David Coffaro Vineyard and Winery Winemaker's Diary

Week 38
September 17, 2000 to September 23, 2000 

Monday September 18  Low 55  High 110

Well The Raiders are back to their losing ways, but Kate and I had a great time (at least I did--Kate is too much of a fan). I purchased season club seats so we are on the 35 yard line and there is a clubhouse just above our seats so even though it was about 95 in Oakland yesterday we could get all the cool ice water we needed--A great luxury).

Yesterday we received grapes from a neighbor with a new vineyard. The winery who will take them next year couldn't deal with such a small amount this year so we are the lucky recipients. The vineyard is neat because it is planted to 75% zin 10% carignan, 10% petite sirah and 5% mourvedre. It will all go into our zin. Some of it will be used to restart one bin of our Lane zin. 

Today, Brendan and I have so much work to do that we are having trouble deciding what to do first. We were supposed to press today, but we must tend to stuck fermentations again. 

Bad news: our Block 4 has slowed down also. We plan on rejuvenating it again with more yeast. This time we can't add some new neighbors grapes, because they won't be Estate and thus could not go into our Block 4 and Estate Cuvee which are both estate wines. In a few minutes we will start two 200 gal fermenters by adding .5 lb of yeast with 2 gals of water and 2 gals of our Estate sugar samples from the last few days (fresh juice at 23%). That will give us a solution of about 11% sugar. After about 30 min we will add 5 gals of our slowly fermenting Block 4. After we make sure the mixture in the two bins are fermenting actively again, we add another 10 gals to each one. We expect that by this evening we will be through adding all.

I haven't heard if anyone has an idea why many of we winemakers are having trouble fermenting zin to dryness this year. I am sure that this warm summer has contributed to it. The vines are in stress and I guess are fighting the violent activity of fermentation There are materials in the grapes that don't tolerate high alcohol and are showing less potential alcohol on our refractometers than usual. In other words, if the refrac shows 24% sugar, that should convert to about 14% alcohol. We are aiming for 14.5 in our zin, but the bunches contain raisins whose total sugar is hard to calculate. Zinfandel could be 26 sugar, but the refrac will not show it because the raisins are hard to crush. After the heat and maceration effect takes place the hidden sugar in the raisins show up to raise the final alcohol. 

6:00PM Brendan is tired and we have guests tonight for Monday Night Football. Actually Mike and Jeannine are more like family than guests and they also do most of our catering at winery events. They even prepared the food tonight, with my supervision of course---lamb and chicken with my roasted potatoes. 

8:00Pm We encourage Brendan to come and eat. Brendan reluctantly comes to eat and seems to perk up a little and have a good time. If any one knows Brendan, you know it doesn't take much to perk him up.

8:30 Pm Brendan goes back to work in our winery, but I have obligations to see Monday Night Football and the Olympics at the same time. Seriously I don't have much time for each, but I do help Brendan out once in a while. 

9:00 Pm Brendan does finish crushing the new Bernier Zin mix which I mentioned earlier, A 75% zin mix. I feared and it was confirmed that the sugar was 27%. We are planning to combine our Lane zin with this lot and expect that the real sugar of the Lane was similar. We must decide tomorrow on how to lower the sugar. 

10:00PM We have added about 30 gals of slowly fermenting Block 4 to our starter mix of yeast and new grapes (must). We plan to add the rest tomorrow.

10:30PM Brendan and I finish filling the new barrels. You see, we have to swell up the barrels with water overnight  (about 30 total) to make sure there are no leaks. We are going to use about 70% used barrels from last year and 30% new barrels. We will have 10 different new barrels with wine from the same press tomorrow. It will be fun to blind taste them in January before we blend. 

11:00Pm Our guests are gone, Pat and the kids are in bed and even Brendan retired. I will make one more check in the winery and go to bed also.

Thursday September 21 Low 61  High 75     Tuesday high 109, Wednesday high 99

I can't believe it is Thursday!!! This week has been a blur. I was certain that I had made an entry after Monday, but I guess I haven't. Many of you have asked: "How can you make time to enter into the diary?" Well the answer is that I feel obligated and I enjoy it, even though I type about 15 words a minute). I started doing this for the 1998 vintage reluctantly, but felt I should do it because it would force me to write down what I do each year. maybe a future winemaker will get some info from these ramblings.

I hope to go into more detail tomorrow, but here goes with what we have done in the last few days:

1) I filled 31 barrels of zin on Tuesday (10 different oak barrel producers).

2) Two of our three Block 4 fermenters is doing OK, but the third one has slowed down again. We plan on picking a ton of Cab tomorrow to restart it.

3) The new Bernier zin has been fermenting well even after we added the Lane zin to it.

4) We have received the Simpson Syrah and the Russian River Pinot Noir. 

5) We will be receiving some of our own grapes tomorrow.

Friday September 22 Low 61  High 75

This is shaping up to be a very exciting day.

5:45Am  I woke up with many things rattling around in my brain, so I couldn't get back to sleep. John Teldeschi called last night to offer some of his zinfandel from next store. We used the fruit in 1998 for our Neighbors' Zin and I was very happy with it. Since we are short from our vineyard again, I am probably going to accept his offer. 

6:30Am I checked out the opening in the stock market since Intel announced that there earnings would not be up to expectations. Everything is down big. 

We plan on harvesting alot of our vineyard today so I must put the stock market out of my mind..

7:00Am Caterino shows up with several pickers and I send him down to harvest our P Bot or spicy clone of petite sirah. We expect it to come in with high sugar.

8:00Am Brendan and I stack the 31 barrels of zin that we filled Tuesday. They have stabilized (steady level of wine in the barrel) and we have added our M/L (malo-lactic) starter to all barrels.

9:00Am Caterino returns with the P.S and I send him to pick the malbec and barbera.

10:30Am Caterino has finished the barbera and malbec (less than I thought). I decide to send him out to pick a ton of cabernet from our bottom section. This cab is what goes into our Estate Cuvee so I plan on using it (low sugar now) to restart one of the Block 4 bins. The two bins I mentioned yesterday are doing OK. I did plan on using one for the Estate Cuvee so this will work out fine.

John tells Brendan he plans on delivering us about 2.5 tons of zin, which will be fine with us.

10:45Am I start weighing all the bins to start determining where I am going to ferment all this fruit.

11:30Am Our P.S. weighs far less than I thought also. I must spend some time in the next day to determine how this fruit will be distributed in our many wines. 

Caterino brings in the ton of cab that will be used to restart the one bin of Block 4 for Estate Cuvee. I can now walk down to estimate how much more of our cab from the bottom is left. I send Caterino out to pick some second crop zin on the wire and second crop from Block 4.

12:00 Noon  Brendan and I sit down (actually Brendan stood up) to discuss how many barrels we have and how we want them to be divided into our wines. With our 10 barrel experiment in the zin we pressed Tuesday that equates to almost 40% new oak. Since that wine goes into Estate Cuvee and our zin we must use less oak in the other varietals to be used in those blends.

12:30Pm Brendan finishes placing our stacked barrels in their permanent place until January when we blend. He starts to organize for crushing.

1:00Pm Steve(our vineyard manager) and I sit down (actually we both stood) and had a short conversation (which will be in more detail after harvest) about what has caused our low yields. I informed him that I have to buy fruit to make up for the loses from our vineyard. 

1:30Pm John Teldeshi has started picking the zin for us.
We have still not started crushing. We are still trying to find a place for all these fermenters and also pull out some empty barrels for our pressing tomorrow.

2:50Pm Brendan starts to crush the Cab Franc from the Jones vineyard. The first sugar reading shows 26.5%. Oh boy, this is going to be a long night of calculations.

3:30pm John comes in with a total of 3.08 tons of zin. 

5:15Pm Brendan finished crushing the cab franc. He still has 2nd crop zin and cab bottom that we won't get to until tomorrow, but he will finish our Petite from the bottom and the barbera tonight.

I go upstairs into our residence to make fried chicken for Brendan, Pat, Kate, Susie and a friend Tori and I. Yes I am the cook in our household, but Pat makes great salads veggies and alot of other essentials. I like making the main courses.

8:00Pm I go out and inform Brendan that dinner is a possibility now. He has finished Barbera and P.S. He gladly accepts my offer of food. He informs me that the smell of fried chicken could even be felt as he drove around the area to pick up bins to be processed.

9:00Pm Brendan goes to the phone to call Anita. She is concerned that he won't make a concert on Sunday. I say to him that I will punch down the wines for him and also make the Raider game with Kate. He goes back to work and punches down the bins from yesterday (syrah and pinot).

9:30Pm I retire to the movie room to see a movie with the kids. Brendan is still working.

Saturday September 23 Low 44  High 81

7:15Am Another day begins. We will be pressing and crushing today and we have several visitors scheduled so it will be another busy day.

8-9:30Am Brendan and I discuss what to press and in what order. Also how we will free up fermenters to finish crushing our fruit from yesterday.

9:45Am Pat must take Kate to town for a fundraiser which is to take a few hours. So she decides to return home. (30 min round trip)

10:00Am Brendan and I decide to press the two block 4 fermenters that are going dry (dry: no sugar left). He loads up the press.
Mike Watts arrives to get a few hundred lbs of Cab franc to make some wine(Mike is my best friend).

10:30Am Our first visitors arrive. They have been sent by a great Bed And Breakfast Inn near by. Recently we have not received customers before Noon.
We are unprepared, but I try my best to accommodate them by opening up 3 bottles of wine.

10:45Am Kate calls from Healdsburg. She wants Pat to pick her up, because the fund raiser is over. Pat just arrived home. Pat refuses, but I decide to go get Kate with my friend Mike. He wants to check out the new Rav 4 and I want Kate (15 years old) to drive home.

11:15Am I am trying to fill barrels to help Brendan out, but the guests keep coming in.

12:00 Noon Pat has been no help (of course Kate and Susie and her friend Tori need attention). Pat  must leave to take Susie and Tori to a soccer game. I feel guilty. but the show must go on. 

12:30Pm Brendan has to pour wine while I process orders and pass out the bought wine. We are accomplishing little in our winemaking activities. We must finish pressing and crushing today, since I am going to a Raider game tomorrow and Brendan is visiting Anita.

12:45Pm Anita calls and Brendan takes a break.

1:00Pm Pat is long gone and I even think about Kate to help out. I quickly realize that she is only 15.

4:00Pm We end up having about 50 people come for a visit and Brendan and I accomplish little.

6:00Pm Brendan and I finish making our final decisions on blending the fermentations. The second crop zin will go with some cab from the bottom and the malbec will be blended with some barbera. The Teldeschi zin will be kept separate and the rest of the cab bottom will be used to restart the Block 4. There is much more, but it's getting late. Just realize, every minute during the day my head is swirling with different ideas on how to blend this fruit. I must preserve my Estate wines, but also make the best wines I can. 

Brendan continues to work. I start dinner for our family.

8:00Pm Brendan finally leaves to see Anita in Oakland (90 min away). He wanted to leave at 3:00Pm, but it is crush.

11:30Pm I finish adding all the yeast to 16 fermenters.

12:00 Mid night I am finishing this diary entry. I should go into more detail, but I am too tired.



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