping for. This small crop of Barbera will mean we will only be able to make about 90 cases, after blending with 25% of Sangiovese. We have already sold 63 cases on Futures. 

On Friday we started on our Block 4 and finished up on Saturday. We harvested 4.626 tons, down 20% from last year.

Now to get back to the Zinfandel. We need nitrogen in the grapes to have a successful fermentation. Zinfandel is low in nitrogen and nutrients so we have to add some. We allow wild yeasts, which exist in our vineyard, to stay in the fermentation. Most wineries kill off these wild yeasts with sulfites before fermentation. They do hamper the fermentation, but we feel the resultant wine with these yeasts has more character. Also high brix totals are a big problem. Our initial readings came in at 25% sugar. But the next day before inoculation with a controlled yeast we saw readings over 26 brix. We did adjust the musts to 25% again, but analysis has shown that the sugars from raisins soaking up were substantially higher. All this has created another complicated year.

As discussed last year, we use an Alcolyzer to calculate alcohol during fermentation. By using this alcohol reading and estimating sugar in the tank, we can come up with a close number for final alcohol. This method is not perfect! It is only an approximation, but it helps. I had to adjust the musts on Friday and Saturday and Brendan is coming back today so we can adjust again today if necessary. I want alcohols under 15% overall. I don't mind some over, but I don't want any over 15.5%. The potential readings on some fermenters were up to 16% alcohol. Harvest is always a challenge.

` Dave 

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