David Coffaro Vineyard and Winery Winemaker's Diary

Week 41
October 8 to October 14, 2000 

Sunday October 8

We poured at the Harvest Fair yesterday and plan to do so again today. We had good response, but only poured a case yesterday. More people are interested in tasting golds rather than silvers. 

Brendan and I have been filling barrels the last two days. We were going to complete filling the petite sirahs today, but Brendan wanted to come at 11:00 Am or so. That didn't work for me since I want to watch the Raider 49er game at 1 Pm. Pat and one of our customers will be pouring at the Harvest Fair. 

We filled barrels with our carignan, Teldeschi zin/cab blend (yes it did finish fermentation) Friday. On Saturday we filled barrels with our Aca Modot Cab and cab franc as well as our petite verdot. The quality is excellent. 

Tomorrow we will finish the main part of our harvest. Our cab for our Estate Cuvee will come in as well as our new carignan. The weather forecasters are still predicting rain for late Monday into Tuesday so this is good timing. If it does start raining we will have to shelter the grapes until we can crush them. The rain will help our late harvest sauv blanc which is still out on the vines. We will also have a small amount of second crop from the cab and carignan sections we pick tomorrow. Also we are still hoping to harvest some cab franc second crop; the same grapes we received from our neighbor Phil Jones last year. 

By the end of the week, we will obviously have a better idea of what we will make. 

Tuesday October 10

We did get in our fruit yesterday and it has really started to rain today. I still don't believe this storm will do a lot of damage unless the highs during the day stay low. We could use some days in the 90s again. There is a lot of fruit still out in the county. 

We did received an extra ton of cab so I plan on making an Estate Petite Sirah for 2000 consisting of some cab. Since we use atleast three different petite sirahs from our vineyard the wine will have enough complexity for my tastes. Remember I am making wine for myself and it has been a pleasant surprise that so many of you like it also. We will probably only make 300 cases of P.S. and we have sold 280 so we will are now sold out. 

Even though we are sold out of our petite sirah we are making a sirah and probably a MOURVEDRE!! I received a phone call from a desperate farmer in Contra Costa County. It seems he has some Mourvedre grapes for sale at a good price. Actually, The Mayo Family took some in last week so I had a chance to call them and congratulate them on winning 5 gold medals at the Harvest Fair. They said the acid was low (I have Barbera for acid), but the fruit was ripe and has good flavor. I am a big fan of  Cline mourvedre so since their fruit comes from Contra Costa County, also, I am willing to try it. I am hoping that they don't get too much rain over there although if they can get in to harvest tomorrow the grapes should still be OK. I should have more to say later, but now I must go up and start dinner----and of course drink wine!!! 

9:00 Pm Dinner is over and I had a taste or TWO of our 99 Cab Franc and Petite Sirah. I still prefer the Cab franc, but the P.S. is coming around. It is pretty tannic. I like tannic wines and as I have said before that is what is lacking in my wines. But I must admit that tannin does cover up the fruit and thus is less enjoyable in a wine if drunk early. I like that tartness or structure of tannin that coats my teeth and cuts thru the food I eat. 

I am somewhat concerned that part of the petite sirah that was blended into the 1999 was from bulk wine that was tannic with less fruit. This year I asked that I obtain these grapes to ferment myself. That way I could see if the tannin is from the way the other winery fermented or in the grapes them self. Of course I was pretty sure it was in the grapes, but it would of been interesting to see. Well as you have figured out I was denied the grapes. Now mind you, they were very expensive in bulk, but I was willing to pay the difference (very generous on my behalf) and then today we were offered the mourvedre grapes at less than half the cost. Now money to me as some of you know is no object if I can get what I want. But I want to produce my own wine, so it has been an easy decision for me: I am going to buy mourvedre grapes and ferment them rather than buying petite sirah after it has been fermented by another winery. 

Thursday October 12

This has been one of those incredible days. Besides what has happened in the Middle East, we have had a very interesting day that will require thinking about for months. 

Today we received two phone calls simultaneously at 9:00 Am. One from Greg who was delivering our Mourvedre grapes from Contra Costa that he was on the way. The other phone call was more important. This phone call was from the Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner informing us that as of Monday Contra Costa County has been declared an infested area for the Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter (GWSS). This GWSS carries Pierce's Disease. One bite from this insect on a leaf can destroy a grapevine. I have lived with this fear for years since I border Dry Creek. Since I moved here in 1979 this disease has wiped out over 15% of my vineyard. My threat in the past has been from a very small sharpshooter (Blue Green Leafhopper 25% the size) that carries the same Pierce's Disease. My threat from the past (and still present) was from the Blue green Sharpshooter that can only fly 200 feet and thus can only kill vines near creeks. You see these insects pick up a bacteria from vegetation near creeks and carry it to vines when the vegetation dries out. These insects don't necessarily like grapevines, but use them to feed on when they don't have something else that is green. What is great is that they will die in 24 hrs if they don't have something to feed on mostly cane or stems. The GWSS can fly many times further and has infested Texas and Southern California in the past. These insects don't like cold weather so we are still confident up here, where we are cold in the winter, that we can control it. 

Pat's initial comment was let's call Greg back and tell him we don't need the grapes. I said that he would have to dump the fruit somewhere in Contra Costa County and lose over $9,000. I was concerned so I called back Sonoma County (my county) and asked them how they knew I was buying fruit from Contra Costa County (over 100 miles away). They informed me that they were contacted by The Ag Commissioner in Contra Costa County since they were obligated to inform our county when grapes were transported out of their county. I asked them whether they would be more comfortable if I did not purchase the fruit. They informed me that they were not concerned, but did required me to put out traps and sign an agreement to comply with certain precautions. The GWSS was found on newly installed plants in landscaping in a new subdivision in Contra Costa County over 7 miles from Greg's vineyard--way to far for them to fly. The inspectors have controlled it to this area. They have also inspected Greg's vineyard and all vineyards in the area and found no evidence of the GWSS. They say there is little chance that the GWSS could be transported to us by Greg. Also, the GWSS feeds mostly on the vines themselves so if they were on grapes when picked they would be shaken off into the vineyard looking for another source to feed on. Our county required us to put up 4 traps to monitor any visitation of the insect and also required us to cover the stems after crushing and store them for 48 hrs. They informed us that the insect will not survive after 24 hrs if they do not have any fresh wood to feed on. I feel pretty confident I am doing the right thing. I am still unsure how they found out from Greg that he was selling to me. By the way Greg never informed me of these developments, but he did have something for me to sign when he arrived. 

I can understand what Greg was going through. I am a grape grower partly now, but do remember when my livelihood depended on it entirely. He has no further source for his grapes and they are fully ripe. Interesting also, I informed him two days ago that I would take 5 tons. I was delivered 6.75 tons today. I did ask for 12 Bins and assumed that they would weight 900 pounds each (about 5.4 tons). I suspected that he would try to stuff the bins and I really did not care as long as the quality was good. I sure did not expect 1125 lbs per bin. The price was right, at $1400 per ton so I did not complain. 

The sugar came in at over 24%, maybe even over 25%. We will report on that tomorrow. I did a preliminary check on the acid and it is extremely low so we will have to adjust it with tartartic acid. The juice tasted great. Brendan was really jazzed!! He said it tasted so creamy and even vanilla like--less tangy than ours. It gave me great satisfaction (I had not checked the acid yet) to inform Brendan, I suspected, from the Mayo Family input about low acid, that it would taste less sharp and more creamy with less acid. 

Saturday October 14

Yesterday I made a quick trip down to Costco, and then spent a good portion of my day trying to find some oak barrels to store all this mourvedre wine. I did find some new barrels and then some used barrels from Lambert Bridge Winery. We need some as early as Tuesday when we press our cab. Those three new barrels on Tues. will come from World Cooperage. We will also use some of our older barrels saved from last year. On Wednesday we would like to press our carignan. On Thursday we will receive 10 new barrels from Demptos. We will probably press our Mourvedre on Friday. Brendan has a wedding to go to on Saturday. The rest of my day involved adding nutrients and yeast to the mourvedre. I also had to add a great deal of tartaric acid. Not too much now, because I want to see what the acid is after fermentation. That way I can add some barbera to adjust it more naturally.

Next week we should be picking our 2nd crop P.S. and barbera as well as Jones cab franc 2nd crop. Once these barrels are full we are trying to figure out  where we will put them. Remember as many as know who have visited our winery, I can't block my side speakers with barrels. 

Today I am hoping to prepare something additional about what will go into our mourvedre and syrah wines. I plan on selling the mourvedre for $12 per bottle until November 5. That wine will be up on the wedsite by Tuesday, but any of you could e-mail if you are interested. For a change I am actually going to try and find out how much the mourvedre will cost to make.


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