David Coffaro Vineyard and Winery Winemaker's Diary

Week 34
August 20, 2000 to August 26, 2000 

Monday, August 21, 2000    High 94   Low 48

We have stayed in the mid 90s in the last few days which has contributed to our belief that we will be harvesting zinfandel before the end of the month. Most of the bunches look ready so I decided yesterday to turn on our drip system again. I know, many of you say that we are supposed to dry farm to produce premium wine. Well, some of you know I think that thinking is a bunch of B___ S___. Especially I think that in our vineyard which is so well drained. Julia ( Lambert Bridge Winery ) and I were out in the Sauv Blanc vines today tasting and confirmed that very fact. There was a very small section of S. B. that was only watered for a total of 20 hrs this summer and it was so stressed out that the flavors were sharp and lower in sugar. How would you like to go all summer with little to drink. I think you would turn into a prune and not be very sweet. I am not growing prunes. I am growing winegrapes and to create the most flavor, they need water. 

We harvested 3.77 tons Saturday. It was a very long day and I have had very little sleep before and after. We have started many experiments!!! I sent Brendan out to collect 9 different yeasts to see which one we prefer for our Sauv Blanc (hopefully he will go into this tomorrow). As with my reds, I want to create something different. We harvested our 40+ vines of chardonnay first that produced about 45 gals 24.5 Brix (% sugar). By mid day I realized the bins were weighing more than I thought, so it appeared that I would have too much juice for our 634 gal chiller. Therefore, I decided to keep the chardonnay separate and distributed it into 3 beer kegs (40 gals total). The rest of the few gals was pressed with the Sauv Blanc. We filled the chiller with S. B. which ended up being 22.5 brix, right where we wanted it. The next day, Sunday, Brendan racked out about 400 gals into 8 barrels. This along with our chard will consist of our yeast experiment. Tomorrow we will pick the rest of our S. B. from hopefully less ripe areas. Since our small amount of chard is high sugar and the temperature has remained hot, by picking from less ripe areas we are still hoping to have an average brix of 22.5. 

The other day, we were informed that we will have a very special visitor tomorrow during our harvest of Sauv Blanc : Christine Todd Whitman, the governor of the state of New Jersey will pay us a visit. It seems that some of the 11 in here group of visitors to the wine country in Napa and Sonoma county have tried some of my wines. It will be a fun time. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2000    High 85   Low 48

The fog has been rolling in the last couple of days which has made us very happy. Hopefully this will slow down the ripening of the zinfandel. We are still planning to harvest one ton of zin next week just to see where we are at in sugar. Saturday I will send Brendan out for a thorough test of the zin in all areas, but the only way we will know for sure is to pick, sort and start fermentation. Zinfandel is the most challenging wine we make since every bunch must be looked at and sorted. We actually taste the bunches at the beginning of the harvest which means we taste every type of bunch that comes in. After an hour or so we make a decision on what to leave in the fermentation and what to through out. We don't want red berries, but unlike most wineries, we do want some rot if it tastes good. We also leave in all raisins while some other wineries eliminate them. We have a new stemmer, but we don't receive our new stainless sorting table until next Wednesday. So unless we want to sort on a piece of plywood, we will wait until Thursday to harvest. As I have said the zin needs some more time and I like it when I am forced to make this kind of timing decision (out of my control). Most of the time it works out for the best. I really don't like to jump the gun as I did to a small extent in 1998. I'd rather have things a little over ripe than not ripe enough. The flavor is always better. 

As you can see by the picture (Steve, Brendan, Christie and me) Christie Todd Whitman along with 10 other family members and friends visited us yesterday. It was quite an honor. It seemed like all of us had a great time. We took a tour of the vineyard and watched the harvesting of our Sauv Blanc grapes. Christie impressed me with her enthusiastic questions attentiveness and obvious excitement about learning about something new. She appeared to be a real nice and genuine person and I can see why she is such a popular person. As a matter of fact everyone in her group seemed to be very likable people and I felt very comfortable and would loved to have visited with them longer. I gave here a bottle of 1996 Estate Cuvee and they even bought a great deal of wine. Of course this event is something I will never forget and I hope I helped to make their visit enjoyable. 

We did finish harvesting the S. B. for our winery yesterday with 2.41 tons. The overall sugar yesterday ended up between 21.5 and 22 brix. Hopefully this will keep our alcohol under 14%. The flavor is fabulous. We are so excited to have 15 different fermentations and 9 different yeasts going on. The big tank has about 600 gals at 51 degrees and then we have 10 barrels with 9 yeasts and finally 4 beer kegs ( 3 chardonnay and one combo ) fermenting at about 70 degrees. 

Today we bottled 243 cases of ZP2C which I can't wait to try tonight. Everything went along fine and we even used a new cork (for us: Supreme) for 75 cases. The rest were bottled with Neocork. 

Friday, August 25, 2000    High 96   Low 48

We have warmed up again in the last two days so I just went out to check a few representative bunches from our zinfandel vines. The brix reading came in at 22.8. With the few raisins I saw, The sugar should swell up to well over 23% in an hour or so. That gives me more confidence that Thursday will be a good choice to start our winemaking. The color is dark and the flavor is great. If it stays warm, we may be finished with our zinfandel by Labor Day--a record. I'm still sending Brendan out to due a more thorough sugar test tomorrow 

On each of the last two nights I have tried a bottle of 1999 ZP2C. I have also tried a bottle of 1998 ZP2C, 1999 Block 4, and 1999 Zinfandel. I was very surprised with the balance and finish of the 1999 ZP2C compared to the 1998. The 1998 still has not shown that great lingering finish that I like. I also thought the 1999 held up well to our zin. The Block 4 is another thing. It is round spicy with great balance and a very long finish. To get back to the 1999 ZP2C: I don't usually encourage the purchase of my wines. I think everyone who buys them should not be influenced by my recommendation, but I really feel that at $12, if I was out in the market and tried this wine, I would not be disappointed. It is a wine that will age for a very long time, but will be enjoyable right away. I  bring this up because we are still offering it for that price ($12) until September 1 when it will go to $15. 



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