David Coffaro Vineyard and Winery Winemaker's Diary

Week 35
August 26, 2001 to September 1, 2001 

  Monday August 27,  2001  106 High

The harvest has started. Today we pressed 3.5 tons of sauv blanc. The sugar and acids seem to be just where we want them. I will know more tomorrow. Lambert Bridge was also delivered about 5 tons from our vineyard. We will both get more fruit tomorrow.  This has been a very long day. The new press has taken a lot of our time to learn how to use. This great press has automatic cycles. We decided to use the "light press" cycle for whole bunch processing, which will yield a low amount of juice, but hopefully create for us more fruit than last year. This automatic cycle took about 2 hours involving many inflations and deflations of the bladder in order to press very gently, but yield a reasonable amount of potential wine. We were told that unless we crushed the bunches (destemed and broke the berries) that our yield could be as little as 160 gals per ton. Most wineries strive for 180 to 190 gals per ton. After fermentation and settling that could yield as much as 70 cases. By pressing whole bunches instead of crushing, we are hoping to achieve less harshness and more fruit. We expect to produce less cases per ton. BUT remember it is only relative: we will still make money. 

Our style for our sauv blanc wine will change somewhat also. We are picking at lower sugars to hopefully capture more fruit. This however will yield higher acids. We are also using virtually no oak in order to expose as much varietal character as possible. In another attempt to capture as much fruit as possible, we are fermenting at 52 degrees. Last year half of our wine was barrel fermented, creating substantially higher fermentation temperatures. These higher temperatures do create more mouth feel or body, but at the expense of fruit. In the opposite, we have fermented our pinot noir (and all our other reds) at hot temperatures in order to create more body and more spiciness. Red wines are different, we believe that because they are fermented on the skins, they need to be exposed to higher temperatures. I know this must be somewhat hard to understand, because even Brendan are not sure whether these new techniques will work for us. We want to create a white wine that is somewhat different than some of the sauv blancs in the market. 

Wednesday August 29,  2001

We hit 103 yesterday and the nights have been warm. Today did cool down a little. The zin vines and some of the petite sirah are showing a great deal of stress. I cut off the water several weeks ago to hasten ripening, but now I must give these vines a drink of water now. The zin vines with mites have lost a great deal of green color. Vines need green in order to ripen the clusters. The zin vines that are still very green are ripe and ready to pick, but there aren't many of these left. There are several unripe bunches hiding in the head trained stressed vines and hopefully with the shot of water tonight they will ripen in the next two weeks. After all it is still August!! 

Today was a very confusing time for me. Every hour I had a decision to make or I would change my mind. Yesterday after Brendan and I pressed our last load of Sauv Blanc, we both went out and took small samples from our vineyard: 1) our new petite sirah 24+% sugar (brix), 2) our new mourvedre 22 brix, 3) our new zin 24+ brix, 4) malbec 24+, cab franc 24 and merlot 25. These sugars were higher than I expected so we planned to harvest enough fruit today to ferment two T-bins (3600 lbs or 5 barrels). With such small samples from yesterday, I knew I could expect anything after harvesting today. As usual I slept lightly and thus changed my mind many times during the night. At 6 AM I made a decision to ask Caterino (who was to arrive at 7 AM) and his three helpers to remove the deer fence. I felt this would give me time to go out and take a new sample of mourvedre. This sample came in at 22.5 brix so Brendan and I felt we should pick this section next week. That left us with zin and PS from the new vines. I waited to see what the weight and sugar was in order to see what else to add to the T-bin. When the sugar on the petite sirah was stemmed to yield 25 brix, I was surprised. But then the zin came in at 22. That gave us a total of 1100 lbs at 23 brix. we want 24 so I decided to pick 700 lbs of the less stressed old vines to see where it came in at. We were happy to now have 1800 lbs fermenting at 24 brix. Just what I want. 

Then I had Caterino pick 600 lbs each of the merlot 25 brix, malbec 23.2 brix and cab franc at 23. That gave us two fermenters each at 24 sugar. IT Wasn't That Easy!! I can't explain everything that happened today. We do have two smaller fermenters because Caterino and his crew picked too much so I must decide whether to ferment them as is. Also what am I going to pick next and when? What will the weather bring? All these variables that can change instantly!! I love it!! 

Now you all must be wondering about this picture. That is a bunch of petite sirah from our new vines, but it is no ordinary bunch. Most petite sirah bunches measure about 4 inches and weigh about half a pound. I have seen bigger and they can come in over one pound. This bunch measures across at 12 inches and weighs 2.7 pounds. I have never seen anything like this in a premium wine grape bunch. Come by this weekend since I will have it on display. Click here for a larger view and check out our on-going 2001 Harvest Gallery

Friday August 31,  2001

3:30 Pm: I sent Brendan away for a few days, because it looked like we would not be harvesting again for at least a week. BUT I FORGOT SIMPSON!! All of a sudden it dawned on me that if my Malbec and Cab Franc is ready so might Bruce Simpson's Syrah. We are hoping to get about 2.5 tons. If we get less we will not be able to use some in our new "D. C. Cuvee". If we get more we can maybe make more syrah wine. I called him and he just happened to be out picking some berries. The sugar was over 24 brix!! I sent him out again to bring me back 20 bunches and I will test them here. I called Brendan and he is available to come back tomorrow. Steve will be busy tomorrow morning, but could do the picking in the afternoon. Here comes Bruce!! More to come. 

3:45 Pm: We are on!! The 20 bunches showed a reading of 25.6 Brix. Hopefully the actual tons will come in at 25 Brix or less. The acids should be good. Sooo exciting. I was getting bored on the computer today. 

I uploaded a few more pictures this morning. This time they show the stressed mite vines I was talking about (pretty, but not good for the ripening grapes) and a healthy zin vine with nice green leaves. Also you will see a T-bin with fermenting petite sirah and zin grapes. 

Saturday September 1,  2001  High 84 Low 52

Here is a quick note to let you know that the Simpson Syrah did come in today, but not until 6:30 Pm. Brendan will come back tomorrow to stem the grapes into our T-bins. The total tons came in at 2.5 which is what we needed, but not enough to offer the wine again at this time.

Keep in touch with our Harvest Gallery. Now that I know how to upload these pics, I will take many more.



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