David Coffaro Vineyard and Winery Winemaker's Diary

Week 37
September 12, 1999 to September 18, 1999 

September 12, 1999

High last two days 81; low 56

I must apologize for not making a posting  the last two days. I was hoping that on Friday Brendan could make his first diary entry, but it was such a hectic day and he wanted to leave early to drive down to San Luis Obispo to finish moving his things up north. The office is finally ready to re-sheetrock after my electrician Ted came in and also decided to do some re-wiring since the walls were open. Friday also included the installation of new track lights in the back of the winery. While moving carpets and barrels around to get to the ceiling of the winery, I knocked over my center-channel speaker. We had to epoxy it back together and it is making some weird sounds at this time. Of course, you know what the top priority is - to get it fired up again in good working order. 

On Saturday, we again had many customers coming in to pick up wine and I was unable to see Susie's first soccer game of the season. Since Pat went into town in the afternoon, I had to hire Steve to help me distribute the wine and pour for tasting. Again, another hectic day. 

Sugar tests were done Friday by Brendan and the results, even though the same as last time, did produce slightly lower acids. Julia and I have decided to harvest both sections of Sauvignon Blanc on Wednesday, possibly into Thursday. Again, the flavor and color on the Zinfandel is fabulous at this time, and we're still looking at probably another two weeks until harvest of the Zin. The Merlot and Barbera will probably be ready about that time also, and we do need to do a test of the Petite Sirah in the newly-budded over area on Monday. 

I am now off to watch the Oakland Raiders demolish the Green Bay Packers(?). 

September 13, 1999

High Yesterday 84; low This Morning 57

I went off today to Costco and to run a few errands. I gave Brendan instructions to post a diary entry, but I see he has failed. He is off tomorrow to pour for our distributor in S.F. We have decided to pick our 3 tons of S.B. Wed and Julia will go Thurs. with the remainder (about 11 tons). The acids remain high, but I want low alcohol and do not want to wait for higher sugar in order to lower the acids. I got only three hrs sleep last night worrying about many things. One was how to crush and press our Sauv Blanc. This a long story and I hope Brendan will talk about this Wed. 

The Raiders lost! Favre is a cry baby! I do not like him! 

September 14, 1999

High yesterday 84; 50 low this morning

Pat and I had a fairly quiet day today. Ken, Dennis, Ted and also Brendan were not here today. Steve Ryan did stop by with his bright new shiny truck. It's a GMC diesel, 18-foot (I think that's what he said) flatbed. I'd seriously be scared to drive something like that. He's going to use it mostly to haul grapes from other vineyards to some of the bigger wineries. He will be able to haul 3 valley bins at over 2 tons a piece, amounting to about 7 tons of grapes. He promises to use it for the first time here on Thursday to haul Julia's Sauvignon Blanc to Lambert Bridge Winery. Tomorrow we will start picking our three tons of Sauvignon Blanc. That will produce about 200 cases of estate wine for our winery. If I get organized, of course we should celebrate the beginning of harvest with a little of the "sparkley." 

 September 15, 1999

High yesterday 83; 54 low this morning
(By Brendan) 
    Finally!  CRUSH IS HERE!!!!!!! 
    After what seems like an eternity we are finally picking our grapes.  Today we took in 3.07 tons of Sauvignon Blanc for ourselves and tomorrow we will pick the rest of our Sauvignon Blanc for Julia at Lambert Bridge.  It is now officially time to make our 1999 wines.  This is not only a benchmark for us, but for Dry Creek as well.  Typically, our Sauvignon Blanc is the first (or at least among the first) grapes to be picked every year.  Now that we've picked  everyone else can get ready for harvest. 
    It is very exciting to be back into the swing of things.  Today we started at 7:00 a.m. and were in the field until around 11:00 when the first tractor load came in.  The tractor was carrying three 1/2 Ton bins that were filled to the brim with Sauvignon Blanc grapes.  1 1/2 tons of grapes in about 3 1/2 hours is a bit slower than usual but we did not have our normal 10+ person crew.  Instead, we had only our four normal vineyard workers and they had to pick the hardest block of grapes on our property (lots of small clusters and lots of leaves in the way).  It took them 6-7 hours to bring in the 3 tons of fruit (about 200 cases) but they had to work for every pound of grapes. 
    At the winery I had to put together all of our crush equipment for the first time this year.  This involved cleaning the Crusher/destemmer, 2 pumps, the press and tons of hoses and fittings.  Once we put it all together it ran perfectly (thank goodness!) and we started crushing the first three 1/2 ton bins while the pickers were picking the next 1 1/2 tons.  The first 3 bins were all about the same sugar, sitting right around 22.8 Brix (percent sugar).  This was right where Dave wanted it.  When we crushed the next 3 bins the sugar was a little higher because it was from a different block.  It weighed in at around 23.6-23.8.  This was a little higher than we wanted but still not as high as the sugar readings from last year. 
    I also feel like Crush has really started because Dave and I put in our first 12-hour-day of the season.  I won't really feel right however, until we finish our first 70+ hour work-week.  I don't think I'll have to wait long.  Now that our Sauvignon Blanc is in we have another week or so until we pick our reds but once that happens we will have to forget how to sleep for the next 2 months.  Actually, I'm kind of excited. I know it's sick but I really do miss this time of year!--Brendan 

September 16, 1999

High yesterday 86; low 52 this morning

It's been several days since we've seen the sun before 10 o'clock in the morning. At times the fog has been thick enough to leave a good amount of moisture on the leaves. Even though our highs have been consistently in the 80's and the lows have been in the 50's (about ideal for this time of year), we do need several days of early morning sun. After all, on the 21st of September we will only have 12 hours of daylight and after that, the days will become shorter and shorter. 

Our Zinfandel seems to be staying at about 21% sugar and we want at least 24. The Syrah from the Simpson vineyard may be as much as 22.5 at this time, so Brendan, Steve and I are planning to meet at the Simpson vineyard on Tuesday morning to do a serious sugar sample. Also, earlier that morning (assuming the sun is out), I would like Brendan to do a thorough test of the grapes on our vineyard, too. In the meantime, Brendan and I now have some precious time to organize our barrels and make room in the winery for several fermentations. It appears that this year will be one of those years when everything will ripen and be harvested within a few weeks from the first varietal to the last. 

We picked the remainder of the Sauvignon Blanc today, which all went to Julia at Lambert Bridge Winery. Our total crop this year was less than ten tons - an average crop would have been about 17-1/2 tons. We took in 3.07 and Julia took in 6.55 tons. The combined total turns out to be 55 percent of normal! We are hoping that this is not an indication of what our reds will yield, but frankly I don't remember this type of a year when the end result was more than was expected. I am already forecasting 25 percent below normal on our reds, and if we come in with anything less than that, we're not going to have much more to sell than we've already committed to on the 1999 futures. 

September 17, 1999

Dave asked me to post the diary entry for today. He and Brendan spent most of the day re-organizing the warehouse storage and then Brendan packed up the wine for shipping and weekend pick ups. We also had a few people stop by for wine pick ups during the day. In the meantime, Dave and I were banned from the office for a few hours this morning while Dennis textured the ceiling and walls around our computers. All that's left in our office now is the big table with all the necessary computer equipment/phones/fax to be able to carry on business as usual. Dennis is very accommodating and is working "around us" as much as he can. He's going to paint the room on Monday, so I think we'll leave him on his own and Dave and I will make a pilgrimage into Santa Rosa to pick up the necessary materials to finish off our concrete flooring and choose and buy some new cabinets and a countertop for installation on one wall of the room. Tomorrow Brendan is coming back to work with Dave in the winery and the two of them will be pouring wine and filling futures orders, while I get to "take the day off" by completing some long overdue office paperwork. -- Pat 

September 18, 1999

High yesterday 81; 50 low this morning High today 77

The sun came out a little earlier today--about 10:30, but it was cooler. We need heat! 

Brendan and I had about 50 visitors today and sold a good amount of wine. I continnue to be happy that almost everyone buys something. I am encouraged that many people also volunteer that they like all the wines. The '98s are so young that I appreciate we have customers that can see the potenial of these wines even though they have not developed much in the bottle yet. After all, they were only bottled two months ago. 


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